Fresh off arguably the best first round in history, things are only heating up in the 2014 NBA playoffs.
One series in each conference has been tied up at one game apiece after Wednesday's action, which saw the Oklahoma City Thunder topple the Los Angeles Clippers and the Indiana Pacers hold off the Washington Wizards. Each are shaping up to potentially go the distance.
Meanwhile, a pair of road teams will look to even up their series on Thursday and take home-court advantage back to a Game 3 at their place. The Brooklyn Nets will try to bounce back from a Game 1 loss to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, while the Portland Trail Blazers look to take one in San Antonio after the Spurs dominated them in the opening game.
With so much basketball still left to play in the second round, anything could happen between these title-contending teams. Let's break down how the odds look and some predictions.
|2014 NBA Playoffs: Series Odds|
|Team 1||Odds||Team 2||Odds|
|Brooklyn Nets||+330||Miami Heat||-400|
|Washington Wizards||-152||Indiana Pacers||+138|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+248||San Antonio Spurs||-280|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-152||Oklahoma City Thunder||+138|
Note: All NBA playoff odds courtesy of OddsShark.com (last updated May 8).
Predictions for Every Series
Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat
The NBA world got the matchup it wanted in the Eastern Conference playoffs, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Celtic-esque Brooklyn Nets facing two-time defending champion and former Celtic rival Miami in the conference semis.
But unfortunately for Pierce, Garnett, Jason Kidd and the Nets, these aren't the Celtics, and they simply don't have enough to get past the two-time defending champions.
That much was shown in Game 1. A three-point halftime deficit turned into a 21-point loss for Brooklyn, with Miami having its way in the paint and shooting nearly 57 percent from the floor.
The Nets don't have the personnel to keep James and Dwyane Wade out of the lane with Garnett and Mason Plumlee figuring to be the most dependable big bodies. And even when the outside guys shoot at their best—10-of-24 in Game 1—the NBA's leading three-point team in Miami can shoot well enough (9-of-23) to negate it.
Miami has a roster built for championship runs against elite teams, and the Nets are just one or two pieces away. Perhaps a healthy Brook Lopez would better Brooklyn's chances.
Prediction: Heat advance in five games
Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers
The unpredictable Indiana Pacers still aren't out of the woods yet, but finally have some hope to hang on after a much-needed, 86-82 Game 2 victory.
After his disappearing act made some noise, Roy Hibbert bounced back in a big way in Game 2 with 28 points and nine rebounds. It was virtually the first time all postseason that the Pacers' maligned center was active on either the glass or in the scoring.
|Roy Hibbert Stats: 2014 NBA Playoffs|
|First 6 Games|
|Last 3 Games|
Hibbert's big game masks persisting problems in Indiana, though. Even amid his 28 points, the Pacers still were going back and forth with the Wizards down the stretch, and if John Wall has better shot selection down the stretch, Washington could very well be up 2-0.
If the center's productivity was truly what was missing, the Pacers would have blown out Washington in Game 2 with his dominance. Instead, the offense was lethargic as usual and gave the opposition plenty of chances to win the game.
Meanwhile, John Wall and Bradley Beal have been on a tear in these playoffs. And with Marcin Gortat and Nene doing a good job anchoring the post, the Wizards have more than enough to hold off Indiana, even if the East's top seed does pull it together late in the series.
Prediction: Wizards advance in six games
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
If there's a such thing as an MVP advantage in a playoff series, it would have to go the way of newly named MVP Kevin Durant and the Thunder in their series with the Clippers, right?
Maybe not. Durant did win his first Most Valuable Player award after Game 1 of the series, but the Clippers made a couple of appearances in the voting. As ESPN's Arash Markazi reported, Blake Griffin finished in a resounding third in the voting, while Chris Paul came in seventh.
These are two teams loaded with star players and able playmakers. But one team just has their stars coming together better at the moment, and it's the Clippers.
Blake Griffin is an isolation machine, Chris Paul is channeling the Chris Paul of his New Orleans days and DeAndre Jordan is vacuuming up everything above or around the rim. With Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick and a handful of veteran journeymen in the fold, this team is built for putting up plenty of points and being in the game late every time—if not having already decided it by then.
Durant is shaking off his bad Memphis series and Russell Westbrook is stuffing the stat sheets, but when this series goes to L.A., the Clippers will take it over and put too much pressure on OKC to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
Prediction: Clippers advance in six games
Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs
Damian Lillard had just hit a series-clinching buzzer-beater. Down go the Houston Rockets, and on go the Blazers into the next round.
The incredible momentum generated from Portland's impressive series victory over James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Rockets would have been enough to consume some opponents heading into a second-round series. But not San Antonio.
The Spurs have been here plenty of times. They're a team built for getting better throughout the postseason, which will obviously need to happen considering Dallas took them the distance in Round 1.
Game 1 proved that Gregg Popovich's crew is trending in that direction. They jumped on the Blazers right off the bat, taking a 26-point halftime lead and never looking back.
"Most of the guys on our team haven't even been in the second round and they've won championships," said Aldridge, one of the most experienced Blazers who had 32 points and 14 rebounds. "They've been here. I think they definitely came out and they let us know how it's going to be. I think every guy on the team understands that."
Kawhi Leonard's perimeter defense is helping to shut down Portland's shooters, and Tony Parker is just the point guard to take Lillard out of his flow, as told by his three assists in Game 1. The Spurs will stand to allow LaMarcus Aldridge 20-30 points per game if it means they're in control of the backcourt and flowing on offense.
Prediction: Spurs in five games