Rundown of NBA playoff match-ups at season’s end

The 2012-2013 NBA regular season was certainly a surprising one. The Knicks managed to live up to the hype and wound up the second seed in the East. The Miami Heat pulled off an incredible run of 27 straight victories and again secured the top East seed. As for the Lakers, that was interesting. Despite having an All-Star at every position, they managed to barely secure the eighth seed. The league saw a slight power shift continue to happen as the Celtics keep getting older, the Thunder keep getting better, and new young teams like the Warriors and Rockets have asserted themselves as formidable foes. Now, however, is when teams must stand out above the rest. The playoffs begin this Saturday, April 20. While the Eastern Conference is extremely top-heavy, the West seems to have many intriguing matchups.

Perhaps one of the sure bets of these 2013 playoffs is that the defending champion Miami Heat will match up against and defeat the Milwaukee Bucks. Maybe the Bucks will grab a game, but anything more than that is highly doubtful. Perhaps a more intriguing matchup is that of the second-seeded Knicks against the Celtics. Boston will not go down without a fight as they are clinging to any former glory they once had in the past age of their “big three”. This leaves the four middle of the road teams in the East who are all seem to have a peaking potential in the second round of the playoffs. The Pacers have deservedly earned the third seed, however they have faltered a bit as of late. With Paul George’s offensive production dropping off and a somewhat untested core, the Pacers do not seem as playoff ready as their top tier counterparts.

The Bulls also seemed to max out in the second round. Their biggest question this year was how they would fair without Derrick Rose. They were able to secure a decent seed in the East with hard workers like Joakim Noah, all-stars like Luol Deng, and spunky little Nate Robinson. However, they lack a true leader on the court. The Nets would be the team with the most potential to make it past the second round. Still, they have been wildly inconsistent this year, with the majority of their wins coming against sub .500 teams. The Knicks will be the team most likely to face off against the champs, and even they will pose little challenge.

The Western Conference is where things get interesting. While some may have believed that Kobe was the one holding the Lakers back this year, the reality is that they are without the man who has defined their franchise for the past several years. The Thunder should take the Lakers down in five or six games. Perhaps a more intriguing matchup is that of the Clippers and Grizzlies. The Clippers have built upon their success of last season and have easily captured their division. The Grizzlies boast one of the best centers in basketball in Marc Gasol and a scorer in Zach Randolph, however, I believe the Clippers will pull this one out. The Rockets have been a pleasant surprise this year. However, the Nuggets have been on a tear this season and are more of a well-oiled machine at this point. This leaves the Warriors and Spurs. The Warriors have been a pleasant surprise this season and Stephen Curry has been nothing short of fantastic. However, the Spurs are still the Spurs. They may be old, but this is not their last year of supremacy in the Western Conference. They will most likely go on to battle the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

In a rematch of last year’s finals, I sadly believe that the Heat will again reign supreme. Their 27 game winning streak was more than convincing and the additions of stars like Ray Allen and role players like Chris “Birdman” Anderson are more than enough to bolster their efforts. Congratulations LeBron…

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