Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Big Night in the NBA and NHL Playoffs

Last night we saw two defining games in the NBA and NHL Playoffs. The first was expected, as the Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Carolina Hurricanes to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The second was a big surprise, as the top ranked Cleveland Cavaliers lost in overtime to the Orlando Magic. These two games have defined the Eastern Conferences in each of these sports. 

The Pens cruised past the surging Hurricanes in the Conference Finals and look poised to give the Detroit Red Wings a tough rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals. Going in to the series with the Hurricanes it looked as though it would be a battle. The Pens were just coming off a 7 game slug fest with the Washington Capitals and the Canes had just knocked off the top seeded Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh ran away with the series behind their two stars Crosby and Malkin on the offensive side and Fluery between the pipes. Though the series lacked the excitement and hype of their previous round against the Capitals, the Pens needed this series to prove that they were an elite team. 

As for the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, last night the Orlando Magic proved that they are for real and moved into firm control of this series. The Magic outlasted a late 4th quarter surge to tie the game and a potential game winning shot by LeBron James, to go up 3-1 in the series. While the Cavs have been in three of the four games, the Magic have really set the tone. Dwight Howard has really dominated this series and posted a double double last night. Howard took control in overtime and put the Cavs on the ropes. Even with James, the Cavs really don't seem to have much of a chance to comeback in this series. Right now the Cleveland doesn't have an answer for Howard and hasn't had a consistent second option to go along with James. Balance has been the key for Orlando. They've had two players score 20 or more points and five players in double figures in every game. On defense Orlando has looked to only contain James and not try to shut him down, which has allowed them to shut down the rest of the Cavs. I think Cleveland may win the next game to force a game 6 but I don't think it will go any further than that.

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