Ranking the Best Second Round Matchups of the NBA Playoffs

What you should be watching in the Conference Semis.

4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

(Photo: NBAE / Getty Images)

At the risk of seeming ageist, it’s hard not to get behind Rip City in this series, with their dynamic duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, a superstar sophomore who should soon be challenging Chris Paul’s supremacy at the point in the West. (Oh, and he can hit the big shot.) Still, there’s a reason the Spurs led the NBA with 62 wins. Coach Popovich gets the most out of a deep supporting cast behind the thirty-something trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker. Guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are capable of putting up 20 when that’s what it takes to win. That depth and experience should be enough to hold off the upstart Blazers for one more year.

3. Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers

(Photo: Mark Goldman / UPI / Landov)

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This match-up was leap-frogged in our rankings by the Donald Sterling story, but it could be the most interesting of the bunch. The Pacers limped through a seven game set with the eighth-seeded Hawks, while the Wizards only needed five to finish off the much-favored Bulls. On paper, the Pacers match up very well against the Wizards, but they’re falling apart at the seams in spectacular, face-punching fashion. They were supposed to be the world’s best hope against the Heat seeing another NBA Finals, but unless they find a turnaround real fast, the Wizards might be the ones tasked with keeping Miami out of the final round. And we can all guess how that will go.  

2. Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

(Photo: NBAE / Getty Images)

Has a nicer guy ever been put in a crummier position than Doc Rivers during the first round? Fortunately, Commish Adam Silver rode in and categorically separated the team from its odious owner. With that heavy shadow lifted, the Clippers advanced, and now they take on OKC in what promises to be the most offensive series. The Thunder will be playing with a sense of urgency, for even though likely MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are only 26, OKC has to win it all now if they want to dream of being a dynasty. For Chris Paul, Blake Griffin & Co., getting a fast start in the series is paramount. The past three years, when the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs, they lost the series in five, so they’re not the best at playing from behind.

1. Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat

(Photo: NBAE / Getty Images)

Miami was the only team able to get out of the first round in four games (without even having the top seed), and the common sentiment is that they’ll fly through this round as well. However, the Nets have had Miami’s number all season (although it hasn’t truly been a full-strength Miami), racking up a 4-0 season record against them. Miami’s squad is healthy and well-rested though, so it’s going to take some crafty play by Brooklyn to take this series. No matter which way it goes, at least one thing is for certain – both these teams’ fans are the fucking worst.