Memphis center Marc Gasol will try to lead the Grizzlies past L.A.
The 2013 NBA playoffs has not disappointed thus far. Each first-round series has at least four games completed, with the defending champion Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs as the only teams to reach the second round.
Miami swept Milwaukee fairly easily, while the Spurs put the Lakers out of their misery in four as well.
This leaves three series remaining in each conference to determine the league’s final eight teams.
Some series appear to just be starting, with the home team winning every game. Other series seem to be just about over, but in the playoffs no team can ever be counted out.
Kevin Durant is looking to take the Thunder back to the finals.
The Houston Rockets kept the series alive with a win Monday night to stave off elimination for at least one more game. Chandler Parsons led the way for Houston with 27 points, 10 boards and eight assists to get the Rockets their first win of the playoffs.
Oklahoma City hasn’t looked as good on the road due in large part because of the injury to Russell Westbrook. The Thunder’s starting point guard will miss the rest of the playoffs, leaving all of the pressure on Kevin Durant.
There’s no doubt in my mind Oklahoma City will advance past Houston, although anything beyond that could be difficult without its other offensive leader. Durant is a superstar, but he can’t win the West by himself.
Golden State needs Curry to produce like he has.
After losing Game 1, the Golden State Warriors have won three straight behind the outstanding play of Stephen Curry. So far in the playoffs, Curry has averaged 27 points and 10 assists per game and has the Warriors a victory away from the second round.
Denver will look to bounce back into the series in a must-win game at home Tuesday night. Despite losing Game 2, the Nuggets were 38-3 at home in the regular season.
These two teams are very evenly matched and both play an exciting brand of basketball. If Denver can slow Curry and Golden State down, this series can still go to seven games.
Chris Paul is the key for the Clippers.
This repeat matchup from last season’s playoffs has picked up right where it ended. The Clippers took the first two games at home, followed up by the Grizzles holding serve in Memphis.
The Grizzlies have had a new leading scorer in each of their first four games. They’re well balanced on offense because both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been playing extremely well.
These two teams might create the most even matchup in the NBA. I don’t see any way the series doesn’t go seven games, but I’ll give the slight edge to the best player between the teams with Chris Paul and Los Angeles.
The Knicks want to end this series as soon as possible.
The Boston Celtics avoided being swept at home with a narrow overtime victory on Sunday. Jeff Green and Jason Terry played particularly well in what could be Boston’s last home game of the year.
Many experts thought this series would go the distance when it first began, but the Knicks have proven they’re the superior team. I think New York will finish things up at MSG on Wednesday.
Indiana needs Paul George in order to succeed.
The Indiana Pacers thought they had control of this series after taking the first two games very easily at home. Atlanta has fought back to even everything up with two double-digit wins of their own.
Paul George has been great for Indiana, but he hasn’t been enough for them on the road this year. In spite of being a high-quality team, the Pacers actually have a losing record on the road in 2013.
Indiana should have what it takes to reach the next round, but Josh Smith and another game in Atlanta could make that more difficult.
Robinson has been great for Chicago.
The Nets and Bulls series has produced some of the more exciting games we’ve seen in these playoffs. Chicago won in triple overtime on Saturday and the Nets grabbed Game 5 at home to ensure another trip back to the Windy City.
Nate Robinson’s stellar play has been the story for the Bulls. The usual bench threat was thrown into a starting role Monday because of a bruised calf that sidelined point guard Kirk Hinrich.
If the Nets have a shot at returning home for a Game 7, they’ll need good performances from both leaders Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. With Hinrich hurt, Williams should be able to have his way over the smaller Robinson and extend the series.