The late, great Jim McKay used to proclaim in the opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports “the drama of athletic competition.” This is truly what we are witnessing in both the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs this year. Both tournaments are offering the dramatics this year, but that’s where the similarities end.
To be honest, I haven’t watched any of the NBA playoff games this year. I have been keeping myself informed through my ESPN app and news reports. That being said, I am fully aware that both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to lose a single game. Therein lies the drama. Who will flinch first? To me, as well as most basketball fans, it’s a far gone conclusion that last year’s finalists are on a crash course to this year’s NBA Finals.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs have been much more intriguing. The only four game sweep came early on, when the Anaheim Ducks dispatched the Calgary Flames in Round 1. The Pittsburgh Penguins win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and the St. Louis Blues victory over the Minnesota Wild are the only two match-ups to end in five games. Both five game series were in the first round. A Stanley Cup record 18 first round games went into sudden death overtime, including four in one night.
Lebron James, Stephan Curry, and Kevin Durant (pictured in an Oklahoma City Thunder jersey, he is now with the Golden State Warriors) have led the Cavaliers and Warriors to undefeated playoff seasons.
Back to the NBA story. I mentioned earlier in this article that I have yet to watch a single NBA playoff game this year. In contrast, I watched nearly the entire NCAA Tournament back in March, so it’s not that I’m not interested in basketball. The NBA has become so predictable that it has, in my opinion, become unwatchable. No game this year made that more evident than the Cleveland’s 130-86 drubbing of the Boston Celtics on Friday night in Boston. This game was over in the first quarter! Given the fact that Boston’s top star Isaiah Thomas is sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs takes all the drama out of this series.
The Western Conference match-up between Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs looked at least palatable on paper . Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has a history of having his team ready for big games. However, given the injury bug that has hit San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard is out with an ankle injury), it appears that the Warriors might close things out on Monday night.
The NBA has been dramatic, yet unwatchable. Hopefully we will see a series for the ages in the far gone concluded NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors.
The NHL has a much different situation going on. Yes, the games have been dramatic, yes the series’ have gone deep, but there is one more dimension to add to the Stanley Cup drama of 2017. Unlike the NBA’s two marquee franchises being on a crash course to a championship clash, two of the NHL’s smallest markets are in a Stanley Cup frenzy.
The Nashville Predators have been the surprise of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals (and superstar Alexander Ovechkin), and marquee franchises from Montreal, Chicago, and the New York Rangers watch from the sidelines, the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators are making headlines.
With last night’s come from behind victory in Anaheim, the Predators find themselves within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals. That can happen in the Music City on Monday night.
The one marquee franchise remaining in the Stanley Cup picture is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They host the Senators this afternoon in Steeltown, the Eastern Conference Finals is tied at 2-2.
So much drama, so much intrigue. It’s been a spring for the ages for two very different reasons. Stay tuned!