NBA Playoffs 2013: Potential 1st-Round Matchups That Could Derail Favorites
Harry How/Getty Images
If there is one thing worth watching about the first round of the NBA playoffs, it is the possibility of witnessing an upset.
Whether you're a fan of a serious title contender, underdog or just of the sport in general, upsets are story lines that make the playoffs exciting.
With the 2013 NBA season quickly approaching its final stretch, some title favorites could potentially be in for a struggle and eventual upset in the first round.
Here are five potential first round matchups that could spell trouble for serious title contenders.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Stephen Curry could be that guy that puts the GSW over the top.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
While the Warriors have been struggling as of late, winning just three games out of their last 10, Golden State has seemed to have Los Angeles' number all season long. In their four contests this season, the Warriors have won three of the matchups by an average of 10.7 points.
One of the main reasons for the team's success against the Clippers has been the combination of both youth and size in Stephen Curry and David Lee. In the three wins against them this season, Curry has averaged 27.3 points and 6.0 assists, while Lee has averaged 14.7 points, 12 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
With the addition of a consistent bench, along with a possibly healthy Andrew Bogut, the Warriors could pull off an upset against the Clippers in this year's playoffs.
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers
Don't count out Kevin Garnett and the Celtics just yet.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Since Rajon Rondo's season ending injury, the Celtics have been playing pretty good ball, winning 10 of their last 14 games. In Rondo's absence, Boston seems to have lit a fire under the players, as they have all collectively picked up their game.
While the Pacers are arguably one of the best defensive and rebounding teams in the NBA, they struggle on offense, averaging just 94 points per game. The Celtics could offset the Pacers' rebounding and defense by playing a little defense of their own.
Boston would undoubtedly be the underdogs against Indiana come playoff time, but if there is anything this team has taught us, it's that it won't go down without a fight.
Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks
The Bulls' rebounding could prove to be the deciding factor come playoff time.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Knicks have finally emerged as one of the NBA's elites, but that doesn't mean they'll be safe in the first round.
As the current third-seed in the East, the Knicks could potentially be matched up with the sixth-seeded Chicago Bulls come April.
While the Bulls have been without Derrick Rose for the entire season, they have been playing pretty well, turning in a record of 32-25. Along with this decent record, the Bulls have also solidified themselves once again as one of the league's top defensive and rebounding teams.
In the three wins against the Knicks this season, the Bull's have owned the rebounding battle by an average of 5.4 rebounds. While this isn't a huge margin, it's a safe bet that the Bulls would control the glass in a seven-game series.
If Rose does return in time for the playoffs, the Bulls could prove too much to handle for the Knicks.
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden will be the key if the Rockets plan on upsetting OKC.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
A half-game back from the seventh seed in the West, the Rockets have surprised many this season by turning in a respectable record of 31-27.
One of the main contributors for this team's success has been its style of play. Houston is one of the NBA's most explosive teams on offense and it currently ranks second in the league (behind OKC) with 106.3 points per game.
Another factor that could give the Rockets an advantage would be the play of James Harden. Since being traded from the Thunder, Harden has emerged as the league's next potential superstar. The Rockets are one of the few teams that can keep up with the young Thunder, and if Harden plays with a chip on his shoulder, they could pull off the unthinkable against OKC.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs
As long as Kobe is with the Lakers, you can't count L.A. out.
Harry How/Getty Images
It's not quite over in L.A. just yet, as the Los Angeles Lakers are making a push for the final seed in the Western Conference.
Sitting just three games out of the eighth seed in the playoffs, the Lakers still have a great shot at making the postseason and could essentially play spoiler to the San Antonio Spurs.
In the two meetings this season against the Spurs, the Lakers have come up short by an average of just 2.5 points. In these two games, it's also worth noting that the Lakers weren't at full strength, as they were either without Dwight Howard or Steve Nash.
While the Lakers would be considered heavy underdogs against the Spurs come playoff time, anything can happen. With Kobe Bryant hungry for his sixth ring and Pau Gasol expected to be back, the Lakers would have as good of a shot as anybody at taking down the Spurs.