NBA conference semifinals preview

Here’s a look at the Eastern and Western conference.

After a flurry of Game 7s during the weekend, all the NBA playoff series reset to Game 1 with just eight teams’ title hopes left alive. Here’s a look at the other conference semifinals and which teams figure to advance to the conference finals.


No. 1 Pacers vs. No. 5 Wizards

It took them being pushed to the brink of an epic collapse, but Indiana might finally be righting its ship after a solid Game 7 victory over the Hawks on Saturday. Paul George (30 points in Game 7) and the Pacers took two-of-three meetings against Washington during the regular season and managed to keep point guard John Wall in check (13.7 points, 6.7 assists per game in the three meetings). If they truly are rounding into form as they appear to be, the Pacers will oust the Wizards in six games or fewer.


No. 1 Spurs vs. No. 5 Trail Blazers

The Spurs made yesterday’s 119-96 Game 7 victory look easy, but the Mavericks gave them more trouble than they had in years. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard must like what they saw in that respect. As experienced as the Spurs are, one never knows when their aging lineup will betray them. Portland, on the other hand, has a great mix of athletic scorers and physical defenders that should be problematic for the reigning Western Conference champions. Look for the Blazers to upset the top seed in six.

No. 2 Thunder vs. No. 3 Clippers

Both teams were tested on the court in the first round — and the Clippers clearly were tested off it by their owner. Home court would seem to favor Oklahoma City, but each team went 1-1 at home against one another this season. Ultimately, the Thunder live and die with Russell Westbrook, who dominates the ball even on a team with reported league MVP Kevin Durant. Chris Paul and high-flying Los Angeles will make it a fun series, but Durant’s excellent season will go on for at least another round as the Thunder win in seven.

Scott Fontana