Blogtable: A Dream First-Round Match

James Harden, left, and Kevin Martin (by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

James Harden, left, and Kevin Martin (by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 22: Heat running the table? | Dream first-round matchup | Best player you won’t see in playoffs

What’s a first-round matchup you’d like to see?

Steve Aschburner: If you could get, right out of the chute, what many expected could be the Western Conference finals, who wouldn’t want to see that? So I’d be glued to Lakers  vs. Spurs, on paper one of the most amazing No. 1 vs. No. 8 opening rounds in NBA history. Big names and reputations everywhere, old nemeses in new colors and circumstances, the Lakers’ last best chance to salvage their season vs. what might be the Spurs’ last best chance to win a title with its historic Big 3.

Fran BlineburyThunder vs. Rockets. Revenge of the Beard.  Hangin’ it on Harden. Slammin’ it at Sam (Presti). OK can you C me now? Hey K-Mart, there’s a mess on Aisle 4. Need I go on? I can’t ever remember a player as young and as good and as critical as James Harden being bounced off a Finals team and getting a chance to stick it in the ear of the bouncers just a few months later in the playoffs. This would be simply delicious.

Jeff Caplan: Out here in the Western Conference, where there’s actually more than one team of intrigue, there’s several would-be matchups to ponder. However, one in position to launch right now is James Harden against his old mates: Rockets vs. Thunder. Houston is 1-2 against OKC this season, but both losses, coming by a combined 52 points, were in 2012 when the team was still new and adjusting, and coach Kevin McHale spent a month away on personal leave after the death of his daughter. In 2013, the high-powered Rockets are 1-0 against the Thunder with a 122-119 victory in Houston on Feb. 20. Harden has averaged 29.3 points against his former team, has shot 55.0 percent from 3-point range and has averaged 12.3 free throws in the three meetings. Imagine the pressure on the reigning champs and Harden-replacement Kevin Martin against The Beloved Beard and a Rockets squad that has swapped the top spot with OKC all season as the highest scoring team in the league.

Scott Howard-CooperClippers-Lakers. It may not happen because the Lakers may not get up to No. 6, even if the Clips get to 3. But if it does, what a moment for Clippers credibility, to be able to be the team that drives the Lakers season into the ground once and for all.

John Schuhmann: Pretty much any matchup in the West. Seriously, I look at those eight teams (assuming the Lakers hold on to the eighth spot) and there’s not one series I wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy. Even the Grizzlies, who play the best defense and play at the slowest pace of all those teams, are fun to watch. In the East, I would love to see any series between the Knicks, Nets and Celtics. The regular-season matchups between those three teams (with the exception of Tuesday’s game in Boston, which was lacking two very ornery defensive anchors) have been intense, and an Atlantic Division playoff series would be crazy. Knicks-Celtics looks like the most likely scenario of the three possibilities.

Sekou Smith: There are potential first round matchups that intrigue on both sides of the conference divide. That Denver-Memphis clash in the West, New York-Boston in the East or even a San Antonio-Los Angeles Lakers showdown. But if the basketball powers that be would be so kind as to grant us a Los Angeles Clippers-Golden State Warriors tilt in the first round, I’d be forever grateful. Styles make fights and this one would be filled with non-stop action. Generally, the outcome of first-round series tend to stick to the seeding. But the Clippers and Warriors could be a free-for-all without a clear-cut favorite. The Clippers might have the better record, but they’ve had all sorts of trouble with the Warriors this season. The Warriors won the season series 3-1. The Warriors handed the Clippers their first loss of the season, 114-110, on Nov. 4 at Staples Center, and one of their worst losses of the season, a 115-94 beating in Oakland that was their second straight loss after the Clippers’ franchise-record 17-game win streak (Denver snapped the streak a night earlier). These teams haven’t played since Jan. 21, but you had better believe they’d both be eager to battle for state bragging rights, what with the Lakers limping down the stretch of the season and not guaranteed to even make the postseason.


  1. Matthew says:

    Spurs vs. Lakers/Mavs

  2. ko0kie says:

    Spurs vs. Lakers/Mavs … one last battle between rivals? players who dominated the nba with their teams in the last 10 years going for a last run.. (Kobe, Dirk, Timmy)

  3. J-Short says:

    Man so many good matchups I would like to see my Lakers play SAS even though I think we would loose in 6 the games would be very competitive. Also dont know if it would happen but Den vs LAC , and the Heat vs Boston.

  4. Paulo says:

    Its nice to see Atlanta Hawks vs Brooklyn Nets – Joe Johnson vs His former team

  5. aimbots says:

    OKC-HOU will be a pretty good first round but OKC will win 4-2. SAS-LAL, lakers-not-a-chance. its either the spurs will sweep them out or 4-1. Nuggets-Grizzlies will be a good matchup (3-3). MIA-MIL is busted. 4-0 Heat. NYK-BOS rivalry. 3 on 3 with this if garnett stay healthy. Brooklyn-Chicago, rose should come back, it would be 4-2 bulls

  6. MJfromOKC says:

    We didn’t exactly trade away James Harden because we wanted to. I think a little thing called the Collective Bargaining Agreement (Which didn’t exist until recently, Fran, hence why you haven’t seen the type of trade you mentioned) and the OKC Thunder was the first team to have to make a move. Memphis followed suit by trading Rudy Gay and a lot of teams will be doing the same. Additionally the Lakers will have some serious accounting to do, and next year will be the last year of Miami’s big three.

    Speculating doesnt matter. None of you thought Chicago sans Noah could beat the Heat but it happened.

    • ko0kie says:

      lol.. what are you talking about? The first CBA was established in 1970.. it exists longer than YOUR thunder team.

  7. Houston can beat OKC. Asik,Parsons and an in form Jeremy Lin are scary not to mention the beard whos good for (25-6-6). Also you cant predict anything with them if they have a good 3 point shooting night against anybody they win. They won a grind it out game against the Spurs a few days ago which shows there maturity. Parsons will do a good job on Durant, Asik will out rebound Ibaka. My concern is the Westbrook – Lin matchup, Westbrook could go for 40 against Lin, But if Lin plays well he could get 25 himself. Delfino, Beverley, Smith and Robinson (5th overall pick this year) coming off the bench are great. Dont overlook them as easy wins, if they get Josh Smith this year in free agency this year next year with there fast pace play watch out!

  8. fedizzle says:

    Harden was the third best player on the Thunder, behind the second best player in the NBA and a top 5 point guard, stop kidding yourselves Houston will get lucky to win a game. Even if Houston brings their “A” game, it will take OKC a C+ game to win, and if OKC brings their A game it’s a 25 point blow out

  9. jazZgirl says:

    Lakers/Spurs and then Lakers……….

  10. its not how u start a season its how u finish it.
    and how incredible will it be if the lakers make it all the way to the finals?
    they have the talent.
    i would love to see.
    miami. against l.a

  11. mavs fan says:

    sas and dallas

  12. James says:

    Please somebody tell me what is wrong with Scott Howard-Cooper lol? That scenario will never happen. Smh…

  13. Mega Freak says:

    I love how Jeff Caplan tries to make Houston’s one win against OKC (in Houston) look like the only game that mattered. But when you look at playoff matchups I think the best stat, rather than win loss, is point differential. And OKC clearly owns that battle. I certainly don’t think that it would be a sweep, but Houston coming out on top would be a real shocker.

  14. deematthew14 says:

    do not underestimate the youngsters (Houston Rockets) i believe they’ll have a chance to get to the 2nd round of the playoffs…

  15. Rico says:

    (1) Denver Nuggets vs Houston Rockets – first to score 150 wins the game
    (2) San Antonio Spurs vs Dallas Mavericks – used to be reserved in the conference finals(and i hope Timmy and Dirk will meet for the last time)
    (3) Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics – imagine Celtics eliminate the red-hot Miami Heat in the first round 🙂
    (4) New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets – Battle in New York
    (5) Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers – remember last year playoffs??

    • NHbleedsGREEN says:

      I agree with the way you think about basketball Rico.
      Your predictions would be sick to see this year.
      Except the Fakers anyway!

  16. Stylish says:

    I hope mavs wil get to the PO and they will play against SA. Carter Marion and Dirk against Sanantonio Big 3. It`s all about experience.

  17. Tee says:

    I believe Houston will give OKC a pretty good run, HOU can win if they bring their A game 🙂

  18. koiikoii13 says:

    For the WEST Conf : I would like to see in the 1st round would be OKC vs HOUSTON ROCKETS . A 4-2 or a sweep by OKC. Best of luck for Harden. In the East Conf : Likely would be NYK-Boston C. A likely match-up of KG and Melo . A long time rivaly . But in the Finals : Miami vs LA Clippers would be an epic one for me. I hope someone agrees 😉 But Miami-OKC would be a must-watch again.

  19. Den says:

    Love the HOU and OKC match up…love both teams, but HOU stands no chance against OKC…especially when it’s playoff time…

  20. georgelargi says:

    guys obviously miami-milwakee is the dream first round matchup…

  21. Bstarr says:

    OKC will sweep the Rockets

    LAC – LAL can be a second round match up if LAL finishes 8th and kick out Spurs & LAC defeats Denver (4-5 seeded) ….but we need a lot of miracles here….

    Knicks – Celts is what I hope for Boston in the first round and then Celts – Pacers to follow up. I give the C’s a 50% chance against both opponents

    Any way…..If this if that….ah let’s just wait and see what happen. For now I would say Go Bulls tonight & if not Go Spurs on Sunday!! Sorry guys hehehe

    • chalice says:

      I don’t think boston vs anyone in the first round would be good simply because Rondo is injured. Not having Rondo on the Celtics means you won’t see the Celtics at their true potential. Kinda like (but kinda not) watching the Bulls without Rose. With Rondo, a rematch of Miami-Boston in any round would be spectacular.

    • OKC sweep Rockets? not a chance Rockets win (4-2)

      • we’ve got the same prediction, I believe, the Rockets are underrated and will go far in the playoffs

      • QuestionMark says:

        I think a sweep is more likely for OKC than Rockets winning 4-2, yes Harden scored 46 on OKC, but the first game, KD was defending Harden and Harden struggled big time. Contain Harden and the Rockets lose. OKC has home court advantage, so playing in OKC will affect Harden since they have the best crowd in the NBA and it is Harden’s old team and arena. Plus Parsons and Lin won’t be able to defend Westbrook and KD at all when both of them are on their game. I am excited to see this matchup seeing as its Harden against his old team, but the Rockets have no chance, they can win a game or 2 in Houston, I’ll give them that, but in OKC, they don’t stand a chance.

  22. Dr. O'Neal says:

    Sekou Smith, lol~! lal and gsw,