Skip to Content

The Playoffs Go Tinfoil

The NBA Finals Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy and the NHL Stanley Cup are pictured in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 02, 2024 in Miami, Florida.
Clive Rose/Formula 1 via Getty Images

There is no such thing as a bad conspiracy theory in the modern age—just ones that haven't been fully vetted yet. It's the only way we can reach full Nutter Nirvana, in which each of us is free to reach our own individual neighbor-scaring insanities without bothering with any fact-finding, motivational analysis, or just plausibility. Today's proof: Nov. 5 is still on the schedule.

Further proof: Game 4.

It has suddenly become our contention after hours of research with late-night/sleep-depriving espresso martinis that Adam Silver and Gary Bettman concluded independently that their respective championship series were gray, cold duds. The Boston Celtics and Florida Panthers were seriously boatracing their fifth-seeded opponents, the Dallas Mavericks and Edmonton Oilers, and the only talking points to emerge from the first six games played were (a) Luka Doncic is an incredibly gifted and staggeringly petulant star and (b) Connor McDavid is overrated by Canadaphiles because he doesn't play 55 minutes a game.

So Silver and Bettman, who both learned at the feet of the tyrannical yet brilliant David Stern, met over cocktails in the Fortress Of Thrones and brainstormed about the subject of the day, namely, "How do we knock the WNBA off its high horse?" and came up with a not terribly novel but still attention-getting approach: The meek rising up and kicking the favorites right in the junctions.

The Mavs—beaten up and beaten down through the first three games against Boston—rose up Friday as though they had been alchemically transformed and mining-hammered the Celtics, 122-84, the third-most lopsided Finals game in history, behind a Michael Jordan game in which Utah scored a record-low 54 points and an '08 Celtics win over the Lakers, just to rub the green lye in extra deep. Doncic was relatively well-behaved amid the win (re: minimally whiny), as best behooves someone who missed all eight of his threes. The rest of the box score was equally hilarious on both sides, notably defensive wizard Jrue Holiday's career-shattering minus-38.

Bettman, noting this, sent word from his aerie in the Edmonton suburb of Whitemud that the Oilers needed to establish some credibility, and fast. The result—an 8-1 drubbing of the Panthers, the second-most lopsided Finals game in history after Pittsburgh's 8-0 series clincher against the Minnesota North Stars, a defeat so comprehensive that the North Stars changed their logo before the next season and fled town two years later. McDavid broke the record for assists in a playoff season, scoring the not-very-vital fourth goal and assisting on each of the next three, including the one that chased goaltender and part-time brick wall impersonator Sergei Bobrovsky. He also repaired his should-never-have-been-damaged rep by giving disgruntled Canadians a reason for hope that will, of course, ultimately be crushed.

That's the secret to all of this tinfoil haberdashery. While the two leagues and ABC will get two extra games out of these recent developments (hence the harebrained conspiracy theory we bring you at no extra cost), we also know that there is no such thing as momentum between games, only within them. If there were such a thing, both series would have been sweeps (the Game 4 scores would have been 106-95 and 4-1 because We Know Stuff), and not very interesting ones at that. In such a scenario, the Celtics would have been criticized for being given too easy a easy path to victory, the easiest path based on opponent seeding since all the way back in 2023 by Denver, and the Panthers would have been clocked down for having no discernible superstar beyond the one-answer-to-every-question Bobrovsky.

Both series would have died swift deaths and left the rest of the summer to the Chicago White Sox's search for the Earth's crust, and Caitlin Clark and the quest to insert her into every story on CNN's nightly news, including the daily sharks-attacking-swimmers-off-the-Florida-coast roundup. So Gary and Adam, take a bow, you desperate old coots. You pulled it off—granted, not very subtly, but desperate times require desperate measures.

This theory is the only way the last two days make any sense, and frankly we'll take it. When a story needs to be fabricated, only true craftspeople will do, and when the only proof ever offered for any crackpot's tale is "Well, what's your theory, smart ass?", the skill is in turning the implausible into the conceivable through clever storytelling. Anyway, that's ours, for a Father's Day you will forget because nothing good comes from a day of bastardy in which men are unreasonably honored for causing their partners the greatest amount of measurably physical pain.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter