Let’s not bury the lede here. The last five to eight minutes and overtime between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves was some of the worst basketball on offer this season, and certainly a contender for worst fare offered up in what is supposed to be an important game. Between the Lakers inability to actually pass to each other, to the Timberwolves all turning into positively charged ions on offense, to LeBron James’s newfound fascination with iron, to both teams treating this game like it was a freshly sneezed-in (or worse) Kleenex, this was not an advertisement for the play-in model the NBA has adopted. It was fourth grade.

Because these are two mediocre teams, at best, If they were good, they wouldn’t treat tense moments like it was covered in chlamydia. But they’re not, so they did. It’s as if the T-Wolves spent all season watching everyone mock them for how they turned into directionless assclowns last spring, and were just waiting to tell the world, “Don’t worry, we’ve got another level of assclownage to get to!” They are clearly the dumbest team to ever play in anything resembling a playoff game. They are to supposedly important basketball what the Gallagher brothers were to music.

The Lakers weren’t much better, no matter how much Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller had to wheel pose and roundoff back handspring on the broadcast to make it seem like they were some reclamation project that came good. LeBron played as if this was all beneath him, which it probably is. His teammates were basically those blow-up things you could punch and they would bounce back, aside from Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder. When Dennis Schröder is taking over a game, you know it’s not worth a flying fuck. And all that was between James making more clanking sounds than a car bought off DealDash or passing the ball to the abyss. This game smelled of elderberries.

But the ratings will say we all watched. This will be the NBA’s Thursday Night Football. Sure, the product’s aroma could kill a horse from 25 yards, but it was still consumed. We’re all still talking about it on social media. The fact that it was ass-tastic only makes it more discussion worthy. What will they be yelling about on the morning shows as they read this? That’s all they’re after.

Adam Silver, and maybe all the other league’s commissioners, knows that more playoffs don’t mean better playoffs. They also know it doesn’t matter. The tickets get sold, the viewers turn in. They cash the checks. Maybe even the worse it gets the better they do. We’re all the unwitting audience members of sports’ version of Springtime For Hitler.

The NBA won’t get so lucky as to have the Lakers in this all the time. Throw up enough years enough in a row of Minnesota-Portland or Washington-Orlando matchups in this and maybe they’ll see it the way we do. But until then, you and I are stuck with it.

How could another team fail Jimmy Butler like this?

It truly is bewildering how another Jimmy Butler-led team, that’s led by Jimmy Butler y’know, could fall flat on their face on their home floor. How could another set of teammates not be spurred to greatness when they see Butler arrive at the arena at 4:30 a.m. on Monday in full uniform and shoot 12,000 jumpers while screaming into a paper bag right up until game time?

Perhaps they didn’t realize just how important Butler is, which they would have had they read the articles by the NBA writers that Butler sends a monthly wine club. He just wants it so much, can’t you see? Surely you’d see if you watched every practice when he strips down naked and administers 47 paper cuts to himself in the middle of the practice court four times a week.

Now Butler will have no choice but to fire basketballs off the heads of four random teammates for the next two days awaiting the Heat’s next play-in game, all while shouting, “DO YOU SEE HOW I LEAD?!” If that’s not enough, Jimmy will be forced to call Mark Wahlberg and his other celebrity friends to be outside the locker room before and after the game, just so his teammates know what this occasion means. But they’ll have to hold the game up for 10 minutes while Jimmy gets all his pictures in so that social media can see how truly important he is. Why can’t you see how much this means to him?

Should the Heat trip over their own dicks again, which won’t be in any way Butler’s fault because the 13 out of 19 shots he missed on Tuesday were just a demonstration of what his teammates were doing to him should he have to repeat it Friday — it’s very postmodern can’t you tell — Butler will be happy to email every Heat and national NBA writer that he’ll be in the practice facility at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday to repeatedly run into a concrete wall for seven hours, because that’s what true leaders do. And next season, when he’s even more unchecked with no Udonis Haslem around, Butler will assuredly be even more measured in his leadership, as opening night of next season will see him eat a horse’s heart before tipoff and dousing himself in cow’s blood during every timeout.

Jimmy just wants it so much, it’s just such a shame that no group of teammates is ever on his level, What torture it must be that Butler’s teammates allow other wings like Jayson Tatum or Kawhi Leonard or even Trae Young last night to toddle right by him when the chips are down. Do they send every NBA observer a new puppy yearly? It’s hard out here for Jimmy Buckets. And if you didn’t know that, don’t worry, he’ll be emailing you soon. 


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