Friday, June 10, 2016

Surrender, But Don’t Give Yourself Away

Am following those NBA finals, natch, and intrigued by this phenomenon that’s been occurring here and there throughout the playoffs -- teams falling behind by double-digits, then essentially getting “knocked out” early in games that subsequently become lopsided, ending with margins of 15 or more.

That’s what happened to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 in their game in Cleveland versus the Cavaliers. Happened a couple of times to the Dubs during the Oklahoma City series, too, causing them to fall to a dangerous 3-1 deficit before they stormed back to clinch that one.

Other teams have shown that tendency as well. Just went back counted and out of 82 playoff games so far 33 of them have been decided by 15 or more (just over 40%) -- including all three so far in the finals -- with well over half having ended with wins by at least double-digits.

I don’t know if this is typical or not for the NBA playoffs, but it’s sure seemed like there have been more blowouts than normal this year. Feels as though a lot of it has to do with fatigue -- that teams get down, then reach a “tipping point” of sorts where the energy needed to mount a comeback either isn’t available or needs to be conserved in order to remain competitive in the next game.

“On to the next one,” teams seem to be saying, although in a few cases the “next one” has meant next season, as the blowouts have happened in series clinchers. More often than not, that’s what has happened to all this season’s losers of the year.

It reminds me a little of “taking a hand off” (so to speak) in poker after having gotten involved in several in a row, or even just one important one that required an extra dose of attention and focus.

It’s the sort of thing that makes the more conspiracy-minded fans (and sports bettors) wonder about things being “rigged” somehow, since technically speaking teams are more or less conceding games (without giving it away that’s what is happening).

But like I say I think it’s probably just the product of the natural rhythm of energy and attention available to non-perfect humans, perhaps exaggerated somewhat given the challenge of such a long season.

In other words, the Dubs are all right, the Cavs are all right, they just seem a little weird.

Image: “A white flag,” Viktorvoigt. CC BY-SA 3.0.

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