With warm weather in the air, it is finally time for the playoffs to begin: both in the NBA and NHL. The NBA has seen Golden State Warriors dominate this season, even in a loaded Western Conference. The Atlanta Hawks earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers might have something to say about it.
In the NHL, we will see new teams in the playoffs. The Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings are out, but the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames are in.
Both playoffs always entertain, but it always begs the question: which playoffs are better: NBA or NHL?
The rise of excitement around the NBA Playoffs should come as no surprise. In recent years we have seen more excitement, competition and late game heroics than ever before. This year is no different. In both the Eastern and Western conferences one team has managed to separate from the pack. The Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, respectively, will look to hold off the remaining teams and finish their seasons on a great note. Meanwhile, both conferences have additional teams more than capable of posing a legitimate threat. In the East, a surging Cleveland team looks to keep the ball rolling and return to the NBA Finals to highlight King James’ homecoming. In the West, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and quite literally every other team in the field has a shot to knock off the Splash Brothers and co.
The NBA might have all the firepower and most notable teams in the playoffs, but with the NHL playoffs, it really doesn’t matter who is in it. There is always strong competition and there is always excitement. The thing that makes hockey playoffs great is the overtime. In overtime, the first team to score wins, every possession counts and every shift has to be precise. There really is no telling what could happen because the underdog could easily win in overtime with one lucky bounce. While the NBA playoffs are great, I think hockey playoffs are even better. Especially with new teams that haven’t been there in a while this time around, it is set up for some great series that should go six or seven games. Even the non-hockey fans tune in during the playoffs because of how entertaining they are.
While the die-hard NHL fans clearly remember and appreciate their sport and its playoffs, the NBA has provided us with iconic moments and memories that all sport fans can appreciate. Everyone has seen the picture of Michael Jordan elevating over his defender in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals when he nailed the jump shot to give the Bulls a 87-86 lead and his sixth championship in eight years. More recently was the 2013 Ray Allen shot to remember. With Miami Heat fans flooding toward the exit with time running down, the Heat mounted a miraculous comeback. Allen drained a buzzer beater three from the corner to send the game to overtime. The Heat proceeded to win the entire series and Allen’s shots will go down as one of the greatest of all time. It is impossible to predict the outcome of this year’s NBA Playoffs, but what is certain is that plays and memories will be created that we will cherish forever.
What I think people respect most about the NHL playoffs are the traditions that come with the playoffs. The team that wins the Presidents Trophy (most points in the regular season), never touches that trophy because they have a bigger goal in mind: the Stanley Cup. Also, the handshake line at the end of the series is one of the best moments in sports. After a grueling how-ever-many-game series, each team lines up at center ice to shake hands. Lastly, the thing that people love the most is the playoff beards that teams grow. Even fans get into the action with their beards. If you want to talk about iconic moments, the NHL has plenty, and I can’t wait to see the best moments of this year’s playoffs starting on Wednesday night.