Dismantling Competitiveness: Unraveling the Mystery Behind NBA Playoffs’ Baffling One-Sided Blowouts

The NBA Playoffs: A Plethora of Blowouts

The NBA playoffs are always highly anticipated, with fans expecting intense, close games between the best teams in the league. However, in recent years, blowout games have become more prevalent, leaving fans disappointed and networks concerned about viewership. The 2022 NBA playoffs have been no exception, with several games decided by large margins. Let’s take a closer look at this trend and explore some of the factors contributing to these blowouts.

Blowouts Galore in 2022

Throughout the 2022 NBA playoffs, there have been numerous blowout games, which are games decided by a point differential of 20 or more. In fact, a staggering 24 games were decided by double-digit margins, with 12 of them featuring blowouts of 20 points or more. Five games even had blowouts of over 30 points, leaving fans disengaged and seeking alternative forms of entertainment.

As the playoffs progressed, blowouts continued to dominate. The last eight games were decided by a margin of 13 points or more, with three of them being blowouts of 27 points or more. This trend has raised concerns among broadcasters and advertisers who rely on the excitement and competitiveness of NBA games to capture viewers’ attention.

The Impact of Blowouts on Viewership

The NBA playoffs are not just about basketball; they are also a form of sports entertainment. With the rise of cord-cutting and increased competition from streaming services, networks are vying for viewers’ attention. Blowout games can deter fans from watching the entire game, as they become unwatchable and lack the excitement and suspense that draws viewers in. As a result, viewers may choose to switch to other sports broadcasts, like the NHL playoffs, or opt for streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu.

This decline in viewership is particularly concerning for advertisers, as they rely on high ratings to reach their target audience. A series of blowouts in the playoffs can be a significant red flag for networks and advertisers, prompting them to evaluate their investments and explore alternative advertising platforms.

The Rise of the Three-Point Shot

One of the factors contributing to blowouts in the NBA playoffs is the growing emphasis on the three-point shot. Over the years, teams have increasingly realized the value of layups and three-pointers, focusing their offensive strategies around these high-percentage shots. Teams with elite three-point shooters who can consistently make shots above the league average (35%) put themselves in a favorable position to win.

Defensively, teams that can effectively defend against the three-point shot have a higher chance of success. The Boston Celtics, for example, were considered strong contenders for the 2022 NBA championship due to their ability to shoot and defend the three-pointer. In a recent game against the Miami Heat, the Celtics’ superior three-point shooting (50%) compared to the Heat’s (29.4%) resulted in a 30-point differential in three-pointers made, ultimately leading to a 25-point victory for the Celtics.

With teams heavily relying on the three-point shot, game outcomes can be heavily influenced by hot shooting streaks or subpar shooting performances. When a team shoots exceptionally well from beyond the arc, blowout victories become more common, as the opposing team struggles to keep up.

Evaluating Energy Preservation

As the playoffs progress and teams face increasing fatigue, energy preservation becomes a critical factor. Players push their bodies to the limits, often playing through injuries to contribute to their team’s success. However, there are instances when teams recognize that it is not their night and opt to conserve energy for future games.

When a team realizes early on that they are overmatched or lacking the necessary energy to compete, coaches may choose to rest key players and give their bench players an opportunity to gain experience. While this may lead to unwatchable games from a viewer’s perspective, teams prioritize their chances of winning over entertaining the audience. By resting players and regrouping for the next game, teams aim to maximize their future performance.

A notable example of this strategy was seen in the Golden State Warriors’ Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies. With a 3-1 series lead and a significant advantage, the Warriors decided to focus on the upcoming game instead of expending extra energy in a game where the outcome seemed unlikely to be in their favor. As a result, they suffered a blowout loss but ultimately clinched the series in Game 6.


The prevalence of blowout games in the NBA playoffs has become a cause for concern among fans, networks, and advertisers. These unwatchable games not only disappoint viewers but also impact viewership ratings and advertising revenue. The rise of the three-point shot and teams’ reliance on it, coupled with the need for energy preservation in the playoffs, have contributed to the increase in blowout games.


1. Why are blowout games becoming more common in the NBA playoffs?

The emphasis on the three-point shot and teams’ reliance on it can lead to blowout games. When a team shoots exceptionally well from beyond the arc, they can build insurmountable leads, causing their opponents to struggle to keep up.

2. How do blowout games affect viewership ratings and advertisers?

Blowout games can deter viewers from watching the entire game, leading to a decline in viewership ratings. This decline is concerning for advertisers who rely on high ratings to reach their target audience, prompting them to reevaluate their investments and explore alternative advertising platforms.

3. Do blowout games impact the strategy of teams in the playoffs?

Blowout games can influence teams’ strategies, particularly when they recognize that they are overmatched or lack the necessary energy to compete. Coaches may choose to rest key players and focus on future games, prioritizing their chances of winning over entertaining the audience.

4. Can blowout games affect the outcome of a playoff series?

Blowout games can have an impact on the outcome of a playoff series, especially when teams use the opportunity to rest and regroup for the next game. While a blowout loss may be disheartening, teams focus on maximizing their chances of success in the long run.

5. What can the NBA do to address the issue of blowout games in the playoffs?

The NBA could consider implementing measures to encourage more competitive games, such as adjusting the playoff format or exploring ways to incentivize teams to avoid excessive reliance on the three-point shot. However, it is essential to strike a balance between competitiveness and the natural flow of the game.

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Doug I. Jones

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