Capsule Previews of the NBA's second-round series

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm •  Published: May 4, 2013
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A capsule look at the NBA's second-round playoff series:

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EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (66-16, 4-0) vs. No. 5 CHICAGO BULLS (45-37, 4-3)

Season series: Tied, 2-2. Both teams went 1-1 on their home floor. Chicago won in Miami 96-89 on Jan. 4, but the game everyone will talk about going into this series is how the Bulls prevailed 101-97 in Chicago on March 27 — the night that the Heat saw their 27-game winning streak come to an end. Miami won at Chicago 86-67 on Feb. 21, and took care of the Bulls in Miami by a final of 105-93 on April 14.

Story line: It's simple. Chicago snapped Miami's quest for history once this season by ending the 27-game streak, and will try to keep the Heat from having a chance to win a second straight NBA title. There will be plenty of talk about Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and why he remains sidelined more than a year after tearing his ACL, but if the first-round ouster of Brooklyn shows anything, it's that Chicago is plenty tough enough without the 2011 NBA MVP. And yes, the Bulls will have Miami's full attention, Rose or no Rose.

Key Matchup I: LeBron James vs. TBA. Luol Deng's status is a question mark for Chicago, and it's hard to envision someone like Jimmy Butler having much success trying to guard James. So it'll be a committee-type effort, with Taj Gibson getting plenty of time against James as well.

Key Matchup II: Mario Chalmers vs. Nate Robinson. As was clearly on display in the first round against Brooklyn, Chicago's best hope is getting Robinson into video-game mode and giving him a chance to make shots from everywhere. Robinson becomes a different player when he's feeling confident. Then again, so does Chalmers.

X-Factor: Dwyane Wade. If his knee is right, Miami clearly is better and should return to the Eastern Conference finals once again. If his knee isn't, Chicago has the type of team that could give Miami some big problems.

Prediction: Heat in 5.

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No. 2 NEW YORK KNICKS (54-28, 4-2) vs. No. 3 INDIANA PACERS (49-32, 4-2)

Season series: Tied, 2-2. The Knicks shot just 37 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range. They sustained their worst loss of the season when the Pacers beat them 125-91 on Feb. 20 in Indianapolis, but managed to split the series and wrap up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 home victory April 14. Carmelo Anthony averaged 22 points but was only 4 of 17 on 3-pointers (23.5 percent), while Paul George scored 20 a game for the Pacers.

Story line: Back in the second round for the first time since 2000, the Knicks face a regular playoff rival from the 1990s, whose team president, Donnie Walsh, got them started on their return to prominence when he held the same position in New York from 2008-11. One of these teams will have to look sharper than it did in the first round to make people believe it would have a chance in a presumed conference finals matchup with Miami.

Key Matchup I: Tyson Chandler vs. Roy Hibbert. Chandler says he's fully recovered and finally looks it after he was sidelined for much of the end of the regular season with a bulging disk. He averaged 12.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in three appearances against the Pacers and outplayed Hibbert, who shot only 42 percent and averaged 5.5 points and 6.3 boards against the Knicks.

Key Matchup II: Anthony vs. David West. The Knicks' small lineup gives Anthony advantages on offense against power forwards but makes him susceptible to getting banged around on defense covering bigger guys, and he's battling left shoulder pain after Kevin Garnett pulled on his arm during the first round. The Knicks may consider a conventional lineup with Kenyon Martin — or even Amare Stoudemire if he can return from knee surgery — getting minutes against the rugged West.

X-Factor: Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni. They combined to shoot just 6 of 25 against the Pacers during the season but look much more ready to contribute offensively now. Shumpert scored 17 points and Prigioni had 14 in the Knicks' Game 6 clincher against Boston, combining for seven 3-pointers.

Prediction: Knicks in 7.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (60-22, 4-2) vs. No. 5 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (56-26, 4-2)

Season series: Grizzlies, 2-1. Oklahoma City's only win in the series came in the Grizzlies' first game after trading away leading scorer Rudy Gay and before Tayshaun Prince and their other acquisitions arrived. Memphis won 107-97 on the Thunder's home court in November and 90-89 in their own gym in March on Marc Gasol's tip-in at the overtime buzzer. There were nine technical fouls called in the three games, and that was just a hint of the hostility between these teams.

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