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2013 NBA Playoffs: First round analysis

Sweeps week

The first round of the playoffs has given us lopsided matchups that took the minimum four games to conclude. The Spurs made quick work of the undermanned Lakers, who played the series without Kobe Bryant and stints without guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake. Though I'm not sure their presence would've changed much in the outcome of the series, perhaps a game or two would have gone the Lakers way. San Antonio is playing like the clear favorite out west, especially with the injury to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

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Defending champion Miami Heat let the Bucks hang around for a half of play in each of its games, then turned it up when the third quarter started. The Heat look poised to win another championship, and there aren't many teams that look like they can contend against LeBron James and company. I wonder if Brandon Jennings still thinks the Bucks will win in six?

Worth watching

Some of these series have been snoozers, while others are worth watching. The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzles are building a budding playoff rivalry and are following up last year's seven-game series with another one that looks like its going the distance. The Clips took the first two at home, only to drop the next two at the Grind House in Memphis. Grizzles point guard Mike Conley is hanging tough against Chris Paul and proving he is perhaps the most underrated player in the league.

Warriors all-star (snub) Steph Curry just has a knack for the spotlight. In his first playoff series the kid with the smoothest shot in the game (move over Ray Allen) is torching the Nuggets, averaging 27 points and 10 assists per game, leading Golden State to a 3-1 series lead. The Warriors looked done after dropping game one and losing all-star forward David Lee to injury, but all Curry, Klay Thompson and head coach Mark Jackson did was respond with three straight wins.

Celtic pride

The New York Knicks are finally playing to its potential in the early part of the playoffs, taking a commanding 3-0 against the Boston Celtics. Scoring champ Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks had a chance to sweep the C's and return the favor to the team that swept them two years ago, only to squander that opportunity and keep the Celtics alive - at least for another game. Stalwarts Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce showed their celtic pride and willed their team to a game four win Sunday. We are watching the end of the "Big 3" era in Boston, the question is when will it officially end, and will Pierce and Garnett let it?

Westbrook goes down

The injury to Russell Westbrook has blown the west wide open. The Thunder appeared to be the favorite with its Westbrook-Kevin Durant tandem, though no longer have the edge on the teams out west. Durant recently told Sports Illustrated he was tired of being second and wasn't accepting it any longer. Durant, welcome to the world of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and every other all-star who played in the "Jordan" era. Because you are unfortunately playing in the "LeBron" era, which leaves your ceiling at just that, second best.

Though the games still need to be played and Durant can still prove he is better than just second best. Westbrook is out, the stage is set. KD, here's your opportunity. Go prove you're better than second best.

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