NBA Playoffs 2014: 1st-Round Schedule, Bracket and Predictions

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) puts up a jump shot defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott (32) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 98-85. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis

Don’t worry—not every first-round series in the NBA playoffs will feature LeBron James and the Miami Heat eviscerating the Charlotte Bobcats the same way they did during the regular season.

A number of intriguing postseason battles will play out in the coming weeks, including showdowns between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. 

Here is a look at the entire first-round bracket, courtesy of the NBA:

Want to know when and where you can see the litany of postseason games? We’ve got you covered on that too:

2014 NBA Playoffs First-Round Schedule
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/20(8) Mavericks vs. (1) SpursNoonTNT
4/23(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs7 p.m.NBATV
4/26(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks3:30 p.m.TNT
4/28(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks8:30 p.m.TNT
4/30(8) Mavericks vs. (1) SpursTBDTBD
5/2(1) Spurs vs. (8) MavericksTBDTBD
5/4(8) Mavericks vs. (1) SpursTBDTBD
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/19(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder9:30 p.m.ESPN
4/21(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder8 p.m.TNT
4/24(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies8 p.m.TNT
4/26(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies9:30 p.m.ESPN
4/29(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) ThunderTBDTBD
5/1(2) Thunder vs. GrizzliesTBDTBD
5/3(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) ThunderTBDTNT
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/19(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers3:30 p.m.ABC
4/21(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers10:30 p.m.TNT
4/24(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors10:30 p.m.TNT
4/27(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors3:30 p.m.ABC
4/29(6) Warriors vs. (3) ClippersTBDTBD
5/1(3) Clippers vs. (6) WarriorsTBDTBD
5/3(6) Warriors vs. (3) ClippersTBDTNT
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/20(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets9:30 p.m.TNT
4/23(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) Rockets9:30 p.m.TNT
4/25(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers10:30 p.m.ESPN
4/27(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers9:30 p.m.TNT
4/30(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) RocketsTBDTBD
5/2(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail BlazersTBDTBD
5/4(5) Trail Blazers vs. (4) RocketsTBDTBD
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/19(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers7 p.m.ESPN
4/22(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers7 p.m.TNT
4/24(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks7 p.m.NBATV
4/26(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks2 p.m.TNT
4/28(8) Hawks vs. (1) Pacers8 p.m.NBATV
5/1(1) Pacers vs. (8) HawksTBDTBD
5/3(8) Hawks vs. (1) PacersTBDTNT
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/20(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat3:30 p.m.ABC
4/23(7) Bobcats vs. (2) Heat7 p.m.TNT
4/26(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats7 p.m.ESPN
4/28(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats7 p.m.TNT
4/30(7) Bobcats vs. (2) HeatTBDTBD
5/2(2) Heat vs. (7) BobcatsTBDTBD
5/4(7) Bobcats vs. (2) HeatTBDABC
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/19(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors12:30 p.m.ESPN
4/22(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors8 p.m.NBATV
4/25(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets7 p.m.ESPN 2
4/27(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets7 p.m.TNT
4/30(6) Nets vs. (3) RaptorsTBDTBD
5/2(3) Raptors vs. (6) NetsTBDTBD
5/4(6) Nets vs. (3) RaptorsTBDTBD
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
4/20(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls7 p.m.TNT
4/22(5) Wizards vs. (4) Bulls9:30 p.m.TNT
4/25(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards8 p.m.ESPN
4/27(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards1 p.m.ABC
4/29(5) Wizards vs. (4) BullsTBDTBD
5/1(4) Bulls vs. (5) WizardsTBDTBD
5/3(5) Wizards vs. (4) BullsTBDTBD

Now that we know what the schedule and bracket look like for the entire first round, let's dig into a couple of early predictions.

Andrew Bogut’s Absence Will Prove Too Costly for Golden State


The Warriors knew they had an injury-prone big man heading into the season with Andrew Bogut, but that doesn’t make his latest ailment any easier to swallow.

While Golden State will miss his scoring and passing on the block, it is his interior defense that is needed the most against the Los Angeles Clippers. He has the capability of protecting the rim when Chris Paul drives off screens and can at least contain Blake Griffin in the head-to-head matchup.

That will leave the job to David Lee, who can handle it in stretches, but there is little quality depth behind him if he gets in foul trouble or needs a blow. In fact, the Clippers grabbed 30 percent of available offensive rebounds against the Warriors when Bogut hit the bench in the regular season, which is an enormous number. 

DENVER, CO - April 16:  David Lee #10, Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts to a call against the Denver Nuggets on April 16, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
Bart Young/Getty Images

Without Bogut, Golden State will rely even more on three-pointers, which could mean trouble against one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenses. That’s not to suggest that Stephen Curry and company won’t win at least a couple of games, but they don’t have the bodies to handle Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers on the glass for seven games without Bogut.

LeBron James Will Make Quick Work of the Bobcats 

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during a game against the Atlanta Hawks on April 12, 2014 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photogr
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Grantland’s Zach Lowe broke down just how bad it has been for the Charlotte Bobcats when they have tried to stop Mr. James: "LeBron straight murdered Charlotte, averaging 38 points per game on 63 percent, including his legendary 61-point explosion. The Kitties have never beaten Miami since “The Decision.” I have to check the math, but I think that bodes poorly."

ESPN Stats & Info makes it seem even worse when attaching numbers to the dominance:

The problem is that James is too physically dominant for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Gerald Henderson. If the Bobcats are forced to double-team King James, it will open up plenty of perimeter looks for the barrage of three-point shooters who litter the Heat roster. Everything Miami does revolves around James, and it’s no wonder that it beat Charlotte all four times this season when looking at the actual matchup.

The Heat scored a borderline-ridiculous 116.6 points per 100 possessions against Charlotte this year, per, via Lowe, and there is no reason to expect that pace to change simply because it is the postseason.

Al Jefferson seemed to have the answer for his team after James scored 61 points earlier in the season, according to The Associated Press, via "You take away his 61 points, and we still had a fighting chance there at the end." 

The problem is that taking away James’ production is a lot easier said than done.

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