Apr 11, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (not pictured) during the second half at the AT&T Center. The Lakers won 98-84. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
As the first round winds down with Nuggets-Lakers momentarily and Clippers-Grizzlies tomorrow it's time to start getting serious about who can make it through their conference's bracket to meet for the big prize in late June.
The first round has featured plenty of story lines and intrigue so far and I'll give you some power rankings I have of the teams left and tell you which potential match ups really excite me after the jump.
1. San Antonio Spurs - I picked the Heat to beat them in the Finals and I'm sticking with that. I still think the Spurs are better but in the randomness of sports the best team does not win every single time. The Spurs are still by far the least talked about dynasty in the history of sports. I can't even think of a time where I've seen a Spurs jersey or shirt and they're so good. We live in a weird world where nobody appreciates you unless you're flashy.
2. Miami Heat - The Heat have a pretty easy ride to the Finals. While Indiana and Boston should both give them six games, it would be a thunderous upset if either was able to get through to the Finals. Does anyone really think the Heat won't make it through to the Finals?
3. Oklahoma City Thunder - James Harden's beard is the coolest thing going in the playoffs right now. But honestly this Thunder squad is the last elite team who I could see winning without something crazy happening. I really like this group as well and wish they could face the Spurs in the Finals. The Spurs, Heat and Thunder are fairly interchangeable in these rankings and I change my tune on them all the time.
4. Los Angeles Lakers - Yes, the Lakers aren't even through to the second round yet but I don't see them losing tonight. The Western Conference is brutal and I think they'll lose to Oklahoma City in seven games but with Kobe, Pau and Andrew they have a fighting chance to make the Finals and play Miami.
5. Boston Celtics - In their fifth go at a ring together the Celtics have changed plenty since their ring winning 2008 season. Avery Bradley has now emerged as a legit player and Boston has a mild chance to make it past Miami if they get hot. The biggest downfalls with them is they can't score and they play six players.
6. Memphis Grizzlies - Memphis also hasn't even made it through to face San Antonio yet but I'm not concerned about them getting past the Clippers yet. They probably should have won every game in this series but due to Chris Paul being very good they're only tied 3-3.
7. Indiana Pacers - They have a better starting unit than most realize but this group has pretty much maximized where they can go. If they don't get a better player than anyone they currently have, they're the new Atlanta Hawks.
8. Los Angeles Clippers - I'll go down arguing with anyone than Blake Griffin is overrated but I do know that Paul is stunning. He simply gets the job done and with his confidence carries the entire franchise with him every step of the way.
9. Denver Nuggets - They've got a legit chance to dethrone Los Angeles tonight if they can get rolling. I thought earlier in the season that they'd perform better than they did but honestly I think it's a great season for them by getting to a minimum of a seven game series with Los Angeles. Who needs 'Melo?
10. Philadelphia 76ers - Conrgrats to them for making it past Chicago. They're a tough defensive squad who isn't going to play into the 90's too often. They could become the best friend of the Heat though if they can take Boston to seven.
The teams who I want to see play each other the most are:
1) Thunder vs. Spurs
2) Lakers vs. Thunder
3) Philly/Indiana/Boston vs. Any Western Conference Champ