High-profile upsets weren’t the norm in the opening round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, but there were a few surprising finishes to the first round of action. The result is a surprisingly intriguing slate of second-round matchups worth watching from start to finish.
The No. 3 Indiana Pacers and No. 2 New York Knicks each escaped the first round in six games with strong performances from several key players. The teams squared off in the second round on Sunday as Indiana pulled away to a 1-0 series lead with a 102-95 finish in Game 1.
In the Western Conference, the No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies pulled off a shocking first-round upset in six games over the Los Angeles Clippers and currently trail the No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder 1-0 in the second round. The Thunder lost Russell Westbrook for the season, but their championship hopes are still very much alive.
Nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs, though, and the Pacers and Thunder will face difficult tests on Tuesday as the Round 2 action continues. Let’s take a look at game and television information, as well as a couple predictions for Tuesday’s action.
*Full playoff schedule can be found at SportsMediaWatch.com.
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
When: Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. ET
Mobile: NBA Mobile
Injuries (via CBS Sports): Danny Granger (Indiana, out for season), Steve Novak (New York), Amar’e Stoudemire (New York, doubtful)
Series Record: Pacers lead 1-0
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
When: Tuesday, May 7, at 9:30 p.m. ET
Mobile: NBA Mobile
Injuries (via CBS Sports): Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City, out)
Series Record: Thunder lead 1-0
One for the Money
Indiana was able to steal Game 1 in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, and New York now faces a crucial home game that could very well decide its fate in this series. If the Knicks can’t rebound from that loss, Indiana will have a clear shot at the conference finals with three home games in the final five contests.
The story of Game 1 was New York’s porous defense, which allowed the Pacers to shoot 48.7 percent from the field in that contest. The Knicks’ offense wasn’t much better, however. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined for 14-of-43 shooting from the field, and Raymond Felton’s 8-of-12 performance wasn’t enough to erase the duo’s underwhelming offensive showing.
The Knicks are an incredibly streaky team at the offensive end and haven’t rebounded well all year (40.6 boards per game). Against an Indiana team that plays tremendous defense and rebounds better than any team in the league, New York faces perhaps its toughest possible challenger in the second round.
That said, the Knicks are 31-10 at home this season and can be an absolutely dominant offensive team when Anthony and Smith get hot. While Indiana played a great game on Sunday, it’s hard to envision the Pacers stealing both opening games from the Knicks on the road.
Prediction: New York 104, Indiana 99
Two for the Show
It took monster performances from Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin for the Thunder to pull off a gritty 93-91 victory over the Grizzlies in Game 1 of this series. Without Westbrook, Oklahoma City is clearly lacking the additional firepower to blow away Memphis in ensuing contests.
Still, the Thunder have one of the league’s premier talents in Durant and a defense that ranked No. 9 in the NBA during the regular season. Westbrook’s absence skews that number a bit, but Oklahoma City is still fully capable of keeping Memphis’ No. 27 offense in check.
For the Grizzlies to have a shot at another upset in the second round, their frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol must continue playing physical basketball in the paint. The pair held Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins to seven total points in the opening game, and a repeat performance will almost certainly notch a win for the Grizzlies in Game 2.
But as well as Memphis played on Sunday, it’s hard to bet against the second-best player in the league. As long as Durant continues his incredible playoff run, the Thunder will be a hard team to beat, especially on their home floor.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 101, Memphis 96