A resounding Game Seven win by the Atlanta Hawks to move on to the second round and a gutty late push by the Los Angeles Lakers to take Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals capped a thrilling Sunday in the NBA playoffs.
The action moves to Cleveland for Game Two of the Eastern Conference semifinals at 8 p.m. Monday, followed by Game One of the other Western Conference semi as the San Antonio Spurs visit the Phoenix Suns.
Can the Celts shake off losing a Game One lead on the road? Are the Suns and Spurs on course for another marathon after both survived tough first-round tests?
Here are five things to look for in tonight's games.
Boston is a veteran team full of injuries and tired bodies at this point in the season.
Their one young spark plug, Rajon Rondo, had 27 points and 11 assists in Game One, but even he was shut down in the key moments of the fourth quarter.
A late-game two-handed foul by Shaquille O'Neal on a driving Rondo seemed to signal that the Cavs were going to put a body on everyone they could, especially Rondo.
A halftime defensive switch from Mo Williams to Anthony Parker shut down Rondo for most of the second half. He didn't score again after the hard but clean take down.
The Celtics led by 11 midway through the third quarter but looked old down the stretch. The Cavs dominated the glass for the final 16 minutes of the game and forced the Cs into one-time looks from 15 feet and out most trips up the floor.
Boston had plenty of chances, a missed three by Ray Allen trailing 92-91, a Paul Pierce short jumper that clanked the rim and a Kevin Garnett rebound and an all-alone put back missed down 94-91.
The Celtics have to find a way to penetrate, slash, and keep fresh legs coming at Cleveland for 48 minutes.
LeBron James is going to get his playoff points. The two-time MVP has proven that's a given. Saturday's 35 points made it 28 playoff games for LBJ over the last five years with 30 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
The key for the Cavs is getting the spark from other places too. That happened in a big way for Cleveland Saturday, as Mo Williams slammed home his first dunk in a Cleveland uniform midway through the third quarter. The burst ignited the crowd and began a 43-24 end-of-game run for the Cavs that turned an 11-point hole into a 101-93 win.
Williams scored 20 to go with James' 35. Antawn Jamison was a non-factor with seven points and Cleveland still pulled away.
The Cavs need Parker, Delonte West, and Anderson Varejao to fill in the gaps and provide the key bursts if they're going to head to Boston up 2-0.
In Boston, the Celtics are struggling to find contributors beyond Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. They'll need guys like Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley, players who have been in many a playoff series, to find their way to the hoop and the score sheet.
The storylines are about the veterans out West. The Suns-Spurs matchup is full of history, especially the recent memories like Steve Nash's gushing nose in Game 1 of their 2007 showdown.
The question is, do the Suns finally have the mix to take down Tim Duncan? His three at the buzzer in Game One of the 2008 series seemed to melt the Suns' nerves. There are new variables, like George Hill, DeJuan Blair, and Channing Frye.
But this will still come down to Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire controlling Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
The Suns line up a power forward for appearances only. Jarred Collins is a bench warmer in key spots. Instead, Phoenix goes with Frye or Jared Dudley, a little smaller still, or just goes speed and slicers with Nash and Goran Dragic, or Leandro Barbosa, with Jason Richardson, and Grant Hill at the forwards, and Stoudemire counted on to play the big man.
The Spurs have the matchups. They will likewise sit Antonio McDyess in crunch time and play Matt Bonner or Richard Jefferson at the four.
In those spurts, it's going to be all about greyhounds ballin' at the playground, a straight-out track meet up and down. Whomever controls those spurts will take Game One.
The Phoenix playoff history is littered with horseshoes and hand grenades, so many close calls, so many instances right on the verge of glee only to be crushed.
The best part for the Suns is that only Nash, Stoudemire, and Barbosa had any part in previous Suns-Spurs battles. That minimizes the bad memories to wipe clean.
Still, Joe Johnson gets injured at the precise turning point of the 2005 series. Nash's nose dam bursts in 2007, and Duncan went other worldly in 2008. It's a filthy scum to wipe yourselves of as a Suns fan.
Phoenix has home-court advantage. They need to send a message that the past means nothing by going out and taking control of the series tonight with a 15-point win. No margin for Duncan heroics down the stretch.
This needs to be a good ol' fashioned Mortal Kombat "Finish Him!" death hold.