The last month and a half of the NBA regular season is easily the hardest time to stay interested with the sport. In many ways the games can seem to grow stagnant despite the several recent overtime games that we have witnessed. The excitement of the game just seems to be lost as the end of the regular season draws near.
With the conclusion of the season approaching the focus has shifted to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they are not here yet. This leads to rampant speculation about seeding and matchups which is merely speculation and has no real journalistic value. Yet, this is what the major focus of the news has been for a while other than game recaps and some injury reports. All it does is to serve to muddy the interest in the game with redundancy.
Now, not all outlets are perpetrators of such broken-record reports and there is quite a bit of good writing and reporting coming out of various outlets, it just seems like these pieces have taken a backseat where they were at center stage for a while. Such is life in the 24 hour sports news cycle.
On top of the repetition during these last dozen or so games is the fact that there are outside attractions that are new and fresh to compete with the drawn out season. We are in the midst of the NCAA Tournament. Though college ball has little bearing on the way the game is played on a professional level, it helps to break the monotony. It is a single elimination tournament in which every possession and play can either advance a school or send them packing. While at this point in the NBA every game means very little except to those teams sitting just outside the playoffs who, with the recent play by the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers, have little hope of making the postseason.
This should be a time when the merits of players are being discussed as the NBA awards are just around the corner. However, this too has grown repetitive as it looks as though many honors were decided some time ago. Derrick Rose will be the MVP, Dwight Howard will be the DPOY, Tom Thibodeau will likely be the COY, and Blake Griffin will be the ROY. The Sixth Man and Most Improved Player awards are the only ones left open for debate it seems.
All of this adds up to a general sense of uninterest. Obviously, not everyone shares these sentiments but they must be acknowledged nonetheless. We are exhausted with the season at this point and need the life of the playoffs to reinvigorate us. There, the excitement returns as the drama of a seven game series unfolds. Do our teams have what it takes to win it all or will they fall by the wayside crushing our spirits and leaving us an emotional wreck for several days? This is what we are all craving, we want the trill to return to the game. We want to see players put it all on the line each play instead of dialing it in.
These last few weeks will not be easy. We will be subjected to the same stories again and again. Yet, if you love the sport you will make do with it because you know what is on the horizon. You know that the second season is near. All you have to do now is sit back, enjoy a few more somewhat meaningless games where seeding is the issue, watch half the league tanking games, listen to Magic Johnson make more terribly biased comments about the Lakers, and wait.
Oh, and whatever you do, try not to think about how there is probably going to be a lockout after this season. That will just ruin the entire ambiance of the playoffs.