The first month of the NBA and NHL postseasons produced minimal excitement.
Only one series reached seven games in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors each swept their first- and second-round opponents on their way to respective conference finals. The first round in the NHL playoffs failed to produce a seven-game series.
However, Tuesday night may have signaled it is time to start paying more attention to the playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs survived overtime against the Houston Rockets, 110-107, thanks to Manu Ginobili’s last-second blocked shot. The Spurs lead the series 3-2, but this has the makings of a seven-game series.
Wednesday night’s playoff schedule has the potential to produce even more excitement. The Stanley Cup Finals conference semis conclude with two Game 7 showdowns. And the NBA schedule features another highly anticipated Game 5 matchup in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Here is a quick guide to Wednesday night’s matchups:
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals, 6:30 p.m., NBCSN
The Capitals, the NHL’s top team in the regular season, will attempt to complete their rally from a 3-1 series deficit and finish off the Penguins Wednesday night. Washington’s physical play has worn down the Pens, but the showdown of Sydney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin should be a big storyline in the series finale. Also watch out for former Hill-Murray star Jake Guentzel to make a big impact. He leads postseason scorers with nine goals.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics, 7 p.m., TNT
Boston won the first two games and Washington responded with back-to-back wins to even the series 2-2 entering Game 5 Wednesday night. The Celtics arguably have the advantage with each team winning both games on their home courts in the series. Boston star Isaiah Thomas said “I’m treating it as a must-win. I’m treating it as the biggest game that I’ve ever played.”
Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks, 9 p.m., NBCSN
The Oilers blew out the Ducks 7-1 in Game 6 and appear to have the momentum heading into the series finale. Edmonton built an early 2-0 series lead, but lost in overtime and double overtime in Games 4 and 5. The Ducks have two of the postseason’s best scores with Ryan Getzlaf (eight goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (six goals).