Now that the Hawks have closed the doors on the Bucks’ NBA championship dreams, only eight teams remain in the race to the NBA championship.
All the East’s expected contenders escaped their first-round playoff opponents without much difficulty (well, besides the aforementioned Hawks), and set the stage for a glorious second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Wild Wild West, on the other hand, waved goodbye to two presumed contenders in the first round, as the No. 7 seed San Antonio Spurs knocked off the No. 2 seed Dallas Mavericks, and the No. 5 seed Utah Jazz beat the No. 4 Denver Nuggets. In the weeks leading up to the playoffs, the Mavericks and Nuggets were largely seen as the two teams most likely to upset the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs; now, that honor falls to the Spurs and the Suns, respectively.
With all eight teams one step closer to an NBA championship, expect the playoff intensity to only be ratcheted up another level. Luckily for us fans, that means the individual player matchups only should become more entertaining.
Take a look at five of the best player matchups that the second round has to offer.