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NBA Playoffs 2014: Matchups, Odds and Bracket for First Round

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 13: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2014 NBAE  (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Donald WoodFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2016

The 2014 NBA regular season was a wild journey, but the road to a championship is only getting started for the 16 teams that made the playoffs this year.

With powerhouses like the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs dominating their competition, as well as unheralded teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and Memphis Grizzlies getting their chance to shine, the postseason promises to be a thrilling ride to the NBA title.

Here are the likely first-round matchups in each conference along with the odds of winning a championship for each team. This article also features a preview of the best potential first-round matchup.

For a printable 2014 NBA playoffs bracket, check out NBAPlayoffsBracket.com.

 

First-Round Matchups
Eastern Conference
Home TeamRecordAway TeamRecord
No. 1 Indiana Pacers55-26vs.No. 8 Atlanta Hawks37-44
No. 2 Miami Heat54-27vs.No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats42-39
No. 3 Toronto Raptors48-33vs.No. 6 Washington Wizards43-38
No. 4 Chicago Bulls48-33vs.No. 5 Brooklyn Nets44-37
Western Conference
Home TeamRecordAway TeamRecord
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs62-19vs.No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies49-32
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder58-23vs.No. 7 Dallas Mavericks49-32
No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers57-24vs.No. 6 Golden State Warriors50-31
No. 4 Houston Rockets54-27vs.No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers53-28)
Source: NBA.com

 

2014 NBA Playoff Odds
TeamsOdds to Win NBA Title
Miami Heat+200
San Antonio Spurs+300
Oklahoma City Thunder+400
Indiana Pacers+600
Los Angeles Clippers+900
Houston Rockets+2000
Brooklyn Nets+2800
Golden State Warriors+2800
Chicago Bulls+4000
Portland Trail Blazers+4000
Toronto Raptors+6600
Dallas Mavericks+6600
Memphis Grizzlies+6600
Washington Wizards+15000
Charlotte Bobcats+25000
Atlanta Hawks+25000
Source: OddsShark.com

 

Best First-Round Matchup: Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets

If the No. 4 seed Chicago Bulls (48-33) square off against the No. 5 seed Brooklyn Nets (44-37) in the first round of the playoffs, this will undoubtedly be the best battle of the opening round.

Unfortunately for fans, this series may not come to fruition if Brooklyn sits its players during Wednesday’s final regular season game in order to avoid Chicago.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, this may have been the Nets’ plan all along:

Brooklyn has plenty of veteran players who have been down this road before. Since the franchise is already locked into the postseason, trying to avoid a perennial powerhouse like the Bulls shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

If any players know how dangerous Chicago can be, it would be Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Despite the intensity that would envelop this potential first-round series, Bulls forward Taj Gibson told Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago about the Bulls’ mindset regarding the last game of the season and its unwavering focus:

We really can't look forward to the future. You've got to look at who's in front of you. Because any kind of little thing teams can feed off of, they'll use it against you. We don't want to give anybody any kind of extra confidence, any kind of extra juices. We're just focused on ourselves, just getting ready to play some tough-nosed, (rugged) basketball. We understand the stakes. We understand what it's about.

The Bulls struggled mightily in the offensive zone throughout the season (currently ranked 30th with an average of 93.8 points per game), but they were absolutely dominant in their own end, allowing the fewest points per game in the NBA (91.8).

With an unmatched tenacity and will to win, the lack of Derrick Rose in the lineup has forced Chicago to come together as a unit and play for a common cause. The result has been one of the strongest defensive teams in years.

No wonder Brooklyn wants to avoid the Bulls.

The Nets have a very strong team that can do serious damage in the postseason. With a defense ranked ninth in the league (allowing 99.3 points per game), there is no doubt that the potential matchup against Chicago would be a physical battle.

Brooklyn can score in bunches when the team finds a rhythm, but the ferocity in the defensive zone from both teams will result in a low-scoring series with plenty of animosity. If these two teams square off, there will be bad blood.

With the potential to go seven games, this series will be must-watch TV.

Series Prediction: Chicago wins 4-3

 

All stats courtesy of NBA.com.

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