Photo Credit: Associated Press (Doug McSchooler)
No. 1 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 8 Atlanta Hawks – Indiana’s downward spiral has caused concerns for Pacers fan across the world. If they hope to meet Miami in the conference finals (presumably), they’ll have to get through the Hawks first. It won’t be easy, but Indiana gets it done. Pacers win in six.
No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats – A rested Dwyane Wade, the best player on the planet, and a defense that buckles down come playoff time doesn’t spell good news for the Bobcats. Heat win in five.
No. 3 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets – A lot of people like the Nets here. I do, too, just by a hair because of their experience. But it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Toronto takes this series. DeMar DeRozan is a real pro, but Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson have been here regularly. Nets win in seven.
No. 4 Chicago Bulls vs. No. 5 Washington Wizards – No Derrick Rose, no problem. Well, that’s not entirely true, but Joakim Noah has more than kept this team afloat. He’s become an MVP candidate, leading the Bulls’ stingy defense in the middle. He’ll be too much for the Wizards to handle, but we could see Wall with a couple 30-plus point games in this series. Bulls win in five.
Atlanta was able to win the first game of the series against Indiana behind a collective effort on both sides of court tonight. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 28 points, while Paul Millsap added 23 points of his own. The Pacers were never in sync in this game, despite Paul George’s 24 points and 10 boards.
The Warriors committed 21 turnovers but the Clippers couldn’t take advantage; going down 109-105 in their homecourt. Blake Griffin entered early foul trouble and ultimately fouled out, closing the night with 16 points and 3 boards. The Warriors take an early lead on the series after the win tonight, with Klay Thompson leading the crew behind his 22 points and 7 rebounds.
Those four little dots represent the four big shots coming from Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter after shooting 3-for-8 in the first three quarters. Brooklyn’s Deron Williams and Joe Johnson tagged in 24 points a piece, while the Nets were able to win off a 19-11 run in the final stretch of the game. The Nets shot just 4-for-24 from the three-point arc, but the Raptors left the door open the whole game with their 17 turnovers.
[Courtesy of NBA.com]
Some eye-opening clutch shots seen all throughout this countdown. Joe Johnson proved he’s a certified clutch player this season with two big shots in this compilation. Oklahoma City will never forget how they carelessly lost to Orlando in the winding seconds of a 1-point game, while the Heat suffered a rare loss to the Celtics in the hands of Jeff Green.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Craig Mitchelldyer)
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Dallas Mavericks: The Spurs have been looking to avenge last year’s improbable ending in the NBA Finals for a long time. That begins with their first round series victory over the Mavs. Spurs win in five.
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies: The Thunder present numerous matchup problems for the Grizzlies, most notably at the point guard position. The Grizz pick up a couple of wins with their disciplined, lockdown defense. Thunder win in six.
No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors: The Warriors’ three-point shooting won’t be enough without Andrew Bogut against the size of the Clippers. Clippers win in six.
No. 4 Houston Rockets vs. No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers: Another spectacle of a matchup in the West. There is star power on both sides of the pendulum, but Houston’s depth at nearly every position will be the deciding factor. Rockets win in seven.