By Drew Zuhosky
It’s late April, and it’s also a great time to be a sports fan. Baseball season is a few weeks deep, the NFL Draft is a week away, but more importantly, the NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs are each in full swing.
As a sports fan, it’s exciting to switch back and forth between the playoff games in both leagues.
By now, the conference quarterfinals in the NBA are a few games in, with the winners of those series not being known until later this weekend or early next week at the earliest, due to the staggered schedule of the NBA Playoffs in the early rounds.
For example, Game 2 of the Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers series was held in Cleveland last night with Games 3 and 4 being held Friday and Sunday in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The latest a first round series can end is May 1.
This is contingent on any of the four series scheduled to wrap up next Sunday extending to and needing Game 7 — ditto for the four playoff series scheduled to play Game 7 next Saturday. Last year the first round only had one series, the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, go to a Game 7.
Meanwhile in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the progression of the match-ups is quicker. We’re already assured of two quarterfinals series, the Florida Panthers vs. the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the New York Rangers, extending to at least Game 5 in the Eastern Conference bracket.
With the faster progression of the hockey postseason, Game 7’s in the quarterfinals (if needed) will be played early next week, with the Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators series potentially having Game 7 this coming Wednesday.
Even more interestingly, this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs is the first time since 1970 that all playoff teams hail from American cities. Last year, five of the NHL’s Canadian teams clinched playoff berths.
However, there’s a huge discrepancy when it comes to the playoff television ratings in the NBA and NHL.
Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks on NBC, despite being the third-highest-rated Game 6 of a Stanley Cup Finals in 20 years, only brought in 8 million viewers June 15.
On June 16, ABC’s telecast of Game 6 of the Cavs/Warriors NBA Finals was screened by 23.2 million viewers, almost triple the audience for the Stanley Cup.
Then again, the issue of television ratings doesn’t matter to most viewers.
This is one of the most exciting times of the year. On a given night, LeBron James could hit the game-winning bucket in Cleveland to give the Cavs a series win or Steph Curry could score 30 points before halftime for the Warriors.
At the same time in the NHL, Sidney Crosby may score a crucial goal on a power play for the Penguins or the Detroit Red Wings might be eliminated from the playoffs after an overtime loss. The craziness just doesn’t end no matter which playoff series you might be watching.
The NBA Playoffs is dramatic, exciting stuff. It’s like having March Madness all over again for two months.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs is equally exciting. I like seeing the high-intensity drama unfold on the ice every year. Nothing beats that.
With that in mind, keep watching the NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs. By June, two more champs will be crowned.