The 2014 NBA playoffs are underway, and it's time to start hunkering down to watch all the action over the next two months.
There are eight first-round series either ongoing or about to tip off as of Sunday, and hoops junkies will likely be tuning in to every single game they can get their eyeballs on.
Whether you are looking to watch every series or just hand pick a few choice matchups to schedule your life around, I have you covered. Keep reading for a look at the complete Round 1 schedule, plus the latest odds for each series and more.
|Eastern Conference Matchups and Odds||Prediction|
|No.1 Indiana Pacers (-560) vs. No.8 Atlanta Hawks (+480)||Pacers in five|
|No.2 Miami Heat (-2000) vs. No.7 Charlotte Bobcats (+1200)||Heat in four|
|No.3 Toronto Raptors (+110) vs. No.6 Brooklyn Nets (-130)||Raptors in seven|
|No.4 Chicago Bulls (-190) vs. No.5 Washington Wizards (+170)||Bulls in six|
|Western Conference Matchups and Odds|
|No.1 San Antonio Spurs (-675) vs. No.8 Dallas Mavericks (+550)||Spurs in five|
|No.2 Oklahoma City Thunder (-350) vs. No.7 Memphis Grizzlies (+300)||Thunder in six|
|No.3 Los Angeles Clippers (-350) vs. No.6 Golden State Warriors (+300)||Clippers in six|
|No.4 Houston Rockets (-190) vs. No.5 Portland Trail Blazers (+170)||Rockets in seven|
RJ Bell of Pregame.com via Twitter (@RJinVegas)
The NBA Playoffs have finally arrived. Here's a helpful guide for your next two months. pic.twitter.com/MEgJYK0aVs— ESPN (@espn) April 17, 2014
|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|
Round 1 Series to Watch: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs
While top seeds in the NBA playoffs tend to dispatch No. 8 seeds as quickly and painlessly as No. 16 seeds generally do in the NCAA tournament, there are occasionally times when these underdogs put up a fight and make things interesting.
The Mavs aren’t a typical No. 8 seed, having survived a brutal postseason race in an ultra-competitive Western Conference to face a longstanding rival in the Spurs. While they are a flawed team that offers little in the way of defense, they do possess a superstar with a championship pedigree, a high-powered offense and a “nobody believes in us” mentality. Those attributes are dangerous this time of year and could make this a series to remember.
Dallas came in a mere No. 22 overall in the league in terms of defensive efficiency but can score seemingly at will. The squad gunned its way to 49 wins behind an offense that ranked as the third-most efficient in the entire NBA.
Veteran star Dirk Nowitzki has brought the Mavs to an improbable championship before, ousting the favored Heat in 2011 to earn a ring. He spoke with Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News about his team’s plan for the series:
We’ll just let it all hang out. But they’re a great team. After the All-Star break, they’ve been rolling. They’re definitely the favorites in the series. That’s pretty obvious. But we’re going in there to compete and we’ll see what happens.
While the Mavs may be playing like they have nothing to lose, they will be quickly eliminated if they cannot step up their efforts on defense.
Which team will win?
Samuel Dalembert, the journeyman center, is going to play an important role in that regard and serve as a lynchpin for Dallas’ success in the series, as per Dwain Price of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram:
Unfortunately, when a team’s hopes and dreams depend on a player who has been with four different organizations over the past four seasons, it likely isn’t going to turn out too well.
The Spurs made a living demolishing teams that cannot defend, and it shouldn’t be much different in this opening series. They are a two-way juggernaut that can score (they were the sixth-most efficient offensive squad) and defend (boasting the third-most efficient defense) at a high level and hungry to get back to the NBA Finals after coming up just short last year.
San Antonio beat Dallas in all four of the regular-season meetings, and that was with their four best players on a minutes limit. Now that the shackles are about to come off, this could quickly get out of hand.
While the Mavs have plenty of grit and will win at least one game based on a scoring explosion from Nowitzki and Monta Ellis alone, they don’t have the consistency on defense required to best the disciplined Spurs four times in seven attempts.
It’s going to be fun to watch them try, however, so make sure you tune in to this awesome series to kick off the NBA postseason.