The first round of the NBA Playoffs is officially in the books, and just as expected, fans were witness to some of the most invigorating playoff basketball we’ve seen in years. From the flawless play of the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs to the gritty, Game 7 upset pulled off by the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls, the NBA Playoffs have been electrifying, and the intensity will only increase with eight teams advancing to the second round. See what’s ahead for the next round below, and browse the Vivid Seats inventory of available NBA Playoff tickets and NBA Finals tickets to witness the continuing battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
EASTERN CONFERENCE – Second Round
No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls
The defending champion Miami Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks in four games, but their second-round matchup against the Chicago Bulls shouldn't come as easy, as the matchup will rekindle one of the NBA’s most intense rivalries. The Heat and Bulls split their regular season series, 2-2, with Chicago halting Miami’s historic win streak at 27 games in a notably physical showdown at the United Center on March 27. Since then, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have the Heat firing on all cylinders, while Chicago has epitomized resiliency, gutting out a Game 7 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the first round despite a litany of injuries throughout the team. The Bulls’ defense and the tenacity of Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson, and Carlos Boozer make an upset possible, but Jimmy Butler and a hopefully healthy Luol Deng will have to contain James, who will begin Game 1 after raising his fourth MVP trophy.
American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla. - (Game 1: May 6; Game 2: May 8; Game 5: May 15; Game 7: May 19)
United Center in Chicago, Ill. - (Game 3: May 10; Game 4: May 13; Game 6: May 17)
No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 3 Indiana Pacers
The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers both rode home-court advantages to win their first round playoff series, defeating the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks in six games, respectively, but home court looks meaningless in the second round. Despite the teams splitting their season series, 2-2, with each winning at home, the Pacers stole Game 1 at Madison Square Garden, 102-95. Indiana’s power trio of Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert were stifling on defense and balanced on offense, and continuing that trend can lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers also skillfully reversed the script in Game 1, shooting and making more three pointers than New York (8-23 to 7-19). Three-point success is vital, but New York’s chances to win the series rest on team defense, the leadership of Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, and smart offense from Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Ray Felton.
Madison Square Garden in New York City, N.Y. - (Game 1: May 5; Game 2: May 7; Game 5: May 16; Game 7: May 20)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. - (Game 3: May 11; Game 4: May 14; Game 6: May 18)
WESTERN CONFERENCE – Second Round
No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
Despite losing Russell Westbrook in Game 2, it took just six games for Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder to win their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, setting up a second-round bout with the Memphis Grizzlies, who ousted the Los Angeles Clippers in six as well. The Grizzlies won the season series against OKC, 2-1, but Durant was too much in Game 1, dropping 35 points and the game winner en route to a thrilling, 93-91 win. Kevin Martin added 25 points, and OKC will need him to stay aggressive to advance. The crunch-time loss was a blow to Memphis, but winning Game 1 at OKC would have been a luxury more than a necessity. Memphis boasts Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol, and with support from Zach Randolph, Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen, an upset and a berth in the Western Conference Semifinals is more than possible if they play their game.
Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. - (Game 1: May 5; Game 2: May 7; Game 5: May 15; Game 7: May 19)
FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. - (Game 3: May 11; Game 4: May 13; Game 6: May 17)
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors
The San Antonio Spurs swept the injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, but it was the Golden State Warriors that captured the attention of the Western Conference playoffs with their valiant, 4-2 upset over the third-seeded Denver Nuggets. The Spurs and Warriors split their season series, 2-2, but with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili boasting three titles together, their experience could prove the deciding factor in the series. However, it’d be tough to bet against Golden State too, as Stephen Curry has caught fire like he’s back at Davidson during March Madness, while Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bogut, and Harrison Barnes are proving themselves to be more than worthy running mates. In a battle between veteran poise and prowess versus youthful exuberance and talent, this could be one of the most intriguing matchups of the playoffs, and an upset isn’t out of the question, especially if David Lee can contribute for the Warriors.
AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas - (Game 1: May 6; Game 2: May 8; Game 5: May 14; Game 7: May 19)
Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. - (Game 3: May 10; Game 4: May 12; Game 6: May 16)