NBA Playoffs 2013: Predicting Winners for Saturday's Round 1 Games
Competing with the 2013 NFL draft, the four NBA playoff games taking place Saturday, April 27, should make for must-see TV.
What will the Oklahoma City Thunder look like without Russell Westbrook after he tore his meniscus in his right knee?
Can the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies even things up against the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively? Can the Atlanta Hawks save some face against the Indiana Pacers?
Let's go ahead and prepare for this huge day with a prediction for each game.
Playoff odds come from OddsShark.com.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Where: United Center, Chicago
Series Record: Chicago Bulls 2, Brooklyn Nets 1
Gambling Line: Chicago Bulls -3
Chicago won 79-76 in Game 3 thanks to a huge game from Carlos Boozer and some solid inside-outside work by Luol Deng.
For the Nets, it's all about which Deron Williams shows up. He has shot below 36 percent in Brooklyn's two losses, going 6-of-23 from the floor and just 3-of-13 from the three-point line.
In the first game of the series, Brooklyn's only win, Williams looked more like the player he was in the final few months of the season. His 22 points came on 9-of-15 shooting, and he had two drained three-pointers out of three.
He is the one player who could individually swing this series, but the Bulls have done a terrific job of keeping him out of the lane. Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler have done a great job of forcing him into jumpers.
Prediction: Chicago Bulls 84, Brooklyn Nets 80
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn.
Series Record: Los Angeles Clippers 2, Memphis Grizzlies 1
Gambling Line: Memphis Grizzlies -3
This has been a throwback series, and don't expect these teams to change their style any time soon. We've already seen seven technical fouls and a flagrant foul on Matt Barnes.
After a major slip-up in Game 1 and a heartbreaking loss coming in the form of a Chris Paul buzzer-beater in Game 2, the Memphis Grizzlies finally got on the board at home in Game 3.
Following two subpar games to start the series, Zach Randolph went off. He finished with 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting, making it clear that Memphis will go as far as he takes it.
I see another big game for Randolph at home in Game 4.
Prediction: Memphis Grizzlies 93, Los Angeles Clippers 88
Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta
Series Record: Indiana Pacers 2, Atlanta Hawks 0
Gambling Line: Atlanta Hawks -2
The Atlanta Hawks have racked up losses of 17 and 15 points in the first two games of this series, yet it's been surprisingly entertaining up to this point.
Paul George has been a star, Roy Hibbert and Gerald Green have treated us to a couple monster jams, Al Horford has been his steady self, and Josh Smith his flashed his athleticism in spurts.
The problem for Atlanta comes when its defense stalls. It's been clear that the Hawks don't have the perimeter defenders to deal with Indiana's ball-handlers and slashers.
Look for George to put up another impressive stat line as his Pacers cruise on the road.
Prediction: Indiana Pacers 104, Atlanta Hawks 95
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Toyota Center, Houston
Series Record: Oklahoma City Thunder 2, Houston Rockets 0
Gambling Line: Oklahoma City Thunder -1
The big storyline is how the Thunder will fare without their floor general. In Westbrook's absence, everyone will need to step up at guard, especially Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher, Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha.
Houston has its own injury troubles to deal with. Jeremy Lin is listed as day-to-day after bruising his chest and missing the second half in the Rockets' 105-102 Game 2 loss.
Oklahoma City was still quite productive with Westbrook on the bench this season, averaging 5.6 points more than its opponents per 100 possessions (compared to 11.1 more with Westbrook on the floor).
Kevin Durant has the opportunity to carry his team, and I see him doing just that.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 102, Houston Rockets 99