The first round of the NBA playoffs might have been the best in NBA history. Five series went to a game seven, eight overtime games and 15 games were decided by three points or fewer.
To say the conference semi-finals will be just as good might be a stretch, but there are some interesting match-ups.
Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards Season Series (Indy 2-1)
Washington is coming off a series where they dominated a well coached Chicago Bulls team, the Pacers squeaked by the worst team in the playoffs the Atlanta Hawks in seven games. Doesn’t give me much confidence in Indiana. Bradley Beal and John Wall are playing at a high level and with veterans like Nene, Treva Ariza, Marcin Gortat and Andre Miller they will give the Pacers all they can handle. Paul George and Roy Hibbert finally showed up in game seven, both hoping it will carry over into this series. X-factor will be the play of George Hill and Lance Stephenson.
Prediction: Pacers 4, Wizards 3
Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat Season Series (Brooklyn 4-0)
Do not let the 4-0 mark fool you when it comes to this series. Brooklyn is looking to beat the Miami Heat eight times in one season, not a simple task. The Heat have had a week off so they may be a bit rusty while the Nets may be a little fatigued after going seven games with the Toronto Raptors. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are older and not the players they used to be but they still cause LeBron James issues. The series will come down to the health of Dwayne Wade and the consistent play of Joe Johnson. Andrei Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston cause the Heat issues, the role players in this series will play a large role as well.
Prediction: Heat 4, Nets 2
San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers Season Series (2-2)
This will be an exciting match-up of both teams offenses. Damian Lillard is coming off his crazy series winning three-pointer against the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Tony Parker and Lillard will have their hands full with each other, I like Parkers ability to get into the paint and cause the defense headaches around the rim. Lamarcus Aldridge abused Dwight Howard and Omer Asik with his mid-range jumper, Tim Duncan will need to cause Aldridge some discomfort and not allow him to get into a groove. The Trail Blazers have a bright future but I don’t think they are quite ready to defeat the Spurs, experience will be the difference.
Prediction: Spurs 4, Trail Blazers 2
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers Season Series (2-2)
Both of these teams had to overcome some off the court distractions to get to the second round. “Mr. Reliable” Kevin Durant scored 33 points on 12 for 18 shooting in a decisive game seven to close out the Memphis Grizzles. Durant admitted Tony Allen’s defense gave him issues, this series he will be more consistent. The Los Angeles Clippers are known for offense not defense, that will play into the tempo the Thunder want. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin took advantage of the Warriors lack of size in the first round. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison won’t allow Griffin and Jordan easy buckets. It will be important for Russell Westbrook to play smart and look to facilitate, not jack up shots and forget he has the best scorer in the game on his team. The Clippers bench may be the difference; Jamal Crawford, JJ RedicK, Matt Barnes, Glen Davis and Danny Granger will give the Thunder bench big time problems. Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks will actually have to coach this series, not just have Durant and Westbrook go one on one and hope for the best. Doc Rivers may expose Brooks with a tremendous game plan.
Prediction: Los Angeles 4, Thunder 2