It’s getting down to the nitty gritty in both the NBA and NHL playoffs now. With only one conference finalist left to be determined in the NBA, the East and West matchups are set and play for the Conference Championships began last night in the NHL and will start in the NBA this evening.
In the NBA in the West, the Grizzlies and Thunder will have to battle it out in a Game 7 this afternoon. Despite a convincing Thunder victory on Wednesday evening, the Grizzlies clawed their way back into this series Friday night and beat the Thunder 95-83. The league’s regular season leading scorer, Kevin Durant was held to only 11 points on Friday for the visitors. For the Grizz, Zach Randolph put up 30 points and 13 rebounds. Resilient is perhaps the best way to describe this Memphis team in this series. The eighth-seed team seems to draw strength from the doubters and sellout crowds at home and today’s Game 7 should be a block buster. In the meantime, the Dallas Mavericks are waiting in the wings after their sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the East, fans will get to see a star-studded matchup kick off tonight with NBA MVP Derrick Rose suiting up for the Chicago Bulls and the Big 3 – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will lead the Heat. While the Heat struggled early in the season, it appears as though they have found their groove and are peaking at the perfect time to make a run at the title. Despite the fact that the Bulls swept the Heat during the regular season, Las Vegas has the Heat favored almost 2-to-1 to win the Eastern Conference. Chicago will need Carlos Boozer to be consistent and step up big in this series to challenge the Heat. Rose alone won’t be enough to dispatch the Heat.
As for the NHL, the Eastern Conference finals kicked off last night with another outstanding performance by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Surprisingly, the Bolts beat the Bruins 5-2 without the help of their own Big 3 – Steven Stamkos, Vincent LeCavalier and Martin St. Louis. Instead the Lightning’s supporting cast displayed the team’s remarkable depth as they scored three times in the first against one of the league’s best goalies, Vezina Finalist, Tim Thomas. The Bruins are without Patrice Bergeron, but the rookie Tyler Seguin was able to step in and contribute one goal and one assist. As stunned Washington Capitals fans saw in the second round of the playoffs, this Lightning team is a force to be reckoned with and Boston is going to have to dig deep to get out of this series alive.
The puck will drop for the NHL’s Western Conference matchup tonight, when the San Jose Sharks will take on the Vancouver Canucks. The NHL’s perpetual “almosts,” the San Jose Sharks, were pushed to the brink again in their last series with the Detroit Red Wings, as the Wings fought their way back from a 3-0 series deficit. Vancouver beat Nashville in 6 to advance after a hard-fought battle in Round 1 over last year’s Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Sharks will have to rely on their Finnish netminder, Antti Niemi to maintain his perfect postseason record. Vancouver is still looking for help from the Sedin twins, who have been mostly quiet during these playoffs.
Come watch the NBA matchup between the Grizzlies and the Thunder this Sunday afternoon and enjoy the launch of Third Base’s Blue Collar Sundays – $2 Lone Stars, Miller High Life, Pearl and PBR; $4 Jack Daniels; and a chance to win a trip for you and friends on Lake Travis’ premier party barge!