Sunday, April 20, 2014

NBA playoffs 2014, Day 2: Heat, Spurs start playoff runs Sunday ...

The remainder of the NBA playoffs begin on Sunday, with the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat providing the entertainment in the afternoon games.

SB Nation 2014 NBA Playoff Bracket

The teams playing on the second day of the NBA playoffs could take a lesson from those who kicked off action on Saturday. The opening day was a reminder that seeding doesn’t mean much in terms of results — three road teams won — and it’s on the Spurs, Heat, Rockets and Bulls to hold down their homecourts.

Mavericks vs. Spurs, Game 1

1 p.m. ET, TNT

Rick Carlisle’s Dallas Mavericks went 0-4 against the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season and their defense will especially need to find some cohesion come playoff time. The league’s two best three-point shooting teams will surely be able to put up the points, and it could also come down to whether Dallas guard Monta Ellis can get his points slashing against a Spurs defense that will concentrate on stopping Dirk Nowitzki and crew from firing up threes.

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will get theirs, but more than ever, San Antonio’s playoff run will factor in Kawhi Leonard’s growth. His chance to take another step forward as a pro begins Sunday against the Mavs.

Must Reads

The Mavs are back Same ol’ Spurs

Bobcats vs. Heat, Game 1

3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Steve Clifford is going to get some Coach of the Year votes for getting Charlotte to the postseason. And while the acquisition of Al Jefferson changed things for the Bobcats, it’s to-be-determined whether they can legitimately give Miami a tough go in the first round of the playoffs.

The Heat’s biggest question mark of matching up with true centers certainly will be tested against Jefferson. The Bobcats center averaged more than 25 points and 15 rebounds per game against Miami this season and shot at a 57-percent clip. Meanwhile, Miami will also get to find out how its new rotation players can contribute in the postseason — and how its aging vets can produce after a regular season that included cautious minute distributions.

Must Reads

Charlotte gets defensive Heat going for three

Wizards vs. Bulls, Game 1

7 p.m. ET, TNT

The Washington Wizards have been erratic at times this season, and winning two of three during the regular season against the Bulls alluded to as much. But Tom Thibodeau has had time to gameplan for John Wall, and even without Derrick Rose as a primary defender, it’ll be hard for the young Wizards guard to find cracks in the Bulls’ defense.

Offensively, Chicago enters the postseason with Joakim Noah handling the offensive burden more than ever. The trade of Luol Deng this regular season certainly adds to the apprehension about how the Bulls can score consistently enough to win a seven-game series, but Noah and company have been counted out this season before and delivered when nobody thought they had a chance to succeed.

Must Reads

Nene is the key for the Wizards

Trail Blazers vs. Rockets, Game 1

9:30 p.m. ET, TNT

LaMarcus Aldridge had his way with the Houston Rockets in the regular season. He scored better than 27 points per game in four meetings against Houston and twice eclipsed the 20-rebound mark. Safe to say it’s a wonder how the Rockets will find a way to stop the Trail Blazers power forward, but then it’s a matter for Portland wrangling James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Houston’s inside-out game is hard to stop in its own right, and Terry Stotts doesn’t have the luxury of playing the Rockets down the road, when there’ll be a bit more tape of this team executing in the postseason.

Must Reads

How the Blazers can beat the Rockets The Rockets’ test begins


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