Today marks Day One of the 2013-14 NBA playoffs, with a slate of four games on tap beginning around lunch time with the Brooklyn Nets visiting the Toronto Raptors, and the Memphis Grizzlies capping off the day with a match-up in Oklahoma City.
Sandwiched in between those contests are a Warriors-Clippers matinee and an early evening tilt between the below-.500 Atlanta Hawks and the #1-seeded Indiana Pacers. It’s a full day of NBA action, and other than the Hawks-Pacers tilt, we should see some great basketball and hotly-contested games from morning ’til night.
The Raptors-Nets series is an intriguing match-up made even more captivating by the recent claims and suspicions that Brooklyn was tanking in some fashion in order to avoid facing the Chicago Bulls. The Raptors aren’t chopped liver, and this is a series that could easily go six or seven games.
Everyone knows that the Nets are better than the sixth-best team in the weak Eastern Conference, but they didn’t put everything together until late in the season, after they had dug themselves into a large hole back in the fall. Kevin Garnett is back on the floor after playing in just 54 regular season games, too, and his leadership and defensive impact will have quite a bit to say about the Raptors offensive success.
The marquee match-up in this series is the point guard position, with Deron Williams going up against Kyle Lowry, who is certainly the better player at this stage in their respective careers, although the public perception surrounding Williams may still be that he’s the superior point guard. Lowry will look to solidify his role as a top-five or six point guard in the NBA, and Williams will need to perform like the Utah Jazz version of himself in order to lift his veteran squad over the up-and-coming Raptors.
Warriors-Clippers is absolutely a pairing that could go to the brink, with two up-and-down, fast-breaking, exciting squads going at it on the West Coast. The Pacers should have no problem dispatching of the Hawks in four or five games, and Memphis has always been an extremely tough match-up for Oklahoma City. It may take the Thunder five or six games, but the Grizzlies shouldn’t have the firepower to get past a healthy trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka.
The other four series will get underway tomorrow. Here’s hoping that Day One can whet our appetites for an exciting weekend of playoff hoops.