|Eastern Conference Finals: Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat|
|1||Sun., May 18||IND 106, MIA 97||Heat at Pacers||-|
|2||Tues., May 20||MIA 87, IND 83||Heat at Pacers||-|
|3||Sat., May 24||8:30 p.m.||Pacers at Heat||ESPN|
|4||Mon., May 26||8:30 p.m.||Pacers at Heat||ESPN|
|5||Wed., May 28||8:30 p.m.||Heat at Pacers||ESPN|
|6*||Fri., May 30||8:30 p.m.||Pacers at Heat||ESPN|
|7*||Sun., June 1||8:30 p.m.||Heat at Pacers||ESPN|
Two games have been played in each of the conference finals, but with plenty of 2014 NBA playoff action still to come the championship picture is still very much unclear.
Four teams are still standing, and they are the ones we expected to be: Indiana and Miami in the East, Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the West. But that doesn't mean things have been predictable thus far in the postseason, as they have been anything but.
The Heat and Pacers split the first two in Indiana, while San Antonio took it to OKC in its two home games before heading to the Midwest.
It's safe to say plenty is on the line for each team: LeBron James and the Heat are going for three straight championships, every year could be the last of this Spurs era and both the Pacers and Thunder are looking to cement their places in the league's elite with a ring.
Let's break down the bracket thus far for the conference finals, take a peak at where to catch every game leading up to the NBA Finals and break down both series.
Note: The updated playoff bracket can be viewed at NBA.com.
|Western Conference Finals: San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City|
|1||Mon., May 19||SA 122, OKC 105||Thunder at Spurs||-|
|2||Wed., May 21||SA 112, OKC 77||Thunder at Spurs||TNT|
|3||Sun., May 25||8:30 p.m.||Spurs at Thunder||TNT|
|4||Tues., May 27||9 p.m.||Spurs at Thunder||TNT|
|5*||Wed., May 29||9 p.m.||Thunder at Spurs||TNT|
|6*||Sat. May 31||8:30 p.m.||Spurs at Thunder||TNT|
|7*||Mon., June 2||9 p.m.||Thunder at Spurs||TNT|
* if necessary
Western Conference Finals: Spurs Lead Thunder, 2-0
The Oklahoma City big man was announced as out for the playoffs after suffering a left calf injury in the series-clinching Game 6 win against the Clippers. The loss proved to be huge, but it didn't figure to be this huge.
In Game 1, the Spurs outscored OKC 66-32 in the paint—giving San Antonio more than half its points from close range. The Thunder had three blocks in total—Ibaka had five in two separate games against San Antonio this year.
The Thunder focused solely on improving the paint defense in Game 2, which allowed them to stay in the game until just before halftime. Then the Spurs started clicking offensively and blew it open, outscoring their opponents 43-14 in one stretch.
Yes, 43-14, during a real stretch of NBA playoff basketball. Against a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, no less.
Westbrook and Durant will need to go off like they did in Game 1 for the Thunder to have a chance in this series. And even if that happens, they will still probably lose if the supporting cast and the increasingly important reserve big men don't get going.
The Thunder have come back from a 2-0 deficit before against the Spurs just two years ago. But that team had James Harden and Ibaka, and this San Antonio team is clicking way too much right now to let that happen.
Eastern Conference Finals: Heat and Pacers Tied, 1-1
No injuries here—the Pacers had just been flat-out bad the past few months and had only improved slightly in their series against Washington before the ultimate test of the Eastern Conference Finals.
But as so many teams do, Indiana got it together just before playing the champs and brought their game to another level. An offensive explosion led Paul George and the Pacers to a Game 1 win to set the tone and put the Heat's suddenly stagnant defense on notice.
In typical championship-team fashion, however, the Heat hit right back. In a Game 2 they seemingly had to have, Miami got its defensive edge back and shut down the Pacers, holding them to just 83 points.
But it was LeBron James' big closeout performance—after a disappearing act through three quarters—that made the difference, as CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel captured quite well:
In the last 14 1/2 minutes, he scored 14 of his 22 points. He grabbed three of his seven rebounds. He handed out four of his six assists. He also made the killer steal, and he threw the final bounce pass to Dwyane Wade's two-handed reverse dunk for the game-clinching play that emptied Bankers Life Fieldhouse with 21 seconds left.
Thanks to LeBron remembering who he was and what this was, the Heat won 87-83 in Game 2 on Tuesday night to even the conference finals at 1-1 and steal home-court advantage from the Pacers.
For all of the flak the Pacers took late in this season and early in the playoffs, they seem to have saved it all for the Heat. That was enough to catch the champs slipping in one game, but alas, the Heat finally arrived in Game 2 and have retaken control of the series.
After all the concern that the Pacers wouldn't get here or that the Heat might crush them when they did, it looks like we're yet again in for a doozy of a series between the East's biggest modern-day rivals that has seven games written all over it.
One thing is apparent: It's certainly shaking out to be a much better, and longer, series than the one out West.