The conference semifinals have been quite fascinating for the 2013 NBA playoffs.
And with each series tied at one apiece, that only amplifies the stakes for this weekend's games.
The Chicago Bulls managed to return home against the Miami Heat with a road win. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs were edged by the Golden State State Warriors in Game 2.
After putting down a game-winner against the Memphis Grizzlies, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder were dropped in the second contest. And don't sleep on the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers' series.
Here, let's preview each Game 3 to get prepared for some exciting playoff basketball this weekend.
Heat at Bulls
Miami and Chicago is becoming one intense rivalry, and through just two games this series, expect that to carry on.
Miami dump-trucked the Bulls in Game 2 to even the series and Game 3 moves back to the Windy City.
Rebounding will be the key. Chicago won the boards 46-32 to open the series, and Miami bashed the Bulls on the glass 41-28 on Wednesday. Include the Heat's 60 field-goal percentage, and no defense will slow that down even when challenging shots.
The Bulls must retain control of the paint because it will force Miami to knock down shots from just inside or beyond the arc. What really jolted the Heat in Game 2 was Norris Cole going 4-of-4 from downtown. That opened up everything else underneath and got Chicago to commit fouls.
Will Cole connect just as consistently on Friday? Regardless, that remains a better option than allowing LeBron or Dwyane Wade to take over.
Spurs at Warriors
San Antonio and Golden State is turning into one of the most electric series this postseason.
For one, the Spurs displayed the talent to match pace with a high-powered opponent. Winning the first game 129-127 in double overtime, the Spurs connected from 50 percent beyond the arc. The downside was an exact opposite performance from long range in Game 2 (23.8 percent).
Therefore, Golden State must continue to push the pace and force San Antonio to keep up. Hitting near or above 50 percent from downtown is unreal, and the Spurs matching Game 1's performance will be tough.
One major edge to the Warriors is rebounding. Despite dropping the first game, they won the board battle 55-45 and again on Wednesday 50-48. Given San Antonio's overall marksmanship, Golden State has proven to match that thus far.
Continuing to win the physical battle just provides Golden State that slight push to pull the upset.
Thunder at Grizzlies
Oklahoma City and Memphis is the most intriguing series right now.
When the Thunder possess the rock, it's an explosive offense against the NBA's top defense: Memphis ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed (89.3). On the contrary, the Grizzlies only ranked No. 27 in scoring offense, whereas OKC did rank No. 9 in points allowed (96.5).
Still, the Grizzlies nearly pulled the Game 1 upset and then willed themselves to victory in Game 2. Oklahoma City committed 19 turnovers and was out-rebounded 43-35.
As for Saturday's showdown, a slower pace is obviously to Memphis' advantage. Although that will limit its offensive chances, that will help win the possession battle.
And Kevin Durant is capable of propelling any game into a scoring festival when given opportunities.
So, focusing on dishing the rock around and not forcing attempts will sustain efficiency. Neglecting to shorten the contest, OKC will up the tempo in transition to pull away in the second half.
Knicks at Pacers
It's easy to overlook the Knicks and Pacers' series, especially with the intensity offered from Miami and Chicago. That's not to mention the Thunder and Spurs facing tough matchups.
This is, however, an eerily similar bout to OKC and Memphis.
New York courts the high-powered offense and has shown strong signs of competent defense. Indiana, on the flip side, isn't as flashy offensively but will suffocate on the defensive end, as they are No. 2 in least points allowed per game (90.7).
What's fascinating, though, is how each team has won their one game thus far. The Pacers dominated the glass in Game 1, but the Knicks only committed six turnovers in Game 2 to Indiana's 21.
Game 3 will unveil what has been learned through two matchups. New York must improve at crashing the boards and get more physical inside. The Pacers ranked No. 1 in rebounding (45.9) and have the personnel to win with defense or by out-scoring the opponent.
Whether the Knicks can continue forcing turnovers is the next question. Otherwise, Indiana will gradually take over and send New York home.
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