Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Minnesota Timberwolves fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
With the first-round of the playoffs underway, the most noticeable difference in the games has been the addition of nearly full crowds. According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, more than 50 percent of fans around the country said the inclusion of fans has significantly improved the viewing experience, only 16 percent said it hasn’t improved the experience at all.
As it relates to the Timberwolves, all I can think of while watching these games is how badly I need to see Anthony Edwards in front of a rowdy crowd. Winning basketball brings fans back, and Ant seems like the guy who can not only contribute to that, but will only excel further when fueled by the energy fans bring. I still have faith that someday soon we will get a lively playoff atmosphere at Target Center that rivals Game 82 against Denver.
With the rest of fans around the country watching at home, there is no shortage of great opening round series to enjoy. 30 percent of fans around the country believe the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers series is the best of the group. The New York Knicks series against the Atlanta Hawks is the next most popular choice, with 21 percent of the vote.
This tracks about with what one would expect, although I wonder how much of the order of the top-two vote getters had to do with what network they were broadcast on. I could be crazy, but the TNT games this past week seemed to have the crowd noise muted or dulled for some reason. It felt to me like Madison Square Garden felt louder than we were actually able to hear on TNT, for whatever reason.
Either way, the crowd in Phoenix was impressive in Game One, no doubt helping their beloved Suns out, but as the Lakers took control in Game Two, it nearly felt like a home game for them in Phoenix. I guess that’s life in a playoff series against the Lakers.
Similarly, 26 percent of fans believe the Suns best display the characteristics of a successful team.
The main thing that I’ve taken away from this chart is that the league is in a really, really good place right now in terms of parity. The field is dwindling down a bit with each passing game, but there’s still a good handful of teams who look like legitimate finals contenders. I think the Bucks have been the most impressive team in the postseason so far, but it’s hard to argue with any of the other top vote-getters. After last night’s loss, Phoenix is in major trouble now, but much of that also has to do with Chris Paul being a complete non-threat beyond the paint due to his shoulder surgery.
With eleven more games on the schedule over the next three days, we should have a much better idea come Monday morning about where some of these teams are and how likely (or unlikely) they are to advance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.