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Thrive Five things to watch in NBA second round
- Updated: May 5, 2014
After the best first round in NBA playoff history, the second round is officially upon us.
If the second round is as good as the first we are all in for a treat!
Check out the Thrive Five things to watch in the second round, including predictions of two upsets:
1. Upset City
Despite the Donald Sterling situation (that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for a while) the Los Angeles Clippers enter the second round with a good chance of advancing. They will have to deal with MVP-to-be Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the Clippers match up well against them. They are deep and can hurt you in a variety of different ways. In the front court, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are both having career years, while Chris Paul and the Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford spark the backcourt. Clippers coach Doc Rivers has helped Jordan become an anchor on the defensive end of the floor. He will need to be dominant on that end for the Clippers to advance past the Thunder.
The talent on these two teams is evident. Both teams have two of the best 15 players in the NBA. The deciding factor might just be coaching. Scott Brooks is a great coach for the Thunder, but he’s no Rivers.
Expect this to be the most exciting round two series in the Western Conference.
Prediction: Clippers in six
2. The surging Wizards might just beat the reeling No. 1 seed Pacers
Did the Indiana Pacers get their game back? It looked like it in Game 7, but then again it was the Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers needed seven games to advance from round one, and had to fend off elimination twice. Roy Hibbert has been a shell of himself thus far in the playoffs, and Paul George has been inconsistent. They will need to perform much better against the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards look primed for a deep playoff run after an impressive first round series against the Chicago Bulls. John Wall and Bradley Beal are the best young backcourt in the NBA, and Nene with Marcin Gortat gives the Wizards a nice inside-out combination. The trouble for this team is inexperience. The Pacers have a championship or bust mentality, while the Wizards season is already deemed successful.
Whichever team controls the tempo will most likely win this series. The Pacers want to out muscle opponents and beat them on the defensive end. The Wizards want to use their athleticism and run.
Prediction: Wizards in six
3. LeBron James facing familiar playoff rivals but in different jerseys
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, but he and the Miami Heat were swept by the Brooklyn Nets this season. Despite being swept, it’s a known fact that the defending NBA champions turn up the heat (pun intended) after the regular season.
“They’re a different team in the playoffs,” Paul Pierce said after the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors to advance to the second round.
Pierce and his future Hall of Fame teammate Kevin Garnett have a long history of facing James in the playoffs. James has gotten the better of the two most of the time, but it’s always a battle.
When the Nets acquired Pierce and Garnett they carried over a rivalry with the Heat that dates back to when James took his talents to South Beach.
This time around, Pierce and Garnett have two other All-Stars for teammates, in Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.
Expect James to be his dominant self, but he will need help from his sidekick Dwyane Wade. Wade is as healthy as he’s been in awhile after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra monitored his games and minutes throughout the season. If Wade plays well and the Heat gets contributions from key role players, this series won’t last longer than six games. However the rivalry between these two teams is real.
There will be no shortage of star players in this one.
Prediction: Heat in six
4. Portland Teammates: LaMarcus Aldridge & Damian Lillard
With all due respect to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, is there another more exciting point guard and power forward combination in the NBA? LaMarcus Aldridge was all but unstoppable during the round one series against the Houston Rockets. His mid-range jumper is pretty much un-guardable. Combine that with rising superstar Damian Lillard, who’s becoming a top-five point guard in the NBA. Lillard has an uncanny ability to make tough jumpers and exciting plays.
The Trail Blazers will need Aldridge and Lillard to be superstars if they expect to get by the reigning Western Conference champions. The San Antonio Spurs are the best passing team in the NBA, and might have a better team this year than last. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are hungry for another championship, after their heartbreaking NBA Finals defeat last year against the Heat.
Thanks to the help of Ray Allen and the shot heard around the world:
The Spurs and Blazers have contrasting styles, but the veteran Spurs might be a little too much for the Blazers.
Prediction: Spurs in six
5. Game Winners & Overtime
Round one of the NBA playoffs provided us with dazzling game winners, and nail-biting overtime games. This year’s first round is being dubbed as the best first round in NBA playoff history, and rightfully so.
Will round two be the same?
There’s a lot of parity at the top of the NBA this season, so expect much of the same in round two. Every single second round matchup has the ability to go all seven games, and there might be some upsets and Cinderella stories.
In the words of Kevin Garnett:
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