NBA Playoffs Round 2, Opening Matchups – OKC/MEM, BOS/MIA

The second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs begins May 1 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies.

It should be an interesting series, as the Grizzlies have become the Cinderella of the playoffs after ousting the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in six games. The Thunder, a year-removed from almost upsetting the eventual champs – Los Angeles Lakers – as an eight seed, look poised and dangerous to not only make it out of the second round, but to the championship, as well.

Led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the emerging Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City took out the Denver Nuggets in five games. A key match-up in this series will be Zach Randolph and Serge Ibaka. Randolph looked like a playoff veteran against the Spurs, average 21.5 ppg and 9.2 rpg for the Grizzlies.
Even though Memphis took down the best team in the NBA, I like Oklahoma City in 5.

The second match-up starting May 1 is between the Big Threes: #3Boston Celtics and #2 Miami Heat.
The Heat have been the talk of the NBA all year – from signing Lebron James and Chris Bosh, to losing streaks, to cry-gate, and even to being “bad-boys” as Lebron and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas both have thrown the ball at players on the opposing team in retaliation for cheap fouls – either way it’s drawn-up, the Heat have had a target on their backs all year. It doesn’t help that the Heat lost 3-1 in the regular season. The Celtics downed the Heat in Boston on opening night and have continued to have success at beating the Big Three from South Beach.

For the Celtics, they played spectacular basketball on both ends of the court against the New York Knicks, sweeping the Knicks with relative ease. Although Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo had struggles down the stretch of the season, he got back into form in the playoffs and helped lead the charge for the Celtics. As long as Pierce, Garnett and Allen play well, and Rajon Rondo and Celtics’ bench-play show up for the series, I like Boston in this match-up, as Miami has had struggles with Boston, and their bench generally has limited impact with the game’s outcome.
This match-up is going to be about which Big Three can play better, and which team’s bench can impact the game. I like Boston in 6.

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