The difference between the NCAA’s March Madness and the NBA Playoffs is that the colleges have a single elimination tournament, i.e. “win or go home.” This year, the NBA’s brass, master of slogans, used that phrase to describe their post-season. If they meant the Lakers in Game Five in Boston, they were right.
LA lost and had to go home. Of course, had they won, they would have gone home. Not only did the Lakers go home after Game Five, but their opponents went home with them. However, now, it truly is win or go home and primarily because each series is best of seven, the magnitude of a Game Seven - at any point but, especially in the finals, is through the roof.
TV execs pray for this to occur. Ticket scalpers drool over an event such as this. Not just a Game Seven (it’s been five years since the Spurs beat the Pistons and all the way back to 1994 for the Rockets over the Knicks for the one before that) but a Boston- LA final! Pundits, as well, live for these moments. If their pick wins, they get to remind everybody how they had it all figured out. Or have a fellow prognosticator (probably the person they did it for last year when that guy got it right and they missed) sing their praises as all-knowing. I’ve always felt that picking the winner is a 50-50 proposition, but if somebody can get the score right, or at least the final spread, that is impressive. Or if the person gives (before the game, columnists) the reason a certain team will win - and it’s something beyond, “The Lakers will take this one because they’re at home and Kendrick Perkins isn’t going to play,” that’s doing homework and putting the pieces together. Sometimes even the best research goes awry as some role player has a career game - or a superstar falls flat.
I’ve already confessed to being totally befuddled when it comes to making sense of this year’s series, so I go along along with the Ol’ Perfessor, Casey Stengel, who said:
“Never make predictions, especially about the future.”
As crazy as this year’s NBA Finals have been, I can’t wait to hear what those “in the know” have to say.