It's not hyperbole to declare that this has been the greatest first round in NBA postseason history.
Five series went to a deciding Game 7. Eight games treated fans to overtime basketball. In a sport bemoaned for its lack of parity, each No. 1 seed was sent into the full seven games during a crazy first round where nobody was safe.
When every day gifts hoops fans with several games going down to the buzzer, it's tough to follow along. Before delving into a full recap of Round 1's action, let's break down how each series unfolded and where it'll take us in the upcoming slate.
|Eastern Conference||Series Result|
|No. 1 Indiana Pacers||No. 8 Atlanta Hawks||Pacers 4-3|
|No. 2 Miami Heat||No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats||Heat 4-0|
|No. 3 Toronto Raptors||No. 6 Brooklyn Nets||Tied 3-3|
|No. 4 Chicago Bulls||No. 5 Washington Wizards||Wizards 4-1|
|Western Conference||Series Result|
|No. 1 San Antonio Spurs||No. 8 Dallas Mavericks||Tied 3-3|
|No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder||No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies||Thunder 4-3|
|No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers||No. 6 Golden State Warriors||Clippers 4-3|
|No. 4 Houston Rockets||No. 5 Portland Trailblazers||Blazers 4-2|
|Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards|
|Miami Heat vs. Raptors/Nets|
|Spurs/Mavericks vs. Portland Trailblazers|
|Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers|
First, let's get the Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats out of the way. This was the one series that looked like your typical first-round clash. LeBron James averaged 30 points and eight assists per contest during Miami's four-game sweep.
Not every matchup can be an instant classic. Every other series, however, tried its best.
Every game, especially the 75-69 Game 5, wasn't pretty, but the Washington Wizards capped off an upset against the No. 4 Chicago Bulls. Along with John Wall and Bradley Beal throwing their official coming-out party in Washington's backcourt, Nene combated Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah with 17.8 points per game through four contests.
The Wizards have a golden opportunity to extend their improbable playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals, as the slumping Indiana Pacers are next on the docket. The Pacers hardly played like a No. 1 seed against the 38-44 Atlanta Hawks, placing themselves in a 3-2 hole before salvaging the series.
David West saved the day in Game 6, exploding for 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Indiana's 95-88 victory. Paul George finally came alive in Game 7, posting 30 points and 11 boards as the Pacers rediscovered their forceful defense during a 92-80 win.
In defeat, Atlanta shattered just about every playoff record related to three-pointers imaginable.
The Hawks set new #NBAPlayoffs records in most 3's attempted in a game (44) & a series (230). Their 79 threes made is also a series record— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 4, 2014
The Pacers survived, but as George Hill told ESPN.com's Mike Wells, they have a lot of work to do to set up the Eastern Conference Finals date with Miami everyone expected earlier in the year.
"It was good enough to win, but I don't think it was the best game that we played," Hill said. "We still have a lot we have to get better on."
After Chandler Parsons put back an offensive rebound for a go-ahead bucket, the Houston Rockets were less than a second away from forcing the Portland Trailblazers to a Game 7 after dropping Games 1 and 2 at home.
Then Damian Lillard happened.
It was that kind of series between the evenly matched No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. Three of the games, not including Game 6's buzzer-beater, went into overtime. Houston actually outscored Portland by two points during the series, despite losing in six games.
Memphis and Oklahoma City provided one of the most bizarre series ever. Four consecutive games went into overtime, three of which the Grizzlies won. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each sent the Thunder to extra play with an improbable four-point play, but neither resulted in a win.
After an epic series of close calls, OKC cruised to a convincing 11-point victory to advance in Game 7. Durant found his shooting stroke, making all five of his three-point attempts, while Westbrook registered 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds, reminding everyone why he's worth dealing with despite the occasional wild play.
Russell Westbrook is the 1st player in NBA history with 25 Pts, 15 Ast & 10 Reb in a Game 7. (@EliasSports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 4, 2014
This sets up a star-studded Round 2 match against the Los Angeles Clippers, who sneaked past the Golden State Warriors with a 126-121 victory in Saturday night's Game 7. Chris Paul silenced some of his silly critics with 22 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.
Clippers win! What a game, what a series! Los Angeles beats Golden State, 126-121. Chris Paul: 22 Pts, 14 Ast, 4 Stl pic.twitter.com/sDEO7UsNJN— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 4, 2014
Both the Clippers and Thunder will look to run the court in a high-flying series, but it'll be up to Paul to frustrate Westbrook into making mistakes and taking poor shots. While Matt Barnes is a tough defender, he's no Tony Allen guarding "The Slim Reaper," or whatever Durant is called these days.
There's no opportunity to rest from Saturday's Game 7 marathon. Sunday afternoon offers another pairing of win-or-go home bouts, spreading the wealth with one from each conference.
In the East, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in the same spot as last year despite their offseason spending spree: fighting for their lives in the first round. They nearly pulled off a comeback for the ages in Game 5, scoring 44 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 26-point deficit, only to lose by two.
But they stormed back in Game 6 to send the series back to Toronto for a Game 7. Kyle Lowry, who disappeared in Game 6 with 11 points coming off a 36-point outing, will need a strong showing to send the "We the North" campaign to South Beach.
Out in the West, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks have treated fans to a basketball clinic. The two Texas teams are each riding strong with veteran casts, led by future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.
But it's 28-year-old Monta Ellis who's making a dent in his first year in Dallas. The explosive guard has tallied at least 20 points in each of the last five games, making the Mavericks a serious threat in the West if they can close out the upset Sunday.