April 26, 2011

More impressive: Blackhawks comeback or Grizzlies over Spurs?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball, Ice Hockey

So, which of these playoff feats is more improbable: The Blackhawks’ drive back from being down 3-0 in their series with the Canucks, or the Grizzlies demolishing the top-seeded Spurs and forcing them to the edge of elimination with a 3-1 series lead? Both are quite stunning and shouldn’t be discounted at all, but in the blogosphere, we have to take sides.
On the surface, it’s tough to pick against the Blackhawks’ comeback story. They’re a No.8 seed and are facing the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy winner – the award for the team with the best regular-season record. Chicago is also looking to complete a comeback that has only occurred in all major league sports very rarely.
The Grizzlies – in this argument at least – didn’t have the fine fortune to fall behind to their rivals. All Memphis did was go out and beat the Western Conference’s best – including a Game 4 blowout that put the Spurs on the proverbial ropes.
Now, there are a few facts that work against each of these team’s feats. Should the Blackhawks complete their stunning comeback on Tuesday night, they’ll become the fourth ever, but also the second team to do so in as many years. Doesn’t exactly seem as rare as it is, right?
Then, also look at how often in the NHL an eighth seed topples a top seed. Also last season, the Canadiens advanced and just a few seasons ago, the Oilers not only won their first-round encounter, they went all the way to the Cup final. Actually, since the NHL went to its current seeding format, nine eighth-seeded squads have advanced past the conference’s best. So, really, it has happened in nine of the past 15 years, which is more often than not.
The Grizzlies would be only the fourth team in NBA history to accomplish their feat, but the Golden State Warriors also managed it a few seasons ago against the Mavericks and MVP Dirk Nowitzki. The Spurs didn’t look too strong down the stretch either, stumbling along with injuries to their main players and even missed Manu Ginobili in Game 1.
When you strip it all down, neither of these teams’ potential achievements seem too special now, do they? And while neither may even happen, I still think the Grizzlies topping San Antonio has an edge over Chicago’s comeback. It just seems a bit too easy to pull an upset in the world of ice hockey these days. Didn’t Canada’s U-18 team finish out of the medals recently?

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