Let’s put the Knicks’ postseason performance so far into perspective. Yes, Melo’s dazzling performance in Tuesday’s night game — not just the 4 points but the 17 rebounds and six assists, not to mention the 13 points in a row — was the most memorable Knicks night in several years. And yes, the team displayed a lot of fortitude on consecutive nights against a vastly superior Boston team.
But every NBA postseason has at least one or more such story, and they tend to obscure the larger story: the underdog really didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs at all.
Perhaps that’s a subjective judgment, but let’s compare pro basketball’s playoff season with that of baseball. NBA B-ball is, by its nature, much more unbalanced than MLB baseball. No team in baseball last year finished with a won-lost percentage as high as .600 (the Phillies were the highest at .599) and only one other team was as high as .593 (the Tampa Bay Rays).
In the 2010-2011 NBA season nine teams finished at .600 or higher, and three finished above .700: the Chicago Bulls (.756), San Antonio Spurs (.744), and the Miami Heat (.707).
Let’s look at it yet another way: baseball, with 30 teams, has eight playoff slots while the NBA, also with 30 teams, has 16. You have to be really, really crappy not to make the playoffs in pro basketball; the Knicks, with a record of 42-40 for a W-L of .512%, made the cut. Five baseball teams last season with a W-L of .512% or better did not.
Let’s look at it still another way. The Indiana Pacers, 37-45 for .451%, made the playoffs. If that was the criteria in baseball, 23 of 30 teams would be making postseason appearances. And one of them, finishing just four games under .500 last season, would have been … the New York Mets.
Speaking of which, we’ll end with this segment from Norm MacDonald’s funny new show…