2013 NBA Playoffs — Conference Finals Preview
The Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks in the sixth game of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series on Saturday to join the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA’s conference finals. Here’s a preview of what to expect as these four teams each attempt to advance to the NBA Finals:
Eastern Conference Finals: (1) Miami Heat vs. (3) Indiana Pacers
Still the prohibitive favorite to repeat as NBA champions, the top-seeded Miami Heat swept past the Milwaukee Bucks in four games and beat the Chicago Bulls in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The Indiana Pacers beat both the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks in six games in the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs respectively.
NBA MVP LeBron James is the force behind the Heat. Center Chris Bosh and guards Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen are key personnel who must step up when James is being double-teamed. Paul George is Indianapolis’ best offensive player, but center Roy Hibbert is a threat on both ends of the floor. The Heat will look to create space for James, Wade and Allen to work on offense, but they will be challenged by the physical Pacers. Indiana doesn’t have the offensive firepower to run with Miami, but if they can be patient and make the Heat play out of control, they can compete in this series.
The Pacers won the season series between the teams, 2-1. The Heat beat Indiana in a fiercely competitive six-game series in the second round of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
Game 1 at Miami: Wed. May 22, 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
Game 2 at Miami: Fri. May 24, 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
Game 3 at Indianapolis: Sun. May 26, 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
Game 4 at Indianapolis: Tues. May 28, 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
*Game 5 at Miami: Thurs. May 30; 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
*Game 6 at Indianapolis: Sat. June 1; 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
*Game 7 at Miami: Mon. June 3; 8:30 p.m. (ET); TNT
Western Conference Finals: (2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
After sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in four games and edging the Golden State Warriors in six games, the San Antonio Spurs face the fundamentally sound and physical Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. Fifth-seeded Memphis is the lowest seed still alive. They upset the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round, and then they defeated the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.
Point guard Tony Parker steers the Spurs offense, while center Tim Duncan anchors the interior. Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are key contributors for San Antonio. Forward Zach Randolph is the Grizzlies’ go-to player, while center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley have come up with key performances in the playoffs. The Grizzlies will look to wear down the Spurs on offense and get out to defend their perimeter shooters. The Spurs hope to move the basketball to get open looks and crash the boards to keep the rebounding margin low.
The teams split the season series 2-2 in 2012-13. Memphis defeated the then top-seeded Spurs in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs.
Game 1 at San Antonio: Sun. May 19, 3:30 p.m. (ET); ABC
Game 2 at San Antonio: Tues. May 21, 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
Game 3 at Memphis: Sat. May 25, 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
Game 4 at Memphis: Mon. May 27, 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
*Game 5 at San Antonio: Wed. May 29; 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
*Game 6 at Memphis: Fri. May 31; 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
*Game 7 at San Antonio: Sun. June 2; 9 p.m. (ET); ESPN
Series are best-of-seven.
*— if necessary