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NBA playoffs: Parity abounds so far in semifinals

Published May 9, 2013 9:12 pm

NBA • Each series tied at 1 win apiece for 1st time in new format.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Parity has struck the NBA playoffs, where the conference semifinals are all fit to be tied.

The four current series are all knotted at one game apiece — the first time that's happened in the second round of the NBA playoffs since the league went to its current format more than a quarter-century ago. For favorites like Miami, New York, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, home-court advantage has disappeared, and now it's the underdogs who can control their own fates simply by taking care of business on their home floors.

A wild weekend is ahead, without question.

The Heat, Knicks, Spurs and Thunder are four of the league's top five winningest road teams this season. That probably isn't being received as great news for Chicago, Indiana, Golden State and Memphis, the lower-seeded clubs who will be hosting pivotal Game 3's when NBA playoff action resumes on Friday and Saturday.

"Pretty cool. The NBA's loving it," Heat forward LeBron James said. "When it comes to the playoffs, I always continue to say no matter how many games you win or lose in the regular season, once you get to the playoffs everybody's record is 0-0. So I think it's great. I think it's great for our fans, I think it's great for the competition that every series is tied 1-1."

After a first round with only two sweeps — by Miami and San Antonio, the top seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences — the tone for the second round was set pretty quickly around the league. Miami lost Game 1 at home to a wounded and weary team from Chicago. San Antonio needed a huge comeback to beat Golden State in Game 1 of their series, then saw the Warriors simply come back and take Game 2.

The Knicks lost Game 1 to Indiana before evening up their matchup, and the Thunder are likely feeling lucky that they're not in an 0-2 hole after Memphis had plenty of chances to take the opening game of their series.

"When you get this deep into the playoffs, they're all good teams, they're all very good teams more than capable of winning at home or on the road," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "So I'm not surprised at all. Good coaching, good playing, you make adjustments and win games. They've all been great games."

Big fourth-quarter comebacks, first by Oklahoma City and then by Memphis, decided the outcomes of the first two games of that series, where the cumulative score right now is Grizzlies 190, Thunder 186. The first two Spurs-Warriors games were pure theater, with San Antonio winning a double-overtime thriller in Game 1 after rallying from 16 points down late in regulation.

Road teams took Game 1's in the East semifinals, with Indiana and Chicago both winning by seven. And the home teams imposed their wills in Game 2 of both matchups, New York using a huge late run to beat the Pacers by 26, and the Heat outscoring the Bulls by an unbelievable 62-20 margin over a 19-minute stretch on the way to evening that matchup with a 115-78 romp.

"Anybody can beat you on a given night and playoff basketball is no different," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "I mean, everybody at this particular time is hungry even more. Nobody wants to go home so it becomes crazy basketball. Everybody is pumped up and ready to play."