NBA playoff series previews: Pacers-Wizards, Thunder-Clippers
CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS | Series beginning tonight
East: Pacers vs. Wizards
Coaches: Pacers — Frank Vogel; Wizards — Randy Wittman
Season series: Pacers 2-1
Outlook: Forced to Saturday's Game 7 by the 38-win Hawks, the Pacers again try to find their form of the season's first half. The Wizards have been off since eliminating the Bulls in Game 5 on Tuesday. After a mostly miserable series (5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds) against nontraditional centers, Indiana's Roy Hibbert should be more comfortable against Marcin Gortat (10.8 points, 9.6 rebounds against Chicago) and Nene (17.8 and 6.5). Indiana allowed a league-high 11.3 3-pointers per game in the first round while Washington's Trevor Ariza made 13 of 28 for the series. The best matchup will be between Indiana small forward Paul George and Washington point guard John Wall. George had six double doubles in the first round. Wall averaged 18.8 points.
West: Thunder vs. Clippers
Coaches: Thunder — Scott Brooks; Clippers — Doc Rivers
Season series: 2-2
Outlook: The combined score of the four regular-season games? Thunder 432, Clippers 428. Both won a Game 7 against a lower seed. L.A. seeks normalcy after owner Donald Sterling's racist comments and lifetime ban — even if that comes in the form of likely MVP Kevin Durant. The best matchup is at point guard, Russell Westbrook (Thunder) and Chris Paul. Westbrook averaged 25.6 points and eight assists against the Grizzlies. Paul, who has never reached a conference final, is banged up with undisclosed injuries but averaged 17.4 points and nine assists against the Warriors. The X-factor could be L.A. shooting guard Jamal Crawford. He scored 36 in a win at Oklahoma City and 22 in Game 7.