May 6, 2016
The play offs in the NBA and the NHL are well into the second round and with that comes the turn of the dial in intensity. Each team in both sports must know that to win the big prize you have to be prepared to take on the physical toll and also dish it out. The teams that can’t sustain the constant barrage of contact will be eliminated somewhere down the line. Most shots and passes will be challenged with a fierce competitor contesting the play with contact. Again, if you ain’t bringing the heat then get out of the kitchen.
It gets to the point of being humorous concerning the refereeing in the NBA play offs. Guys are clobbering each other under the basket for a rebound and if a foul gets called you have to wonder for what? Unless the players are not gouging eye balls then what is the standard. When guys like James Hardin are getting to shoot a free throw because an opposing player barely touched him while Dwight Howard was clearing guys away with his massive frame then we have no real standards.
Every team has a player or two that has a role of the enforcer. A wise team knows that a hard and obvious foul can pay dividends in intimidation and mental edge on the opposing team. The old hockey term “goon” is rarely heard because it’s not politically correct to call a player that, but we all know that every team has that player ready to go.
Winning the sixteen games that is required to win either of these championships is a brutal climb up the ladder. Even though, the regular season is long, they are just a warm up for the play offs. In the hockey play offs, there are no more shoot outs but sudden death overtimes. The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators played a triple overtime, a total of 70 minutes of intensity. The match is now tied at 2 and now turns into a three-game battle of wills and fortitude.
In the NBA play offs, star players are getting injured which is part of the game which will test any team to persevere. The Golden State Warriors have the lost their All-World guard for a minimum of five games and their team has pulled together to win four of those five games. That is great to see because most teams would have struggled with the loss and could not adapt. The Los Angeles Clippers lost both their point guard Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the same playoff game against the Portland Trailblazers and that signaled the end to their season. Sometimes the best teams don’t win but the healthiest do. Maybe there is some luck in good fortune in that, but it also can be a testament to the coaches and medical staff in how they take care of their players.
The play offs can also bring out the best in players and while some seem to have a quiet and uninspired presence. There are countless stories of role players who shine in the play offs and are not feeling the pressure of the moment being too big. The role players and bench guys want to make an impact to show the coach they need more time on the floor and ice.
Both the NHL and NBA play offs end in June giving us six more weeks of this battle royal. Now we are getting to drink the cream topping after watching our teams and sports for eight months. Unfortunately, triple overtimes are brutal to watch and hopefully your team won’t have to endure too many of those. Those take a toll on the fans as well, we have to get and go to work the next day.