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Point/Counterpoint: Which professional playoffs are more exciting — the NBA or NHL?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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NBA

There are three ingredients to make the playoffs exciting — quality games, intriguing story lines, and classic in-game moments. The NBA playoffs have had all three, in excess.

In terms of exciting games, there have been seven overtime games so far. Last season, there were nine over the course of the entire playoffs. To put that number in perspective, think about this: As of press time, there have been 33 playoff games. Therefore, 21 percent of the NBA’s postseason’s games have needed extra time to decide a winner.

During the regular season, of the 2,460 games, just 79 of them went to overtime — a whopping 3.2 percent.

Even the games that haven’t gone to overtime have been close. Putting aside the Miami-Charlotte series, all other series have had an average point differential of fewer than 5 points per game.

Whether your team is in the playoffs or not, there are plenty of story lines to read up on.

There’s a legitimate shot that we see two eight-seeds advance to the second round, with one of them occurring because of the unraveling of the Indiana Pacers. There’s the league’s decision to ban Clipper owner Donald Sterling for life and the league reactions to the incident. And there’s Toronto, which is making its first playoff appearance since 2008.

Then there are the smaller subplots, such as Houston’s Troy Daniels, a D-League call-up who saved Game 3 for the Rockets and suddenly can’t miss from beyond the arc.

In other words, when LeBron James’ and the Heat’s quest for a three-peat is considered minimal news, there is clearly an abundance of story lines.

And finally, there are the classic in-game moments, such as Kevin Durant’s miraculous 4-point play in Game Two of the Thunder’s series with Memphis or Vince Carter resurrecting “Vinsanity” once more, hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to bring the Mavericks to victory over the Spurs in Game 3.

All in all, this year’s NBA playoffs have had it all. And the best news; the first round isn’t even over yet.

— Jacob Sheyko

NHL

ESPN gives more coverage to LeBron’s hairline than it does the NHL, so when even the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” votes the NHL playoffs to be superior to all others, it should pretty much end the discussion.

The NHL postseason has always been an incredible spectacle, and this year is no exception.

In fact, the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs have arguably been the best we’ve ever seen, at least through the first round.

A new format with wild card seeds facing off against division champions led to some incredible first-round matchups, and the drama has been reflected in record ratings for NBC.

Grudge-match rivalries such as St. Louis vs. Chicago, San Jose vs. Los Angeles, and the New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia have amped up the intensity and hatred, and it’s made for some amazing hockey.

And really, with the exception of Boston winning four straight against an undermanned Detroit team, almost every single series has been exciting.

We’ve seen the Los Angeles Kings come back from three games to none and force a seventh game against the Sharks, a wild Pittsburgh-Columbus series that saw the losing team blow a 3-1 lead on three separate occasions, and a Minnesota Wild team that refuses to bow out quietly to the Colorado Avalanche.

Not to mention an NHL–record 13 overtime games in the first round.

There has been drama, controversial calls, big hits, and a multitude of comeback wins.

And we still have three rounds to go. 

It doesn’t even matter that the St. Louis Blues, overwhelming favorites by many to win the cup, were knocked out in the first round.

The NHL has enough great teams, at least in the Western Conference, to make any series interesting.

So far it’s been one hell of a ride, and it’s only going to get better from here on out.

— Ryan Rodriguez


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