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2013 NBA playoffs opening weekend: Viewers guide for Saturday

By Eye on Basketball staff

Are we going to see words exchanged again? (USATSI)
Are we going to see words exchanged again? (USATSI)

Celtics at Knicks, Game 1, 3 p.m. ET by Zach Harper

Why to watch: These are two of the biggest markets in the NBA with two of the oldest franchises that hold plenty of animosity toward each other. As the series goes along, there will be plenty of verbal barbs that spill over to the intensity on the court. You're going to see a battered defensive-minded Celtics team face off against a 3-point happy Knicks team that can overwhelm you with a flick of the wrist.

Awesome elements:

Sneaky key to Game 1: How do the Boston Celtics create turnovers against the Knicks? The Knicks had the lowest turnover rate in the NBA this year, and it's part of the reason they've been so successful. They may take bad shots at the rim, but they never shoot themselves in the collective foot. With Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley pressuring the backcourt of the Knicks, can they make Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd be sloppy with the ball and turn that into quick points the other way? Boston has to score a lot of points to keep up with New York and this may be the only way they can do it.

Warriors at Nuggets, Game 1, 5:30 p.m. ET by Matt Moore

Why to watch: Because this series is going to be great basketball. It doesn't have the market draw of Knicks-Celtics or the young starpower of Thunder-Rockets, but it's an incredible matchup between two teams that can score and had their best seasons in years.

Awesome elements:

  • Stephen Curry's flamethrower shooting.

  • Andre Iguodala's brilliant defense.

  • The Nuggets' fast-break barrage.

  • Golden State's inside-out fluidity of motion.

  • JaVale McGee.

  • Mark Jackson's facial expressions.

  • Ty Lawson's speed.

Sneaky key to Game 1: Do the Nuggets leave the rim in transition? Friday, Nuggets defensive specialist and assistant coach Chad Iske said that while defending the rim in transition is the number one key, if Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson are advancing the ball on the break, the bigs for Denver may have to extend to the perimeter to try and disrupt the play and prevent the pull-up transition 3, something Golden State uses extremely well.

Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets, Game 1, 8 p.m. ET by Matt Moore

Why to watch: Barclays hosts its first playoff game and it's a good one. This is a big game emotionally for both teams, which need to get off to a strong start in this one. Throw in the fact that you might see Deron Wiliams and Nate Robinson in a shootout and you've got something amazing cooking.

Awesome elements:

Sneaky key to Game 1: If the Nets set the tone as the more physical team, they're going to have a huge advantage. They're not the favorites in that category, but Reggie Evans is capable of some impressive bodying down low. Throw in the high likelihood of a fight with Evans, Kris Humphries, Taj Gibson and others on the floor, and this thing could be captivating ugly television.

Grizzlies at Clippers, Game 1, 10:30 p.m. ET by Zach Harper

Why to watch: We saw an incredible seven-game series from these two teams in the opening round of last year's playoffs, and it started out with the Grizzlies blowing a 27-point lead to the Clippers, mostly in the fourth quarter. With the high-flying aerial attack of the Clippers clashing with the physical, grind-it-out mind-set of the Grizzlies, we should have a game full of pushing, shoving and alley-oops.

Awesome elements:

Sneaky key to Game 1: Who wins the free-throw battle in the first game? The Clippers give up the second highest free-throw rate (free throws divided by field-goal attempts) in the NBA. However, in their three wins over the Grizzlies this season, they were able to dominate with a free-throw rate advantage of .343 to .260. In their one loss to Memphis, it was basically flipped with Memphis taking a .309 to .250 advantage. This first game could set the officiating tone for the series, and both teams like to draw fouls inside. Will Zach Randolph have his way with Blake Griffin in the paint? Will Griffin be able to get the Memphis bigs in foul trouble by attacking them at the rim?

 
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