Today marks the end of the first round of the 2014 playoffs. It has been one wild ride as none of the teams were safe. This was also a first round to remember. In this first round their were eight over time games alone, the record for most overtime games in the playoffs is ten and we still have so many more games to play. There were two game winners one by Vince Carter, and one by Lillard that took his team to the semifinals. No team was safe. There were five game sevens, the road teams won a lot of the games. The only three teams that were able to avoid a game seven were the Heat, the Wizards and the Blazers. with all that in the past lets talk about the semifinals. Lets start in the west.
1. seeded San Antonio Spurs vs. 5. seeded Portland Trail Blazers
So the Battle tested Spurs will take on the up and coming Trail Blazers. Each side has their strengths and weaknesses. The Spurs have seen it all. They all have been to the semifinals and know how to handle a tough situation. They came back from a 2-1 deficit against the Mavericks to win the series. They also have Superstars on the court and one in a suit and tie that know how to win the games that matter the most. They have a mental toughness about them as well, they won’t get deterred by one game and they focus on the up and coming game not the past. But they are also an old team. Your three stars are all 30+ so can they keep up with the young legs of the Blazers we’ll see. The Blazers have a couple of pretty good all stars to turn to in Lillard and Aldridge. They are coming into the series with confidence having knocked out the Rockets. Lastly, maturity, this Blazers team may be young but they have the poise of teams that have been in the playoffs and they’ve done this before. The one issue with Portland with Portland is their bench. All season they haven’t had much help form the bench. They have players that can play but they don’t do much, where the Spurs have a bench filled with capable players all knowing how to run the system. So will the Blazers get some help from the bench, can the older Spurs be able to keep the pace the way they want, we’ll wait and see. So will the Spurs keep up the Championship run or will the Blazers look to get back to a place they haven’t been in since 2000?
2. seeded Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3. seeded Los Angeles Clippers
This is going to be a fun match up to watch. The MVP Kevin Durant taking on Blake Griffin. CP3 taking on Russel Westbrook. This one will most likely go to a game seven. They have superstars, they can both score and defend with the best of them. They both have coaches in Brooks and Rivers that have made it tot he finals. And they both have a pretty good bench. I give the Clippers the better bench. When you can pull off Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, Darren Collison, and Glen Davis off of a bench that is one tough second unit. All those guys have or are starting caliber players, so rivers has a lot of tools and line ups at his disposal. The Thunder have KD. The MVP, who is basically 7 feet tall and has the skill of a guard and a shot out to the three point line. He is a much improved passer and rebounder and he’s super clutch. Not to mention his partner in Crime Russell Westbrook, he quick, strong and explosive. He will give his best effort on both ends of the court, hustles for every loose ball and offensive rebound, and is that second crucial scorer that the thunder need. With Paul hurt but still going to play I want to see Westbrook attack Paul as much as he can. So will the MVP lead his team to the Western Conference Finals or Will lob city come out on top? Now on to the eastern Conference
1. seeded Indian Pacers v. 5 seeded Washington Wizards
We have an interesting match up here. The Wizards were one of the three teams that were able to avoid a game seven by beating the Bulls in five. The Pacers wound up having to go to a game seven against the Hawks. For Washington they have to take advantage of John Wall and his speed. The Reason Indiana had a game seven was because they couldn’t stop the speed of Jeff Teague. Wall is just as fast if not faster and a better overall player than him so they have to take advantage of that. The confidence that the Wizards got playing the bulls will no doubt help them into this round. Now as for the Pacers it all depends on which team shows up. The Indiana that had the best record in the NBA at one point or the bad Pacers we see know. If the good team shows up the Pacers can win the Series, if the bad team shows up then they will lose the series. The only good thing about this series for the Pacers is that the Wizard bigs like to stay in the paint, and that is where Roy Hibbert likes to stay. If Indiana can get Hibbert going they can do it. Will Washington be bringing the intensity of the Eastern Conference Finals to D.C. or will the Pacers return to the ECF?
2. seeded Miami Heat vs. 6. seeded Brooklyn Nets
This is the Series that will be the most interesting in my opinion. The Miami heat go through most teams easily. They were the only team to pull off a sweep in the first round. But this season the Nets took every game from the Heat sweeping the Regular season series. The Nets have a team that can clearly beat Miami. They have the star power with people like KG, the Truth, D will and Joe Johnson. The bench of the Nets is a very good one, so good in fact that Kidd can go 11 deep in a game. The nets have the size to bully Miami in the post and they have the experience that not just any one can have. The Heat are the Heat. They are the 2 time defending NBA Champions, have the best player in the World in LeBron James, have had some rest, should Have D Wade up and ready to go so no problem right? The Nets have the will to win and won’t let Miami take it, Pierce and Garnett want anther ring, they won’t quit. The nets became the 24th team in NBA history to win a game seven on the road, and who won it for them, it was Paul Pierce. So will the Nets continue to pile up the bragging rights against the Knicks By winning, or will the Heat go back for a forth straight year? All-in-all the Playoffs After the first round have been fantastic. Wild, crazy, and unpredictable and that is why there so great. Any of these teams has a chance to be the one heading to the finals, and they all have the will to win and to be champions. So who will advance to the Conference Finals?