The NBA playoffs are back.
Four games kicked off the slate on Saturday with two blowouts, two close contests and an upset.
LeBron James has yet to hit the court, but there was plenty of star power on the hardwood Saturday with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook proving why they are some of the best players in the league.
The Warriors were in domination mode but had to be holding their breath when Curry left the game with an injury.
The Boston Celtics nearly erased a 19-point deficit to earn a road victory, and the Oklahoma City Thunder shut down any questions regarding the fourth quarter by leading the Dallas Mavericks by 42 through three quarters.
Here's a look at schedules, game times and predictions for every remaining series of the first round.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons
|Cavaliers vs. Pistons Schedule|
|1||April 17||Cleveland||3 p.m.||Cleveland|
|2||April 20||Cleveland||8 p.m.||Cleveland|
|3||April 22||Detroit||7 p.m.||Detroit|
|4||April 24||Detroit||8:30 p.m.||Cleveland|
The Pistons are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but don't expect their stay to last long.
Center Andre Drummond (16.2 PPG, 14.8 RPG) has had a great season for Detroit, but the Pistons roster is just not deep enough to contend with James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Co.
James, who averaged at least 25 points per game for the sixth straight season, seems like he is ready to put the regular season in the rearview mirror, per Tom Withers of the Associated Press (h/t the Denver Post).
"I'm in that mode right now," James said. "I'm where I want to be."
Detroit beat the Cavaliers—with James resting—by two in overtime in the regular-season finale and improved to 3-1 against Cleveland this season. However, as James said, he's in playoff mode, and that's bad news for the Pistons, considering he's never lost a first-round playoff series.
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Indiana Pacers
|Raptors vs. Pacers Schedule|
|1||April 16||Toronto||N/A||Indiana W, 100-90|
|2||April 18||Toronto||7 p.m.||Toronto|
|3||April 21||Indiana||7:30 p.m.||Indiana|
|4||April 23||Indiana||3 p.m.||Toronto|
The Pacers pulled off the first upset of the playoffs in the first game of the postseason Saturday, winning by double digits in Toronto.
Paul George led the way for Indiana with 33 points, but don't expect that kind of performance four games in a row.
Toronto, which won a franchise-high 56 games this season, will bounce back behind leading scorer DeMar DeRozan to win Game 2. The Raptors only lost nine home games during the regular season and won't lose anymore this series.
They also tied Cleveland for most road wins in the East with 24, while Indiana was tied with Detroit for the fewest home wins among East playoff teams with just 26.
(3) Miami Heat vs. (6) Charlotte Hornets
|Heat vs. Hornets Schedule|
|1||April 17||Miami||5:30 p.m.||Miami|
|2||April 20||Miami||7 p.m.||Miami|
|3||April 23||Charlotte||5:30 p.m.||Charlotte|
The Heat and Hornets are two of four teams in the East with identical 48-34 records. Although the talent levels aren't that different, the Heat have the edge in experience.
It would help the Heat if power forward, and emotional leader, Chris Bosh were not sidelined with an undisclosed medical condition. However, he gave an inspiring speech to his teammates on Friday, per ESPN.com.
"Chris talked today to us, as a team," fellow Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade said after practice. "The biggest message is someone who lived for this moment, someone who envisioned these moments especially after last year, he doesn't have the ability to be in it."
Wade has three championships under his belt with the Heat and is still good enough to carry his team to at least one series win by himself. Look for the experience to come into play in Game 6 when Wade and the Heat steal one in Charlotte to wrap up the series.
(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Boston Celtics
|Hawks vs. Celtics Schedule|
|1||April 16||Atlanta||N/A||Atlanta W, 102-101|
|2||April 19||Atlanta||7 p.m.||Atlanta|
|3||April 22||Boston||8 p.m.||Boston|
|4||April 24||Boston||6 p.m.||Boston|
Atlanta and Boston are the other two teams with 48 victories, and they should play a close series.
Third-year head coach Brad Stevens has drastically improved Boston's win totals the past two years, from 25 to 40 last season, before nearly winning 50 games this year.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas played in all 82 games and led the team in scoring (22.2) and assists (6.2). He has been a huge spark plug for a team that looks to be on the rise.
The Celtics could be without point guard Avery Bradley after he injured his hamstring in Game 1.
Atlanta lost its last two games of the season but had won 15 of its 20 previous games. The Hawks have a talented point guard of their own in Jeff Teague, a star wing in Paul Millsap and another All-Star underneath in center Al Horford.
Together, the trio has combined for eight All-Star appearances.
Atlanta has a slight edge in talent—along with home-court advantage and a 1-0 series lead—which will put it over the top in the series.
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Houston Rockets
|Warriors vs. Rockets Schedule|
|1||April 16||Golden State||N/A||Golden State W, 104-78|
|2||April 18||Golden State||10:30 p.m.||Golden State|
|3||April 21||Houston||9:30 p.m.||Golden State|
|4||April 24||Houston||3:30 p.m.||Golden State|
|5*||April 27||Golden State||TBD||N/A|
|7*||May 1||Golden State||TBD||N/A|
Before the series started the Warriors—who set an NBA record with 73 victories this season—looked to have a huge advantage.
They proved that to be true with a 26-point victory over James Harden and the Rockets.
The only negative for the Warriors is the fact that Curry injured his ankle in the second quarter and is now questionable for Game 2, per Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated.
That could be an issue for the Warriors but not in this series.
Curry scored 24 points in just 20 minutes Saturday as Golden State proved it can advance in the first round without the likely MVP.
(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Memphis Grizzlies
|Spurs vs. Grizzlies Schedule|
|1||April 17||San Antonio||8 p.m.||San Antonio|
|2||April 19||San Antonio||9:30 p.m.||San Antonio|
|3||April 22||Memphis||9:30 p.m.||San Antonio|
|4||April 24||Memphis||1 p.m.||Memphis|
|5*||April 26||San Antonio||TBD||San Antonio|
|7*||April 30||San Antonio||TBD||N/A|
The Spurs are aging, tired and lost in the Warriors' shadow.
Oh, and they won 67 games this season.
Head coach Gregg Popovich rested his veterans down the stretch so they would be ready for the playoff run. If not for Golden State's historic season, the Spurs would have been the talk of the NBA this year.
The Spurs added talented power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to the roster this season to complement Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. He averaged 18 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds but is playing with a dislocated pinkie that has forced him to try to get used to an awkward tape job, per Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News.
According to Rohlin, Aldridge says he's fine, which is a good sign for the Spurs. They may be playing second fiddle to the Warriors but not in the first round.
(3) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks
|Thunder vs. Mavericks Schedule|
|1||April 16||Oklahoma City||N/A||Oklahoma City W, 108-70|
|2||April 18||Oklahoma City||8 p.m.||Dallas|
|3||April 21||Dallas||7 p.m.||Oklahoma City|
|4||April 23||Dallas||8 p.m.||Dallas|
|5*||April 25||Oklahoma City||TBD||Oklahoma City|
|6*||April 28||Dallas||TBD||Oklahoma City|
|7*||April 30||Oklahoma City||TBD||N/A|
When you have Durant and Westbrook on your team, you have the talent to win any series.
However, the biggest knock on the Thunder this season has nothing to do with talent. Instead, they were known for blowing fourth-quarter leads despite winning 55 games.
The playoffs are about finishing the game off in the fourth quarter, but it's not like Durant and Westbrook don't know what it takes to win in the postseason.
The duo is back in the playoffs this year after missing out last season for the first time since 2008-09. Oklahoma City is 8-5 in playoff series during that time and is finally healthy this season after injuries to both superstars plagued them the past three years.
It would be a great story for Dirk Nowitzki, who at 37 years old paces the Mavericks in scoring, to lead his team to a series win, but that stat is precisely why Dallas won't win.
The Mavericks average 102.3 points per game, but the Thunder score an extra eight points per contest, and a Dallas defense that allows 102.6 points will struggle to contain Durant and Westbrook.
That was proved true in Game 1 when the Thunder dominated in a 38-point victory.
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers
|Clippers vs. Trail Blazers Schedule|
|1||April 17||Los Angeles||10:30 p.m.||Los Angeles|
|2||April 20||Los Angeles||10:30 p.m.||Los Angeles|
|3||April 23||Portland||10:30 p.m.||Portland|
|4||April 25||Portland||10:30 p.m.||Portland|
|5*||April 27||Los Angeles||TBD||Portland|
|6*||April 29||Portland||TBD||Los Angeles|
|7*||May 1||Los Angeles||TBD||Los Angeles|
These two teams might be just one seed apart, but they were separated by nine wins during the regular season.
Damian Lillard (25.1 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.0 RPG) is blossoming into a star for Portland. Shooting guard C.J. McCollum averages just over 20 points per contest, but no other Blazer scores more than 10.3.
Had Griffin not played only 35 games due to a broken hand this season, the Clippers may have claimed the No. 3 seed.
With some more talent around them, Lillard and McCollum could help lead Portland to a deep playoff run, it won't happen this season.