The conference finals have been crud. In the West, what should have been the Golden State Warriors’ first true test became a joyless, perfunctory mercy-killing a little over halfway through Game 1, thanks to a goon doofus’s misplaced foot. In the East, meanwhile, what should have been a deliciously nasty four-game beatdown has been extended pointlessly by a Boston Celtics team seemingly hell-bent on draining the fun from the postseason.
It fits the pattern. The second round was butt, too, a Game 6 game-winner aside. The first round likewise stank like hell. A Rajon Rondo injury stole the juice from what could have been a 1-8 upset; out west, the Thunder’s comprehensive inferiority deflated what ought to have been a titanic reckoning between Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Forget about thrilling series; the 2017 postseason has been a search for thrilling quarters, and you can count on one hand all that it has delivered.
This comes at the end of a regular season poisoned by a noxious MVP debate, conducted on the stupidest possible terms for three months, which turned historically great performances by Harden and Westbrook into a proxy battle in a deeply ridiculous culture war between basketbloggers and sidelined LeBron fucking James so we could all pretend to see basketball nirvana in 26-6-4 and good defense. Along the way, the wonder and novelty of the Warriors ripened into something more and more-drearily familiar: a grim-faced All-Star squad taking care of business and preserving itself for June. The Cavaliers regressed. Neither conference provided anything like a truly convincing challenger to either favorite. The league’s main storyline for whole actual weeks was star players taking games off to rest. The trade deadline moved one player of actual consequence, to a trash team that promptly pinwheeled itself into a swamp. Joel Embiid’s lower body failed again. Blake Griffin’s lower body failed again. Kristaps Porzingis went backward. Ben Simmons played zero games. The young Timberwolves went nowhere. The fucking Celtics won the draft lottery.
All of this is to say, it has been a shitty go-round for the NBA. This season has sucked! Unless the Finals deliver something truly special, it will have been one of the shittier seasons in memory, just a great big ol’ null in the history of the sport. And in order for the Finals to rescue us from this dismal trajectory, the Boston Celtics will have to get the fuck out of my fucking face already.
The Warriors were going to be the overwhelming favorites anyway, no matter what. Now they will be the fresher, much more well-rested favorites, waiting in Oakland for a jet-lagged underdog to arrive. No matter what. It’s too late for some other thing to happen. The best anyone—anyone but Boston fans, the worst people on earth—can hope for is for the Celtics not to exacerbate this.
Get the fuck out of here, you jamokes! You salvaged some dignity. You stole a game, in Cleveland, without Isaiah Thomas, thanks to the flukiest shooting performance Marcus Smart will ever have in his life, a rare egg from LeBron, and a big shot by Avery Bradley. Great! Now do the only decent thing left: Lay down across the railroad tracks so we can hustle along to the inevitable Finals rematch before something awful happens to strip even more of the luster off of it. Before Kelly Olynyk rips another Cavalier’s arm out of its socket. Before whatever alchemy has kept LeBron upright these past three postseasons wears off and he deflates like a punctured bouncy castle.
Shoot underhand in tonight’s Game 4! Wear headbands over your eyes! Give 35 minutes to whichever member of the Zeller clan is on the roster! The sport needs this. I need it. Usher the Cavs along to the Finals with all the care of a squire attending to his knight. Save us all from these garbage playoffs.
I’ll check the score tomorrow to see whether you came through.