Have you ever been in a conversation and felt totally out of your depths, to the point you were forced to sit on the sideline rather than actually participate? Maybe the people in question were far more well-versed in politics, literature or pop culture that you were, and you had nothing to add, so you chose to play the silent card.
The feeling you had, when you were silently counting down the nanoseconds until the Nabokov references came to an end is exactly how she feels when she's watching two teams duke it out on the court. She has nothing to offer in terms of game analysis, so she's uncomfortable and silent, making for a not-so-enthralling playoff experience.
The solution? Clue her into the conversation and the key players on the tip of everyone's tongue before you head out to the party or the bar. If she didn't know about the Spurs recent seven-week streak, she couldn't really get excited about Oklahoma nabbing the win, could she? Clue her into the surrounding circumstances of each game going in, and she'll get swept up in the natural drama of the game just like you do.