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AP Photo/David Becker

Opinion: The NHL Playoffs Remain Far Superior To The NBA Playoffs


Throughout the last several weeks, it’s been proven true again: the NHL playoffs blow the NBA playoffs out of the water. This year, I don’t think anyone can even attempt to argue otherwise. In the last few days, it’s been evident.

 

While the NBA had a couple of days off between games (which were blowouts), the NHL has been non-stop action. In the East, the Lightning rattled off three-straight victories after dropping the first two games at home to the Capitals. In the West, the Golden Knights took down the Jets in five games (after losing Game 1) to make the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

 

Almost every game and every series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have you at the edge of your seat as players show off amazing puck-handling, put unthinkable passes right on the money, and make spectacular saves and defensive plays. The momentum in hockey games is palpable, and it’s awesome that every single moment means something in games that are typically decided by a goal or two.

 

The Golden Knights story is something that we might never encounter again. This time last year, the franchise wasn’t officially a team yet, and now they’ll be playing to hoist the Stanley Cup. Vegas was an excellent squad during the regular season, but they were not even close to a lock to win the Western Conference. Truly, everyone has a chance at the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

Meanwhile, the NBA is the same old story. The teams that were going to be in the mix at the end were quite easy to predict from the start of the playoffs. It’s the top two seeds from the West, the top seed from the East, and the Cavaliers (who don’t take the regular season as seriously as most teams). Unless Houston, Boston, or Cleveland hits a bunch of threes, the Warriors will probably win the title for the second year in a row.

 

Putting the predictability of series outcomes aside, the games are just not worth the time for most average sports fans. These conference finals have been decided by an average of 24 points per game. The closest game was won by a margin of 13 points. It’s tough to watch, even for the biggest basketball fans. In fact, I look forward to watching TNT’s Inside the NBA more than the actual game.

 

This isn’t an outlier, either. Last year’s NBA Finals games were decided by an average of 15 points per game. The year before, which everyone considered a classic NBA Finals, was decided by an average of 17.4 points per game. That isn’t fun to watch.

 

During those 2016 NBA Finals, it was an historic accomplishment to come back from a 3-1 deficit and finally win a championship for the city of Cleveland after a 52-year drought. But looking at each individual game, not tuning in for anything but the final five minutes of Game 7 would have been fine. No one likes watching blowouts.

 

30- and 40-point games are an embarrassment to the NBA, plain and simple. There is no argument that closer games would be a bad thing for the NBA.

 

As amazing as it is to see Steph Curry effortlessly hit 35-footers or LeBron James turn it on and take over a game, these are things that people can just check the highlights for. Until the NBA actual games become more exciting on a consistent basis, a lot of average people are going to stick with hockey and won’t feel like they’re missing a thing.

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