Akshay Manwani Freelance writer based in Mumbai

In an attempt to rid himself of the perils of performance appraisals, Akshay ventured into the world of freelance writing where he combined his twin interests of sports and cinema. He has since contributed to The Caravan, BCCI.tv, Business Standard and Man's World, among other publications. He has followed the fortunes of the NBA since the early ’90s, an experience that has given him extraordinary moments of joy in an otherwise mundane existence.

All season long, Akshay will cover the League from the point of view of a basketball expert living in India. Follow him every week on NBA.com/india!

Playoffs Insta-Preview

With the first few days of the 2013 postseason giving us so much excitement, there is much to look forward to as the weekend nears. While a couple of first-round series look like they could be decided before the start of the coming week, there are others which promise to go down the wire and could throw up unexpected results. Here’s a quick look at how each series is expected to play out in the coming days:


(1) Miami vs. (8) Milwaukee
Series score: Miami lead 2-0

The Stat: Through two games, the Heat’s reserves have outscored the Bucks’ bench 79-55.

Insta-preview: There is no easy way for Milwaukee’s struggles to end. If it’s not their reserves going AWOL, then the poor shooting efforts of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have caused them problems. Basically, the Heat are just too good and it will be a surprise if this series goes beyond four games.

(2) New York vs. (7) Boston
Series score: New York lead 2-0

The Stat: In Games 1 and 2, the Knicks have restricted the Celtics to 25 and 23 points respectively in the second half. Insta-preview: What was thought of by most to be a hard-fought series, is quickly turning into a lop-sided one. Boston are struggling offensively and without Rajon Rondo, their woes are not going to end anytime soon. The Knicks might close this series out in five games.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) Atlanta
Series score: Indiana lead 2-0

The Stat: The Hawks are shooting 49.7 percent from the field compared to the Pacers 46.1 percent, but have been outrebounded 95-73 by the Pacers.

Insta-preview: It’s the all-round talent of the Pacers, which is proving a bit much for Atlanta. With Most Improved Player of the year winner, Paul George, putting in a couple of solid performances and forward Gerald Green contributing off the bench, this series should be headed Indiana’s way.

(4) Brooklyn vs. (5) Chicago
Series score: Series tied 1-1

The Stat: Chicago have made the fewest 3-point shots (just five), attempted the fewest 3-point shots (just 20) and have the poorest shooting percentage from 3-point land (25 percent – tied with Milwaukee) among all teams in the 2013 postseason.

Insta-preview: For a team that restricted the Nets to just 87.5 PPG in four games in the regular season, it was a bit surprising that the Bulls gave up 106 points in Game 1. However, that anomaly was quickly corrected in Game 2 through coach Tom Thibodeau’s excellent defense. And provided Joakim Noah doesn’t limp out of this series owing to the plantar fasciitis in his right foot, the Bulls should scrape past the Nets to the next round.


(1) Oklahoma City vs. (8) Houston
Series score: Oklahoma City lead 2-0

The Stat: Houston have the poorest field-goal shooting percentage (37.9 percent) among any team in the 2013 postseason.

Insta-preview: While James Harden has the most points by any player (56) in this series, the Thunder 1-2 punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have combined for 101 points in two games. On that count alone, no matter what Houston try, they will simply not be able to overcome the OKC in this series.

(2) San Antonio vs. (7) L.A. Lakers
Series score: San Antonio lead 2-0

The Stat: San Antonio have outscored the Lakers 34-13 in fastbreak points. In Game 1 alone, San Antonio outscored Los Angeles 17-2 on the fastbreak.

Insta-preview: The all-round depth of the Spurs is proving too much for the Lakers, with San Antonio’s reserves having outscored the Lakers’ bench 72-34. Also, the Lakers may be winning the battle in the paint (80 points to San Antonio’s 70), but they have also turned the ball over far too much compared to the Spurs (31 to 17). As things stand, this series is only headed the direction of the Spurs.

(3) Denver vs. (6) Golden State
Series score: Series tied 1-1

The Stat: Golden State rank first among all 16 playoff teams in field-goal (52 percent), 3-point (46.8 percent) and effective field-goal (58.5 percent) shooting percentage.

Insta-preview: With Golden State having stolen a game on Denver’s home-court, riding on Stephen Curry’s brilliance in Game 2, this is now likely to be a great series. David Lee’s injury, which led to the Warriors playing a smaller lineup with Jarett Jack starting, could also lead George Karl to change his lineup. Karl could easily bring Kenneth Faried back into the starting five, a possibility already explored by NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper. Whatever they do, the Nuggets will have to play with greater energy, hustle and tenacity if they want to get past the Warriors.

(4) L.A. Clippers vs. (5) Memphis>
Series score: Los Angeles lead 2-0

The Stat: Tayshaun Prince has been non existent for Memphis in this series, scoring just eight points cumulatively from 3-for-15 shooting in two games.

Insta-preview: Memphis were unlucky to have lost Game 2 after Chris Paul’s game-winning bucket in the dying seconds of the game. But in all honesty, the Clippers have been the better team, out-rebounding (87-61) the Grizzlies over two games. Yet, if Memphis can get Zach Randolph to avoid foul trouble and establish their dominance in the post, the Grizzlies could still make a comeback. This series is not over yet.