Vote in our polls: Who wins each second round series?
Holy crap was the first round amazing. Five Game 7s, a Game 6 buzzer beating three to end a series, and the most "clutch minutes" in any first round since at least 1997 (clutch minutes = final five minutes, game within five points). Easily the best first round in my NBA watching days, and possibly the best ever.
But now it's time to turn our attention to the second round, and four pretty awesome match-ups. Just like in the first round, be sure to vote in the polls on who you think will win.
#1 Pacers vs #5 Wizards
The Pacers needed seven games to knock off the lowly Hawks, and they may have gone down in six if not for David West's heroics. Now they face a young Wizards team that just knocked off the Bulls in a relatively easy five games, and look to be peaking at the right time. Indiana had all kinds of trouble with Atlanta's bigs, who stretched their defense with their ability to shoot. Washington doesn't quite have the same range from their big men, but with Nene back and Marcin Gortat playing well, they'll give the ghost of Roy Hibbert all kinds of trouble.
We'll see if Indy can build off their last two wins over ATL, but I'm riding the young guns from Washington. John Wall and Bradley Beal are becoming one of the best backcourts in the game, and they're going to get the Wiz to the Eastern Conference Finals.
My pick: Wizards in 6
#2 Heat vs #6 Nets
We wanted Pierce and KG vs the Heat -- and we're getting it. The Nets needed every single possession vs the Raptors, clinching Game 7 on a block by lead dinosaur Paul Pierce in the waning moments. Miami on the other hand feels like they got a bye through round one, knocking off the Bobcats in four quick games, barely breaking a sweat.
Brooklyn of course went 4-0 in the regular season vs Miami, and we know this: they won't be intimidated. But Miami has not lost a playoff series since the 2011 Finals, and they haven't lost a series to an Eastern Conference team since LeBron joined Wade four years ago. The Heat have slow played this whole season, resting Wade, pulling back LeBron's minutes, and generally preparing for this moment.
The Nets will push Miami, but I just can't see the Heat losing before the Finals.
My pick: Heat in 6
#1 Spurs vs #5 Blazers
While the East has a couple of nice match-ups, it's clear that the big boy basketball is still out west. The Blazers knocked off the Rockets in perhaps the most competitive series we've ever seen. Three overtime games, and another game that ended on a 30 foot buzzer beater by Damian Lillard that prevented a Game 7. San Antonio on the other hand needed seven games against a game Mavs club that pushed the Spurs harder than anyone thought they would.
These teams split their four regular season match-ups, and Portland is coming in feeling as good as any team in the league. Rip City is 13-3 in their last 16 games dating back to the regular season, knocking off nine playoff teams in that span. This series just seems like it's going the distance, but I picked San Antonio to win it all, and I'm not ready to relent on that.
My pick: Spurs in 7
#2 Thunder vs #3 Clippers
Question: you can only watch one second round series, which one is it? Considering the Celtics connections in Nets/Heat and the overall awesomeness that is Blazers/Spurs, it's really tough to give an answer. But for me the most exciting series is going to be Thunder/Clips. All of the Sterling stuff is seemingly behind LA, but it clearly has them playing with an emotional chip on their shoulder. And the Thunder had to overcome a 3-2 series deficit and their own home town newspaper throwing shots just to escape the Grizz last round.
You could play this series ten times and I think each wins it five, but I really love how the Clippers have played this season, and I'm going with them.
My pick: Clippers in 6
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