Reusse: Constant action is what keeps eyes glued to NBA playoffs

The NBA has its share of downsides when judging North America's major sports. You can start with the excessive influence of officiating, which can produce 25% of the points put on the scoreboard through free throws.

There is also the willingness of select players to miss games with the slightest of irritations, or teams to hold them out in the name of the dastardly "load management."

And, yes, the "Euro step" is nonsense. On Friday night, we had the "Euro trail hike" from both the Timberwolves' Rudy Gobert and Phoenix's Bol Bol, without a whistle.

We also have the explosion of reviews and timeouts that can turn the final two minutes into 20, taking what should be the most tense period of the game and turning it into thousands of people inside the arena grumbling, "What is this nonsense? Let's go here."

Which pinkie touched the ball last? The guy that the ref standing there said so. If that was good enough for Oscar Robertson, that's good enough for this generation.

As for those pathetic timing reviews, I have the solution: go back to those wonderful days when we didn't have tenths of a second on the clocks.

We get back to a ref handing the ball to the in-bounder with this advice: "It's two seconds up there, Slo Mo. Somebody better catch and shoot."

Yes, flaws exist, but this is the Big Truth:

When your local team enters the playoffs with a chance to advance, particularly when it has not done that with regularity (or even occasionally), there is nothing in major sports that provides such a long night of constant emotion.

I was watching the Timberwolves' remarkable effort (126-109) at Phoenix on Friday night and trying to figure out precisely what makes basketball different from the rest.

And then, presto, 65 years after an exceptional Fulda Raiders team lost to Edgerton in the District 8 semifinals and we went back home on the fan bus fighting tears, there it was:

This is the game where you anticipate a result that will have an impact on the score (and thus the outcome) every time the ball is brought over the time line.

This isn't hockey, where 98% of the action leads to nothing. This isn't soccer, where that figure is 99.9%. Baseball? Always been my game, but even the pitch clock can't eliminate the long waits for a result of a single at-bat.

And the NFL? The deep pass keeps going in the direction of the passenger pigeon. Dink, dunk, maybe we'll kick in a field goal in about 10 minutes, after four penalty flags from Shawn Hochuli's crew.

In a 48-minute NBA game, you have 140 possessions, all which are going to lead to a result in 24 seconds or fewer. I wouldn't say that puts a person on the edge of a seat, but it has you sitting up and looking all night long.

And when doing that, there are only 10 players out there, on a small playing surface. There's never a mystery as to how the ball got from Player A to Player B, and into the basket.

You can consume the tension fully. The NBA is presenting that with large, astounding athletes — and in playoff games that are done in about 2½ hours, yet seem to be endless when the team you favor is trying to finish off a victory.

That's what grabs me about the modern NBA. The Wolves took control in the third quarter in all three of these victories, but even when the lead was 15 or 16 and then the Suns hit a couple of shots in a row, Michael Grady and Jim Pete were telling you:

"The Wolves need a bucket here."

And they were right. You got a good team dazed and confused in today's NBA, you have to keep 'em that way until the game's inside five minutes.

We've only had one playoff run with the Wolves in 35 years. That was in 2004, with a five-game series victory over a hard-fighting Denver team, a classic seven-gamer with Sacramento (when Kevin Garnett vowed to bring his weapons for the decisive one) and then the six-game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers after the vital Sam Cassell was lost to injury.

Act 2 has been two decades in the waiting. If you like to have sports in long nights of constant emotion, the NBA playoffs can't be topped.