NBA Playoff Schedule 2013: Predicting Monday's Semifinal Clashes
The field has been narrowed down after the first round of the NBA playoffs as the remaining teams make a run for the title.
To kick off the semifinals on Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder won a nail-biter against the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Indiana Pacers took care of the New York Knicks.
Now, we look ahead to Monday's semifinal matchups, as the Chicago Bulls visit the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs host the red-hot Golden State Warriors.
Here's a breakdown of each clash, complete with analysis.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat (Semifinals—Game 1)
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
When: 7 p.m. ET
After splitting the season series, the Heat and Bulls go at it again in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday.
The Heat won the last matchup in Miami, 105-93. In that game, the Heat shot 51 percent, while the Bulls shot 35 percent. Six different Heat players scored in double digits, led by LeBron James, who ended up with 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal while going 7-of-12 from the floor.
The Heat were also out-rebounded by only one board in that game, notable given rebounding was one of Chicago's strengths during the regular season.
We all know Chicago has the defense, but the offense minus Derrick Rose has to come up big if the Bulls are to shock the Heat in Miami. But while the Bulls had some big offensive games against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, the Heat are not the Nets. The Heat were a much better defensive team than Brooklyn during the regular season, in terms of opponents' field-goal percentage and defensive efficiency.
While I could see the Bulls taking one or two games in Chicago, I don't think they'll beat the Heat in Miami.
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs (Semifinals—Game 1)
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
When: 9:30 p.m. ET
After sweeping the disheveled Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs will host the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Both teams split the season series, but San Antonio didn't play Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard in the last game of the series in Oakland.
Golden State is coming off a shocking series win over the Denver Nuggets, the Western Conference's No. 3 seed this season. In that series, the Warriors shot a staggering 49 percent from the floor, including 40 percent from beyond the arc.
But I don't expect the Spurs to defend nearly as poorly as Denver did.
San Antonio ranks eighth in opponents' field-goal percentage and third in defensive efficiency this season, according to TeamRankings.com.
Will the Warriors upset the Spurs in Game 1?
But, more importantly, the Spurs close out better on three-point shooters. They ranked 12th in the NBA in opponents' three-point percentage this season (Denver ranked 20th) and they held the Lakers to 27 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the first round.
That's vital against a Warriors team that ranked first in the NBA in three-point shooting during the regular season.
But there's more. The Spurs are also a way better three-point shooting team than the Nuggets. They ranked fourth in the league in three-point shooting during the regular season, and they rank third in the playoffs.
One last thing: When it comes to taking care of the ball, the Spurs blow the Warriors out of the water. Golden State ranks 24th in the NBA in turnovers per possession this season, including the playoffs. San Antonio ranks eighth in the category. On top of that, Golden State has been even worse taking care of the ball during the playoffs, while San Antonio has been better.
The Warriors may have shocked the Nuggets in the first round, but the Spurs are a completely different team.
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