The One Thing NBA Analysts MUST Stop Doing.
The Spurs lost game one to the Grizzlies.
The Lakers lost game one to the Hornets.
Does anyone know the link between these two NBA playoff situations?
Analysts everywhere declared that game two for both teams was a “must-win” game. But here’s the thing: they were not must-win games. Technically, it’s not even possible to have a must-win game until game four. But thanks to the 24-hour sports news cycle, people all over the place have to make news for three days about a two-hour game, so we get shenanigans like this.
I don’t want to go through the effort to find examples, but I think if you wanted to, you could find an example of someone calling every game in every series starting with game three a must-win game. I guess the idea is that a team cannot come back from a 3-0 hole or a 3-1 hole or even a 2-1 hole, but is this really anything that ever needs to be discussed? People know that in a best-of-seven series, the first team to win four games advances. As long as they can do basic math, which I believe is entirely probable, they should know that once one team has won three games, it goes unsaid that the other team must win every game from that point on or else they will be eliminated. There’s no need to declare anything an official must-win game at all. Especially not the second game of a seven-game series.
I don’t know how long the must-win craze has been going on with sports media, but at least as of right now, it has been way too long. Calling a game a must-win game for a trailing team is like telling someone that they are too fat. That person and everyone around them knows exactly how fat they are and that it is unacceptably fat without anyone vocalizing the situation. In the same way, to call a game a must-win is to vocalize what everyone on or around the team already knows- they are losing.
Even worse, what’s the thinking behind calling a game a must-win? Is a team supposed to realize that Oh no, now they better start trying or else this thing is really going to get out of hand? I like to think that teams do all they can to win games every game. To think otherwise is to assume that only one team controls the outcome of a game, which was only acceptable when I was 12.
The absolute most basic crisis in sports is that there are two teams in every game and only one win to be had. The same is true in the playoffs. To think that the team down 3-1 needs to try harder than the team up 3-1 is crazy. Both teams are trying to win with everything they have. In all the games.
Anyways, for whatever small portion of the sporting news universe I own, there will be an official moratorium on the phrase “must-win game” starting now and continuing forever.
In other news, the NFL draft is right around the corner and I’ll be shifting into some pretty heavy draft coverage tomorrow and it’ll stay that way for a few days. In those same few days, be on the lookout for Contest #1 winner Carp’s official guest post as well as a declaration of the rules of my second contest, which will deal with the NFL draft.