NBA Playoff Schedule 2014: Postseason Bracket and First-Round Predictions

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 13, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - April 8: Jeff Ayres #11 of the San Antonio Spurs battles for rebound position against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on April 8, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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With only a couple of games remaining in the 2013-14 NBA regular season, the playoff scenarios are practically set in stone.

There may be a few surprises by season's end; however, this year's top contenders are already known.

The Western Conference is absolutely stacked once again this year, as five of its eight playoff-bound teams have already accrued at least 50 wins.

On the other hand, the Eastern Conference is a bit more diverse, with just the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat reaching the 50-win mark on the season.

This year's playoffs feature some lopsided matchups early on. However, the four-versus-five seed and three-versus-six seed games should provide some dramatic conclusions.

Let's take a look at how the playoff picture would look if the season ended on Sunday and provide some first-round projections for each of the eight matchups.


Projected Postseason Matchups

MIAMI, FL - April 11: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on April 11, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using
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2014 Projected Postseason First-Round Matchups
Team 1RecordTeam 2Record
Eastern Conference
No. 1 Indiana Pacers54-26No. 8 Atlanta Hawks37-43
No. 2 Miami Heat54-26No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats41-39
No. 3 Chicago Bulls47-32No. 6 Washington Wizards42-38
No. 4 Toronto Raptors46-33No. 5 Brooklyn Nets43-36
Western Conference
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs62-18No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies47-32
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder58-21No. 7 Dallas Mavericks49-32
No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers56-24No. 6 Golden State Warriors49-30
No. 4 Houston Rockets53-27No. 5 Portland Trailblazers52-28



TORONTO, CANADA - April 2: Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets battles for position against Tyler Hansbrough #50 and John Salmons #25 of the Toronto Raptors on April 2, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: Us
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2014 First-Round Predictions
Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta HawksPacers
Miami Heat vs. Charlotte BobcatsHeat
Chicago Bulls vs. Washington WizardsBulls
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn NetsRaptors
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis GrizzliesSpurs
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas MavericksThunder
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State WarriorsClippers
Houston Rockets vs. Portland TrailblazersRockets
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions

Indiana and Atlanta could be a lot closer than many would think. These teams have met four times during the regular season and split the series 2-2. The Pacers haven't been playing great ball of late and could be poised for an upset. However, the team is just good enough right now to squeeze through here.

Miami's had Charlotte's number through the regular season. Despite being plagued by injuries, the Heat are still a very dangerous team whenever they take the court. The Bobcats have been on a great late-season run, but they don't have the firepower to keep up with the Heat.

After losing to the Wizards twice earlier in the season, Chicago finally notched a win against Washington in early April. The Bulls are on a big hot streak right now, winning nine of their last 10 games and seven straight. That momentum will propel them through Round 1.

The Raptors and Nets figure to have one of the most highly contested first-round matchups. These teams split their regular-season series at two games each. The upper hand goes to Toronto here. The Raptors have home-court advantage, and the Nets are 16-24 on the road this season.

Can anyone stop the Spurs? With the best record in basketball, San Antonio still hasn't let its foot off the gas late in the season. It's safe to say the postseason favorite will move on with ease.

The Thunder may be on upset alert in Round 1. Dallas has a 2-1 record against Kevin Durant and Co. during the regular season. Each team is playing well down the stretch, and this one could come down to the bitter end. It's just tough to bet against the Thunder's explosive offense.

Here's another matchup that should be intense. The Clippers and Warriors split during the regular season and are both playing some solid basketball right now. Golden State is a great road team, but the Clippers are a better home team. Roll with Blake Griffin and Co. in this one.

Houston took three of four games from Portland during the regular season. Even though Portland has arguably been playing better than the Rockets of late, it's tough to go against a team with home-court advantage that owns a 32-8 home record over the regular season.