Jock Watch: NBA, NHL Playoffs Get Going This Weekend

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REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

Not sure which sporting event should catch your eye (or ear) this weekend? NewsFeed breaks down a few of the events that could shape the sports scene.

NBA: While it’s still quite early in the postseason, story lines already poke out in the best-of-seven first round. Orlando—the fourth seed in the East—is struggling with Atlanta and will attempt to break the 1-1 tie on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern. Thursday evening should provide an interesting view into whether the East’s top two seeds, Chicago and Miami, can build on their 2-0 leads, with the Bulls facing the Indiana Pacers at 6 p.m. Central and the Heat tipping off against Philadelphia at 8 p.m. Eastern. Chicago then plays again on Saturday and Miami on Sunday. Then there are the Los Angeles Lakers, the second seed in the West. Games three (Friday, 8:30 p.m. Central) and four (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Central) will show whether they can overcome their game-one loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

(More on TIME.com: See the shoe Derrick Rose is wearing in the playoffs)

The NHL playoffs provide plenty of excitement with sudden-death overtime and a surprising lack of commercial interludes during play. As the first round—which stands a few days ahead of the NBA schedule—starts to wind to a close in its eight best-of-seven series options, the possibilities for key game five and six matchups over the weekend become real. The top seed in the West, Vancouver, after taking a powerful 3-0 lead on defending champion Chicago was blown out 7-2 in game four. Can Vancouver rebound on Thursday (7 p.m. Pacific) and close out the series, or do they open the door for the Blackhawks? Also on Thursday, the battle of California gets back into gear as San Jose tries to go up 3-1 on Los Angeles (7:30 p.m. Pacific). The Sharks came from down 4-0 to beat the Kings in game three. And after Montreal took the first two games from Boston south of the border, the Bruins grabbed game three in Montreal. Game four is Thursday (7 p.m. Eastern).

Spring Football: With no reason to think NFL, now is a great time to get ready for the upcoming college season (and by upcoming, we mean this fall). As spring football continues to get bigger, as seen by the 66,000 fans at Nebraska and 92,000 fans at Alabama for their spring football games last weekend, this Saturday’s biggest game on the docket could very well be at Ohio State (1:30 p.m. Central).

Soccer: Manchester United, sitting comfortably on top of the Barclays Premier League, has a chance to extend its lead against seventh-ranked Everton in Saturday’s best matchup (7:45 a.m. Eastern). Stateside, Saturday’s top game in the MLS features the West’s second-place Los Angeles Galaxy visiting fourth-place Portland (8 p.m. Pacific).

MLB: Is Kansas City at Texas really the most compelling match-up of the weekend? It just may be. With Texas atop the American League West and Kansas City within a game in the Central, the three weekend games may help one team gain even more momentum. Of course, catching Dan Harren of the Los Angeles Angels pitch at home against struggling Boston on Friday (7:05 p.m. Pacific) showcases the young season’s best pitcher.

(More on TIME.com: See the best pictures of the week)

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