As both the NHL and the NBA enter their respective conference finals, the true championship contenders become increasingly evident. Action and excitement remain prevalent in both leagues’ playoffs, with only the best and most exciting teams still competing.
The Indiana Pacers have overcome their rocky start to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the powerhouse Miami Heat. The Heat, heavy favorites to win their third-straight championship, have steamrolled through the first two rounds of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have struggled to get past their arguably easier schedule. In spite of their immense talent, the Pacers’ uneven play gives the unmatched Heat an immense advantage.
In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder, led my league MVP Kevin Durant, face the perennial championship contender San Antonio Spurs. Led by a core of veteran players, the Spurs remain an underrated threat to the Heat’s championship dreams.
However, their age may prove to be their downside, as injuries and fatigue will inevitably catch up with stars like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Despite losing their starting center Serge Ibaka, I predict that the Thunder will continue their march towards the NBA Championships.
The most intriguing matchup in the NHL lies in the Eastern Conference, as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings, who have fought from being down three-games-to-none against the Sharks, have shown why they won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick has played phenomenally and sharpshooter Marian Gaborik taking charge of the offense. While the Blackhawks have also maintained a consistently intense offense, I predict the Kings will continue their streak of wins and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years.
The NHL’s Western Conference Finals feature the Original Six-faceoff of the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens. In a matchup that features two of the NHL’s best goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist of Montreal and Carey Price of New York, this series will have to be won on the defensive end.
However, Price got injured during game two of the series, meaning the Canadiens have lost one of their most important players. With the Rangers’ high-scoring offense, the outcome may be all but written in stone.