With every basketball fan’s eyes tuned in to March Madness, the 2013 NBA playoffs will aim to attain similar hype.
There are plenty of rivalries and intriguing matchups to go around in the NBA that fans would love to see. It will simply be a matter of which teams end up facing one another.
The Miami Heat’s 26-game winning streak is the leading storyline in the Eastern Conference, while the Los Angeles Lakers clinging to a playoff seed gets nearly all the attention in the Western Conference. Once the postseason rolls around, though, the regular season will no longer matter.
Here are possible 2013 NBA playoff matchups that every fan would love to see. They may even match the excitement of the NCAA tournament.
The Chicago Bulls have competed admirably this season without their MVP and floor general, Derrick Rose. A major reason for that is head coach Tom Thibodeau, but the defensive prowess of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng has also been a key to their success.
Even though the Bulls are a playoff team without D-Rose, getting him back would be huge for their psyche. Not only that, but Rose returning to the court would also draw the attention of basketball fans everywhere.
Unfortunately, there’s still no guarantee that Rose will return to the court this season, even if it’s for a playoff run. According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Rose said of a possible return, “Nobody knows but God.”
If Rose is able to come back at 100 percent, the Bulls will be a legitimate candidate to win the NBA championship. Chicago has the talent to compete with any team in the NBA when Rose is healthy.
Regardless of the opponent, the Bulls would be worth watching if Rose made a return following a brutal ACL injury.
Although some NBA fans may think that the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks have the best shot at toppling the mighty Miami Heat, this is the matchup fans should look out for.
The underrated Indiana Pacers aren’t the flashiest team in the league, but they get the job done by rebounding and playing elite defense.
That formula has already worked wonders for Indiana against Miami, as they hold a 2-1 record against the defending champs during the regular season. They held Miami to 77 points in a 10-point January win and defeated them again in February by a 13-point margin.
Miami got revenge during their current win streak when they beat Indiana 105-91 on March 10.
Although the Heat have been absolutely unbeatable lately, the Pacers may be the team to give them the hardest time in the playoffs. Their offense simply has to get better (looking at you, Roy Hibbert), but their tremendous ability to rebound and defend gives them a fighter's chance.
The Indiana Pacers have certainly given the Miami Heat trouble this season, but it’s impossible to ignore the rivalry between Miami and the Boston Celtics.
In a time when old-school NBA rivalries have become increasingly difficult to find, we still have the matchup between Boston and Miami, two teams that genuinely dislike each other.
For evidence of the bad blood, look no further than the war of words between Jason Terry and LeBron James.
As chronicled by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Terry first stirred the pot by saying he’s “not really impressed” with Miami’s win streak, “or anything they do.”
In the most recent matchup between the two teams, James responded with this poster dunk over Terry. LBJ subsequently stared Terry down, earning a technical foul. But Terry wasn’t finished talking.
According to the Jackson article, when asked about his issue with the Heat, Terry said, “It’s not even LeBron. It’s just the Miami Heat personally. Is it the red and black? Maybe, I hate that color. I just don’t like them.”
Of course, that doesn't even mention the friction between the Celtics and former "Big Three" member, Ray Allen, who left the team via free agency to join the rival Heat. Let's just say these two teams have a lot of history.
If you ask me, having some bad blood in NBA circles is a good thing. Playing against a team you want to beat for personal reasons adds a little more fuel to the proverbial fire.
Seeing Miami and Boston square off in the postseason once again would be thoroughly entertaining.
The Brooklyn Nets need a few more years to make their matchup with the New York Knicks a legitimate rivalry, but it’s certainly gotten off to a great start.
After four regular-season meetings between these two teams, the Knicks and Nets have played to a 2-2 split.
These two teams match up very well with one another, and that’s led to closely contested battles. Their first regular-season matchup went into overtime, while two other meetings traded three-point victories for each team.
Tyson Chandler versus Brook Lopez is the marquee individual matchup, displaying elite defense against elite offense.
If these two teams meet up come playoff time, it’s fair to assume that every game will come down to the wire.
These teams get a little more pep in their step when they’re set to face each other. That would make for a very interesting postseason series.
Needless to say, the Battle of L.A. hasn’t had much competitive fire over the years. The Los Angeles Lakers have dominated this rivalry with obvious regularity, but the Los Angeles Clippers have flipped the script during the 2012-13 campaign.
The Clippers are 3-0 against the struggling Lakers this season, and they’ve won those matchups rather convincingly. Chris Paul and Co. have beaten the Lakers by an average of 13 points in those three meetings.
The Lakers will have one final chance to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Clippers on April 7. If they fail to win, the Lakers will be 0-5 against the Clips dating back to preseason play. That certainly would not help the Lakers’ confidence should these two meet in the playoffs.
If the Lakers win, however, they’ll build momentum for a possible postseason run.
It hasn’t been pretty for the Lakers in general this season, but that’s been even more evident when they’ve played the Clippers.
But who knows, perhaps when the Lakers get back to full health, they might stand a chance against an incredibly deep Clippers squad.
The matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, the two best teams in the Western Conference, resembles a battle between an older and younger brother.
The Spurs, with their incredibly high basketball IQ and veteran experience, represent the older brother, while OKC’s youth and enthusiasm emulates the role of younger brother.
After dropping to a 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder stormed back to beat the Spurs 4-2 last year. They used their incredible athletic ability and stamina to beat an aging Spurs roster.
Although that was the narrative in 2012, the same may not be said in 2013. The Spurs look ruthlessly strong once again, and with Gregg Popovich at the helm, ruling them out is downright silly.
The Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies are dark-horse contenders to come out of the West, but they still have to go through the Spurs or Thunder to make that happen.
Don’t be surprised if we see a 2012 Western Conference Finals rematch in 2013.