The first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs start this weekend, as 16 NBA teams begin their postseason run toward the 2013 NBA Finals in June. The Oklahoma City Thunder have plenty of competition as they attempt to repeat as Western Conference champs and win an NBA title. Here's a preview of the 2013 NBA playoffs' first round match-ups in the Western Conference
All series are best-of-seven.
* — if necessary
No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets
The Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22) had the Western Conference's best record in 2012-13. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and company will face the Houston Rockets (45-37), who are led by former Thunder star James Harden. Oklahoma City won two of the three games between these teams in the regular season, and they may have too much talent for Houston in a seven game series. Rockets' point guard Jeremy Lin will be the wild card in the series. If he's hot, it may create problems for the Thunder.
Game 1 in Oklahoma City: Sunday, April 21, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, April 24, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 in Houston: Saturday, April 27, 9:30 p.m., ESPN (regional)
Game 4 in Houston: Monday, April 29
*Game 5 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, May 1
*Game 6 in Houston: Friday, May 3
*Game 7 in Oklahoma City: Sunday, May 5
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
The San Antonio Spurs (58-24) were once again among the elite teams in the Western Conference, while the Los Angeles Lakers (45-37) had to scramble into the playoffs on the season's final night. The combination of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan make the Spurs' difficult to beat. With Kobe Bryant out with an injury, the Lakers will rely on Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard in the front court to put pressure on San Antonio. The Spurs won two of the three games between the teams in 2012-13.
Game 1 in San Antonio: Sunday, April 21, 3:30 p.m., ABC (regional)
Game 2 in San Antonio: Wednesay, April 24, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 in Los Angeles: Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 in Los Angeles: Sunday, April 28, 7 p.m., TNT
*Game 5 in San Antonio: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 in Los Angeles: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7 in San Antonio: Saturday, May 4
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors
The third-seeded Denver Nuggets (57-25) were the best NBA team that no one seemed to notice in 2012-13. They drew a difficult first round series against the talented Golden State Warriors (47-35). Even without injured sharpshooting forward Danilo Gallinari, Denver still has point guard Ty Lawson, shooting guard Andre Iguodala and power forward Kenneth Faried to create matchup nightmares for the Warriors. Golden State is led by scoring machine Stephen Curry and high flying forward Harrison Barnes. The Nuggets won three of the four games between the teams this season.
Game 1 in Denver: Saturday, April 21, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 in Denver: Tuesday, April 23, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 in Oakland: Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4 in Oakland: Sunday, April 28, 9:30 p.m., TNT
*Game 5 in Denver: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 in Oakland: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7 in Denver: Saturday, May 4
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
The Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) had the best-ever season in franchise history and wound up with a difficult first round playoff opponent in the Memphis Grizzlies (56-26), a team who matched their record. Point guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin lead the Clippers' attack, while Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol pace the Grizzlies. The Clippers beat Memphis three of the four times the teams played this season.
Game 1 in Los Angeles: Saturday, April 21, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 in Los Angeles: Monday, April 22, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 in Memphis: Thursday, April 25, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 4 in Memphis: Saturday, April 27, 4:30 p.m., TNT
*Game 5 in Los Angeles: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 in Memphis: Friday, May 3
*Game 7 in Los Angeles: Sunday, May 5