Finally!! As Bob Costas recently said “After 9 months of playoffs, the finals are finally here”. The NBA and NHL will begin their championship series this week. This means that the winter professional sports seasons will finally end just a few weeks short of the 4th of July. Perhaps in the future, the leagues can finish their seasons like around Memorial Day? Just a thought! Well anyways, I have enjoyed spending quality time sitting in my recliner watching some great playoff action. It is a great thing to see the games really mean a lot after several months of meaningless regular season games. I believe the players and coaches enjoy this time of the year much more as well. While watching some of the playoffs, I have come up with a few observations that I would like share.
1. MVP of the NBA playoffs so far: In my opinion, it has to go to LeBron James. Sure Steph Curry and James Harden have put up some big numbers, but LBJ has really shown his greatness in leading his injury riddled team to the finals. Great players make their teammates better and James has certainly done that in this year’s playoffs. Who would have thought that the Cavs would be advancing to the finals without Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving playing much? He is basically carrying that team on his back. In the NHL playoffs, my vote goes to Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks. The captain of the Hawks has once again shown his brilliance in the playoffs with 2 goals in yesterday’s big game 7 clincher against Anaheim.
2. NHL playoffs are far more exciting than the NBA playoffs: The NBA playoffs so far have been a real dud. As a fan who prefers the NBA, I have to confess that I have occasionally switched over to watch the NHL games. The Chicago, Anaheim series was a classic. The NBA conference finals nearly had two 4 game sweeps which is unthinkable for the conference finals. The NHL on the other hand, had a couple of game 7’s for their conference finals.
3. The story of high-profile injuries in the NBA playoffs: It really starts with Cleveland losing Love and Irving; somehow they managed to overcome those huge injuries. Washington loses John Wall, Atlanta has some key injuries which hurt their chances to capitalize against Cleveland. Golden State nearly loses one of their very key players, Klay Thompson to a concussion. It appears that Thompson will be okay for the finals. It just goes to show you that a team is only a twisted ankle away from having a promising season go up in smoke.
4. The hockey hotbed of Tampa Bay?: If you are a hockey purist, you cannot be happy with the success of Tampa Bay in this year’s playoffs. I hardly think of the city of Tampa being a hockey paradise. No offense to those fine fans and people of that city, but it just seems weird having a warm weather city like Tampa play for the Stanley Cup. The only ice that a majority of people in that city probably prefer to look at is the kind that goes in their drinks while they are sitting poolside or at a beach, not at some hockey rink.
5. Disappointed NBC executives, happy ABC executives: Don’t you get the feeling that the sports executives of NBC were not happy when Tampa Bay knocked off the New York Rangers in game 7 on Friday night? A Rangers, Blackhawks finals would have been great for ratings being that both teams are from major markets and part of the original 6 teams of the league. On the other hand, the big wigs over at ABC have to be jumping for joy over what looks like a great NBA finals with 2 of the league biggest stars in James and Curry.
6. Predictions: Cleveland seems to be on some sort of magical run led by James, but I like Golden State to prevail in 6 games. Chicago has been a nice roll in the playoffs, but I expect Tampa and their good team speed to give the Hawks all kinds of problems. I like Chicago to win in 7.