We may still be the middle of the second round during an incredibly exciting 2013 NBA playoffs, but it's certainly not too early to start thinking about which of these remaining eight teams will advance into the conference finals.
While hopefully each one of the currently ongoing series ends up going the distance, the reality is that some teams already have one foot out the door and the remaining games seem to be a formality.
Others will likely go the distance, as these evenly matched foes fight tooth and nail to keep their seasons alive.
Let’s take a look at each series, project how the remainder of it will play out and predict some winners.
*Updating and printable bracket can be found at NBAPlayoffsBracket.com.
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
After the Heat suffered a shocking loss in Game 1 on their home floor, it seemed that Chicago had a fighting chance to make this best-of-seven series a competitive one.
This is now just a sweep with a mild wake-up call attached to the beginning. Miami is simply the better team and received a much-needed jolt to start the series after having eight days off.
While Chicago will continue to fight hard and do whatever it can to steal a victory, the squad is severely overmatched and outgunned.
Prediction: Heat advance after Game 5
New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers
Despite being down 2-1, the Knicks are going to come back and win this against the longtime rival Pacers.
New York has been competitive for a majority of minutes in the two losses, and poor contributions from Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith have made the difference in the final score.
Which team will win this series?
In three contests, Smith is averaging just 11.3 points on 26.2 percent field-goal shooting and 18.8 percent from beyond the arc. Those are simply unacceptable numbers for a guy hoisting up over 14 field-goal and five three-point attempts per game.
Carmelo Anthony isn’t able to shoulder the load himself, especially with Indiana big man Roy Hibbert dominating the inside and making it tough for the Knickerbockers to get to the cup.
Expect Smith to snap out of his slump and start shooting somewhere near the mean for his 2012-13 season—18.1 points on 42.2 percent for field goals and 35.6 percent for three-pointers.
Prediction: Knicks advance after Game 7
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The absence of Russell Westbrook is being felt against a tough, veteran Grizzlies team that has multiple players stepping up at the right time.
Marc Gasol—the Defensive Player of the Year—came through huge on offense in Game 3, putting up 18 of his 20 points in the second half to help Memphis to a 2-1 series lead. That pivotal game will likely be the difference, as the Grizz are now perfectly poised to advance to the conference finals.
Kevin Durant is doing his best to play huge minutes and lead the team in rebounding, scoring, assists and more, but he simply can’t will his club to the promised land alone.
Don’t be surprised to see Memphis go up 3-1 on Monday night, especially with a rabid home crowd behind the players.
Prediction: Grizzlies advance after Game 6
San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors
This is the best series of the second round, as both sides have fought hard and now sit at a 2-2 draw.
There have been three overtime periods, including a Mother’s Day free basketball special that proved the young-gun Warriors were in much better physical condition and equally as disciplined compared to the veteran Spurs.
If coach Mark Jackson can keep his stars and role players in that same mentality for two more games, his Dubs will be advancing to the Western Conference finals. It’ll be another major disappointment for coach Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, but this is a nightmare matchup for them.
As long as Stephen Curry stays healthy and continues to fill it up from range, the Warriors will be perfectly positioned to make a run—even if they make the fans in the Bay Area sweat out a Game 7 in the conference semifinals.
Prediction: Warriors advance after Game 7