The conference semifinals portion of the 2014 NBA playoff bracket has not exactly been as thrilling as the first round, but it has certainly had its fair share of moments.
While some series are the definition of boring, such as the beating the experienced San Antonio Spurs are putting on the young Portland Trail Blazers, others have provided tense moments and at least mixed up the end result once in a while.
As the semifinals wind down, let's take a look at the remaining schedule and how to catch the action. Those who want an official bracket can find one here.
|1||Clippers at Thunder||May 5||Clippers 122 Thunder 105||Clippers 1-0|
|2||Clippers at Thunder||May 7||Thunder 112 Clippers 101||Series tied 1-1|
|3||Thunder at Clippers||May 9||Thunder 118, Clippers 112||Thunder 2-1|
|4||Thunder at Clippers||May 11||Thunder 99, Clippers 101||Series tied 2-2|
|5*||Clippers at Thunder||May 13||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|6*||Thunder at Clippers||May 15||TBD||ESPN|
|7*||Clippers at Thunder||May 18||TBD||TNT|
|1||Blazers at Spurs||May 6||Spurs 116 Blazers 92||Spurs 1-0|
|2||Blazers at Spurs||May 8||Spurs 114 Blazers 97||Spurs 2-0|
|3||Spurs at Blazers||May 10||Spurs 118, Trail Blazers 103||Spurs 3-0|
|4||Spurs at Blazers||May 12||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Blazers at Spurs||May 14||TBD||TNT|
|6*||Spurs at Blazers||May 16||TBD||ESPN|
|7*||Blazers at Spurs||May 19||TBD||TNT|
|1||Wizards at Pacers||May 5||Wizards 102 Pacers 96||Wizards 1-0|
|2||Wizards at Pacers||May 7||Pacers 86 Wizards 82||Series tied 1-1|
|3||Pacers at Wizards||May 9||Pacers 85, Wizards 63||Pacers 2-1|
|4||Pacers at Wizards||May 11||Pacers 95, Wizards 92||Pacers 3-1|
|5*||Wizards at Pacers||May 13||7 p.m.||TNT|
|6*||Pacers at Wizards||May 15||TBD||ESPN|
|7*||Wizards at Pacers||May 18||TBD||TBD|
|1||Nets at Heat||May 6||Heat 107 Nets 86||Heat 1-0|
|2||Nets at Heat||May 8||Heat 94 Nets 82||Heat 2-0|
|3||Heat at Nets||May 10||Heat 90, Nets 104||Heat 2-1|
|4||Heat at Nets||May 12||8 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Nets at Heat||May 14||TBD||TNT|
|6*||Heat at Nets||May 16||TBD||ESPN|
|7*||Nets at Heat||May 19||TBD||ABC|
Preview of Monday's Slate
It's rather simple on Monday—one boring contest, another not so much.
Let's deal with the boring first. The Trail Blazers host the Spurs in the late game, when the home team will look to fend off elimination by somehow coming up with an answer for Tony Parker and Co.
Just don't expect that to happen. Parker and the Spurs have been on a tear since Vince Carter hit a game-winning shot to put San Antonio down 2-1 in the first round to Dallas. They won that series in a deciding Game 7, and Parker says Carter's shot awoke a monster, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
Down 2-1, Dallas really made it a series. They played great basketball -- everybody was playing very well on that team and they made it hard on us. In Game 7 you have to show up because if you don't the season's over. I think we learned from it and so far, we're playing good.
Now the Spurs blow out the opposition early and often, as ESPN Stats & Info details:
Offense is great, as Parker has scored a minimum of 16 points in each game of the series, with a high of 33 points. But most shocking has been the superb San Antonio defense, which has held Portland's star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who averaged better than 29 points per game in the first round, in check.
They say a desperate team is a dangerous one, but the Trail Blazers are getting minimal help from their bench (six bench points in Game 3), while the experienced Spurs are simply more deep in all facets (40 bench points in Game 3).
Expect the Trail Blazers to bow out on Monday.
Time will be much better spent on the early game Monday night for fans. At first the series between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets had the look of a blowout, with the former winning the first two games in dominant fashion, but the latter returned home in Game 3 and scored a decisive 104-90 victory.
After scoring 28 points in the loss, LeBron James put it best, via Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk:
LeBron after Heat lose Game 3 to Nets: ‘This is a series now’ http://t.co/pwYrjrD691— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 11, 2014
Part of the reason the Nets were able to fend off the Heat and an ugly overall series? Veteran Paul Pierce went to head coach Jason Kidd and requested that he be the one to guard James, as he explained after the game, per Shandel Richardson of the Sun-Sentinel:
I went to [Kidd] in Game 2 and said, 'You know, I want the assignment. I was guarding Shane [Battier]. I think I've guarded [James] more than anybody in this gym. I know his tendencies a little bit more. I don't have the offensive load that I've had in the past where I was set on having to carry us offensively and then take the best defensive assignment. Now, I can reserve a lot of energy trying to defend him. When the time comes for me to score, then I'll do that also.
James was held to just 12 points in the final three quarters, which is exactly how any team beats the Heat—make the other players do the scoring.
The Nets are far from being out of the series if one takes the time to remember they swept the Heat during the regular season. Kidd's team obviously knows what it takes to take down James and the Heat, so if they can string together a few more gritty defensive performances, fans may be treated to an upset of epic proportions in the "weak" East.