NBA Second Round Playoff Preview

Eastern Conference

(1) Miami Heat vs (5) Chicago Bulls

The injury ravaged Bulls needed to go to a game seven in Brooklyn, where Joakim Noah’s double-double put them in the second round. Miami has had a long break after sending Milwaukee on an early vacation in a four game sweep. LeBron got to celebrate his 4th NBA MVP while waiting to see who he will face next round. Little Nate Robinson has taken on the lead role for the Bulls as he has put on some ridiculous scoring performances so far these playoffs. Boozer and Noah will be a handle for Bosh and Haslem inside, but Hinrich or Bellinelli will need to bring their a-game to contain Dwyane Wade all series. Luol Deng is not even close to 100 percent and will have to chase down LeBron all series. Then their is the x-factor of Ray Allen coming off the bench and getting free on the baseline for an opening three. Chicago has been impressive winning with all these injuries, but Miami is on a different level than everyone else. (Scott Boutcher)

Heat in 6

Nate Robinson and the Bulls stole game 1, putting all the pressure on LeBron in South Beach.

(2) New York Knicks vs (3) Indiana Pacers

The Knicks and Pacers renew a playoff rivalry that once was a very contentious and entertaining one through the 1990s. All that remains from those days is Spike Lee sitting courtside, but the physicality should be in full force once again. While the Knicks dealt with tough defense in their six-game series with the Celtics, the Pacers present a different challenge in that they have plenty of size and were the top rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season. For the Pacers, Paul George validated his Most Improved Player Award by having a big series against the Hawks in Round 1 (18.7 ppg, 9.5 reb). For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony will likely deal with the taller David West, while a bum left shoulder could hamper Melo as appeared to be the case in Game 6 of vs. Boston. On the positive side, both Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert picked up a lot of the offensive slack while playing lockdown defense. Defense in general was a strong point for the Knicks against Boston, and if that continues that should go a long way in helping them move on. Expect a grinding, low-scoring series where homecourt just might be the difference. (Matt Sherman)

Knicks in 7

David West and Carmelo Anthony will battle on both ends all series long.

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (5) Memphis Grizzlies

A rematch of 2011 second round match up in which the Thunder won in 7 games. The Thunder took out the Rockets and their fellow teammate James Harden, but  lost their star point guard in the series. In order to replace Westbrook, Kevin Durant will need to take more shots and will attract many double teams. This series will be very physical inside with Zach Randolph and Serge Ibaka battling in the post. Memphis is a much better defensive team and likes to make you grind out possessions, where as Oklahoma City likes to run and shoot the three a lot. The Thunder must find someone to accompany Durant in scoring and that guy could be Kevin Martin, who had a big game 6. The Thunder will win a track meet that is high scoring, but I think the Grizzlies slow them down and become more physical on the defensive end and in the post.  (Scott Boutcher)

Grizzlies in 6

The Randolph-Ibaka match up will not be for the faint of heart but will be fun to watch.

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (6) Golden State Warriors

The Spurs are well rested and they will need it against the fast paced Warriors. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker picked apart the crippled Lakers and want to continue to slow down the pace in the second round. Golden State took on a more physical Denver squad and took their best blow and moved on. Steph Curry was ridiculous all series long and was even targeted by Denver and took some big hits. Both of these teams play completely different styles and the team that can establish the tempo first will take control of this series. The Spurs know that the end is near for some of their veterans and have that hunger for one more ring. The Warriors took out the three seed and now are playing with house money and are looking to play spoiler. If Golden State can speed up this series and play their tempo then San Antonio could be in some trouble. If San Antonio is able to force the Warriors to turn it over like last series and slow down the temp0, expect the vets to win easily. (Scott Boutcher)

Spurs in 6

It will be experience vs speed when Tim Duncan and Steph Curry match up in the second round.

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