As we approach the final day of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, very little has been set in stone. Few postseason seeds have been established, with almost every team in position to move up or drop down the standings.
The question is, what do we need to know about the series that have already been set in stone?
We're limited in knowledge when it comes to the postseason, but there are two series currently established as certain clashes. It just so happens that those two series consist of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
The 65-16 Miami Heat and 53-28 New York Knicks.
The Heat are currently preparing for a battle against the eighth seed Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks, meanwhile, are just days away from the beginning of a seven game series against the seventh seed Boston Celtics.
So what do we need to know?
2013 NBA Playoffs Schedule
All scheduling information is provided by NBA.com.
April 17—Regular season ends
April 20—2013 NBA Playoffs begin
April 28—NBA Draft early entry eligibility deadline (11:59 p.m. ET)
May 7—Conference Semifinals begin (possible move-up to May 6)
May 22—Conference Finals begin (possible move-up to May 21)
June 6—The Finals begin (possible move-up to June 4)
June 20—Last possible date for 2013 NBA Finals (possible move-up to June 18)
No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks
The Miami Heat enter their series against the Milwaukee Bucks with all of the momentum in the world. Not only do they boast the NBA's best record, but they've won 36 of their past 38 games.
They've also won three out of four games against the Bucks, including a 94-83 victory on Apr. 9.
As for the Bucks, they're currently 37-44 and have lost 15 of their past 20 games. With that being said, one of their three losses to the Heat came in overtime.
The odds are stacked against the Bucks, but this isn't an impossibility.
During their most recent clash, the Bucks trailed by just one point at halftime. Outside of a third quarter in which Milwaukee scored just 13 points, they matched Miami at 70-70 in the other three periods of play.
For more encouragement, the Bucks are the fifth ranked rebounding team in the NBA while Miami ranks dead last.
With that being said, the Heat are the NBA's fifth in scoring offense, fifth in scoring defense, eighth in assists and seventh in three-point field-goal percentage. They're also the defending NBA champions and are led by former Finals MVPs LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The odds are in Miami's favor, but Milwaukee has reason for confidence.
No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
The New York Knicks have won at least 50 games for the first time since 2000, when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks have won the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994, when they made it to the NBA Finals.
History is on their side.
As for their opponent, the Boston Celtics are 41-39 and coming off of a 2011-12 season in which they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. They're without point guard Rajon Rondo, but still boast a Top 10 scoring defense.
A major reason for their success has been the rise of Jeff Green, who is averaging 17.6 points on a slash line of .492/.432/.798 since the All-Star Break.
The Celtics have the advantage of experience in this clash, as they have three former NBA champions in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. With that being said, the Knicks are led by former NBA champion Tyson Chandler.
The rise of NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony doesn't hurt either.
The key to this series will be three-point shooting, as the Knicks rank first in three-point field goals made and Boston is second in opponent three-point field-goal percentage. The winner of that clash should win this series.
Did we mention that these two teams are bitter rivals?
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