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Playoff action heats up for NHL, NBA

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In what many would call an unwatchable season, the Cubs were particularly unwatchable last night, falling behind 7-0 by the third inning to the lowly Astros en route to a seventh straight loss.

It was almost a blessing in disguise for me. I had an excuse to turn the Scrubs off and flip over to Game 4 of the NHL's Eastern Conference Finals. I didn't even feel an obligation to give the Cubs game a courtesy flip-back the rest of the night.

If you got away from the hockey playoffs after the Blackhawks were eliminated, you may want to jump back in. The West finals haven't been great — Los Angeles pounded the Coyotes for three straight games before Phoenix stayed alive with a Game 4 win last night — but the Devils and Rangers are now tied 2-2 in the East. The games haven't been particularly close so far — none have gone to overtime, and three have been decided by a margin of three goals — but I have a feeling that will change as the series winds down.

The NBA never grabs my attention this time of year to the extent that hockey does, especially now that we're Bulls-less, but two conference semifinal series have really had me interested. That's because two of the teams involved are so easy to root against. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Thunder knock off the Lakers in the West. Tonight, I'll be rooting, along with most of the rest of the country, against the Heat, who are tied at 2-2 in their series with the Pacers.

The next round could be even better in both sports. A Kings-Rangers NHL Final would draw some huge ratings (for the NHL, anyway), and the hockey could be outstanding. The goaltending matchup between Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick would be the obvious draw, but I'd be interested to see if the Kings could keep up their offensive surge against the Rangers 'D.' Devils-Kings wouldn't be a bad consolation matchup. I suppose the Coyotes could still get in, but I don't think they have the offense to beat Quick in four straight.

In the NBA, the Western Conference Finals meeting of the Thunder and the Spurs isn't sexy, and it's not the big-market battle David Stern would want, but for basketball purists, it's a heck of a matchup. Old vs. young. A veteran team that's had an outstanding season vs. the best young team there is. It's going to be the conference finals I'll pay most attention to ... though Celtics/Heat would be close.

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