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Monday, June 12, 2006

There is No Reaction Like Overreaction

Irving Berlin's famous song declared "There's No Business Like Show Business." In terms of writing about the NBA Finals, there is no reaction like overreaction. My favorite part of the NBA Finals is actually watching the games. There is pre-game hype, in-game hype and post-game hype; I enjoy all of that as well, but the game's the thing--how the players respond to championship level pressure and how the coaches make adjustments from game to game, quarter to quarter and possession to possession. My second favorite part of the NBA Finals is seeing how people who either don't follow the games closely--or don't understand what they are watching--base their predictions for the remaining games in the series entirely on the most recent game.

Check out these two stories, written by the same author:

Get Set for a Long NBA Finals

Heat Talking Better Than They Play

In the wake of game one--which Dallas won despite the fact that the Mavericks' two best players shot 7-28 from the field--the author decides that Dallas and Miami are very evenly matched. Then, Dallas beats Miami even more convincingly in game two and this author writes, "Give the Miami Heat credit--at least they talk a good game. They sure haven't played one yet." What happened in game one? I thought that was the contest that proved that the teams are evenly matched. Did Miami play so poorly in game two that it changed the Heat's statistics from game one?

The reality is that Dallas has a deeper, younger and more energetic team. That is why Dallas won the first two games. Sweeps are rare in the NBA Finals, so even though Miami is overmatched and will likely lose this series it would not be shocking for the Heat to win one or even two games at home. The 1996 Chicago Bulls went 72-10, stormed through the playoffs and took a 3-0 Finals lead before finally defeating Seattle 4-2. An injury to Ron Harper had something to do with Chicago losing those two games but the point is that you could not necessarily predict the outcome of a particular game in that series based on what happened in the previous game. The better team will almost always win a seven game series--barring a serious injury to a key player--but unless one team completely outclasses the other the result of one game does not necessarily foreshadow what will happen in the next game. I'm not sure what will happen in game three--but if Miami wins I can virtually guarantee that there will be an AP headline that reads something like this: "Heat Melt Mavs: Big Trouble for Dallas as Miami Masters the Mavericks." Then the writer will tell his readers that Heat Coach Pat Riley has completely outcoached Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson and that even though Dallas still leads 2-1 that it is hard to see what changes Dallas can make to cope with the Heat's adjustments.

posted by David Friedman @ 9:11 PM



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