2013 NBA Playoff Brackets: Most Entertaining First-Round Matchups

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2013

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers fouls Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies are set to renew their postseason rivalry in what is the most intriguing series of the first round.

By virtue of winning the Pacific Division, the Clippers automatically earned home-court advantage in the first round, which is good because they had not been playing very well over the last couple of weeks. As the fourth seed, Los Angeles will be hosting a very good Memphis team, the results of which should be great.

Last season, the two met in the first round, with the Grizzlies as the fourth seed, and went seven games. It didn't have a ton of scoring, but it was easily the best series in the first round.

You've got Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol facing off against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the post, and Mike Conley and Chris Paul going at it at the point.

While this is the cream of the crop in terms of first-round matchups, it's not alone in looking very good on paper. You can check out the entire playoff bracket on ESPN.com.


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

Do the Boston Celtics have another run left in the tank? Boston is not the team it was last year, when it made the Eastern Conference Finals. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are both a year older, and Jason Terry has failed to replace Ray Allen.

This could very well be the last run Garnett and Pierce have together in Boston. Either, or both, could be moved in the offseason.

The New York Knicks are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. The Knicks are not far removed from winning 13 games in a row. The combination of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith is going to be hard for the Celtics to match.

Boston will really have its hands full and be lucky to come out with the series victory. It should be fun, though, watching the Celtics try and pull off the upset.


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

It's almost like David Stern himself has scripted this. With the Rockets losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston has fallen into the eighth seed.

This means it's going to be James Harden facing off against his former teammates at the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trade that sent Harden to Houston was such a shock before the season. News had come out about him turning down an extension and almost immediately, he was shipped out.

Although he doesn't have a problem with the players, you can bet Harden will want to stick it to Thunder management. The trade could be considered a slight in Harden's eyes because it was a sign the organization didn't think he was more valuable than Serge Ibaka and worth building around.

Harden has become a star this year, and he'll have a chip on his shoulder going into this series. The Rockets' poor defense means they don't have much of a shot to upset the top-seeded Thunder, but it should still be great watching Harden go up against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.


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

Who doesn't like offense? With the Nuggets and Warriors, you've got a series where the teams are scoring and surrendering 100 points apiece. Denver is the highest-scoring team in the league at 106.1 points a game, and Golden State is a few points behind at 101.2.

In three of the four games these teams played during the regular season, each went over the century mark. You're guaranteed to get a lot of scoring with a little bit of defense interspersed between fast breaks.

Without Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets aren't as good of a team, but they still remain one of the sleeper clubs in the Western Conference. Everyone seems to think it's a battle between the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, but Denver could have something to say about that.