A look at how the two series that start Tuesday night shape up.
1 San Antonio vs. 5 Portland
Key stat: Veteran guard Manu Ginobili played as if he were 28 again in San Antonio's first-round victory over Dallas, averaging 17.3 points and 4.5 assists in 28 minutes per game.
Season series: Tied, 2-2.
Outlook: This is a matchup of old-timers versus up-and-comers. The question is, are the youthful Trail Blazers already here as legitimate Finals contenders? They certainly looked like it in the first round against a Houston team that had been a trendy title pick, dispatching the Rockets on Damian Lillard's buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 6. Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge were arguably the best two-man tandem in the first round, averaging a combined 55.3 points and 17.5 rebounds to help Portland advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time since 2000. San Antonio needed seven games to scrape past the Mavericks, but the Spurs finally resembled their intelligent, ball-moving selves in a Game 7 rout. San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard continues to emerge as one of the NBA's top young players, though Ginobili's resurgence against the Mavericks showed he's not ready to hand over his spot as the team's third-best player.
Prediction: Slow and steady wins what should be a wild race. Spurs in six.
2 Miami vs. 6 Brooklyn
Key stat: LeBron James somehow elevated his most-valuable-caliber play in the Heat's first-round victory over Charlotte, averaging 30.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
Season series: Brooklyn, 4-0.
Outlook: It almost seemed as if Brooklyn went into a deliberate tailspin to end the regular season so that it might draw the Heat given its sweep of the four games between the teams. But those games weren't exactly one-sided; the Nets won three by one point. This matchup will reunite Miami's Ray Allen with former Boston teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, though there may not be hugs and handshakes all around considering Allen broke up the Celtics' Big Three by departing for the Heat in the summer of 2012. Expect the Nets to go small with the 6-foot-8 Joe Johnson at small forward, the 6-6 Pierce at power forward and the 6-11 Garnett at center, a lineup that gave Miami problems in the regular season. The Heat won't be quivering in fear, still holding the designation of two-time defending NBA champions.
Prediction: Regular-season success doesn't mean anything this time of year. Heat in six.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times