If you are a fan of the winter sports then you must be pretty excited right now. The playoffs are starting! It’s funny how both the NBA and NHL regular seasons don’t seem to mean that much – well, other than deciding which teams advance to the postseason tournament.
They are both long, slow grinds that eventually end in the excitement of April, May and June. I suppose they are good for weeding out the unworthy teams, but that is about it.
Both leagues let 16 teams into their playoffs, which means half the league makes it and this year it is kind of surprising just who did make the NBA playoffs and who didn’t. In the Eastern Conference Charlotte, Brooklyn, Toronto and Washington are all still playing while teams like the Celtics and the Knicks are at home watching.
Some shockers in the west as well where the Clippers are still playing but the Lakers aren’t and the same could be said for Memphis, which is alive while teams like Denver and Phoenix are staying home. Of course the use of the word ‘shocker’ should probably come with an asterisk. If you’ve been following the NBA then you know these teams were going to the postseason just as you’ve known the Celtics or Lakers weren’t.
Heck, even a casual NBA fan like me knew the Celtics stood no chance of going anywhere when they dumped Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce before the season started. Kind of got the same feeling from the Lakers after Kobe Bryant’s injury.
The margin of error in the NBA is just too small for a team to lose their best player (or best two players) and still have any type of success. So, instead of competing for the title it seems the Lakers and Celtics will be competing for the best draft position.
I’m not sure there were so many surprises in the NHL. Teams like Boston, Anaheim, Chicago and Pittsburgh are all back in the quest for the cup. I guess Dallas getting back into the playoffs caught me a bit off guard. And the Los Angeles Kings weren’t quite as good as I thought they’d be – although they spent a good part of the season without goalie Jonathan Quick so that could be part of the reason for that.
Playoff hockey is going back to Minnesota for at least one round and the Detroit Red Wings are in again, for the 23rd straight year. I think the most interesting thing about the NHL playoff field is the fact only one team from Canada is even playing.
I imagine the hockey fans north of the border are probably a little steamed about this fact. It being their national sport and all, they must find it hard to just have Montreal facing a bunch of American teams. It would be like a World Series featuring the Toronto Blue Jays and the now defunct Montreal Expos.
Of course there are still plenty of Canadians playing in the playoffs so, perhaps they take comfort in that.
Well, there you have it sports fans, a quick primer of your next two months of sports viewing – you know, if that’s what you’re in to. Say what you want about professional basketball or hockey, the fact of the matter is their playoffs are some of the best, most intense sports you can watch.
The best-of-seven series always lead to good rivalries and teams that honestly seem to dislike each other by the time the series has ended. This, of course, makes for better games and more interesting matchups, which makes for better TV.
So get out there (on your couch) and enjoy it! Once it is over all you’re going to have is the dog days of summer baseball to keep you busy until football returns in the fall.