Playoff Fever: What's Happening in the NBA & NHL
If your house is anything like mine, the TV was on non-stop over the weekend and there may be some household members who have a bit of laryngitis this morning.
In the world of basketball, the NBA play-offs are well underway and it was judgment day for teams that either had to step up or watch their seasons come to an abrupt end. Eastern match-ups saw the Celtics sweep the Knicks Sunday, while the Heat failed to close their series keeping the 76ers alive. For those that missed any of the action, here's a quick recap:
NBA Eastern Conference: The Boston Celtics completed a four-game sweep of the New York Knicks with a 101-89 victory. With the win, the Celtics became the first team to advance to the second round. And with their loss, the Knicks have the infamous honor of being only one of two NBA teams who failed to win a single playoff game (the other is the Charlotte Bobcats). The Philadelphia 76ers avoided a sweep, beating the Miami Heat 86-82 on Sunday. Miami, now up 3-1 in the series, held a six-point lead with 1:35 remaining. The Atlanta Hawks are one game away from advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs after grabbing a 3-1 series lead by beating the Orlando Magic 88-85 on Sunday.
NBA Western Conference: The West's top seed, the San Antonio Spurs, trail 2-1 in their opening-round series after losing to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies 91-88 Saturday. Memphis, who won a playoff game on its home court for the first time in franchise history, is trying to become just the fourth team beat a No. 1 seed. In NOLA, two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers fell to the New Orleans Hornets 93-88 Sunday night, tying the first-round series at two games apiece. In contrast to the Knicks, the Lakers have 86 playoff wins over the past decade. The Hornet's Chris Paul, however, was the one to capture our hearts as he played big all night and simply refused to give in to Kobe & Co.
In Saturday's Western Conference play-offs, the Indiana Pacers managed to avoid a sweep and earned their first win since 2006 with an 89-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls. The series now stands 3-1. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks built a 23-point lead but eventually fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 84-82. With the Mavericks facing the daunting task of a 3-1 deficit, the Blazers turned to former superstar Brandon Roy who rescued them and tied the series 2-2.
NHL: Hockey got a lot of love over the weekend as well. After a 3-0 deficit in their opening-round series, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have won three straight games over the Vancouver Canucks. Their latest victory, a 4-3 overtime win Sunday night, forced a Game 7 in Vancouver Tuesday against the top seed out of the West. The Philadelphia Flyers also needed overtime Sunday to force a heated Game 7. The Flyers, who beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 to tie the series at 3 apiece, trailed heading into both the second and third periods. The Nashville Predators won a playoff series for the first time ever, beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 Sunday to close out the series in six games. The Predators, who are headed for the Western Conference semifinals, previously failed to win opening-round series in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
The top seed in the East, the Washington Capitals, eliminated the New York Rangers from the playoffs in five games with a 3-1 victory on Saturday.
And so the drama continues. Hope our vocal chords survive.
Credit Image: © Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register/ZUMAPRESS.com
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