How the Cavaliers and Warriors are ruining basketball.


Here’s a question for every NBA fan out there.

What’s the point in watching a basketball game if you already know who’s going to win?

​I’m not talking about the feud between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.  The Finals are going to be a legendary matchup with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant.  But whether LeBron or Curry hoists a trophy at the end of this season I couldn’t care less.

I’m talking about how effortlessly the Cavaliers and Warriors got here.

I’m talking about how it was never in question that they would meet in the Finals for the third straight season.

I’m talking about how the NBA playoffs have become genuinely boring and lifeless to watch.  It’s the Cavs’ and Warriors’ world, and everyone else is living in it.

Sure, we’ve been here before – the Celtics in the ‘80s, the Bulls in the ‘90s, and the Spurs in the ‘00s were all dynasties who dominated the league – but that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to watch the same two teams annihilate the NBA every year.

People have said “the ratings are up.” Fantastic, let’s throw a party and watch the Cavaliers beat the Celtics by forty points.  I’m not pinned to the TV just because it’s LeBron.  If you’re so awestruck with these guys’ athleticism that you can’t tear your eyes away, watch some YouTube clips of the dunk contest and All-star game.  This isn’t a talent show.

Regardless of how high LeBron can jump or how far Curry can pull up for three, watching two super-teams breeze through the playoffs without any competition is a waste of time. The scores aren’t close and the games aren’t exciting.  That the Celtics winning game three against the Cavaliers was the closest we got to a series is a testament to how little parity the NBA actually has.

As Washington Post reporter Jerry Brewer wrote,

“Hibernating bears have experienced more suspense.”

Close playoff games are gold nowadays.  Winning teams have beaten their playoff opponents by an average of 21.5 points this year, the 2nd-most since the best-of-seven era began in 2003.  First place?  Last year’s playoffs, at 22.3 points.

Here’s a number to swallow:  since the end of the 2015 season, the Cavaliers and Warriors combined have won 76 playoff games and lost 13.

In other words, nearly nine times out of ten (85.3%), the Cavaliers and Warriors are defeating their playoff opponent.

​How is it entertaining to watch the same two teams win that easily?

Underdogs and upsets are what make sports great.  March Madness, the Miracle Mets, the lightning-in-a-bottle “Boston Strong” Red Sox of 2013, Alabama’s vaunted football program losing to Ohio State in 2015.  The list goes on.  Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs have been chalk except for 5-seed Utah beating the 4-seed Clippers.  And of course, the Jazz went on to get swept by – guess who? – the Warriors.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m thrilled for the Finals.​  It’s going to be a great series.  But I’m not thrilled that the Cavaliers and the Warriors are solely responsible for hours and hours of blowout basketball.  There have been just two game sevens and just 47 playoff games total this year – the fewest in the best-of-seven era.

Talk to me when Spurs’ coaching legend Gregg Popovich doesn’t respond to a reporters’ question of “how to beat the Warriors” with “Pray.”

Talk to me when the halftime score of a Celtics-Cavaliers game doesn’t break any records.

Talk to me when there’s some fresh blood in the Finals.

The NBA needs a change of scenery.

What’s the point in watching a basketball game if you already know who’s going to win?

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