NBA Playoffs 2014: Breaking Down Every Opening-Round Series

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NBA Playoffs 2014: Breaking Down Every Opening-Round Series

From here on out, every single second of NBA basketball matters.

There'll be no more tanking. We're finished with strategic rest for stars like Dwyane Wade and the San Antonio Spurs' aging core. Gone are the days of sedative basketball, and you can say goodbye to mid-February meaninglessness and snooze-inducing tilts between the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic.

Elimination is now in play, so the stakes are necessarily high. But this postseason features some uniquely intriguing narratives that add even more excitement to an already drama-laden slate.

Can Tim Duncan secure his fifth title? Will LeBron James and the Heat make it three in a row? Will Kevin Durant cap off a likely MVP year with his first ring?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before any of those potentially historic milestones come into play, championship hopefuls and aspiring spoilers have to get through the first round.

Here's a breakdown of every opening-round matchup, complete with game times, viewing information, series-swinging X-factors and a prediction for the ultimate outcome.

Gloss over the details at your own risk. We're in postseason territory now, where wins and losses become life and death. Buckle up; this is going to be good.

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