The 2012 NBA playoffs tip off Saturday afternoon, but it's easy to see that the Sunday lineup is much more intriguing.
While it is mostly Western Conference teams playing, each game has a great storyline to follow. They should all pack a good punch, easily pleasing fans along the way.
Sure, there's the possibility of a blow out, but the same could be said for Saturday or any night of NBA action really. If a team is essentially a no-show with an off shooting night, naturally it isn't going to end well.
That isn't likely to happen this weekend, though, since it is the opening round of the postseason.
With that said, here's how I rank the Sunday's playoff matchups.
No. 4 - Utah at San Antonio
The first game of Sunday lacks a ton of appeal. The No. 8 seeded Jazz will take on the No. 1 seeded Spurs at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Sure, the Spurs were upset in the first round a year ago, but the Jazz aren't quite as good as Memphis was last season. I wouldn't call this game terrible just because of how the Spurs collapsed in the playoffs last year, so it will interesting see how they start things off in 2012.
However, this early Sunday game is far below the other teams. San Antonio has won 10 games in a row, and it has also only lost a total of six games after the All-Star break.
One of those losses was to the Jazz, but the Spurs are near untouchable in a full series and they should make quick work of Utah in Game 1.
Prediction: Spurs 101, Jazz 89
No. 3 - Boston at Atlanta
The No. 4 seeded Celtics hit the road to take on the No. 5 seeded Hawks in what should be a fairly good game.
It tips off at 7:00 p.m. ET on TNT, and it will be intriguing to see which mediocre team ends up winning.
Both teams have great star players on their roster, but it's doubtful either squad would be able to make a deep run in the playoffs. If I had to pick one, I'd give the edge to Boston because of its experience, but the old age of the stars on the team is also a worry.
Atlanta and Boston have had some entertaining games this season, but on Sunday, it won't match up to the remaining Western Conference matchups.
Prediction: Celtics 92, Hawks 84
No. 2 - Denver at Los Angeles
The No. 3 seeded Lakers host the No. 6 seeded Nuggets Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
When they faced each other in the regular season, the Lakers and the Nuggets put on a great show, and this Sunday will be no different.
Expect a close game throughout, which will more than likely irritate some Lakers fans. Denver plays very well as a team, and the Nuggets are going to give the Lakers a good scare.
In the end, though, I have Kobe Bryant putting Los Angeles on his back, carrying the Lakers to a Game 1 victory in style.
Prediction: Lakers 104, Nuggets 99
No. 1 - Los Angeles at Memphis
The Clippers are one of the most intriguing teams in the playoffs, but so are the Grizzlies, which is why their matchup comes in at No. 1.
They'll tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT and it should be quite the thrilling game. Both teams are capable of making a deep run in the playoffs and that's one of the reason's folks should get pumped for this Round 1 showdown.
Memphis and Los Angeles are evenly matched, which makes for a great series. Of all the first-round matchups in the 2012 NBA playoffs, this one has the best chance of going to a Game 7.
I give the edge to the Clippers in Game 1, but the Grizzlies won't go down easy, that's for sure. They've got the momentum and the home-court advantage, but the Clippers will rally strong and steal a victory on the road.
Prediction: Clippers 98, Grizzlies 96
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