The 2011 NBA Playoffs have already given us quite the show. Virtually no one predicted the Hawks beating the Magic and literally no one outside of Memphis had the Grizzlies beating the Spurs. Even the sweeps in the first round were compelling series and as we move into Round 2 that trend should continue.
The schedule for Sunday includes Game 1 of the Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies. Full schedule and my predictions for both series follow, so read on and get you morning knowledge on.
The Grizzlies vs. Thunder is the first game on Sunday's schedule with a 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT tip off time on ABC. The Thunder enter the series as the fourth seed in the West and a six point favorite to win Game 1. The Grizzlies, however, showed the world they are for real when they knocked off the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and they will continue to shock as they beat the Thunder as well in this series and advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The Grizzlies showed us three things that makes them prime to continue their playoff run. They play great defense on the perimeter and rotate well. They have the ability to score inside and rebound from both their two big men. They are mentally tough.
The Thunder are a good team with one great player in Kevin Durant. But against the Denver Nuggets the flaws in Russell Westbrook's game were exposed and between Tony Allen and Mike Conley they will be able to contain him. Most importantly, the Thunder have very little scoring depth outside Durant and Westbrook which the smart Grizzlies defense will expose.
Kendrick Perkins will be forced to guard Marc Gasol who plays away from the rim which leaves either Serge Ibaka or Nick Collison having to deal with the monster that is Zach Randolph. The Spurs couldn't handle him and the Thunder are no better suited.
Prediction: Grizzlies series win, 4-2
The second game of the day is the long awaited meeting between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 PT on ABC. The Heat have home court advantage in this series thanks to their late season surge. That advantage should be enough to win the series.
LeBron James might be the most hated player in the league but he's still the best guy on the court every time he's on the floor. The Heat have a good answer for Kevin Garnett in Joel Anthony who is long and mobile and and while the Dwyane Wade vs. Ray Allen match up will be the key to the series, the advantage has to go to Wade.
The Celtics lost their edge when they traded Perkins for Jeff Green and unless Green suddenly becomes some kind of super player that we've not see from him in his green uniform (sorry), this series will turn Miami's way. It's time for the Celtics to step aside, we've seen enough from them. All the bitterness over The Decision aside, the better basketball team is in South Beach.
Prediction: Heat series win, 4-1