EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
#5 Chicago Bulls vs. #1 Miami Heat
With no Hinrich, Deng or Rose, Chicago took Game 1 from Miami in the biggest surprise of the playoffs thus far. The Heat’s reaction in Game 2 was a 115-78 destruction of the Bulls, led by LeBron of course. The undermanned Bulls must deliver the energy, effort and tenacity they displayed in Game 1 to protect their home court against the defending champs in Game 3.
#3 Indiana Pacers vs. #2 New York Knicks
Behind incredible defense that helped limit Carmelo and J.R. to 14-43 from the field, Indiana won at MSG in Game 1. In Game 2, Smith still couldn’t shoot straight, but New York used a 30-2 run to even the series. Knicks could get a boost from the anxiously awaited return of Amar’e Stoudemire in Game 3, which should be a very physical battle.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
#5 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #1 Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder escaped with a W in Game 1, barely. In Game 2 the Grizzlies’ front line dominated, and Mike Conley helped the Griz take over the fourth quarter to knot the Westbrook-less series at 1-1. Oklahoma will face a very difficult assignment in Game 3 at the Grind House, where the Griz have played outstanding basketball the entire season.
#6 Golden State Warriors vs. #2 San Antonio Spurs
After an 18-2 run to tie the game in regulation, Manu hit a 3 with 1.2 seconds left in the second OT to win a classic Game 1, despite 44 from Steph Curry. In Game 2, second banana Klay Thompson went for 34 points and 14 boards, and Golden State came out on top in SA for the first time since 1997. Spurs must establish themselves on D and control the tempo to slow down the Warriors’ freewheeling offense and contain their outstanding backcourt duo.