The first round of the 2014 playoffs was a myriad of unpredictable twists and turns which had many dubbing it the greatest opening round in NBA history.
Away teams set an unprecedented record by winning the first five of eight games - the first time that had happened since 1966. Eight games went to overtime (including just four straight in the Oklahoma City Thunder-Memphis Grizzlies match-up), in addition to a flurry of game sevens.
Since the NBA switched to the seven game series format in 2002, the first round had witnessed just two ties go all the way to the decider and last year there was just one. In 2013-14, however, there were five and it could have even been six had it not been for Damian Lillard’s heroics.
So with that said, the bar was set pretty high for the second round, although it hasn’t quite delivered so far.
The San Antonio Spurs have made light work of the upstart Portland Trail Blazers and raced out to a 3-1 lead. As have the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers against the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards respectively.
Considering Portland's lack of playoff experience and the fact that San Antonio was the best team in the NBA during the regular season, the result isn't - or at least shouldn't - be a surprise. The other games, though, have been a huge disappointment from a neutral spectator's perspective.
The primary focus on Miami's match-up with Brooklyn was based around the fact that they had failed to beat the Nets in four attempts( six if you include the preseason) throughout 2013-14. Plus, with Indiana struggling in the first round, they were arguably the biggest threat to the reigning champions.
Turns out the Heat are out for blood and determined to wrap this series up as quickly as possible. LeBron James and co. are already up 3-1 and can close it out on Wednesday night.
On the upside, the Nets finally handed them their first loss of the post season, but that only seemed to anger King James as he came roaring back with a 49-point outburst to equal his playoff career high.
Indiana seem to be getting back to the form which saw them contend for the best record in the NBA during the opening rounds.
After nearly suffering an ignominious first-round exit against the worst team in these playoffs, the Pacers are having less trouble against the more traditional Washington line-up, facing Nene and Marcin Gortat inside.
Roy Hibbert's disappearing act now looks to be a thing of the past and he is back at (or nearly) the level which saw him be named an All-Star this season. The 7'2" bigman has already bested his first-round points tally (59 points to 37), matched his blocks total (9) and is just three rebounds shy of equaling his opening round output (26).
Nene, on the other hand, isn't quite the bullish force he was against the Chicago Bulls and Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah.
The Brazilian has found life against the Pacers' length tough, having averaged just 11 points through four games compared to the 18 he posted in the first round. As a consequence, Washington hasn't been able to put up much of a fight in this series.
The only match-up that seem destined for some sort of drama and excitement is the Los Angeles Clippers vs Oklahoma City Thunder.
This is a battle of two Western Conference juggernauts who you could easily make a case for as the conference champions and both have dynamic players leading the offense. On one hand you have Kevin Durant, the best scorer in the game who possesses a lethal jumper and a killer crossover to boot. Then, on the other you have Blake Griffin, a high flying monster of a power forward with great ball skills and an ever improving jump shot.
However, the most exciting aspect of this series is the clash between All-NBA point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.
Paul has already burned Westbrook with 32 points on 8/9 3point shooting in game one, though Westbrook responded with a 32-point game of his own, along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists in game two.
The two then put on a passing clinic, racking up 29 assists between them. Westbrook will have to come up big in game five, though, after Paul led the Clippers to a 101-99 comeback win, climbing out of a 16-point hole in the fourth quarter.
All thing considered, the Oklahoma City - LA Clippers series is by far the most exciting so far and is the most likely to produce some sort of grandstand finish.
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