The Philadelphia 76ers, a team that faded down the stretch before playoff time and one considered to be swept by the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, is now leading 3-1 in that series with a chance to send the injury riddled Bulls home for the summer on Tuesday. Yes, we know,Derrick Rose is hurt, but so is Joakim Noah, and also, this team played pretty darn well without Rose while he was hurt most of the season, well enough to net the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Here we have the 76ers, with guys like Evan Turner, Jrue Holliday,and Spencer Hawes, names some fans haven’t even heard of with their foot on the throats of the Bulls with them facing elimination.
Meanwhile on the ice, the eighth seeded Los Angeles Kings have not only knocked off the top seeded Vancouver Canucks, who won the President’s Trophy this year, in five games but have also swept the St. Louis Blues on their way to the club’s second only appearance in the Western Conference Finals. The Kings’ defensive style of play and the superb goaltending of Jonathan Quick have catapulted Los Angeles past the top clubs of the West and they will face Phoenix next.
In past years,especially in the NBA, the eighth seed was just happy to be there, but in recent years, this is becoming less of the case. In 2007, the Golden State Warriors knocked out the Dallas Mavericks, a team one year removed from the Finals and winners of 67 regular season games, in six games. In the NHL this happens often because any team can be beaten at any time, ask any San Jose Sharks fan.
It says to me that the top seeds take the eighth seeded teams lightly and they should probably step their game up in the playoffs because the eight seed isn’t just happy to be there anymore, they’ve come to play.