by Tom Weppel
After regular seasons both lasting 82 games each, the NBA and NHL are now cranking up their postseason playoffs. In both instances, there are plenty of fans and pundits who feel the regular season simply lasts too long. There are plenty of others who feel these playoffs will stretch out and last a bit too long, as well. Nonetheless, both Leagues and sports are in full swing with their playoffs, all to determine who their Champion is gonna be. In each case, though, we are truly looking at different circumstances.
In the NBA, there are certain favorites, with the defending Champion Lakers in the West, and the dominant Cavaliers in the East. Both Cleveland and Los Angeles have shown they are worthy of being the best in each Conference. They are both being looked upon as the likely teams to make it to the NBA Finals.
Some teams have a shot at beating each team. In the East, you can look at Orlando as a worthy opponent to the Cavs. If they end up playing each other in the Conference Finals, look for one nasty series, without question. In the West, look for Dallas, Utah, Denver, or the Spurs to give the Lakers a tough time in a series. But overall, it seems Head Coach Phil Jackson will have L.A. ready to go.
If indeed the Cavs and Lakers make it to the Finals, it would provide us with quite an entertaining series for the Championship. For this first round of the playoffs, don’t look for any upsets.
While there are dominant teams in the NBA, that is simply not the case, per se, in the NHL, where it is fair to say the teams are more evenly competitive. While teams with the best records have the home ice advantage, the better, more boisterous crowds, and whatnot, the other side is that good goaltending can even things up on either side in a heartbeat, and it certainly has, taking in the results from past years. Just look at the first night of games, where the visiting team on three of the four contests.
The #1 seeds in each Conference are the Washington Capitals in the East, and the San Jose Sharks in the West. Both clubs had outstanding seasons and have a great shot at making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. But its not gonna be easy, as we saw last year, when the Penguins came out of nowhere to win the title.
In the NHL, teams can get on a hot streak….a roll….and you combine that with hot goaltending, and you can see things change in a series real quick. That is what makes the NHL playoffs so entertaining. We’ll see how they play out. Look for a series upset or two.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
No matter what team or what sport, it always helps to get off to a good start to begin a season. Starting off on a losing streak can taint attitudes real quick. Just ask the Mets, Astros, and Orioles, who have all gotten off on a bad streak to start their baseball seasons.
You would think after a month of Spring Training games, that teams would get things going with at least a couple of wins under their belt, even if they are in a rebuilding phase or whatever. But New York, Houston, and Baltimore are all hurting as they try their best to get out of slumps. With each team, it seems to be a combination of facets, whether its hitting, pitching, or defense. Obviously, fans of their respective team are wondering what they’re in for and whether its gonna be a long season…
In the meantime, we can also look at the San Francisco Giants, who have come out on a surprising run to start things, not only due to their solid pitching, but their hitting and run-scoring offense has done a good job as well. We’ll see if they can keep it up.