After a chaotic first two rounds of the 2014 NBA playoffs, only the top two seeds in both conferences remain standing.
It couldn't have played out any better.
We're in the midst of two star-studded bouts, as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers face off against the Miami Heat.
Could we possibly see a rematch of last year's NBA Finals?
We'll know soon enough.
Although, if the early portion of the playoffs gave any indication of what's to come, we're surely in for a wild ride through the remaining games of these series.
Let's take a look at the updated championship odds and predict how the rest of the conference finals could potentially shake out.
Updated Championship Odds
|San Antonio Spurs||8-5|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||9-2|
Championship odds courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Conference Finals Picks
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
Over the final stretch of the regular season and into the early rounds of the playoffs, the Pacers didn't quite look deserving of the East's No. 1 seed.
They certainly did in Game 1 against the Heat.
On a strong performance from all five starters, the Pacers downed the Heat by a score of 107-96 to take the 1-0 series lead.
Each Indiana starter scored in double figures in the effort, as the team posted the better shooting percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage as well as grabbed more boards.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted one very telling statistic from Game 1:
Free throw shooting in Game 1 Pacers- 29 for 37 Heat- 10 for 15— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 18, 2014
It was simply a dominating performance.
But here's the question: Can the Pacers keep it up?
This has been a very inconsistent team—which showed in a big way in Round 2 during a 102-79 defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards in a closeout game.
George knows the significance of his team's current position, and he spoke of the necessary mentality needed during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
Said George, "We've been complacent many times. We just can't get complacent. We've got to stay humbled off this win and come in with the same mind-set that we have to get another one."
The Heat, however, have been extremely consistent. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade look as healthy as ever, and they've been getting some great help from their supporting cast.
A Game 1 plagued by defensive struggles helped the Pacers to the win to start the series. With so much experience on this Miami team, expect the Heat to rebound in a big way.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted some great insight regarding how the Heat have responded in this situation:
Heat down 1-0 against Pacers. Worried? Heat are 4-0 in postseason series in which they lost Game 1 in LeBron/Bosh/Wade era.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 19, 2014
Until the Pacers can show some more consistency, this series will remain the Heat's to lose.
Heat in six
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
We already knew the Thunder would have some trouble on the defensive side of the court without the injured Serge Ibaka in the lineup. Well, we were right, as the Spurs trounced the Thunder by a score of 122-105 in Game 1.
On the interior, San Antonio consistently bucketed shots at will, coming away shooting 57.5 percent from the field as a team. Oklahoma City simply didn't have an answer for Tim Duncan, who connected on 11 of 19 attempts from the field for 27 points while adding seven rebounds and three assists.
Tony Parker played a great game on point, picking apart the Thunder's porous defense and accumulating 12 assists to go along with his 14 points on the evening.
During a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, Parker spoke of the team's desire to penetrate on the offensive end of the court:
We always want to try to penetrate. We always want our ball movement, that's how we play—kick and pitch and stuff like that. You know, obviously it's a little bit better with (Ibaka) not being in the paint, but we're still going to try to penetrate and make stuff happen.
Here's a look at the Spurs' shooting efficiency, courtesy of a tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
The Spurs had their best shooting game of the postseason. Here's their shot chart from Game 1 pic.twitter.com/YQ1Jh0RmN2— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2014
It was the same old story for the Thunder, as league MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shined while the rest of the team struggled. The duo combined for 58 points in Game 1 while the other three Thunder starters only tallied five points.
Derek Fisher was a revelation off the bench for Oklahoma City, netting 16 points on the game; however, this team must find more production for its supporting cast on both ends of the court if it is going to remain competitive.
All is not completely lost for the Thunder at this point, as a tweet from SportsCenter points out:
Thunder are now 0-4 in Game 1s on road since moving to Oklahoma City. OKC came back to win 2012 Western Conference Finals vs Spurs.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 20, 2014
Although, with San Antonio putting up at least 30 points in three of the game's four quarters, it's tough to bet against them over the remainder of this series.
Spurs in six