The Fatal Blow: Which 2013 NBA Playoff Teams Overpower Their Way to 3-1?

2013 NBA Playoffs
2013 NBA Playoffs
May 7 2013 Oklahoma City OK USA Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant 35 handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince 21 during the first half in game two of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mark D Smith USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers took care of business; tied 1-1, while continuing the series on their homecourt, they kept a higher-seeded opponent from winning back the at-home advantage. Unfortunately for Chicago and Golden State, the same did not happen for them.

With every series tied at 1-1, SJN took a look at who would sway an all-around standstill in their favor, by leapfrogging the opposition to a 2-to-1 lead. The results were impressive. If not for the the throwback brilliance of Tony Parker, we predicted every outcome just as it played out. So three out of the four games were decided like we said they would be.

To test out our powers of prediction some more, we’ll be projecting which teams up 2-1 will have the resolve to bully their opponents into a decisive 3-1 hole.

San Antonio vs. Golden State

All year-long, San Antonio has been Tony Parker’s team. At 37 years of age, Tim Duncan has looked like a rejuvenated pre-2007 Timmy, but the Spurs offense is an electrical grid whose interconnected network is powered by Parker. When he’s driving, assisting, and hitting jump shots―like he was in Game 3―the Spurs become a highly efficient scoring machine. Without his surgical brilliance, they can look rugged and rundown.

But Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jarrett Jack also happened to have bad games just as Parker lit up. As a unit, they shot 35%, with Jack being a defensive liability late in the game. Though having Kawhi Leonard guard Thompson was a brilliant adjustment by Popovich, I doubt that San Antonio will be able to keep three guys that are averaging 45%, 46%, and 49% in the playoffs that cold for a consecutive match. With a sore left ankle, Curry might not catch fire but Thompson or Jack will.

Prediction: Golden State wins Game 4; avoids 3-1 hole.

Chicago vs. Miami

Chicago is running out of options as has become apparent by their poor 4th quarters, crumbling defense and double-edged physicality. The key to winning this series was for them to be the more physical team, but in the process, they’ve given up floor spacing, rotations on defense, and silly fouls. With a depleted cast, they’ve become rundown and are starting to get into their own heads.

A complete Chicago team would not let Norris Cole shoot 86% in a crucial Game 3, or go for 80% (16-20) for the series. The young point guard has more points in the semifinals than either Shane Battier, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, or Chris Bosh. If the Bulls don’t get their heads screwed on right, they will have let a second-year bench player beat them after having contained most of Miami’s stellar veterans. Having Hinrich back in the lineup would help keep someone Cole in check, but Kirk isn’t expected back this series. And really, Chicago has no one else to turn to as a Cole extinguisher.

Prediction: Miami wins Game 4; bullies Chicago into 3-1 hole.

Memphis vs. Oklahoma

Surprising stat: Oklahoma outrebounded Memphis in Game 3, 51 to 44, while almost posting three times as many offensive boards, 14-5. OKC also stomped Memphis when it came to fast break points (23-7), and let the Grizzlies only shooting 28.6% from three-point land and 40.5% from the field. Yet, Memphis still won.

If you don’t factor in Durant, Jackson or Liggins’ (who played but never took a shot) field-goal percentage, the Thunder shot a paltry 23% from the floor. That won’t cut it in any playoffs series, and especially not against a Memphis team whose success is rooted in forcing laughable field-goal percentages.

The only upside for OKC from all this is that Durant will come back next year with more to prove than ever before. He’ll come back with post moves, 10 more pounds of muscle, and an added bite to his words. Watch out, 2013-14.

Prediction: Memphis wins Game 4; bullies Oklahoma into 3-1 hole.

Indiana vs. New York

If the playoffs are about forcing your identity on your opponent, the Knicks are starting to look like Roy Hibbert clones. The big man was all smiles in Game 3 when he powered through 24 points and 12 rebounds. As Indiana coach Frank Vogel let it be known, Hibbert was “oozing confidence.”

Though it doesn’t spell all good things for Indiana if playing Miami in the Conference Finals, the ingredients to beating the Knicks have been to win the boards battle and to keep their turnovers under 20. In Game 2, which they lost by 26 points, Indy had 21 turnovers and lost the boards battle to the Knicks (37-35). In Game 1 and 3 victories, Indiana was able to overpower the East Coast team on rebounds (97-70) and limited their mistakes to 16 in the first game and 17 in Game 3. That many turnovers will come back to bite them if they end up paired against Miami in the next round, but haven’t been exploited by the Knicks enough to force loses.

You can usually tell who the better team is by who is enjoying themselves the most on the court. If Hibbert continues to smile like he has, New York is in for a whole summer of frowns.

Prediction: Indiana wins Game 4; bullies New York into 3-1 hole.

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Bogar Alonso
Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles