It is that time of the year again. The wonderful time when everything that has happened up till this point is forgotten. What you’ve done so far doesn’t matter. It is here that your legacy is determined. It is finally here: The Playoffs!

I have always been interested in both the NHL and the NBA playoffs. Resulting in less sleep, or at least that I get up earlier than usual just to make sure that I can see the highlights from the night’s games before I walk out the door in the morning. It is something special about the playoffs. The arenas are full, the spectators are more engaged with the game, the competitiveness of the players increases, and of course; the stakes are higher. You have 7 games to prove that you are better than your opponent. One or two good games aren’t enough. You have to prove that you can play better, and adjust your tactics to what the opponent gives you. It is a series where tension runs high, as you keep meeting the same faces, the same type of skill sets, the same kind of trash talk, over and over again. Except for a few matchups in the NHL playoffs, I don’t think that there will be that many “sweeps” as they call it in this year’s playoffs. A sweep is when one of the teams are able to win all of the first 4 games of the series, thus ending the series after just 4 games; sweeping their opponent.
Personally, the NHL playoffs aren’t that interesting this year. For the first time in 26 years, the Detroit Red Wings will not be playing in the playoffs. Their run of 25 straight playoff appearances ended this year, when they were only able to win 33 games during the regular season. So for the first time in many years, I will not grow a playoff beard. Although the beard haven’t been growing that much the last couple of years, it was still a fun thing to do, which also brought me back to my rookie season as a handball player. That season I remember going to one of the veterans on the team, asking him: “Hey, is it ok that I shave my neckbeard, it’s so itchy?” His respond was a laugh you only hear coming from a veteran directed at a rookie, followed by a decisive: No.
You might ask yourself, how come a kid from Norway, who never played organised hockey, started rooting for a team in Detroit. Well, as a half Swede, it was easy to decide on a team when I was growing up, as Detroit was known for being the Swedish team. With players such as Nicklas Lidström, Johan Franzén, Thomas Holmström, Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Kronwall, and last but not least, my favourite: Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg is in my opinion exactly what a Scandinavian hockey player should be like. First of all with the full beard and tough physique. But also a humble guy, that wasn’t expected to be one of the best (he was picked number 210 overall in the 1999 draft), who fought his way to become one of the best players on the team, and eventually became the captain of the team. And most importantly: A Stanley Cup winner, and he was also named the MVP of the finals. But enough about why I started rooting for the Red Wings. I will be rooting for the NY Rangers this playoffs, as they have our nations main man, Mats Zuccarello, on the team. Kjør på, Zucca!

The most interesting playoffs for me this year is clearly the NBA playoffs. With my team, the Boston Celtics, finishing at the top of the Eastern Conference, thus having home court advantage all the way to the finals (When you play 7 games, they have to play 4 games in one city, and 3 games in the other. Celtics will now play 4 games at home in all of the first 3 rounds, if they end up playing 7 games). I have to admit that I didn’t think they would finish as the number 1 in the Eastern Conference, and I still think that the Cavs have the better team through 7 playoff games. But the beauty of the playoffs is that you never know what is going to happen. A number 8th seed can beat the 1st seeded team. This is what creates the excitement that we can see in the playoffs. And it’s what makes winning the trophy so much more cherished, because of the road you had to take to get there. I strongly believe that winning a trophy after having gone through multiple game 7s, and fight your way back from a deficit (Like let’s say a 3-1 deficit (If you didn’t know already, the Golden State Warriors were leading 3-1 in the finals last year, but Cleveland Cavaliers came back and won the trophy)) is more appreciated than winning a championship where you barely had to play more than 5 games in any of the series. The Celtics had to go 7 games in both the first and the second round of the playoffs, and 6 games in the conference finals and finals when they won back in the 2008 playoffs. They even came back from a 24 point deficit in the 3rd quarter of game 4 in the finals against the Lakers.

So if you happen to not being able to fall asleep one night, or want to see what it’s all about, I highly recommend you to watch a game or two, and let yourself get bitten by the playoff bug.
Let’s go Celtics!   


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