2013 NBA Playoffs: 5 Exciting Potential First Round Matchups


Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks could face a tough battle with the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels, Flickr.com

The playoff picture is looking more and more clear with each passing day. Very few matchups are confirmed just yet, but many are looking increasingly likely. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most enticing matchups we might see in the opening round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. Houston Rockets

Right now, the Thunder are second in the Western Conference, while the Rockets are in seventh. If this holds up, we’d see a first-round series between James Harden and the team that traded him just before the start of the season. The Thunder would be the obvious favorites here, but the Harden factor would lend a fair amount of intrigue to this series. He’s one of the best scorers in the league and even if the Thunder wound up taking the series, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Harden’s relentless driving to the hoop lead Houston to a victory or two. The Rockets are a few years away from being a juggernaut like the Thunder, but if this series were to happen, Harden likely wouldn’t let his old team off the hook so easily.

4. Los Angeles Clippers Vs. Memphis Grizzlies

This was one of the best first-round matchups we saw last season, as the Clippers narrowly edged out the Grizzlies in seven grueling games. It wasn’t exactly a model for how basketball should be played, but the slow, ugly games between these teams were fun partly because of how close they were, but also because you could feel tension building as the series went on. When it was all over, these teams really didn’t like each other. Now, the odds are looking better and better that they’ll see each other in the first round for a second straight year. If that happens, we can expect more hard-nosed basketball and just maybe a fight or two.

3. Indiana Pacers Vs. Chicago Bulls

The standings in the Eastern Conference continue to shuffle, with the Miami Heat in first and the Milwaukee Bucks in eighth being the only two sure things. So, this series is far from set in stone, but it remains an enticing possibility. The Pacers and Bulls have two of the toughest defenses in the league. If they played each other, it wouldn’t be shocking to see multiple games where neither team was able to top 80 points. It wouldn’t make for the flashiest basketball in the world, but it would be an intriguing duel between two very similar, well-coached teams who have never been fond of each other. With Derrick Rose unlikely to return at this point, it would likely come down to whether or not Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have the ability to carry their team in a playoff series.

2. San Antonio Spurs Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

It’s been easy to write off the Lakers as they’ve struggled if this season, but assuming they do make the playoffs, no one would take this team lightly. With all the problems they’ve had this season, a team that has Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash is still pretty scary. If they make the postseason, they would likely take on the Spurs in round 1, where the Lakers’ bevy of superstars would have to overcome the most well-coached team in the league. Tim Duncan is having his best season in years, while Tony Parker might be having his best season ever. The Spurs would be the obvious favorites here, but thanks to the sheer amount of talent on the Lakers and the utter relentless of Kobe, a Lakers upset could hardly be ruled out.

1. New York Knicks Vs. Boston Celtics

We could chalk this one up to three simple words: Honey Nut Cheerios. But that wouldn’t be the only intriguing thing about this matchup. The Knicks have been far better than the Celtics this season, but they have yet to prove themselves in the playoffs. Carmelo Anthony has only made it out of the first round once in his career. Meanwhile, the Celtics make deep playoff runs year-in and year-out. Even as they’ve limped through season and even without Rajon Rondo, they still can’t be underestimated in the postseason. Would Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett remind rise to the occasion and lead Boston to the victory, or would the Knicks finally establish themselves as a legitimate threat in the East by pulling off the upset? This would be a close, intense battle that could go either way.