The 2013 NBA playoffs are rolling right along, with just one first-round series still undecided and a handful of conference semifinals set to begin.
While this weekend isn’t looking as action-packed as the last two, there are plenty of exciting contests and storylines to keep even the most hardcore hoop junkies entertained.
Let’s take a look at each matchup taking place on Saturday and Sunday, followed up by information on where to watch these contests, catch a short preview for each game, check a prediction for the final score and more.
No. 4 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls, Game 7, Eastern Conference Opening Round
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
When: Saturday, May 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Series Record: Nets 3, Bulls 3
After falling into a 3-1 hole, not many predicted the Nets would climb out and bring this series back to Brooklyn with a chance to eliminate their opponent.
However, the team scrapped and fought from the brink to finally get here, winning numerous games on the road in Chicago. Now the Nets are in position to knock out the Bulls and prepare for the awaiting Miami Heat in the second round.
Expect the fans to have something to get excited about as well, as this is the first Game 7 in the franchise’s history to be played at home—and it just happens to be after the big move to Brooklyn this offseason.
Don’t assume the Bulls will just roll over in the face of the Nets’ momentum or cave when they hear the noise from the crowd, as this is a resilient squad that is guaranteeing wins on Saturday night.
At least Joakim Noah is, the outspoken big man that Chicago relies on not only for rebounds, but also hustle, heart and inspiration.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find out his prediction comes true on Saturday, but we’re leaning toward the Nets taking it in a close one.
Game 7 Prediction: Nets 97, Bulls 93
No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies, Game 1, Western Conference Semifinals
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Okla.
When: Sunday, May 5 at 1 p.m. ET
Series Record: Thunder 0, Grizzlies 0
The Thunder had a bit of trouble putting away the Rockets after OKC’s superstar PG, Russell Westbrook, went down with a torn meniscus. However, the club put it together on Friday evening for an emphatic Game 6 victory.
Kevin Durant continued his do-it-all approach, finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 43 minutes. He’ll need to continue his versatile and efficient play if his Thunder are going to stand a chance against the Grizzlies.
Anchored by Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, Memphis quickly dispatched the Los Angeles Clippers in six games. The Griz buried their rival on Friday evening after a 118-105 shellacking in front of the home fans in Tennessee.
It was the type of performance that gives hope and something to build on, which is exactly what Memphis needs if it insists on beating the top-seeded Thunder.
This should be a thrilling, back-and-forth series that showcases Oklahoma City’s elite firepower and the defensive intensity of the Grizzlies. It could easily go seven, so make sure you tune in to each and every minute of the action.
Game 1 Prediction: Thunder 102, Grizzlies 99
No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 3 Indiana Pacers, Game 1, Eastern Conference Semifinals
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
When: Sunday, May 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Series Record: Knicks 0, Pacers 0
The New York Knicks finally had the funeral for the Celtics that was envisioned prior to Game 5. It just took a few extra days and a bit of luck to put away their Atlantic Division rival for good in Game 6.
Boston nearly came back from a 26-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but the comeback effort fell just short and the Knicks went on to win 88-80 in front of a hostile TD Garden crowd.
Speaking of road victories, the Pacers finally learned how to win a game away from Indianapolis—beating the Hawks in Atlanta on Friday to close out the series.
Indiana is going to need to pull out a few more of those if it wishes to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, considering the Knicks have home-court advantage in this best-of-seven showdown.
It’ll certainly be exciting to see if the Knicks’ powerhouse offense can surge ahead of the top-ranked Pacer defense in this postseason battle.
Game 1 Prediction: Knicks 92, Pacers 88