One thing you can’t say about the conference finals series so far in the 2018 NBA playoffs: They’re close. In both the Eastern and Western Conference finals, games have been mostly a trade of blowouts, which sticks to the trend set by the previous series in this year’s postseason.
In the East, where the series is tied between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers at 2-2, the average margin of victory through 4 games is 19.3 points. The Cavs’ game 4 win, 111-102, has been the closest we’ve seen in this series, coming after a 25-point win for Boston, a 13-point win for Boston and a 30-point win for the Cavs.
In the West, things are just as extreme, with 25.3 points separating between winner and loser on average after 3 games. The Warriors opened with a 13 point win, followed by a 22-point win by the Rockets. In Game 3 the Warriors made some history with a 41-point victory.
In the West, this follows the trend of one-sided series. We’ve yet to have a 7-game series in the Western conference. In fact, in the 6 series that preceded the conference finals, we’ve had only one series (first round, Jazz vs Thunder) go to 6 games. The rest were 4-1’s and one sweep, by the Pelicans over the Blazers.
In the East things have been closer, at least early on. Both the Cavs and the Celtics needed 7 games in the first round. The Cavaliers ousted the Pacers despite getting blown out twice by Indiana. The Celtics beat the Bucks in the closest series in this postseason. What followed was much less parity: Cleveland swept the Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinals; the Celtics took care of the Sixers in 5 games.
Good basketball, great basketball, sometimes all fans want is for things to be interesting. If series go the distance, people are willing to forgive blowout after blowout. But when it’s one sided all the way, the fear of the NBA becoming boring and repetitive takes shape in reality.