Now, let it be said that I normally have a strong aversion to conspiracy theory, but this would be a perfect opportunity for David Stern and the league to pull something funky a la the Game 6 debacle from the 2002 Los Angeles Lakers/Sacramento Kings matchup. I’m certainly not crying foul (terrible pun not intended) about the officiating so far (even if many thought refereeing in Game 1 of the Pacers/Heat series was shaky), but I also would not be surprised if we saw some more questionable calls lean towards the more popular franchises, especially if one series looks like a definite upset. If you’re Stern, why not at least try to salvage half the Eastern Conference and have the Celtics or Heat push through to the Finals?
And what if the San Antonio Spurs, one of the most under-watched and under-appreciated franchises in the NBA, also slip into the Finals? The NBA would lose even more money with a Spurs/76ers or Spurs/Pacers Finals.
Again, while I generally don’t believe in fixed or influenced games—especially after Tim Donaghy—the NBA is an entertainment business after all. And if you’re the NBA, and you have the potential to lose millions of dollars because of the wrong matchup, don’t you do whatever possible to keep it from happening?
Whatever the case may be once the Conference Finals come about, these semifinals will be interesting to watch not just because the underdogs have a chance. It will also be interesting to see, if those upsets really have the potential to become reality, if the league would even take that risk in the first place.