Digest-Round-1

We’re about halfway through the first round of the playoffs for both the NBA and the NHL. Whether you didn’t notice they were going on, didn’t have time to keep up, or just want an additional look at what’s going on, we’ve got a quick digest for you.

Instead of starting with one sport and going to another, I’ll jump around back and forth a bit to mix things up. I’ll still divide things up into East and West, though, since both sports do it that way.

EASTERN CONFERENCES

NHL: Rangers 2, Philly 1

This series looks evenly matched, and for teams who finished 2 points apart in the regular season, that should come as no surprise.

Bryan (@bclienesch): Yeah, the new format is a little screwy where the fifth best team in East gets to play the sixth for a trip to the next round, though. Even with as much parity there is in the NHL, I don’t think either team has a shot of advancing to the conference finals.

NBA: Miami 2, Charlotte 0

Bryan (@bclienesch): Really not even worth talking about. In a good year, the 2-7 matchup in the NBA playoffs is a snoozer and this is NOT a good year for the Eastern Conference.

NHL: Boston 2, Detroit 1

It’s the first year Detroit has been in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and if they can win the next game over the Bruins to tie up the series, it’d be a huge accomplishment. Boston finished 24 points ahead of the Red Wings, and analysts are saying that the Bruins are starting to stomp down on their opponents.

Bryan: #8 Seeds have made runs before, but you can stick a fork in Detroit. Even if they weren’t down to the Bruins, the reworked format guaranteed them playing another Top 4 team in the conference in the next round and that team will be Montreal.

NBA: Toronto 1, Brooklyn 1

Bryan: Toronto should advance. People want to point to the fact that Brooklyn made the postseason as some evidence that they’ve turned their season around. They are the Lakers of the East, which is to say a three-ring media circus that time and time again underachieves. And just like the Lakers, if they were in the West, we wouldn’t even be talking about them right now because they’d be sitting at home with their season over.

NHL: Pittsburgh 2, Columbus 2

The Penguins finished 16 points ahead of the Blue Jackets in the regular season, and now Columbus has the series tied up? That’s big news for hockey fans in Ohio.

NBA: Indiana 1, Atlanta 1

Bryan: I guess the fact that Atlanta isn’t getting blanked means we have to talk about this series but I’m not sure why. It’s literally a winning team versus a losing team. The Hawks don’t have a Shaq’s chance at the free throw line of winning this series.

NHL: Montreal sweeps Tampa 4 games to none

They won the same number of games in the regular season, and somehow Montreal disposes of the Lightning without dropping a single game.

Bryan: If I’m making an argument to someone about how unpredictable the NHL postseason is, this is my Exhibit A. This should’ve been the best series of the first round, but instead it’s the first that’s over. Tampa absolutely defecated on the ice for four games. The only silver lining here is no one in Florida probably noticed.

NBA: Washington 2, Chicago 0

Looks like Charles Barkley’s prediction of the Wizards being dangerous in the playoffs has some considerable merit. Their first trip to the playoffs after being resigned to the bottom portion of the league for years has been a work in progress, but leading 2-0 after starting the series in Chicago? That’s a surprise.

Bryan: I guess you can call that a surprise in the same way Derrick Rose is the highest paid cheerleader for another postseason. The first round of the NBA playoffs is the most unimportant part of any professional postseason. The way the league is built, the championship always was in the hands of a few teams. So Washington took it to a team that again doesn’t have their best player. As quickly as this buzz has generated, it will disappear when Indiana trounces them next round.

WESTERN CONFERENCES

NHL: Colorado 2, Minnesota 1

Bryan: I can see how you could make a case for Minnesota to come back and take the series but I don’t see it. I haven’t thought much of Colorado this season as they’ve sort of been that team that’s been able to consistently win without impressing me, but I think they at least advance here over Minnesota in the conference quarters.

NBA: Portland 2, Houston 0

Bryan: Portland was obviously one of the hottest teams heading into the postseason, which explains a little bit how we’ve gotten to this point, but recently it’s been the teams with the bigger names that dominate the postseason. If James Harden and company can’t get out of the first round, THAT might be the biggest story.

NBA: Memphis 1, Oklahoma City 1

This is why analysts were saying that teams would rather see Phoenix in the post-season rather than Memphis, but the Grizzlies got into the playoffs and are causing some havoc.

NHL: St Louis 2, Chicago 2

If you look at it in terms of what they did last year, this is more of a surprise, with Chicago having won the Stanley Cup and the Blues getting eliminated in the first round. But the Blues are a much better team than their regular season record shows, and getting back a great goal scorer, they should be this competitive.

NBA: Clippers 1, Golden State 1

The series is close, but the two teams weren’t that far apart in their records during the regular season.

Bryan: If the Clippers ever want to be considered a serious contender, they can not let this Golden State series become a battle. If San Antonio or OKC were playing the Warriors we’d go “Oh, that’s cute. Let me know when Golden State inevitably loses” and we’d go back to our lives. The fact that this is has been a good series thus far shows just how far apart the Clippers are from, say, the Thunder, who they would face in the next round.

NHL: Anaheim 2, Dallas 2

The top seed in the Western Conference should be taking it to Dallas in a much bigger way than what we’re seeing here. They won 14 more games than the Stars.

Bryan: This should be over in 5 or 6 games. The way Anaheim has looked not just the last couple months but all season is the only vindication Bruce Boudreau needs that he was ousted for all the wrong reasons in Washington. I liked Anaheim and St. Louis to be in the Western Conference finals and nothing in this series has done much to change that.

NBA: San Antonio 1, Dallas 1

Dallas had not beaten the Spurs in the regular season, and now they’ve done it. Could that continue enough times to win the series?

Bryan: If Dallas wins this series, I’ll get a Mark Cuban tramp stamp tattoo. That’s how confident I am the Spurs will move on.

NHL: Sharks 3, Los Angeles 0

The Sharks might’ve finished the regular season 11 points ahead of the Kings, but Los Angeles still had enough points (100) to be the fourth seed. They’re being summarily dispatched by their in-state rivals in what should be a much more competitive series.