On this fine Thursday night, sports fans had a choice. Would they rather pay more attention to the NBA playoff game between Cleveland and Boston -- or the NHL contest between Ottawa and Pittsburgh?
True, one could flip back and forth. But which was the more must-see game indeed?
It was an easy call.
In the NBA, things pretty much turned out as expected. Even when the season began last fall, the consensus was certainly that the Cavaliers and Warriors would meet in the NBA finals for a rubber match. Round three, as it were.
And so it has come to pass. No great surprise. Golden State has steamrolled their way through the playoffs not losing a single game enroute. A perfect 12-0. Did anybody really think any team in the West was going to stop them?
The same can be said for the Cavaliers. With the exception of one minor hiccup, a close loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, they've cruised through the playoffs as well. Did anybody really think there was a team in the east that could deny them?
Conversely, the NHL playoffs were chock full of drama and surprises.
The Nashville Predators, the eighth and lowest seed to even make the playoffs in the west, somehow got hot and found their way into the Cup Finals.
They awaited the winner between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, a #6 and #2 seed respectively.
And a close, hard-fought contest the latter was in a Game 7 at Pittsburgh. Back and forth they went with the score knotted at 2-2.
OK, time to check in on the NBA game. Click. The Cavs are ahead by 35 points in the 4th quarter. Yawn. Of course they are.
Click. The Ottawa/Pitt game has gone into overtime -- then double overtime. This is some serious drama going on.
Finally, the Pens score the winning goal. There will be no Canadian teams in this year's Stanley Cup Finals -- again. Alas, how many will miss the rousing rendition of O Canada before the games in the series for Lord Stanley's Cup? Count yours truly among them. The legions of hockey hosers in the great white north can only sit idly by and watch the yanks to the south slug it out again.
But now things have changed.
Pittsburgh and Nashville present an interesting match-up in the NHL Finals. A #2 seed taking on a #8. The Pens, with home ice advantage, will certainly be favored. But hockey is very much an unpredictable game. A lucky -- or unlucky -- bounce here, a deflection there, and games can be decided. True, the Pens are the defending champs and have definitely been there, done that. But the Preds have been hot of late. This series could be a sweep, or go to seven games, with the decider going into double or triple overtime. It's a crapshoot.
Yet though the NBA Finals have long been foreseeable, hence the playoffs to date anti-climactic, the Cavs/Warriors III scenario shapes up to be far more interesting.
Two juggernauts squaring off against each other. A combined playoff record of 24-1 getting ready to lock horns to claim superiority once and for all. At least until next year.
It's finally time to tune out the NHL some and tune back in to the NBA.
It only took six months......