The playoff season is well underway and both leagues have provided some really solid entertainment so far. Let me take a break from crushing key terms and spit some knowledge for a minute:
• Which big 3 team's run is more over - Garnett/Ray/Pierce or Duncan/Ginobili/Parker? This won't go over well but I'm gonna say the Celtics. This is not to say that the team is in ruins, they're still gonna be a tough team to beat next year, but it's because the East is getting really good, really fast. The Bulls, Heat, Hawks, and yes, even the Knicks are all on the rise while the C's and Magic (assuming they lose Howard) are slowly fading from the top. Although the Spurs are aging, they had the second best win pct. in the league (first in the West), and actually do have some budding up-and-comers in DeJuan Blair and my man Gary Neal. Plus Tony Parker's only 28. Sidenote - did you know Manu is 6'6''? Could have sworn he was no more than 6'0''.
• Postseason MVP thus far goes to the regular season MVP, with Dirk and D-Wade certainly in the conversation. D-Wade has quietly/ehhh not so quietly performed better than LeBron in the postseason, leading the Heat in average points, assists, and steals. On the other hand LeBron has led the league in triumphant howls and flexing motions in the direction of the crowd so he's got that going for him. Dirk took a big German dump on the Lakers' D and in my mind has become the best foreign player of all time, sorry Darko.
• What's there to say about the Thunder that you don't already know? They're young, wild, and free and consistently the funnest team to watch. Sure, Westbrook could dish to Durant a bit more, but a good coach should be able to work that out. Time to prove yourself Scott Brooks. Much love for the small-market squads (I see you Grizz Nation).
• In the NHL, we've seen some quality playoff games as well. Plenty of getting pucks to the net, that's fer sher. B's-Habs really could not have gotten much better as a series. The Lightning are a scary squad but I'm taking the Canucks to win it all, unless the Sharks wear their black uni's in 4+ games of the Western Conference Finals.
• Kind of going on a tangent here, but 3 things I would change about hockey:
1. Shorten the time between periods - should be more like a quarter break in the NFL/NBA rather than halftime in either of those sports. These guys are subbing every few minutes and are already in insane shape, they don't need that long. Then again, this is coming from a guy sitting on a couch sucking down Milwaukee's Beast and nachos.
2. There is no reason fighting should be "less allowed" during the playoffs. I despise rules that apply to the playoffs and not the regular season (see NFL overtime rule). Not only are fights one of the best things about hockey, they'd be twice as heated in the playoffs. The NHL could help itself out a lot by not issuing suspensions for fights.
3. Make the goals bigger. Simple request that could change the game for the better. One of the main things I don't like about hockey are garbage goals. Goals that come from 7 people flailing around the goalie trying to find the puck as if a full tin were thrown into my common room. This isn't entertaining to watch, it's just not good TV. I want snipes. I want twisted wristas. I want Hawkeye bullets from the ladies' tees. Bigger goals would get guys to shoot from farther out, and obviously would lead to more scoring. Hockey is way more entertaining to watch in person rather than TV, probably more so than any other sport, and anytime I watch a scoreless period on TV I feel like I've just wasted 45 minutes of my life.
• Lastly, sad to see Phil Jackson get swept (how many times have you heard that?) to end his career. Billy Simmons had a solid article about him on ESPN.com today, though I did think he was a bit harsh on reminding us how old Phil was. Spent way more time talking about Phil's actual body than necessary. Bill is right, though, in that Jackson will not be remembered for this sweep but for the godlike mark he left on the game. You can say that players like Kobe and Michael barely even need a coach, but I'll let Simmons cover that argument for me. Sayonara, Zen Master.