2012 NBA Playoffs: Friday's First-Round Open Thread

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

After last night's boring blowouts and precursors to possible sweeps, tonight's playoff action is much more intriguing. While the Lakers look like they'll have an easy go of it against the Nuggets, the other two series featured tonight are full of intrigue.

Read Detroit Bad Boy's official Eastern Conference and Western Conference playoff previews and laugh about how wrong we'll probably get it.

So what does tonight's games have in store for us?

Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics -- ESPN (7:30 p.m.)

Series tied 1-1

This one is getting interesting. I love watching Josh Smith face off against Kevin Garnett. Joe Johnson's ability to hit a big shot just often enough to make Hawks fans forget his poisonous contract. Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich playing the type of defense I don't even remember the last time I saw a Pistons guard play (Afflalo, maybe?). But now Rajon Rondo is back from his one-game suspension and the Hawks might have blown their best shot.

Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers -- ESPN2 (8 p.m.)

Series tied 1-1

The Bulls did not react so well in the first game without Derrick Rose. In fact, they gave up 109 points to the usually offensively challenged 76ers, including being outscored by almost 20 in the decisive third quarter of Game 2. Tonight Chicago looks to regroup and regain some control of a season that is quickly slipping away. It can't end like this, can it?

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets -- ESPN (10:30 p.m.)

Lakers lead 2-0

I am far from a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. But, damn, even I get a certain joy out of seeing how well Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are playing together. And I need to enjoy them now because I'm certainly not going to be able to stomach them once Metta World Peace comes back. And while Denver is clearly the inferior team they are an excellent, young, dynamic team that is going to continue growing. Maybe moving to the friendly confines of Denver (the Lakers do struggle on the road) will add a wrinkle to this lopsided series.

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