Arguably this has been the greatest first-round in NBA history. Other than the Heat/Bobcats series (Charlotte played well early in the series), each of the series were very competitive. There were seven overtime games and some fantastic moments to enjoy.
Even with the Wizards eliminating the Bulls in five games, it was still a good series. The sizzling match-up of the first round might have been Houston and Portland, which ended on a Chandler Parsons layup with 0.9 seconds left followed by Damian Lillard‘s game winner in Game 6 to send the Blazers to the second round for the first time in 14 seasons (best game of the first-round). It has been an incredible first-round that finished off the weekend with a total of five Game 7’s.
#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks – Indiana salvaged its season Saturday by reverting to how they played in the first half of the regular season. Small forward Paul George scored a career playoff-high 30 points, shooting guard Lance Stephenson added 19, and center Roy Hibbert came up big against the more lively Atlanta Hawks as the Pacers survived a first-round scare with a 92-80 victory in a decisive seventh game. The Pacers will play the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets – Small forward Paul Pierce blocked Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry‘s shot from the lane on the final play of the game. The Nets held off the Toronto 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday and will advance to the second round of the playoffs to play the reigning two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Memphis Grizzlies – Small forward and this season’s MVP of the league Kevin Durant showed how “reliable” he is by playing like he’s used to against a Memphis team that had to change their offense after the suspension of their top-scorer Zach Randolph and the hamstring injury of Mike Conley. Durant scored 33 points, point guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, and the Thunder beat the Grizzlies 120-109 on Saturday night. OKC will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the semifinals.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors -The Clippers endured a lot the past two weeks with their current owner’s racial comments, but the team emerged from all the tumult with their championship dreams intact. Power forward Blake Griffin scored 24 points and point guard Chris Paul added 22 points and 14 assists to guide the Clippers in defeating the Warriors 126-121 in Game 7 on Saturday night to win a thrilling first-round playoff series. Los Angeles will play the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Dallas Mavericks – Point guard Tony Parker scored 32 points and the Spurs led by as many as 31 on their way to 119-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, closing out a tense first-round series Sunday in seven games. Small forward Manu Ginobili scored 20 points, shooting guard Danny Green added 16 points, and Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard both added 15 points for San Antonio. The Spurs advance to face the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the second round.
If the second round is anything like the first, we will have four very intense and competitive series of games.