The Heat and Pacers are the class of the East, and seem to be on a collision course in the conference finals. Any one of the top four seeds in the West thinks it realistically has a shot at getting to the Finals. The combination of the two scenarios will make for an exciting 2 months of basketball.
Let's take a look at the first-round matchups:
SPURS vs. MAVERICKS
Season series: Spurs, 4-0
Three things: San Antonio is the first team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to not have a player averaging over 30 minutes a game . . . The Spurs went on a 19-game winning streak this season that is tied for the sixth longest in NBA history . . . The Mavs lost their final regular-season game to Memphis, which sealed their fate of playing the Spurs rather than the Thunder, whom they beat two out of three times this season.
Fun fact: The teams last met in the playoffs in 2010, also in the first round. The Spurs came out on top, 4-2.
The pick: Spurs in 4
THUNDER vs. GRIZZLIES
Season series: Thunder, 3-1
Three things: The Grizzlies took down the Thunder in last year's playoffs, but that was without star OKC point guard Russell Westbrook . . . The Thunder's Kevin Durant led the league in scoring, at 31.7 points . . . The Grizzlies went 33-13 since center Marc Gasol came back from a knee injury early in the season.
Fun fact: This matchup will feature the top defensive player (Gasol) against the top offensive player (Durant), though they probably will not guard each other at all.
The pick: Thunder in 6
CLIPPERS vs. WARRIORS
Season series: Tied, 2-2
Three things: Both have great point guards, but with much different styles. Steph Curry, of the Warriors, is a lethal shooter from outside, while the Clippers' Chris Paul is a classic pass-first point guard . . . Andrew Bogut could miss the whole series for Golden State with a fractured rib, so Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have a chance to bring Lob City to life . . . These franchises have never met in the playoffs.
Fun fact: These two teams are not friendly. They reportedly have declined pregame chapel services together.
The pick: Clippers in 6
ROCKETS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS
Season series: Rockets, 3-1
Three things: The Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge is scoring 21.1 points per game in his career against Houston, which trails only Dallas as the team against which he scores the most . . . In all but two of the last 15 meetings, the winning team eclipsed the 100-point mark . . . The Rockets have not been to the Finals since 1994-95, when they took home the title.
Fun fact: The Rockets have won all three playoff series against the Blazers (1987, 1994, 2009).
The pick: Rockets in 5
PACERS vs. HAWKS
Season series: Tied, 2-2
Three things: The Pacers went only 15-13 after acquiring Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen from the Sixers, after starting the season 41-13 . . . This is the seventh straight playoff appearance for the Hawks, the longest stretch of consecutive playoff appearances in the Eastern Conference . . . The Hawks lost 14 of 15 games in a span of February and March, but still managed to beat out the Knicks for the last playoff spot.
Fun fact: In the last meeting, on April 6, the Hawks held the Pacers to a franchise-low 23 points in the first half.
The pick: Pacers in 5
HEAT vs. BOBCATS
Season series: Heat, 4-0
Three things: Miami lost only seven games this season when it held opponents under 100 points . . . The Heat is looking to become the first team to win three straight NBA Finals since the Lakers from 2000-02 . . . The Bobcats' 43 wins more than doubled their win total from last season (21).
Fun fact: The Bobcats are the only NBA team without a win in the postseason.
The pick: Heat in 4
RAPTORS vs. NETS
Season series: Tied, 2-2
Three things: The Nets have a record of 34-17 since the start of 2014, giving them the second-best record in the East since Jan. 1 . . . The Nets are only the third team in the past 40 years to qualify for the playoffs after beginning the new year at least 10 games below .500 . . . Toronto set a franchise record this season by making 713 shots from beyond the arc, with former Villanova and Cardinal Dougherty High star Kyle Lowry setting a team single-season record by making 190 of them.
Fun fact: The only playoff series win the Raptors have is against the Knicks, in 2001.
The pick: Nets in 7
BULLS vs. WIZARDS
Season series: Wizards, 2-1
Three things: Since the beginning of the year, Chicago owns the best record in the East, with a mark of 36-16 . . . The Wizards won 44 games this season, their highest total since 2007-08, the last time they made the playoffs . . . Chicago is 41-4 this season when leading going into the fourth quarter.
Fun fact: The only two teams Michael Jordan played for were the Wizards and Bulls. In fact, he was on the 1997 Bulls team that knocked the then-Washington Bullets out of the playoffs.
The pick: Bulls in 5
On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01