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Now there's a man who knows how to play defense (not talking about Jerryd Bayless, by the way).
Denver Nuggets vs. Indiana Pacers
The Nuggets can't score in the half court (not without Danilo Gallinari, anyways), and that's essentially a death knell against a team like the Pacers.
All year, the Nuggets relied on getting out in transition and getting easy shots at the rim. But stuff like that rarely works against the Pacers, who were tops in the league at limiting points in transition and points in the paint (per NBA.com).
That forces Denver to score a fair amount of its points in the half court, which isn't its strong suit. To make matters worse, the Nuggets are one of the league's worst three-point shooting teams and can't stretch the floor against a defense like the Pacers.
The Nuggets instead thrive on their ability to get to the rim, which is a problem against a Pacers squad that held opponents to just 52 percent shooting from within five feet, tops in the league (per NBA.com).
With Danilo Gallinari healthy and all the Nuggets' smallball lineups fully intact, Denver would have a decent shot in this series. But without Gallinari, Denver just doesn't have the offense to keep up with an Indiana squad that scored at near a top-ten rate in the second half of the season (per NBA.com).
Pacers in 2
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors
This matchup is really problematic for the Warriors, who lost all three regular season games against the Grizzlies.
The Warriors won in the playoffs by going small a ton, letting Stephen Curry launch tons of threes out of the pick-and-roll and trusting Andrew Bogut to protect the rim and clean up any mistakes on the defensive end. And that worked pretty well. But not against Memphis.
Offensively, Memphis can really punish the Warriors when they go small. Harrison Barnes has no shot at defending Zach Randolph down low, and though Draymond Green has a better chance, playing him or going bigger with Carl Landry too much would really handicap the Golden State offense.
On the other end, you really couldn't think of a better guy to throw at Stephen Curry than Tony Allen. Allen, when recently asked by Grantland's Zach Lowe how he fights through screens, replied, “You just have to do it,” and then proceeded to do just that against Kevin Durant.
The Warriors' offense was at its best when Curry was free to fire coming off of picks, and Allen could stop him from doing that (similar to the way Danny Green did).
The Warriors obviously have other ways to attack the Grizzlies. Harrison Barnes could do a lot of damage if he can hit threes and keep Randolph on the perimeter, and Golden State's a smart enough passing team to exploit some holes in the Memphis defense.
However, only the Indiana Pacers were better than Memphis at preventing the longball this season (per NBA.com), and Golden State's best lineups give up a ton defensively in this series. That'll make it too tough on the Warriors.
Grizzlies in 3