After a wild regular season, the first-round NBA playoffs matchups are finally set, and the resulting series will have basketball fans from all walks of life coming together in order to be ready for the postseason.
It was an exciting season full of ups and downs, but the best teams will now square off against each other with the hunt for a NBA championship on the mind. From the Miami Heat to the Charlotte Bobcats, there is no doubt that the playoff stretch will be unforgettable.
Here are the latest championship odds for every team that is still alive, a full first-round schedule and a preview of the most intriguing matchup.
For a printable 2014 NBA playoffs bracket, check out NBAPlayoffsBracket.com.
|2014 NBA Playoffs 1st Round Schedule|
|4/20||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||12 p.m.||TNT|
|4/23||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|4/26||(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks||3:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/28||(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/30||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||TBD||TBD|
|5/2||(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks||TBD||TBD|
|5/4||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||TBD||TBD|
|4/19||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/21||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||8 p.m.||TNT|
|4/24||(2) Thunder vs. Grizzlies||8 p.m.||TNT|
|4/26||(2) Thunder vs. Grizzlies||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/29||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||TBD||TBD|
|5/1||(2) Thunder vs. Grizzlies||TBD||TBD|
|5/3||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||TBD||TNT|
|4/19||(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|4/21||(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/24||(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/27||(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|4/29||(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers||TBD||TBD|
|5/1||(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors||TBD||TBD|
|5/3||(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers||TBD||TNT|
|4/20||(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/23||(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/25||(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers||10:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/27||(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/30||(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets||TBD||TBD|
|5/2||(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers||TBD||TBD|
|5/4||(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets||TBD||TBD|
|4/19||(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/22||(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers||7 p.m.||TNT|
|4/24||(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|4/26||(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks||2 p.m.||TNT|
|4/28||(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers||8 p.m.||NBATV|
|5/1||(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks||TBD||TBD|
|5/3||(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers||TBD||TNT|
|4/20||(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|4/23||(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat||7 p.m.||TNT|
|4/26||(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/28||(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats||7 p.m.||TNT|
|4/30||(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat||TBD||TBD|
|5/2||(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats||TBD||TBD|
|5/4||(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat||TBD||ABC|
|4/19||(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors||12:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/22||(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors||8 p.m.||NBATV|
|4/25||(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets||7 p.m.||ESPN 2|
|4/27||(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets||7 p.m.||TNT|
|4/30||(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors||TBD||TBD|
|5/2||(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets||TBD||TBD|
|5/4||(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors||TBD||TBD|
|4/20||(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls||7 p.m.||TNT|
|4/22||(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/25||(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/27||(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards||1 p.m.||ABC|
|4/29||(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls||TBD||TBD|
|5/1||(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards||TBD||TBD|
|5/3||(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls||TBD||TBD|
After taking a look at the full first-round schedule, here are the championship odds for all 16 teams that made the 2014 postseason.
|2014 NBA Championship Odds|
|Teams||Odds to Win NBA Title|
|San Antonio Spurs||+300|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+400|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+900|
|Golden State Warriors||+2800|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+4000|
The odds are fairly predictable. The top teams (Heat, Spurs, Thunder) are perennial powerhouses and are safe bets, and fans looking to make a wager should stick to one of these teams. If you're looking for a big payday with Charlotte or Atlanta, don't hold your breath.
Most Intriguing First-Round Matchup: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
When the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs (62-20) square off against the No. 8 seed Dallas Mavericks (49-33) in the first round of the NBA playoffs, it should be an intense series that helps set the tone for the entire postseason.
As well as Dallas has played at times this season, the franchise will struggle against San Antonio.
Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated took to Twitter to describe how teams like the Mavericks were doing everything in their power to avoid the Spurs in the first round:
While there are many traditionalists who will complain about the fact that teams are winning and losing games on purpose to end the season in order to help determine who they will play, the NBA Guru Twitter account revealed why Dallas is terrified of San Antonio:
The odds may be stacked against the Mavericks in this tough matchup, but Dallas and a roster full of talented players won’t simply lay down for their first-round foes. Former Spurs forward and current Mavericks star DeJuan Blair took to Twitter to comment on the matchup:
For Blair, the meeting will be bittersweet.
There are plenty of interesting storylines heading into this matchup, but there is no doubt that the better team will win in a seven-game series. Dallas may be able to steal a win against San Antonio, but the No. 1 seed will dominate overall.
Not only did the Spurs finish the regular season ranked sixth in points per game (105.4), but the team was also dominant on the defensive end, ranked sixth at 97.6 points per game.
The Mavericks also had a dangerous offense—eighth in points per game—but after ranking 20th in the NBA in terms of points allowed, San Antonio should be able to carve up its opponents in the offensive zone.
Led by star forward Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas has the ability to push the Spurs to their limit, but the lack of defensive consistency will doom the Mavericks from the start.
Series Prediction: San Antonio wins 4-1
All stats courtesy of NBA.com.