Here’s a second-half NBA prediction: Intermittent switch-flipping

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It felt like the NBA used to be a lot more consistent. The teams that were good in the regular season also were good in the postseason, for the most part, and if you looked and/or played like a scrub, you were usually dismissed like one. During this era, it’s almost as if you should wait to lay future money until the first week of April.

A single-elimination NBA playoff would change history

Even then, the only teams I’d be willing to entertain would be a reigning champ or Miami, and that feeling goes back two or three years. A quick look at Thursday night’s slate saw the Orlando Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers, the Dallas Mavericks top the Phoenix Suns, the Oklahoma City Thunder smash the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors put away the Lakers. All of those teams are currently in the playoffs or play-in, but only one of those matchups stayed within double digits: A 116-109 upset in Cleveland by Orlando. Those contests didn’t feature Donovan Mitchell, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Bradley Beal, or LeBron James.

I don’t even care about the load management aspect, there’s so much variance outside of that it’s hard to get a feel for who is actually good. Obviously, that makes my job harder, but also those of gamblers and sportsbooks. However, I think the casual fan is equally affected because there’s no rhythm to the season.

It’s a scatter plot from day to day. There are a few reliable groups, yet on any given night any team could get beat by 30. That described the Bucks to a T until Doc Rivers showed up, and now they just lose by 15.

Boston, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, and the Clippers have the five best records in the NBA, and I’m not sure if they’re above average, or just trying. I think the Celtics might be contenders, at least Jayson Tatum certainly thinks so, but C’s fans are as dubious of Joe Mazzulla as I am.

Half of the “contenders” are sandbagging so their stars make it through the season. The lone motivation for Phoenix, Golden State, Miami, and the Lakers is to earn a seat at the table while not being fined. While Adam Silver thought the play-in would keep the regular season interesting, it’s almost had the opposite impact. Good teams can wait longer to flip the switch, and hope some overzealous young squad goes all out for a two-seed.

Imagine the kind of shape Shaq would’ve shown up in if given an extra month to work it off. Are we sure Draymond Green wasn’t trying to get suspended? I mean, it didn’t derail the Warriors’ season, and he got an early season staycation.

It used to be that the regular season didn’t really matter from an interest standpoint. The best teams finished with the best records, but you could see why. You could watch the product, and form an opinion about who will be tough outs come April and May, and who’s destined to get stepped on like a cigarette butt.

Give me a second to kick some kids off my lawn, and I’ll wrap this up. Load management, anger management, designated rest days, a shorter season, whatever needs to be done to deliver an iota of consistency, the NBA should do it.

If you think you have an inclination of how any franchise will look come the postseason — outside of Denver or Miami — you’re probably the kind of person who thinks he could solve global warming. A) You’re bothering me, and B) I’m just going to deal with the chaos when it gets deep.

In this edition of “Fire Rob Manfred” …

MLB executives and Rob Manfred can talk about the rigorous testing of the new “performance-driven” uniforms as much as they want, but clearly, that was a lie. Because if they had inspected them, they would’ve noticed this:

Tough out there, Rob, what with the truth swinging freely like Casey Schmitt’s manhood.

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