For the first round has come and gone in the NBA Playoffs. In the East the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks (4-3), the Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats (4-0), the Brooklyn Nets upset the Toronto Raptors (4-3), and the Washington Wizards upset the Chicago Bulls (4-1). Out West the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks (4-3), the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies (4-3), the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors (4-3), and the Portland Trail Blazers upset the Houston Rockets (4-2). It was an exciting first round where more than half of the match-ups resulted in Game 7s. Sure, the Game 7s weren't that exciting -- but for the most part the top teams all advanced after it looked like a few were on the ropes early.
Will a difficult first round hurt the performance for these teams the rest of the way, or will it have hardened them for future rounds?
The second round starts tonight with two games. Let's look at the four match-ups and then go onto tonight.
|Western Conf||Eastern Conf|
|Reg: 2-2 tie||Reg: 2-1 IND|
|Reg: 2-2 tie||Reg: 4-0 BKN|
That's not a misprint -- the Nets swept the Heat this year. Brooklyn had a long series and are really old. Miami has played a lot of ball over the last three seasons and had the easiest go at it in the first round. That series is going to be star against star -- something they didn't have to face in their first round fights. The Wizards / Pacers is going to at some point deviate into a lot of isos for John Wall and Paul George. If that is the type of ball you want to watch then you'll have a lot to root for. Both teams have strong post defense, but their offenses leave a lot to be desired.
The Thunder / Clippers will be a lot of free throws. Big names who have made careers out of whining and getting free throws. And, well, Kevin Durant is going to be the MVP so there's that too. I'm not very interested in this branch of the Playoff tree myself. But thank God the Dubs are out. Last, we have the Spurs and Blazers -- two Jazz rivals going against one another. The media spin is this is a passing of the torch series between Tim Duncan / Tony Parker to LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. Some times these stories write themselves.
If I was the type of guy who made sports predictions I'd expect the higher seed to win each of these series. I guess the wildcard would be the Wizards -- if Indy still isn't out of their funk, they could be in for a harder series than bargained for.
Anyway, tonight there are only two games:
Game 1: Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (5:00 pm MT, TNT)
Game 2: Los Angeles Clippers @ Oklahoma City Thunder (7:30 pm MT, TNT)