Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Best NBA Playoff Matchup

The newly heated rivalry between Indiana and Golden State is just one of the possible playoff matchups
we would love to see. (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among three of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: As the teams near the middle of NBA standings shuffle for the last playoff seed, which match-up would you like to see in postseason (other than Miami Heat-Oklahoma City Thunder)?

Indiana Pacers vs. Golden State Warriors. Hear me out now, since neither of these teams is an especially sexy pick on their own, let alone in a series with the other one. The Pacers and Warriors split the two games they played this season, each grabbing an 11-point victory. The last contest, on Feb. 26, was chippy as Golden State tried to prove it had the fortitude to rebound from a six-game losing streak they had recently ended. Picking the Pacers to do it against was the right choice, but trying to pick on Indiana? Not so much. Roy Hibbert was ejected before he and David Lee were hit with suspensions for starting the skirmish. Three other players incurred $35,000 fines, but the fight ended up as the Warriors’ secondary story of the week after Stephen Curry dropped 54 points against the Knicks the following night. The two teams may not have a long, contentious history, but they have a fresh memory to feed off.

From a basketball perspective, Golden State and Indiana are fundamental opposites. The Pacers are a gritty, defense-oriented team. They rank first in defensive efficiency (a 95.5 rating, according to ESPN’s John Hollinger) and are tied for first in rebound rate (52.7). Indiana plays an inside-out game that is far removed from the Warriors’ strategy centered around efficient perimeter scoring and using their offense as the “best” defense. They are top 10 in offensive efficiency for the NBA (103.8), but clean the defensive glass better than Indiana despite trailing in total rebound rate (50.9) and being far behind in defensive efficiency (103.4).

Some of the best games come out of these kinds of matchups. Pacers-Warriors wouldn’t be particularly popular – or statistically likely, since they would have to meet in the Finals – but it would be a great series. Trust me.

I would love to see a Western Conference matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. This would be an offensive explosion, as both rank in the top nine in points per game (Nuggets third, Clippers ninth) and average more than 100 ppg. The other intriguing part of this matchup is these teams are both so good at home. Denver has only lost three games at the Pepsi Center this season (27-3), while LAC isn't doing much worse at 24-7. Both teams can also get on hot streaks. The Clippers won 17 games in a row earlier this season and the Nuggets are currently riding a seven-game streak. This screams a six or seven-game series that could come down to which team can steal a win on the road.

While the Nuggets, or Clippers for that matter, will not get the attention in their conference that the Spurs, Thunder and Lakers do, this matchup would include its share of firepower. The Nuggets have a hall of fame coach in George Karl, and this series would provide great matchups in the post (Blake Griffin vs. Kenneth Faried) and at the point (Chris Paul vs. a blooming Ty Lawson). Both of these teams are extremely entertaining, making this series a must-watch. 

With the Lakers struggling, the Clippers are seeking to make a name for themselves in Los Angeles. What better way to show the NBA that you're serious than with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder?

Both teams rank in the top 10 in points per game and are filled to the brim with young, athletic players. A very quick, uptempo series is certain with OKC being the third best scoring team off the fast break, the Clippers just five spots below. OKC is coming off a stinging finals loss against the Miami Heat, but the Clippers are carrying nearly 33 years of mediocrity on their back. Both teams have a lot to prove to not only doubters, but to themselves.

A playoff series between the two would combine explosive dunks from DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, showstopping blocks from Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant pouring in points, a Westbrook and Chris Paul matchup and the marquee showdown between Billups and Fisher.

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