NBA playoffs kick off, starting to feel the 'Heat'

Philadelphia 76ers celebrate an 82-75 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Sixers' win forces a Game 7 in Boston on Saturday. (Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

The No. 1 and No. 2 seed out of the Western Conference have handled their competition through the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs swept the LA Clippers in four games, while the Oklahoma City Thunder closed out the LA Lakers in five games.

The Spurs and Thunder have been the two best teams offensively in the playoffs, both averaging at least 100 points per game. Both teams have also had the two best field goal percentages for the playoffs: Spurs are shooting .491, while the Thunder is shooting .465.

San Antonio’s road to the Western Conference Finals began by defeating the No. 8 seed, Utah Jazz, while the Thunder rolled over the Dallas Mavericks, the defending NBA Champions and No. 7 seed. The Spurs and Thunder are 8-1 over their competition in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Look for this upcoming series to be the highlight of the NBA Playoffs. Without a doubt, these two have been the most impressive teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs this year. Both teams have their offense and defense clicking at the right time of year. Another key note is that these teams have been healthy, which hasn’t been the case for the Eastern Conference finalists.

The young vs. old has been a theme in this year’s playoffs, where the younger and healthier teams have made it further in the playoffs. This has been the case for the Spurs and Thunder, as well as for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers, the No. 8 seed out of the East this year, have forced a seventh game with the Boston Celtics, who are one of the oldest teams in the NBA. The Thunder and 76ers are the youngest teams left in the playoffs.

The series between the Celtics and 76ers has been back and forth. The Celtics had a chance to go 3-1 in the series with a win in Game 4 when they led 46-31 at halftime, but were unsuccessful. The 76ers had a chance to take over the series in Game 5 when they led 50-47 at halftime, but they were also unable to gain a lead in the series. In Game 6, the Celtics had a chance to close out the 76ers in Philadelphia, but instead made the need for a seventh game. This series has been about the opportunities each team has had and their inability to take advantage of it.

On a wider perspective, the Chicago Bulls, the No. 1 seed coming into the playoffs, were knocked out by the 76ers primarily because of the absence of superstar point guard Derrick Rose due to injury. This has made the path that much easier for the Miami Heat to win their first NBA Championship with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, right?

James has got to be feeling pressure at this point, but you wouldn’t know it from his last three games. He has scored 98 points, grabbed 34 rebounds, dished out 24 assists and had six steals in the final three games of the series against the Indiana Pacers.

Wade has been a large part of the Heat’s storyline for the majority of this series despite playing the worst games of his NBA Playoff career in Game 3, and the first-half of Game 4.

Wade has had pressure of his own to worry about this series, but you wouldn’t know it from his last three games either. Wade scored 99 points, grabbed 22 rebounds, dished out 11 assists and had five steals in the final three games of same series.

To add more fuel to the fire, Chris Bosh’s injury in Game 1 had him out for the series and possibly for the rest of the playoffs. The Heat awaits the winner of the Celtics-76ers series to join them in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Dallas Mavericks and the LA Lakers have won the last three NBA Championships, with both teams coming out of the Western Conference.

The Heat and Celtics have reached the NBA Finals two out of the past three years, however, they have lost both times.

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