Best Individual Matchups in the First Round of 2014 NBA Playoffs

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Best Individual Matchups in the First Round of 2014 NBA Playoffs
LM Otero

From the historically significant battles to the bouts of the up-and-comers, the opening round of the 2014 NBA playoffs is littered with intoxicating individual matchups.

Point-guard play predictably rules the roost. This is the "Golden Age" of the position after all, and this postseason field offers some of the best of the best.

But don't sleep on some of these interior clashes. Between the assaults of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap on Eastern Conference frontcourts to the Western Conference tilt of two all-time greats, there's a little something for everyone underneath the basket.

Out on the wings, it's more about survival mode. Several top-tier talents (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden) enter their respective series unmatched in the head-to-head department, leaving their opponents hoping for containment and desperately needing victories in the one-on-one wars seen here.

It took nearly six months and a total of 2,460 games to get this far, but the playoffs are here now. The field is officially set—it's both real and spectacular.

And it's highlighted by these eight individual showdowns, each a can't-miss collision.

These could all be series-changing clashes. The underdogs won't have upset potential without major contributions from their players here, but the favorites can't afford for their guys to lay an egg, either.

You won't find all of the opening round's biggest names here, but each head-to-head battle that made the cut features two hungry fighters with knockout power. If one player hits, the other will hit back—hard.

Whether feature stars or X-factors, everyone on this list is crucial to their teams' postseason health. Short of a crystal ball in hand, these will be our best indicators of how each series will play out.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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