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NBA Playoffs Schedule 2013: Top Games to Watch During Sunday's Postseason Action

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NBA Playoffs Schedule 2013: Top Games to Watch During Sunday's Postseason Action
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The long road toward the NBA Finals is underway and will continue on Sunday as four first-round series get started. Saturday's action was certainly entertaining, so it will be interesting to see what the eight teams involved on Sunday do for an encore.

Two No. 1 seeds will look to get off to a fantastic start as the Miami Heat host the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Oklahoma City Thunder face the Houston Rockets. The Heat and Thunder met in the NBA Finals last season and could very well do it again this year if things go as expected.

Here are three exciting series openers you simply don't want to miss when the NBA playoffs continue on Sunday.

 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs

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One of the most compelling first-round series will pit the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs.

It was unclear if the Lakers would even qualify for the playoffs until the final night of the season. The Utah Jazz lost, which allowed L.A. to clinch. The Lakers were able to improve their standing, though, as they defeated the Houston Rockets in overtime to avoid the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and play the Spurs instead.

The Spurs won't be a walk in the park for the Lakers, though, especially without star guard Kobe Bryant. Kobe will miss the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles, so the burden now falls on the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. They have certainly stepped up in the couple of games since Bryant's injury, but the Spurs will obviously be focused now that the playoffs have arrived.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich essentially treats the regular season as prep for the playoffs, as he often rests his stars and holds back to some degree. The likes of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan will be let loose now that the postseason has arrived, so it will be interesting to see how the Kobe-less Lakers weather the storm. An upset win in Game 1 could do some great things for L.A.'s psyche.

 

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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Although it features a No. 1 seed taking on a No. 8 seed, the matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets could very well be the most exciting of the entire first round. The Thunder and Rockets are two of the highest-scoring teams in the NBA, and they like to run the floor.

There is also sure to be plenty of star power involved. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead the way for OKC, while James Harden will take charge for Houston.

In addition to the in-game action, there is an interesting storyline to keep an eye on. The Thunder traded Harden to the Rockets during the offseason for a package including guard Kevin Martin. Oklahoma City obviously didn't want to move Harden, but contract negotiations weren't progressing. The Thunder are still the best team in the Western Conference, but Harden has become a bona fide star for the Rockets, so everyone involved has benefited.

It's possible that Harden feels slighted by the Thunder, so he may bring something extra to the table during this series. Most people expect OKC to win this series in four or five games, but Houston can put a ton of pressure on the Thunder if it can prevail in Game 1. If nothing else, we should get a good feel for the pace of the series during Sunday's opening contest.

 

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If there is one series that appears to be a near lock to last only four games, it's the Miami Heat versus the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat have proven to be the best team in basketball and are the reigning defending champions, while the Bucks are the only sub-.500 team to qualify for the postseason. It's entirely possible that all four games will be blowouts in Miami's favor, but Game 1 is worth watching anyway.

Bucks guard Brandon Jennings created some controversy when he claimed that the Bucks would win the series in six games, according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com. The Heat have shrugged Jennings' comments off, but it's clear that they want to teach him a lesson. At the same time, it's entirely possible that Jennings has caused the Heat to lose focus. Whatever the case, there is suddenly some intrigue in a series that may not have had it otherwise.

LeBron James has been locked in all season long, and it's unlikely that he'll let the Bucks build any confidence during this series. Expect James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat to jump on Milwaukee early and often. If Jennings and Monta Ellis can get hot from the field, though, the Bucks could keep themselves in it. Either way, this is a game NBA fans are likely to enjoy.

 

Entire NBA Playoff Schedule

 

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Miami Heat (66-16) vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)

Game 1 – Sunday, April 21, Milwaukee at Miami, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tuesday, April 23, Milwaukee at Miami, 7:30 p.m., NBATV 
Game 3 – Thursday, April 25, Miami at Milwaukee, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sunday, April 28, Miami at Milwaukee, 3:30 p.m., ABC 
Game 5* – Tuesday, April 30, Milwaukee at Miami, TBD
Game 6* – Thursday, May 2, Miami at Milwaukee, TBD
Game 7* – Saturday May 4, Milwaukee at Miami, TBD 

No. 2 New York Knicks (54-28) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics (41-40)

Game 1 – Saturday, April 20, Boston at New York, 3 p.m., ABC
Game 2 – Tuesday, April 23, Boston at New York, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Friday, April 26, New York at Boston, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sunday, April 28, New York at Boston, 1 p.m., ABC
Game 5* – Wednesday, May 1, Boston at New York, TBD
Game 6* – Friday, May 3, New York at Boston, TBD
Game 7* – Sunday, May 5, Boston at New York, TBD

No. 3 Indiana Pacers (49-32) vs. No. 6 Atlanta Hawks (44-38)

Game 1 – Sunday, April 21, Atlanta at Indiana, 1 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Wednesday, April 24, Atlanta at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., NBATV
Game 3 – Saturday, April 27, Indiana at Atlanta, 7 p.m., ESPN 
Game 4 – Monday, April 29, Indiana at Atlanta, TBD
Game 5* – Wednesday, May 1, Atlanta at Indiana, TBD
Game 6* – Friday, May 3, Indiana at Atlanta, TBD
Game 7* – Sunday, May 5, Atlanta at Indiana, TBD 

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets (49-33) vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls (45-37)

Game 1 – Saturday, April 20, Chicago at Brooklyn, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Monday, April 22, Chicago at Brooklyn, 8 p.m., TNT 
Game 3 – Thursday, April 25, Brooklyn at Chicago, 8:30 p.m., NBATV
Game 4 – Saturday, April 27, Brooklyn at Chicago, 2 p.m., TNT
Game 5* – Monday, April 29, Chicago at Brooklyn, TBD
Game 6* – Thursday, May 2, Brooklyn at Chicago, TBD
Game 7* – Saturday, May 4, Chicago at Brooklyn, TBD

 

Western Conference

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22) vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets (45-37)

Game 1 – Sunday, April 21, Houston at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Wednesday, April 24, Houston at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Saturday, April 27, Oklahoma City at Houston, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Monday, April 29, Oklahoma City at Houston, TBD, TNT
Game 5* – Wednesday. May 1, Houston at Oklahoma City, TBD 
Game 6* – Friday, May 3, Oklahoma City at Houston, TBD 
Game 7* – Sunday, May 5, Houston at Oklahoma City, TBD 

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)

Game 1 – Sunday, April 21, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Regional)
Game 2 – Wednesday, April 24, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Friday, April 26, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sunday, April 28, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5* – Tuesday, April 30, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBD
Game 6* – Thursday, May 2, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, TBD
Game 7* – Saturday, May 4, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBD 

No. 3 Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors (47-35)

Game 1 – Saturday, April 20, Golden State at Denver, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Tuesday, April 23, Golden State at Denver, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Friday, April 26, Denver at Golden State, 10:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4 – Sunday, April 28, Denver at Golden State, 9:30 p.m., TNT 
Game 5* – Tuesday, April 30, Golden State at Denver, TBD
Game 6* – Thursday, May 2, Denver at Golden State, TBD
Game 7* – Saturday, May 4, Golden State at Denver, TBD 

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)

Game 1 – Saturday, April 20, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Monday, April 22, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thursday, April 25, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Saturday, April 27, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 4:30 p.m., TNT
Game 5* – Tuesday, April 30, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Game 6* – Friday, May 3, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD
Game 7* – Sunday, May 5, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD 

 

 

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