Why the NHL Playoffs Are Better Than the NBA Playoffs

Drew RappleyContributor IMay 16, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 14:  Jonas Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks shakes hands with Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings after losing 4-3 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Uh-oh...I'm supposed to like the NBA Playoffs, aren't I?

Why wouldn't I these playoff games in the NBA have been nothing short of exciting, like Game Four of the First Round series between Denver and New Orleans where Denver won...121-63!!!

Wow, a 58-point blowout in the freaking playoffs! What great TV. But am I gonna rip the Bulls and Celtics series?

No sir, that was one of the greatest playoff series ever. The three-overtime Game Six was pretty epic (Game Seven kinda disappointed). But the thing with the NBA Playoffs is especially this year it's been pretty predictable.

Everyone and their mother knew Cleveland was going to sweep the hell out of Detroit which they did, and they have done the same to the Atlanta Hawks. Cleveland hasn't gotten a challenge in the playoffs yet.

Meanwhile in the NHL Playoffs, San Jose and Boston, both the No. 1 seeds from the Western and Eastern conferences have already been eliminated. Name the last time both No. 1 seeds in the NBA Playoffs were eliminated within the first two rounds?  I know, it's a hard one.

Nobody could've predicted that. Most people thought that San Jose was one of the best teams if not the best team, and team to beat in the West. Boston in many people's minds was a favorite to come out of the East to represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.

But Carolina proved everyone wrong. Carolina, as a No. 6 seed, has a good as chance as Pittsburgh to make the Stanley Cup finals. Not many No. 6 seeds in the NBA Playoffs, let alone make the Conference finals stage of the playoffs, let alone make the NBA Finals it's rarely ever seen.

To the regular sports fan, the Anaheim Ducks "upset" of the Sharks in the first round was like Golden State beating Dallas a few years back in that NBA Playoff series.

To the knowledgeable hockey fan Anaheim beating San Jose wasn't that much of a shock. Anaheim is a damn good team that could easily be playing in the Western Conference Finals.

That just goes to show in hockey the playoff system is awesome. You have eight quality teams from each conference who battle every game and every night like their life depends on it to see who will ultimately win. That's why it's not uncommon to see the No. 8 seed vs. No. 2 seed matchup in the second round (Ducks/Wings).

In the NHL Playoffs every night you never know what could happen each team has to raise their intensity, their level of play because the opponent is coming for their head and wants it just as bad.

Do you really think the Detroit Pistons wanted to beat Cleveland? Sure, in their minds—and in the excuses they gave the media—they were like, "Oh we're gonna try our best...give a good effort." Blah, blah, blah—enough with that crap.

Did they want it more? Absolutely no they didn't. They gave a crap effort every night and disappointed the fansk, the organization, and Chuck Daly and Bill Davidson, I'm sure (R.I.P. to both men). Michael Curry, just like his Pistons team, were scared of LeBron and didn't know how to defend him.

NHL coaches demand great effort and expect great effort every night the players step on the ice. They expect the game plans to be executed to the fullest especially in Playoff time. NBA coaches? Most coaches know how to get a game plan executed and effort out of their players, but others are learning on the fly and hoping they catch on (Spoelstra, Curry).

One problem I see with the NBA and even during playoff time is what occurs before games. First the pregame "handshakes", they freaking act like it's a family reunion and they're just gonna play a little five-on-five at the rec center, not an NBA Playoff Game, and go have a few beers afterwards.

That wouldn't fly in the NHL.  When the players conduct their warmups, sometimes a little riff between players occurs. Then after the players take the ice for the start of the game, they know it's on! The faceoff men look each other in the eye and they want to take each other's heads off.

Second, I have to address LeBron and his Cavalier teammates and their stupid shenanigans they conduct before games.

I think everyone knows what I'm talking about—the stupid dancing, the fake family photo, the baseball game where everyone looks at the homer—all that stupid crap.

LeBron had mentioned in a interview that he doesn't think its any disrespect to their opponent, they feel like they have a good brotherhood going and it's just apart of what they do—something to that extent.

How do you think Alex Ovechkin would feel if he saw Sidney Crosby and his Penguins teammates having a little dance off or whatever?

Ovechkin might just pull a Todd Bertuzzi and whack Crosby upside the head with his stick. Not trying to condone violence, but hockey is as violent of a sport as there is.

But to my point: NHL Players know what their job is when they take the ice—to play the game. They know it's a business and the fans expect a high-quality game.

LeBron thinks he's the damn poster child of the league, so he'll put on a pregame circus throw chalk in the air like he's God—and, oh then I'll go play a basketball game.

I will conclude with this great quote from Brendan Shanahan about hockey. A reporter asked him, "Is hockey hard?"

Shanahan responded,  "I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner, and the concentration of a brain surgeon.

"But we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while five other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Oh yeah, did I mention that this whole time we're standing on blades an eighth of an inch thick?

"Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question."

So NBA fan, go watch hockey or better yet go to a hockey game and tell me—is hockey hard? Anyone can go to the gym and play five-on-five with some other guys, put can those same people go on the ice and play hockey?


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