The first three weeks of the 2013 NBA playoffs featured tremendous storylines, incredible comebacks and instant classics.
Whether it was the scintillating play of the youthful Golden State Warriors, the intensity of the New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics series, or the fortitude the Chicago Bulls showed, there's been no shortage of captivating action.
Who would have thought Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would be bounced in the first round? Or that the Warriors would advance without David Lee? And what about the injury-depleted Bulls outlasting the Brooklyn Nets in seven, and then shocking the well-rested Miami Heat two days later?
Let's take a look at everything that has made the postseason so enjoyable.
April 20: Andre Miller Delivers for Denver
The Denver Nuggets' hotly contested first-round series against the Warriors began with a 28-point effort and clutch shot from veteran guard Andre Miller.
The Dubs ended up losing more than Game 1 in their playoff opener. All-Star forward David Lee exited the game with a hip injury, and after an MRI, the Warriors declared his season finished.
INJURY UPDATE: MRI confirms torn right hip flexor for David Lee. He will miss the remainder of the playoffs. http://t.co/TcktaTaRLQ4/21/2013, 5:56:47 PM
Lee ended up rewriting that script with a surprise return in Game 6.
April 21: King James Is All Business
LeBron James entered these playoffs aiming for a repeat title, and his goal in Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks was to take the ball to the bucket. He attacked the paint in order to assert his dominance in the series, which ended in an anticlimactic sweep.
Here's his shot chart through his first eight attempts of the game (he finished 9-of-11 for 27 points).
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
LeBron's shot chart so far tonight. He's in Playoff mode. http://t.co/3Yaxqun8V54/22/2013, 1:13:12 AM
April 21: Paul George's Triple-Double and Statement Block
With 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists against the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George recorded his first career triple-double.
His offensive versatility and defensive dominance made him the clear-cut best player in that series.
The numbers don't make as big a statement as this block below.
April 22: Buzzer-Beater Gives Clippers Commanding Lead
The first few days of the playoffs didn't give fans a legitimate buzzer-beater from a superstar, but Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was about to change that.
On a night when he scored 24 points and dished nine assists, CP3 delighted the Staples Center crowd with a game-winning banker as the clock hit zeroes.
Arash Markazi @ArashMarkazi
Chris Paul's buzzer-beater in Game 2 shot in super slow motion through the lens of the NBA's Phantom Camera. https://t.co/2vZhsGRs124/23/2013, 5:35:24 PM
April 26: A Major Blow to the Oklahoma City Thunder
In Game 2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets series, Houston guard Patrick Beverley collided with OKC star Russell Westbrook as Westbrook was calling timeout.
The OKC guard played the remainder of the game, and the Thunder took a 2-0 series lead, but we didn't realize the significance of the collision until a day-and-half later.
TNT's Rachel Nichols broke the story.
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
Wow. OKC Thunder's Russell Westbrook undergoing surgery to repair meniscus tear in right knee. No timetable for return4/26/2013, 4:39:36 PM
He would subsequently be ruled out for the rest of the postseason.
April 26: Knicks Have Vice Grip on Celtics
Back East, the New York Knicks took a 3-0 series lead on the Boston Celtics due to their strong defense and Beantown's inept offense.
How weak was Boston? Historically weak.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Via @EliasSports: Celtics have 225 Pts in 3 games vs Knicks, their fewest in a 3-game span in a single postseason in franchise history.4/27/2013, 2:54:51 AM
April 27: A Marathon Thriller in the Windy City
In Game 4 of the Chicago Bulls series with the Brooklyn Nets, Nate Robinson scored 29 points after the third quarter.
The Derrick Rose-less Bulls were down 14 in the fourth quarter and grinded out a triple-overtime win that included clutch shots from both sides.
Here's how Robinson revived Chicago.
April 28: Spurs Show Lakers the Door
The San Antonio Spurs were too strong, and the Los Angeles Lakers were far too weak.
Mike D'Antoni's crew was without Kobe Bryant and didn't have Steve Nash or Steve Blake for the entire series.
As a result, San Antonio advanced in four straight, winning its games by an average of 18.8 points and ending Los Angeles' drama-filled season.
Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers
The depleted Lakers drop Game 4 to the Spurs, 103-82, and are eliminated from the 2013 NBA playoffs. Final Stats: http://t.co/oukdS8fOR84/29/2013, 1:27:41 AM
April 28: Curry Carving up Denver
With three straight games of at least 29 points and seven assists, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry had catapulted Golden State to a 3-1 series lead and captured the hearts of all playoff viewers outside the Rocky Mountains.
For a taste of Curry's magnificence, click here.
This wouldn't be last time Curry made waves in the postseason.
May 1: Nervous in New York?
When the Celtics fell behind 3-0 to the Knickerbockers, almost everyone left them for dead.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Jeff Green engineered an overtime Game 4 win at home followed by a Game 5 road triumph at Madison Square Garden. J.R. Smith's Game 3 elbow and Game 4 suspension added to the drama.
New York fans then felt some of the same pressure that the 2004 Red Sox put on the Yankees.
USA TODAY Sports @USATODAYsports
Celtics beat the Knicks, send series back to Boston. Photos: http://t.co/5iIejoSLT2 // http://t.co/VviGx2Ibn65/2/2013, 1:46:47 AM
The Knicks would end the Celtics season in six, but Boston definitely made things interesting.
May 1: Rockets Join the Scare Party
On the same night Boston made it a 3-2 series in New York, Houston completed a two-game spurt to turn its matchup with OKC into a 3-2 bout.
James Harden's seven three-pointers helped push the Thunder to a sixth game.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
James Harden drops 31 points as the Rockets beat the Thunder 107-100 to force a Game 6. http://t.co/LuEmjjuxj95/2/2013, 4:22:42 AM
May 3: Grizzlies Get Revenge on Lob City
The three-headed monster of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley led Memphis in a complete reversal of the first two games of its showdown with the Clippers.
Memphis took care of business at home in Games 3 and 4, then halted Los Angeles at Staples Center to set up a closeout Game 6 in FedExForum.
An ugly, chippy, 59-foul game resulted in the demise of the Clippers.
May 4: Noah Leads Ragged Bulls Past Nets
No Derrick Rose (knee). No Kirk Hinrich (calf). No Luol Deng (virus). Sick Taj Gibson. Sick Nate Robinson.
Brooklyn native Joakim Noah turned in a monster Game 7 performance in Barclays Center, ending the Nets season and earning the Bulls a trip to South Beach.
Joakim Noah WILLS the Bulls past Nets in Game 7, 99-93. Noah finishes with 24 Pts, 14 Reb and 6 BlK. Bulls face Heat in 2nd round.5/5/2013, 2:33:43 AM
May 5: Durant's Jumper Lifts OKC in Hard-Fought Game 1
When the second round tipped off, Memphis was ready to upend Oklahoma City in Game 1, and it nearly did.
A typically gritty effort by the Grizzlies was trumped by one man: Kevin Durant.
The Thunder megastar notched 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Oh, and the game-winner.
May 5: Pacers Silence Knicks
Later that day, in Madison Square Garden, the frontcourt trio of Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert outshined the Knicks and quickly put the Indiana Pacers in the proverbial driver's seat.
Here's how Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith fared against Paul George.
May 6: "Spinal-Tapped" Bulls Stun Heat
Luol Deng was still out due to spinal tap complications, Rose wasn't going to be making an appearance and Kirk Hinrich was still sidelined.
Nevertheless, with one day of rest, Chicago hung around long enough to earn a comeback win against the well-rested Heat. Defense kept the Bulls close, and Robinson's buckets finished the deal.
Maximiliano Bretos @mbretosESPN
Injury depleted, flu riddled, spinal tapped @Bulls 93 . Well rested, clean bill of health home standing @Heat 86. That is hard to fathom.5/7/2013, 1:55:40 AM
May 6: Dubs Wow Early, Spurs Close Late in Classic
Down in San Antonio, the Splash Brothers had opened up a 16-point lead with four minutes remaining in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. The Warriors were on the cusp of their first road win against the Spurs since 1997.
Stephen Curry's 44 points, including 22 in the third quarter, ended being a losing effort.
The Spurs roared back, forced two overtimes and called it a night after this Manu Ginobili triple.
May 7: Knicks Get Even
New York salvaged a 1-1 split against Indiana with an absolute dismantling of the Pacers in Game 2.
A 30-2 run fueled the Knickerbockers' much-needed victory.
Mike Woodson's bunch moved the ball, Carmelo actually shot 50 percent and Iman Shumpert crammed the dunk of the playoffs.
How could the Knicks not win after a play like this?
May 8: Golden State Grabs Elusive Spurs Win
After a gut-wrenching Game 1 Loss in the AT&T Center, the Warriors set out to earn their coveted road triumph in Game 2.
Klay Thompson's seven three-pointers in the first half put the club in good position to cruise to victory, but the Spurs wouldn't tolerate it.
San Antonio turned a 20-point deficit into a single-digit ballgame, and Dubs fans thought, "here we go again."
Luckily, the Splash Brothers' 56 points would be enough to hold off Tim Duncan and Co.
May 10: Physicality Reigns in Heat-Bulls Scrum
In Games 2 and 3 of Miami's matchup with Chicago, extracurricular activity dominated the action. When the dust settled, the Heat won both games to take a 2-1 series lead.
Game 2 featured nine technical fouls and two ejections, while Game 3 had three technicals and an ejection of its own.
The latest incident in this saga was a Nazr Mohammed-LeBron James tangle-up resulting in Mohammed shoving James and getting tossed.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Nazr Mohammed gets into it with LeBron James http://t.co/lXTILFOY1j5/11/2013, 12:50:41 AM
Will the nonsense subside and basketball prevail moving forward?
May 10: Parker Outshines Curry and Co.
Just a couple days prior, Klay Thompson had scored 34 all by himself. Now, in Game 3 against the Spurs, he and Stephen Curry combined for 34.
The magic of Oracle Arena wasn't enough to stop Tony Parker, who tallied 32 points and five assists in a 102-92 San Antonio victory.
Parker's mid-range dominance helped the Spurs shake off the Game 2 loss and reclaim control of the series.
We've still got about five weeks left of this craziness, and that's a beautiful thing.
I can't wait to see what else is in store for the 2013 NBA playoffs.
For more interactive NBA playoff coverage, follow me on Twitter: @DanielO_BR
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