Hopefully NBA fans have caught their collective breath at this point, because the second round already appears to be just as captivating as the opening series.
The Los Angeles Clippers continued their resurgence with a runaway win over the Oklahoma Thunder, 122-105, with Chris Paul leading the way over Russell Westbrook. After plenty of adversity in the first round, the Clippers now have confidence and a determined Big Three to get the job done.
On the other side of the bracket, the Indiana Pacers once again faltered against a Washington Wizards team that is out for blood in the Eastern Conference. With the 102-96 victory, the Wizards are now 5-1 in the postseason with a Pacers team in shambles.
As captivating as Day 1 of the second round was, Day 2 promises to bring two games just as intriguing. Both the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat come in with a certain amount of disdain for each other, while the San Antonio Spurs will try to fend off the new guard in the Portland Trail Blazers.
Before the action gets underway on Tuesday night, here's a look at the schedule and predictions for both matchups.
|No. 6 Brooklyn Nets||No. 2 Miami Heat||7 p.m.||TNT|
|No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers||No. 1 San Antonio Spurs||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat
The playoff matchup of destiny is finally here.
And while two members of the former Boston Celtics Big Three are on the Brooklyn Nets now, this rivalry between players is still just as fiery and intense. Dwyane Wade shared his thoughts on facing off with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett once again, per Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News:
We thought when we played them in Boston we thought we buried them. Then we got Ray, Doc left and we were like, yeah, here they go.
That’s why it’s the perfect storm right now. They had their reign on top. We was able to overcome. We’ve had our reign on top now and now they’re trying to overcome. They’re trying to get back to the championship. This is a kind of a battle, a match that you want to meet in the Eastern Conference finals when you talk about the bad blood. But there’s other bad blood out there, too. This is going to be a very challenging round. You wouldn’t want it any other way. You want to feel like you’ve earned it, towards your way trying to get to the finals. I think both teams would want this matchup.
Which teams will win their series?
Even after all of the moves during the offseason to move Pierce and Garnett, the duo have helped lead Brooklyn to the second round. But after a brutal seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors, will the Nets have anything left in the tank for Game 1?
While this could very well turn into another nasty matchup between both sides, the first game could get ugly quickly if Brooklyn isn't up to the task from the tip. Thanks to over a week of rest, expect Wade to come out and live up to his words with LeBron James taking over at the end.
Prediction: Heat 107, Nets 96
Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs
As hard as every team in the Western Conference tries, the San Antonio Spurs simply won't go away without a fight.
Equipped with perennial superstars like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, along with the emergence of Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are once again in the second round of the postseason.
As for a team like the Portland Trail Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge has a ton of respect for what players like Duncan have done for the game, along with some fear, per Casey Holdahl of the Blazers' website:
(Duncan) gave it to me in the post when I first got drafted. I had nightmares of how he scored over and over again and I couldn’t stop him.
I’ve taken some of (Duncan’s) moves and modeled part of my game after him. So whenever I’m around him I feel like I’m always learning something. It’s just a big opportunity for me.
It’s a good challenge for me. Whenever he’s on the court he’s playing at a very high level. ... I’m looking forward to it.
As Holdahl points out, Aldridge experienced much more success this season, shooting 70 percent from the field when defended by Duncan. But then again, Aldridge has shot over just about every defender late in the season.
But if the All-Star gets off to a poor start, the momentum might swing to the Spurs in the series opener, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:
LaMarcus Aldridge: averaging 39.3 PPG in 3 wins, 15.5 PPG in 2 losses in series vs Rockets.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 1, 2014
Even with a phenomenal cast of stars all over the court, the Spurs wont have the firepower to down the Blazers in the series opener. While they will come back in this series and ultimately advance, the first game is open for the Blazers to take.
Prediction: Trail Blazers 113, Spurs 109
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