Bulls at Cavs
6:00 pm CDT
It will be interesting to see how the Cavs adjust to live without Love, but they have had a few days to get ready after finishing off their sweep of the Celtics. Tristan Thompson will probably see more playing time, and he's fantastic on the offensive glass, but obviously does not provide the spacing or floor stretching that Love does. Will the lanes be more clogged (especially against a good Bulls defense)? Still, it's hard for me to see how the Bulls can score enough to keep up with the Cavs unless Pau Gasol finds his offensive game again. He struggled in the first round, but the Bulls will need him to score in the post--they can't rely only on the perimeter stylings of Jimmy Butler (who was arguably the best player in round one in the entire playoffs) and Derrick Rose.
Cavs in six? Anyone?
Clippers at Rockets
8:30 pm CDT
The Clippers are coming off an epic game seven win against the Spurs in round one, and might need to re-find their edge early in this series. It doesn't help that Chris Paul hurt his hamstring in that game, and his availability is unclear. The Rockets took care of the Mavericks in five games, but should find the going significantly harder in this series; some defense is likely to be required. I'm interested to see how brutal this one gets down low, with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin against Dwight Howard and a platoon of Rockets bigs; things could resemble pro wrestling at times.
Meanwhile, the Clips will need to find a way to guard James Harden--nobody they've got is obviously suited to that job; Matt Barnes will probably get first crack. His ability to draw fouls could be immense in this series, because the Clippers have such a limited bench. If Josh Smith and Corey Brewer(!) continue their good play, the bench disparity could be significant. If Paul can get himself close to 100%, the absence of Patrick Beverly could be damaging for the Rockets, as they really have nobody to guard a healthy Chris Paul, who shredded the Spurs despite seeing several different defenders.
Uh...Rockets in 7? I really have no idea.