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  • Jack Cinquegrana

The Results of the First Round

Updated: May 4, 2023

(Kyle Ross/USA Today Sports)

Since the NBA and NHL playoffs virtually begin at the same time (give or take a few days), they also conclude at the same time, meaning we will get round-for-round coverage of hockey and basketball for the next six weeks. In just the two weeks that have passed, there has been three major upsets knocking top-seeded teams out of the playoffs in round one.

Jimmy Buckets

First and foremost, the upset that occurred first and should be mentioned first out of pure respect and upmost importance, the Miami Heat have ended Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks’ season after achieving the best record in the NBA and being dubbed favorites to win the title this year.

The season fell apart when two-time MVP winner Antetokounmpo injured his back when making a scoring play and falling from a great apex. His back contusion kept him out of games two and three which the teams split, and Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat stole games four and five from the Bucks in the final minutes of play. Butler averaged 37.6 points in those five games, including a 56-bomb in game four. Butler even sent the elimination game in Milwaukee to overtime after hitting a falling-down, alley-oop, tap-in at the buzzer from an inbounds pass with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Heat now face the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and for the rest of the way the Heat will not receive home-court advantage to begin a series.

Kraken win first playoff series in franchise history

The next team to fall short early in the playoffs was the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in the NHL playoffs. After mowing through the Western Conference in the playoffs, sweeping the Nashville Predators in round one and the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals last season, and ultimately winning the Stanley Cup, they’re season ends after just seven postseason games against the second-year Seattle Kraken.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Avalanche were stunned in game one on home ice and going down 1-0 in the series early. They strung together two straight wins before relinquishing the series lead again after five games. Down 3-2, on the brink of elimination, the Avs made a stand in Seattle and tied the series with a dominating three-goal win.

In a series in which the home team only won two out of the first six games, it was clear that this was as much Seattle’s series to lose as it was Colorado’s. Seattle won game seven on the back of Oliver Bjorkstrand’s two-goal game and a 33-save performance by former Avalanche goaltender Phillipp Grubauer. A historic series win by a new franchise that is already gaining a fanbase.

What a waste…

Finally, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. A team that broke records, had a 60-goal scorer, a Vezina-caliber goaltender, three forward lines featuring star players, a stud workhorse on the blue-line and won 65 regular season games was bounced from the playoffs after seven games of mediocre hockey.

This is being considered as the biggest choke-job by an NHL team in the history of the sport. Beaten by a team with no recognizable talent outside of Matthew Tkachuk and the shell of Alexsander Barkov. The Florida Panthers just wanted to win the series more than the sleepwalking Bruins, and win they did.

(Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)

In game seven, with the Bruins protecting a one-goal lead with under a minute left, Jeremy Swayman let in a squeaker shot by Brandon Montour, a puck he should have stopped. The Panthers pushed the game to overtime when they ended the Bruins’ season 8:35 into the overtime period.

The Bruins had three chances to clinch the series and could not close out. In game five, when the Bruins had a 3-1 series lead, Brad Marchand had a breakaway chance in the waning second of the game to oust the Panthers season at the buzzer but was stopped and Matthew Tkachuk won it for Florida in overtime. In game six, the Bruins held the lead two separate times in the third period, only to lose, not able to defend in their own zone.

The rest of round 1

The Knicks, Nuggets, Suns, Heat, and 76ers closed out their opponents in five games or less. The Warriors closed out game seven in Sacramento with a stunning 20-point win led by Steph Curry who dropped a 50-bomb, the most points scored in a game seven in NBA history. The Lakers ended the Grizzlies season abruptly with a blowout win in game six. The Celtics had unforeseen struggles with a play-in Hawks team that they eventually beat in six games.

The NHL featured but one series reach at least six games. The parity is unmatched. The Vegas Golden Knights put the nail in the coffin of the Jets season in five games. The Stars, Oilers, Hurricanes, and Maple Leafs ended their series’ in six games, and the “Leafs” ended a 19-year playoff series-winning drought.

(Mike Ehrmann/ Getty Images)

Round 2 already underway

Some of my favorite matchups in the NBA in the second round have to include the Warriors-Lakers, a Stephen Curry, LeBron James rematch, and Nuggets-Suns, Jokic and Murray versus KD and Booker. For the NHL, the Golden Knights-Oilers series should be special, as well as Hurricanes-Devils/Rangers. Rangers at Devils tonight at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

This playoff season has had many unpredictable outcomes so far, and that is the beauty of sports. As long as you punch your ticket to the dance, you’ve got a chance.

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