So these NBA playoffs have been kinda good, right?
Good luck trying to think of a better opening round in recent memory. Seemingly everything that could've happened in these postseason series has. Fans have been treated to plenty of Game 7s, buzzer-beaters and impressive individual performances.
However, all good things must come to an end, and on Sunday afternoon, this whirlwind first round will reach its conclusion. The Toronto Raptors welcome the Brooklyn Nets to start out the day, and then the San Antonio Spurs welcome the Dallas Mavericks.
|Home||Away||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|Toronto Raptors||Brooklyn Nets||1 p.m.||ABC|
|San Antonio Spurs||Dallas Mavericks||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
Updated Playoff Bracket
You can view how the bracket now stands on NBA.com.
Game 7 Previews
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Who will win the battle of the point guards?
Kyle Lowry has been great for most of this series, but his performance in Game 6 was really bad. The Raptors have almost no chance of winning when he shoots 4-of-16 from the field.
Toronto head coach Dwane Casey admitted after Game 6 that he needs to figure out ways to get Lowry more space on Sunday, per TSN's Josh Lewenberg:
Casey on Lowry: "They did a good job of taking him out and we have to do a better job of moving him around where they cant find him"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 3, 2014
The Raptors point guard has emerged on a national stage in this series. Most basketball fans will have told you how talented Lowry is, but it's in these playoffs that he's ascended to a different, star level.
He's such a dynamic scorer, and his team can't be without that on Sunday if it's to advance.
More so than Lowry, though, Deron Williams likely holds the key to this game.
In Brooklyn's three losses, he's averaging 12 points on 35.3 percent shooting. That performance was bad enough to make Nets fans put up fake "Missing" signs around the Barclays Center before Game 6:
However, in his team's three wins, Williams is averaging 23 points on 46 percent shooting.
At his peak, Williams can be one of the best point guards in the league. The Raptors would have no answer for him. If he's off his game, though, Brooklyn's offense will only sputter.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
We keep expecting the bottom to fall out for the Mavs, and yet, here they are, headed for a Game 7 against the top-seeded Spurs.
But San Antonio posted the best regular-season record in the Western Conference for a reason. In a decisive postseason home game, are you gonna bet against the Spurs?
You can't overstate how important Tiago Splitter has been for San Antonio in this series. His 17 points in Game 5 were a major factor in the Spurs' 109-103 win, but his impact has been felt much more on the defensive end:
Dirk has shot 13/34 (38.2%) when defended in the halfcourt by Splitter this series, 13/24 (54.2%) when guarded by Diaw #SportVU— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 2, 2014
.@Spurs are a +21 in Splitter's 144mins this series & a -28 w/ in his 95mins off the floor (2nd best differential on team, only to Kawhi)— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 1, 2014
That's why you have to look at his Game 6 performance as one of the biggest reasons Dallas prevailed. Although Splitter scored 19 points, he was a minus-10 in his 33 minutes on the floor, and the Mavs scored 50 points in the paint.
You know exactly what you're getting from Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. The guys like Splitter, Danny Green and Boris Diaw will decide Game 7, particularly Splitter in the paint.