The NBA lockout was a black eye for the league. The players and owners are both to blame. But it’s even worse when the fans are the ones suffering from their mistakes. Both sides threatened that they were willing to miss the entire season before ultimately, as we all know, they conveniently came together to start in time for a quintuple header on Christmas.
The slapped together 66-game season would be a rushed compromise. The owners get the Christmas games (and a number of concessions in the new CBA), the players get their jobs back, and the fans? The fans get what should have been a slightly abbreviated NBA schedule, complete with the aforementioned traditional Christmas games, an All-Star game, 16 less games (which doesn’t sound so bad), and most importantly a full post season.
But there’s a catch.
The overall quality of the games has been crap. As many of the Celtics players said prior to the start of the season, it’s been rushed. Two preseason games sounds good on paper. Limited practice time, to the average fan? Who cares? Well, as we are all witnessing, it matters. It matters big time. The season was rushed and the on-court product/ fan experience has suffered. In a way they have sacrificed the season, by not sacrificing the season. I don’t see this as a long term problem, but as for the present, it’s embarrassing.
The Celtics scored 71 points last night. 71 points in 48 minutes. (They played the whole game.) I know Rajon Rondo didn’t play, but come on. They were not alone in a night of futility around the league. Check out some of these other final point totals: 75, 76, 79, 81, 80, 84, 86, 86, 88. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.
A closer look at the numbers: only four teams are averaging 100+ points per game this season. (Yes I know it’s not even a month in, and two of those four teams are just a couple of bad nights away from being in the 90s). By comparison, 11 teams put up at least 100 last season. Equally discouraging, five teams are averaging less than 90 points per game this year, not one team did that for the entire season a year ago.
Many NBA experts warned us that this schedule, with the multiple back-to-backs, and the always dicey back-to-back-to-back, that there would be nights that teams just simply don’t have the energy. Oh ok. That should be consolation enough for the paying customer. Sorry the Lakers scored 52 points thru 3 quarters in a primetime ESPN game… it was just “one of those nights.” Weak.
Injuries have been a big discussion with the condensed season. I don’t blame the number of injuries on the lockout like others do, I, more simply look at the effort and energy on a given night. Rondo messed up his wrist going up for a layup on Wednesday that same exact play could have happened in a traditional 82-game season. I’m not freaking out about the injuries, but the level of play, that’s the problem.
There are still an overwhelming number of must-see players around the league and intriguing teams and storylines. However with so many “off nights” throughout the season, it becomes more difficult to defend the NBA product. Again, I think/hope that this problem will be isolated to this season and not carry over. It appears that it may not only be a long season for the Celtics, but for the NBA fans as well.
Rich Keefe is the Celtics Reporter for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. You can follow him on twitter: @Keefe21