Top 5 Games of Last Week (5/19/14 – 5/25/14)
Just as the quality of play has dipped in the NBA playoffs, it’s risen on the ice. Most of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals games haven’t been close in the NBA, but the Blackhawks and Kings, and especially the Canadiens and Rangers, have had heart-stopping contests.
#5.San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder:
Turn the clock back just a couple days before Game 3 on May 25th, and Serge Ibaka would tell you he was done for the season, out for the playoffs. A left calf strain was thought to be serious enough that it would end his year, and probably doom the Thunder against the small-ball Spurs. And just like that, Ibaka was back on the floor, blocking shots in Game 3 and keeping the Spurs out of the paint, their comfort zone in Game 1 and 2. With Ibaka back, the Thunder didn’t just stave off elimination – they actually have a fighting chance against he militarily precise Spurs, my pick as NBA Champions. Thunder fans who paid the $241.39 hoping to see a miracle after two drubbings at the hands of the Spurs, you got it.
#4. Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers:
With each passing year, the media doubts what LeBron and Wade can accomplish more and more. It’s mostly warranted, given that Wade missed a third of the regular season this year, but much like the Spurs who rest many of their starters during the regular season to keep them fresh for the playoffs, Wade resting during the regular season has led to a resurgence when the Heat (and LeBron) have needed him most. Many analysts predicted that a 2-0 Pacers lead would have been insurmountable for the Heat, and while you can nitpick that argument, it’s damn difficult to disagree. That’s why the Pacers lead through much of this game seemed so threatening, and why it’s so impressive that LeBron and especially Wade turned it on when they really needed to.
#3.Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings
Compared with the dumpster fire that’s been the rest of the NBA Conference Finals, the NHL has had a consistently good product throughout the playoffs. This game was no different, the Blackhawks taking the lead early and keeping it until the Kings’ Carter tied things up eight minutes in to the second period. In a game where the momentum was palpable, you could feel it shift towards the end of the second period when Toffoli’s shot hit the back of the net. Chicago, who had been keeping their head down and fighting tooth and nail, flinched, and L.A. never let them back in it.
#2.Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers:
These two teams are having one hell of a series. And in addition to the spectacular play on the ice, each game seems to have a compelling backstory of its own. In Thursday’s Game 3, the Canadiens’ goalie was playing just his second career NHL playoff game, and all he did was block 35 shots to stave off a 3-0 hole to the Rangers and keep the Canadiens’ hopes alive.
#1. Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers:
While the Canadiens were the victors in OT on Thursday, the Rangers bounced back in Game 4 on Sunday, taking the W in OT. How evenly matched are these teams? Well, 60 minutes never seems to be enough time to determine the winner, so you be the judge. If you needed any other evidence that this series is gold, you should know that the series is also producing SeatGeek’s highest average cost per ticket in recent weeks, with Thursday’s Game 3 at $560.85 and Sunday’s Game 4 at $499.17.