NBA Playoffs Schedule 2013: Potential First-Round Series Sure to Entertain

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NBA Playoffs Schedule 2013: Potential First-Round Series Sure to Entertain
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With two days remaining in the 2012-13 NBA regular season, there's still plenty that can happen as most of this spring's first-round matchups remain up in the air.

The defending champion Miami Heat have clinched the top spot in the East, while the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder have locked up the No. 1 seed out West. The New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs have clinched the No. 2 seeds in the East and West respectively as well, but there's plenty to be settled from now until Wednesday night.

Here we'll highlight a trio of potential first-round playoff series this spring guaranteed to entertain even casual NBA fans.

*Key dates courtesy of NBA.com.

 

Key 2013 Postseason Dates

April 20: Playoffs begin

May 7: Conference Semifinals begin

May 22: Conference Finals begin

June 6: NBA Finals begin

 

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets

If the Kobe Bryant-less L.A. Lakers can knock off the Houston Rockets on the final night of the regular season, then James Harden and company will have to settle for the No. 8 seed out West, setting up a can't-miss first-round matchup against the Thunder.

Harden was key for Oklahoma City a year ago, helping lead them to the 2012 NBA Finals, but this time around he'd be helping the underdog Rockets aim for a stunning upset.

Thunder fans who used to embrace and cheer the beard, would suddenly find themselves rooting against their former beloved sixth man.

With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook doing their thing, combining to score over 50 points per night on the offensive end for OKC, this series would be one of the more thrilling matchups for fans of offense. Both OKC and Houston rank inside the top three in the NBA in scoring offense this season, each averaging roughly 106 points per game.

 

No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This matchup is locked in regardless of what happens the rest of the way. New York and Boston will square off in the postseason for the second time in three years this April in what's sure to be an intriguing back and forth series.

While New York is the better team in terms of wins and losses, Boston boasts a championship pedigree and a slew of dangerous veterans.

The Celtics, like the Knicks, are a stellar home team, meaning that they have a legitimate shot of advancing to the second round if they can steal a game from Carmelo Anthony and company at Madison Square Garden.

In addition to a great rivalry, this series should feature tons of defense, as both squads rank inside the Top 10 in scoring defense this season, each surrendering roughly 96 points per game this year. Keep in mind that Doc Rivers' Celtics rank seventh in opponent field goal percentage (44 percent).

 

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors

USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets and Warriors are two of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Plus, Golden State's Stephen Curry is a bona fide superstar who can create a shot from anywhere on the floor.

One of the Top 10 scorers in the league this season, Curry is averaging 23 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the floor and beyond the arc.

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Although Denver has taken three of the four meetings with Golden State this season, this rivalry has been very competitive, with no team winning by more than 11 points in any of the four regular season matchups.

The Nuggets, who boast the best home record in the NBA this season, would have home-court advantage in this series, but will be at a major disadvantage regardless of who they go up against considering they will be without second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari for the rest of the year.

With Denver short-handed and Golden State possessing a lethal offense and crowd on its own back in Oakland, this potential first-round series would surely entertain casual NBA fans this spring.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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