The first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs has been simply epic. It would be almost impossible to point out a more exciting collection of opening series and there are still a handful of games that have yet to be played.
It’s going to be sad to see the round come to an end, as there has been a nonstop stream of overtime contests, superstar performances and unlikely heroes emerging during the past fortnight.
With only a few days left before the conference semifinals begin, you won’t want to miss a single deciding game to close out each series. Keep reading for the complete schedule for the remainder of the first round, plus a look at an updated playoff bracket and more.
|Friday, May 2|
|Raptors at Nets||Toronto leads 3-2||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Spurs at Mavericks||San Antonio leads 3-2||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Rockets at Trail Blazers||Portland leads 3-2||10:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, May 3|
|Hawks at Pacers||Tied 3-3||TBD||TNT|
|Grizzlies at Thunder||Tied 3-3||TBD||TNT|
|Warriors at Clippers||Tied 3-3||TBD||TNT|
|Sunday, May 4|
|Mavericks at Spurs||(if necessary)||TBD||ABC|
|Nets at Raptors||(if necessary)||TBD||TBD|
|Trail Blazers at Rockets||(if necessary)||TBD||ABC|
Updated NBA Playoff Bracket
For a printable 2014 NBA playoff bracket, check out NBAPlayoffsBracket.com.
Friday Matchup to Watch: Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
This series has been downright incredible and it will continue with a pivotal Game 6 on Friday evening. Toronto currently holds the advantage, but the Nets are a force at home and are staring down elimination in a must-win situation.
Brooklyn put up a valiant effort at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday, but ultimately was not able to get the job done in a 115-113 loss. Their vaunted defense allowed Kyle Lowry to score 36 points and the Raptors as a whole to shoot 48.1 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from three-point land. That was too much to overcome, even with mad dash at the end that resulted in a 44-point fourth quarter.
First-year head coach Jason Kidd believes the officiating had a bit to do with that defeat. According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York, the Nets coach was peeved that star guard Joe Johnson took 24 shots but only went to the line for one free throw:
If flopping is the way to go, then we have to maybe play that game. But Joe is a strong individual and unfortunately, he doesn't flop. He plays and he doesn't complain. But that's why we have officials, for them to make calls.
Kidd also made the questionable decision to hold veteran stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, a move that would come back to haunt him when Andray Blatche turned the ball over in a critical moment down the stretch.
Pierce is still confident that his team will be able to prevail with its back up against the wall. When asked if the series would go the distance, Pierce had this to say to ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk.
“Without a doubt. One game at a time, we got to take care of home. I think we will play better on Friday at home and we’ll see them back here Sunday.”
Should Brooklyn prevail at home, it will likely need to take back control of the paint. The Raptors were able to penetrate at will in Game 5, getting into the lane to score and making easy passes for open looks.
Which team will win Game 6?
That assault on the lane resulted in the great percentage from deep due to drive and dishes, as well as 40 points in the paint for Toronto on Wednesday.
It’s going to be a great battle and it will be interesting to see the adjustments that each team makes going forward. While Brooklyn lost Game 5, it has a monster fourth quarter to build off of and could parlay that momentum into a victory to force a deciding Game 7.