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NBA And NHL Playoffs Dominate The Week In Sports


It's time now for sports.


MARTIN: The NBA playoffs are finally here. Last night kicked things off with the first round of games. Who won? Who lost? Why does it matter? These are the questions Mike Pesca is going to help us answer this morning. He is, of course, the host of The Gist podcast from and our personal sports guru. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi, last question first. It matters because winning connotes glory.

MARTIN: (Laughter). Good enough. OK, so half of the playoff teams played yesterday. Let's goes through some of these games. We're going to do this a little bit differently. I'm going to give you the score, you give me a headline. This is in the spirit of why it matters. So break it down - and only one sentence are you allowed, dear friend.


MARTIN: So here we go. First up - Washington Wizards - 93, Toronto Raptors - 86.

PESCA: Raptors force overtime, but they don't score a point for the first four-and-a-half of the five minutes of overtime, therefore lose.

MARTIN: Too bad, Raptors. OK, Chicago Bulls - 103, Milwaukee Bucks - 91.

PESCA: I'll quote the New York Times headline and I will editorialize. It is true but overstated when they say, "Derrick Rose puts injuries, and doubts, behind him as Bulls defeat Bucks."

MARTIN: OK. Go rose. Houston Rockets - 118, Dallas Mavs - 108.

PESCA: James Harden shoots as many free throws as the entire Mavericks team combined, and the Mavericks make one fewer free throw. You can't win that way.

MARTIN: (Laughter). Golden State Warriors - 106, New Orleans Pelicans - 99.

PESCA: Anthony Davis sparkles in his playoff debut for the Pelicans. It is not enough.

MARTIN: Oh, poor Pelicans. So, you know, I just found out that the pelicans existed, apparently.

PESCA: So did the Warriors. They would not go away in yesterday's game. Yeah.

MARTIN: (Laughter). I mean, if there has ever been an underdog, it's got to be a team called the Pelicans.

PESCA: Pelican state bird of Louisiana on the flag, though their mascot is scary to children. That's my one sentence.

MARTIN: OK, let's move over to hockey. The NHL is also in the middle of playoffs. We will abandon our game, but who's on top in that world right now?

PESCA: Every series is tied at 1-1. Save two, Montreal is up two nothing on Ottawa. And then the series that I want to talk about - Anaheim against Winnipeg, because I think Winnipeg is a very sympathetic team. Anaheim does have a two games to zero lead. They scored with 21 seconds left in last night's game to give them the lead in that series.

But Winnipeg is a city that's a quite small city. In fact, they have the smallest arena in the NHL. But they love their Jets. And the Jets went away. They pulled the team. It was untimely ripped from the Prairie Denizens of Winnipeg. They became the Coyotes of Phoenix. That's been in shambles. And so for years, Winnipeg wanted a team back. They got a team back. It's been four years. They're in the playoffs. This is their first home game in four years. And I figured why not focus - do some focusing on Winnipeg?

MARTIN: Yeah. A little focus. Go Winnipeg.

OK, you have a curveball?

PESCA: I do. So in the world of hockey, the world we're in, there's this great, young player named Connor McDavid. Everyone knows he's going to be the number one pick in the draft. So they held the draft lottery - the NHL did. And the town, the city, the team of Edmonton - the Edmonton Oilers - had only an 11 percent chance of getting the first pick. But guess what? They won it. Cue the sad horns because Edmonton has squandered all these number one picks. And, you know, it's not great for hockey because if you put Edmonton on a list of U.S. cities, it would rank somewhere near Albany and Albuquerque in terms of Metropolitan statistical region. Maybe Connor McDavid will be doing amazing things in the northernmost city in North America with more than a million people.

MARTIN: Mike Pesca, host of The Gist podcast from Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.