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Hoops, Hockey Championships Still Undecided


This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And I wait all week to say: Time for sports.


SIMON: Finals time - on ice and hardwood. The Heat and the Spurs are tied at two games each in the NBA Finals. And tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of hockey's Stanley Cup. Howard Bryant, of and ESPN the Magazine, joins us from the studios of New England Public Radio in Amherst. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: You know, Scott, you're a bit too cheerful right now, for my taste.


SIMON: (Laughing) Just right now?

BRYANT: I know what it is. Chicago's...

SIMON: It's the Blackhawks, yes.

BRYANT: That's right. Chicago's Simon: one; Boston's Bryant: zero. But it's a seven-game series, not a one-game series.

SIMON: Well...

BRYANT: However, I got to say, it took 87 years for these two teams to play in the Stanley Cup, and everybody's a winner for it because Game 1 was absolutely terrific. And if the next six are like this...

SIMON: The best pro hockey game I have ever seen. A couple of Olympic games, maybe a little bit better. But this was great - and Corey Crawford, Chicago's goalie, was like Sears Tower in that goal, in overtime.

BRYANT: Standing on his head, making saves left and right. And that's the difference in hockey. I always say that there are some sports where you can be rewarded. The better team wins. Basketball, best team usually wins; tennis, best player wins. Soccer and hockey, you can dominate a game - or you can control sections of the game - and come up with nothing. And that's what happened to the Bruins in the overtime. They were the better team in the overtime. I think Chicago was the better team during regulation, and then you win on a deflection. Fluky game, but unbelievable action.

SIMON: So the Bruins have all the equipment to come back roaring, right?

BRYANT: No, absolutely. I think outside of the drama of the Bruins blowing two two-goal leads, which is going to hurt, Chicago's a better team. Chicago is a tough team. They're fast, even though Jonathan Toews, the captain, only has one goal in 18 playoff games. They're still - I mean, they're a great team. But the Bruins are a tough, tough team. And they didn't lose anything really. Chicago's supposed to win game one at home. They're really supposed to win game two at home. And then the series will - you know, most playoff series really begin when a home team loses. And so if the Bruins get one tonight, then they go back to Boston with the advantage because they have got home games. So, this thing is far from over and it's just outstanding to see. Also, somebody must be smiling on the NHL for locking out the players, for having a work stoppage and then coming back with this kind of playoff.

SIMON: Yeah. And so, that syndrome where the teams go back and forth and it really begins if somebody loses at home, is that what's happening with San Antonio and Miami in the NBA Finals?

BRYANT: Well, absolutely, and I think that, obviously, tomorrow night's game five is a huge game. I stay where I've always stayed, which is trying hard not to hit the snooze button on this series, simply because the Miami Heat have not lost a must-win game in almost two seasons. And San Antonio has got to win tomorrow night, otherwise I think Miami's going to close it out. The one good thing about this series - there have been many good things about the series - but one thing I love about it is that both Indiana and San Antonio are good teams. It's not like LeBron James is going to walk out there and win every single game by himself or that it's not going to be competitive. The games are competitive but Miami is just a little bit better because, once again, in basketball, when you've got that X factor, which is the best player on the planet, usually he's the difference maker. And now Dwyane Wade suddenly who looked like he was 85 years old the last few games, now he's back and he had a great game. So, it's a best of three series, and let's see what happens.

SIMON: I have seen a few minutes of this series where the best player in the world seems to be the flying Frenchman.

BRYANT: Tony Parker.

SIMON: Tony Parker, yeah.

BRYANT: Yes, who's got a bad hamstring and that's going to be another factor that San Antonio's going to have to overcome. But, once again, best of three series. It wouldn't surprise me if San Antonio won but Miami is definitely still the favorite.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of and ESPN the Magazine. Thanks so much, Howard. Take care.

BRYANT: Stop gloating. Bruins.


SIMON: Hawks, Hawks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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