Ever since Round 2 of the 2013 NBA playoffs began, the action and intensity went from just exciting to full-blown, edge-of-your-seat insane.
All four ongoing series are tied after Thursday’s hiatus, which was sorely needed for both the fans and players to catch a much-needed breather.
Things get started up again on Friday night with the Heat travelling to Chicago to face the Bulls and Spurs taking on the Warriors in Oakland.
Saturday will feature two big-time games as well, with the Thunder heading to Memphis to match up with the Grizzlies and the Knicks visiting the Pacers to close out the day.
Let’s take a look at each of these matchups, including where and when to watch, the latest odds, a quick preview, a prediction on the final scores and more.
*Game lines courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls, Game 3, Eastern Conference Semifinals
When: Friday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: United Center, Chicago
Live Stream: ESPN3
Series Record: Bulls 1, Heat 1
Point Spread: Heat -7
This series has been all over the map, as the Bulls shocked the world and stole Game 1 in South Beach before the Heat turned physical to dominate the undermanned and outmatched Bulls in Game 2.
Game 3 promises to be the best one yet, as the two rivals head to Chicago for their first postseason meeting since the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
Expect nothing less than a back-and-forth affair between a Bulls team relying on heart, defense, a short bench and the home crowd to get it done against a Miami favorite looking to exert its will and use sheer talent to push into the next round.
Prediction: Bulls 91, Heat 90
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors, Game 3, Western Conference Semifinals
When: Friday, May 10 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.
Live Stream: ESPN3
Series Record: Spurs 1, Warriors 1
Point Spread: Warriors -2
This matchup has been the best of the postseason thus far, with the upstart Dubs pushing the aging Spurs to their limit.
Through just two contests of what could very well be a seven-game series, fans have been blessed with a double-overtime thriller and excellent performances from a number of stars—both expected and out-of-nowhere.
The star of Game 2 was certainly unpredictable. Golden State’s sophomore sniper Klay Thompson stepped up for 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, including an eye-popping 8-of-9 from beyond the arc. He also used his length to defend and grab 14 crucial rebounds.
Will the Spurs be able to bounce back in front of the roaring, hostile crowd in Oracle Arena or will this veteran San Antonio squad wither under the pressure and falter in the postseason yet again? Tune in to Game 3 to find out.
Prediction: Warriors 103, Spurs 98
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies, Game 3, Western Conference Semifinals
When: Saturday, May 11 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
Live Stream: ESPN3
Series Record: Thunder 1, Grizzlies 1
Point Spread: Grizzlies -5
The Thunder have performed admirably without Russell Westbrook in the lineup, as the superstar is watching from the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery stemming from a meniscus injury in Round 1 against the Rockets.
Kevin Durant has taken control since, becoming OKC’s top scorer, rebounder, set-up artist and working hard on the defensive end. It has worked well, but the Grizzlies found a way to sneak past the top seed in the West in Game 2.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley Jr. abused the various defenders that Thunder coach Scott Brooks kept throwing at him, proving that Westbrook may be most missed for his athleticism and quick feet on the defensive end.
It’ll be interesting to see if OKC can clamp down on the emerging point guard and get enough production from players not named Kevin Durant to steal a road win on Saturday.
Prediction: Thunder 99, Grizzlies 97
New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers, Game 3, Eastern Conference Semifinals
When: Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Series Record: Knicks 1, Pacers 1
Point Spread: Pacers -4
In Game 2, the Knicks seemed to be headed for another home loss that would have surely sank their chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. That was until an epic 30-2 run, sparked by a Carmelo Anthony steal, lasted from the end of the third quarter into the fourth to put the game well out of reach.
Now the Knickerbockers have the momentum, which is something that coach Frank Vogel and his Pacers are going to have to try and halt at home.
It is likely that Vogel learned his lesson about calling timeouts when his team is on fire, as his questionable substitution of Jeff Pendergraph for Roy Hibbert was the turning point on Tuesday.
Now it’s on to the next one, where New York and its three-point shooting and offensive juggernauts will try to steamroll the Pacers from contention. Expect to see plenty of resistance from the Pacers' lengthy defenders and boisterous crowd.
Prediction: Knicks 85, Pacers 81
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