In a nice turn of events, the NBA actually has a bit of parity on display as the 2014 iteration of the playoffs exit the infancy stages and hit full swing.
Not every final score from the opening salvos of the postseason looks close on paper, but even the Charlotte Bobcats stuck around with the Miami Heat for the majority of the game, which is much better than most who have past experience watching the playoffs would have expected.
Some names such as Paul Pierce are in new places, but the old guard is still making a title run while looking to fend off the next era of superstars like Kevin Durant. It's an exciting time to be a fan, so here's a look at the full first-round slate and some notes for the uninitiated to catch up.
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV / Result|
|4/20||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||1 p.m.||San Antonio, 90-85|
|4/23||(8) Mavericks vs. (1) Spurs||8 p.m.||NBATV|
|4/26||(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks||4:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4/28||(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks||9:30 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,||Oklahoma City, 100-86|
|4/21||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||8 p.m.||TNT|
|4/24||(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies||8 p.m.||TNT|
|4/26||(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4/29||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||TBD||TBD|
|5/1||(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies||TBD||TBD|
|5/3||(7) Grizzlies vs. (2) Thunder||TBD||TNT|
|4/19||(6) Warriors vs. (3) Clippers||3:30 p.m.||Golden State, 109-105|
|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.||Portland, 122-120|
|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.||Atlanta, 101-93|
|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.||Miami, 99-88|
|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.||Brooklyn, 94-87|
|4/22||(6) Nets vs. (3) Raptors||7:30 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.||Washington, 102-93|
|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|
The Upset Special Award Goes to Atlanta
No. 1 seeds always roll No. 8 teams, right?
Not this year. Not to take anything away from the Atlanta Hawks, but much of this upset alert can be attributed to the Indiana Pacers and their spontaneous combustion.
Cliche alert—star forward Paul George laid down the gauntlet after the loss:
Folks who can't stand generic athlete responses surely cringed, but he has a point. Just ask ESPN Stats & Info:
Pacers are the 4th 1 seed to lose to an 8 in Game 1 since 2003. The last 2 times that happened (2011 and 2007), the 1 seed lost the series— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 20, 2014
Indiana is simply a mess, as there isn't one player who is stepping up in the face of adversity. For Atlanta, that player is point guard Jeff Teague, who had a coming-out party of sorts in Game 1 with 28 points, five assists and three rebounds.
There's not a player on Indiana's roster who can contain Teague, and clearly David West was overmatched in the paint against the criminally underrated Paul Milsap, who dropped 25 points on the Pacers.
All things considered, the Pacers have the look of a team set to bow out early.
The Brooklyn Nets Are the Shocker to Monitor
It's almost comical that this is a surprise to any fan.
A team with Pierce and Kevin Garnett has somehow gone unnoticed into the playoffs before it "surprised" the globe with a 94-87 road thumping of the Toronto Raptors.
Look, the Nets specifically crafted this roster with the playoffs in mind. Deron Williams is an elite point guard. He dropped 24 points on the Raptors. Joe Johnson is nearly unstoppable when he gets hot, as he did in the third quarter. He dropped 24.
VIDEO: Paul Pierce yells "that's why they got me here!" after clutch jumper vs. Raptors http://t.co/BzV0hucRas— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 20, 2014
Pierce scored just 15 points but got wicked hot to close out the game and couldn't miss. Garnett scored five and grabbed eight boards, but his lone field goal off the bench clinched the game.
It's easy to pen a narrative that the Raptors are simply inexperienced. But Brooklyn's suffocating defense, paired with timely offense and Pierce at the center of it all has put the Nets over the top as title contenders.
Just as they planned it.
The—Surprise—Spurs Are the Favorite
The real Big Three are at it again.
Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker don't weigh down their team's cap space with hefty contracts. Ginobili doesn't even start anymore.
Which team has the best shot to win the Finals?
Yet, come playoff, time the Big Three are elite once more. Parker's slicing through the defense and finding Ginobili for a corner three-pointer or Duncan for an easy layup. Role players such as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are coming alive as a result.
Thus was the case in the team's typical Game 1 90-85 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Duncan scored 27. Ginobili had 17 off the bench. Parker orchestrated it all with 21 points and six assists, effortlessly getting into the lane as Monta Ellis and Co. simply aren't built to contain a point guard of his skill.
It's boring to see the same old teams reach the finals, but San Antonio's humility and efficiency is hard to hate. Until further notice, Duncan and Co. appear en route to yet another title.