The 2011 NBA Playoff schedule has been set, with all eight first-round matchups locked down in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
The San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls have secured the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, but perennial favorites, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, are ripe for an upset with other teams lurking.
Even if they are struggling at the worst possible time, you can never count out either storied franchise.
Starting this Saturday afternoon, ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBATV will have full coverage of the 2011 NBA Playoffs in the first three rounds. The 2011 NBA Finals will be exclusively on ABC as the conference winners battle it out for the championship.
This promises to be another fantastic postseason with plenty of storylines, but it still all starts and ends with the two-time defending champion Lakers. The have hit the skids at the wrong time, their star players and coaches are being fined—possibly out of frustration—and their big man went down with another injury.
But with all of that being said, you still have to beat the champs in order to bee the champs.
Can you honestly say that you would bet against the Lakers and their shot at a three-peat?
Aside from the top teams, everyone will watch out of curiosity to see just how well the Miami Heat can play together in the first playoff series. They will battle the Philadelphia 76ers. Also, the Celtics will take on the New York Knicks in a classic rivalry. The Bulls should have few problems with the Indiana Pacers while the Orlando Magic will face the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs once again.
Out west, the young, but upstart Oklahoma City Thunder are putting a lot of scare in teams throughout the conference. They start out with the Denver Nuggets, who have been on fire since they traded Carmelo Anthony.
In other action, the Spurs host the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers battle the New Orleans Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks take on the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 2011 NBA Playoffs are almost here. Are you ready?
Stay tuned for updates and predictions on all eight first-round series.