The season is over for 14 teams, the other 16, welcome to the Playoffs.

It’s all over, ladies and gentlemen. The 2012-13 NBA regular season has come to an end, and for 14 teams who didn’t made it to the next stage of the season namely the Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings (who may have played their final season in Sacramento as the battle between the city and Seattle wages on), New Orleans Hornets (who will be renamed the Pelicans next year)and the Phoenix Suns out West. Out East,these are the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Bobcats and the Orlando Magic. Their off-season begins today and would have to go through the draft lottery. Before we go further, here is a final look of the standings at the end of the regular season:

Western Conference:
1. THUNDER (60-22)
2. SPURS (58-24)
3. NUGGETS (57-25)
4. CLIPPERS (56-26)
5. GRIZZLIES (56-26)
6. WARRIORS (47-35)
7. LAKERS (45-37)
8. ROCKETS (45-37)
9. Jazz (43-39)
10. Mavericks (41-41)
11. Trail Blazers (33-49)
12. Timberwolves (31-51)
13. Kings (28-54)
14. Hornets (27-55)
15. Suns (25-57)

Eastern Conference:
1. HEAT (66-16)
2. KNICKS (54-48)
3. PACERS (49-32)*
4. NETS (49-33)
5. BULLS (45-37) 
6. HAWKS (44-38)
7. CELTICS (41-40)*
8. BUCKS (39-43)
9. 76ers (34-48)
10. Raptors (34-48)
11. Pistons (29-53)
12. Wizards (29-53)
13. Cavaliers (24-58)
14. Bobcats (21-61)
15. Magic (20-62)

*The April 16 (April 17 PHT) game between the Pacers and Celtics from the TD Garden was canceled following the tragic events that happened in Boston. Thus both teams, only played 81 games for the regular season.

As for the 16 teams that remain, their season continues with the 2013 NBA Playoffs where at the end of it all, two teams(one each from the West and East)will advance to play in the NBA Finals this June. We got some exciting first round matchupsthis season on both sides of the association.

Photo ©NBA.com


In the Western Conference, it will be the reigning Western Conference Champions and the best team in the conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder going up against the 8th seeded Houston Rockets. As former Sixth Man of the Year awardee and the NBA‘s 5th leading scorerJames Harden leads the Rockets back into the Playoffs for the first time since 2009 together with his new buddies in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the high-scoring young guns from Clutch City. Harden and the Rocketswill battle against his former teammates in former three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and the rest of these young but battle-tested crew from Loud City in what will be a battle between two of the youngest teams in the NBA.

Next, it will be a battle between the two most decorated franchises in the Western Conference as the second seeded Southwest Division champions San Antonio Spurs battle the seventh seeded Los Angeles Lakers in a matchup that would have been perfect in the second round or the West Finals. As Tim Duncanwill once again lead these wily and battle tested veterans namely Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, Danny Green, Tracy McGrady and the rest of the guys from the Alamo City to another shot at an NBA title, but that will not be easy as they will go to war against a team where most people who are into basketball would say the “deadliest” lower seed in NBA history as they face the Lakers who despite losing their superstar and the heart of their franchisein Kobe Bryant still pack a punch with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and the rest of the men from Tinseltownare still a force to be reckoned with in the NBA Playoffs and can pull of massive upsets.

Also, in an interesting matchup, it will be the third seeded Denver Nuggets going up against the sixth seeded Golden State Warriors, as it will be a battle of two different styles of play with the Nuggets led by Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala playing a balanced attack combined with plenty of athleticism as these men from the Mile High City will also enjoy an impeckable homecourt advantage with the high-altitude in Denver which has been a nightmare for visiting teams. But despite all of that, don’t count these boys from the Bay Area led by the high scoring backcourt of the Splash Brothers in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who brought the Warriors back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007, they will also enjoy a great homecourt advantage as the Oracle Arena come playoff time is one of the loudest arenas in the NBA.

Finally to wrap up the Western Conference first round matchups, it’s a rematch of last year’s first round match-up as the fourth seededand Pacific Division champions Los Angeles Clippers will once again wage war against the Memphis Grizzlies. There are differences from the last time these two teams met as now the Clippers will have the homecourt advantage this time around and both teams underwent major personnel changes. However, these two teams still play the same way they played last season as the Lob City crew led by Chris Pauland Blake Griffin will battle the Grit ‘N Grind men led by their two big men of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Now, in the Eastern Conference, it will be the reigning NBA champions and the best team in the NBA at the end of the regular season, the top-seeded Miami Heat continue their quest for a back-to-back championship as they begin their playoff run against the eight seeded Milwaukee Bucks who are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Heat who have been dominant all-season long as testament to their 66-16 record, which includes their 27 game win streak which is second longest in NBA history will once again be led by their Big 3 in reigning MVP LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh as they will battle a Bucks team led by the backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis and will be joined by this season‘s shotblock king in Larry Sanders who made it into the playoffs despite having a losing record, it would be a tall order for these guys from Milwaukee to pick up a victory against these dominant men from South Beach.

Then, it will be an Atlantic Division showdown as two bitter rival cities will square off as the Atlantic Division champions, the second seeded New York Knicks will battle their rivals in the seventh seeded Boston Celtics. The Knicks will once again be led by the new scoring champion Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks have risen back to the NBA elite, a thing not seen in the Big Apple for a very long time. They will battle their rivals up north in Beantown as these veterans mixed with young blood led by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who have been playing without their star point guard in Rajon Rondo still have the heart to go to battle in the playoffs.

Also, it will be the Central division champions, the third seeded Indiana Pacers going up against the sixth seeded Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers, reclaimed the Central Division for the first time since 2004 when Reggie Miller was still in town. Even with the injury to their main man last season in Danny Granger, they found new life in All-Star Paul George as these well-rounded team from the Hoosier State would look to do better after getting to the second round last season. They will go up against the high flying Atlanta Hawks, in which hometown man Josh Smith has taken reigns as the leader of these men from the Peach State as the Hawks are once again set to make some noise in the Playoffs this year.

Lastly out East, in a good match-up, the fourth seeded Brooklyn Nets will square off against the fifth seeded Chicago Bulls. Post-season action is back in the New York borough of Brooklyn as the Nets will host a playoff game here for the first time since 1956 when the then Brooklyn Dodgers battled their cross-town rivals in the New York Yankees for the World Series. The Nets franchise is also back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 when they still played in New Jersey. These men from the borough will be led by All-Stars Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, they will square off against the men from the Windy City which will be led by their strong starting frontline of Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. The question remains however if their superstar guard in Derrick Rose play in the playoffs or will sit out until next season.

So that’s a little teaser of what will come within the couple of weeks here in the NBA. Now here is the schedule of games in the First Round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. As of time of writing, the NBA has not assigned games to the networks carrying NBA games in the Philippines (ABS-CBN, Studio 23, Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV and Fox Sports):

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

#1 Thunder vs #8 Rockets (Season series: Thunder win series 2-1)
Game 1: @ Oklahoma City, April 22, 9:30 am PHT
Game 2: @ Oklahoma City, April 25, 7:00 am PHT
Game 3: @ Houston, April 28, 9:30 am PHT
Game 4: @ Houston, April 30, TBD
Game 5*: @ Oklahoma City, May 2, TBD
Game 6*: @ Houston, May 4, TBD
Game 7*: @ Oklahoma City, May 6, TBD

#4 Clippers vs #5 Grizzlies (Season series: Clippers win series 3-1)
Game 1: @ Los Angeles, April 21, 10:30 am PHT
Game 2: @ Los Angeles, April 23, 10:30 am PHT
Gmae 3: @ Memphis, April 26, 9:30 am PHT
Game 4*: @ Memphis, April 28, 4:30 am PHT
Game 5*: @ Los Angeles, May 1, TBD
Game 6*: @ Memphis, May 4, TBD
Game 7*: @ Los Angeles, May 6, TBD

#3 Nuggets vs #6 Warriors (Season series: Nuggets win series 3-1)
Game 1: @ Denver, April 21, 5:30 am PHT
Game 2: @ Denver, April 24, 10:30 am PHT
Game 3: @ Golden State, April 27, 10:30 am PHT
Game 4: @ Golden State, April 29, 9:30 am PHT
Game 5*: @ Denver, May 1, TBD
Game 6*: @ Golden State, May 3, TBD
Game 7*: @ Denver, May 5, TBD

#2 Spurs vs #7 Lakers (Season series: Spurs win series 2-1)
Game 1: @ San Antonio, April 22, 3:30 am PHT
Game 2: @ San Antonio, April 25, 9:30 am PHT
Game 3: @ Los Angeles, April 27, 10:30 am PHT
Game 4: @ Los Angeles, April 29, 7:30 am PHT
Game 5*: @ San Antonio, May 1, TBD
Game 6*: @ Los Angeles, May 3, TBD
Game 7*: @ San Antonio, May 5, TBD

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

#1 Heat vs #8 Bucks (Season series: Heat win series 3-1)
Game 1: @ Miami, April 22, 7:00 am PHT
Game 2: @ Miami, April 24, 7:30 am PHT
Game 3: @ Milwaukee, April 26, 7:00 am PHT
Game 4: @ Milwaukee, April 29, 3:30 am PHT
Game 5*: @ Miami, May 1, TBD
Game 6*: @ Milwaukee, May 3, TBD
Game 7*: @ Miami, May 5, TBD

#4 Nets vs #5 Bulls (Season series: Bulls win series 3-1)

Game 1: @ Brooklyn, April 21, 8:00 am PHT
Game 2: @ Brooklyn, April 23, 8:00 am PHT
Game 3: @ Chicago, April 26, 8:30 am PHT

Game 4: @ Chicago, April 28, 2:00 am PHT
Game 5*: @ Brooklyn, April 30, TBD
Game 6*: @ Chicago, May 3, TBD
Game 7*: @ Brooklyn, May 5, TBD

#3 Pacers vs #6 Hawks (Season series: Series tied 2-2)
Game 1: @ Indiana, April 22, 1:00 am PHT
Game 2: @ Indiana, April 25, 7:30 am PHT
Game 3: @ Atlanta, April 28, 7:00 pm PHT
Game 4: @ Atlanta, April 30, TBD
Game 5*: @ Indiana, May 2, TBD
Game 6*: @ Atlanta, May 4, TBD
Game 7*: @ Indiana, May 6, TBD

#2 Knicks vs #7 Celtics (Season series: Knicks win series 3-1)
Game 1: @ New York, April 21, 3:00 am PHT
Game 2: @ New York, April 24, 8:00 am PHT
Game 3: @ Boston, April 27, 8:00 am PHT
Game 4: @ Boston, April 29, 1:00 am PHT
Game 5*: @ New York, May 2, TBD
Game 6*: @ Boston, May 4, TBD
Game 7*: @ New York, May 6, TBD

*If necessary

In a few days from tonight, the quest continues for these sixteen teams, as they push their respective teams a step closer with every victory to the championship gold, and it all can be summed up with one line:

Win or Go Home
K-Smoove

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