The Most Exciting Playoff Series of All Time

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After months of the regular season grind — with players and fans sharing the ups and downs — there is nothing sports fans look forward to than the playoffs. While the NFL plays one win-or-go-home game in each round, the NHL, MLB, and NBA play best-of-seven series. 

These series allow teams to prove which is really the best squad. Sometimes, especially in the early rounds, teams can be severely outmatched and bounced out of the postseason quickly. But every so often, we’re treated to an even match of thrilling, back-and-forth contests that are talked about for years to come. These are the greatest shootouts in sports history.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the Sports Reference family of sites to review playoff series from the NHL, NBA, and MLB to determine the most exciting series of all time. Series were ranked based on an index consisting of the playoff round, scoring, total number of games, overtimes, and point differentials. Only modern-era championships were considered in each sport. Competitor leagues, such as the ABA, were not considered.

Neutral fans watching a postseason series typically want to see close, high-stakes games, preferably with lots of scoring, no matter who is playing. But the teams in the matchup — and the stories behind them — can make the series a whole lot more interesting. 

The performance of the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series was impressive in its own right, overcoming a 3-0 series deficit to win the series. And the fact that the team did it in the face of an 86-year World Series title drought against their arch rival, the New York Yankees, made it that much more amazing. Similarly, the St. Louis Blues hoisting the 2019 Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history by beating the historic powerhouse Boston Bruins made for an incredible story. This is the year each franchise won its first championship.

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