Why have the 2016 NBA playoffs seemed exceptionally boring?
Because they have been.
Through two games in each series, the average contest has been decided by 17.3 points. That’s, by far, the most lopsided gap ever at this point in the postseason.
Here are are the average scoring margins through two games in each first-round series since 1984, when the league instituted a 16-team playoff:
Six higher seeds have taken 2-0 series leads this year:
- No. 1 Cavaliers over No. 8 Pistons
- No. 3 Heat over No. 6 Hornets
- No. 4 Hawks over No. 5 Celtics
- No. 1 Warriors over No. 8 Rockets
- No. 2 Spurs over No. 7 Grizzlies
- No. 4 Clippers over No. 5 Trail Blazers
Forget the nonsense about a series not beginning until the home team loses. Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home have won 94% of the time. With No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the first round, it’s 100%.
It’d be extremely rare for Boston or Portland to come back and win. For Detroit, Charlotte, Houston or Memphis to do it would be unprecedented.
This postseason has produced just two games that came down to the wire – the Hawks’ Game 1 win over the Celtics and the Mavericks’ Game 2 win over the Thunder, each separated by one point. The Pistons came within five of the Cavs in Game 1, and the Rockets hit a couple late 3s to lose to the Warriors by “just” nine in Game 2. Otherwise, every game has been separated by double digits.
Since the NBA went to a best-of-seven first round in 2003, every first round has included at least seven more games than the minimum 32. So, far we’re guaranteed just two extra – and the first 16 haven’t been that thrilling.
Let’s hope a couple more series, or at least games, get more competitive.