Matchups are set and everyone is 0-0 starting tomorrow afternoon when the NBA playoffs start.

Lakers vs. Nuggets

Pau Gasol was out the door in Los Angeles before the NBA came forward and nixed a trade that would have shipped out the Spaniard to Houston with the Lakers getting Chris Paul from New Orleans. We all know how that ended. Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andruw Bynum, have a tough challenge ahead of them, hosting the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. The Lakers will be missing Metta World Peace, who was suspended this week by the league for an elbow shot to Oklahoma City's James Harden. The Nuggets have size in the paint, which will be a problem for the Purple and Gold, and also have a good bench to spell their starters.

Spurs vs. Jazz

It's been and up and down season for Manu Ginobili, who was limited to 34 games during the regular season with the top seeded San Antonio Spurs. The Argentine spark plug, who does it all on defense and offense for Greg Popovich, missed 22 games after suffering a broken bone in his left hand in the seventh game of the season and later missed five games with an abdominal injury. It didn't stop the Spurs from getting the No. 1 seed in the West and hosting the Utah Jazz on Sunday. Usually low key during the trade deadline, the Spurs added Stephen Jackson and later picked up Boris Diaw, a teammate of Tony Parker with the French national team, and Patty Mills' addition to the back court solidified the point guard position and bench. The Spurs are hot having won 10 straight and 21 of their last 23.

Knicks vs. Heat

The Knicks were shooting for the sixth spot but some losses down the stretch; especially last Friday's at Cleveland could have cost them a chance a facing Indiana. Instead Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks take their talents to South Beach and face a tough Miami team that's going to run in transition but struggles in the half-court set. No one is giving Melo and the Knicks a chance. It actually looked like they could have avoided the Heat and taken on the East's top seeded team, the Chicago Bulls had Philadelphia finished ahead of them. So Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler will have to lead the Knicks into Miami tomorrow. Health will be a key issue, especially for Stoudemire, who just returned from a bulging disc in his back.

Grizzlies vs. Clippers

Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies wound up with the fourth spot in the West and now get to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Marc Gasol stepped it up in Zack Randolph's absence while he recovered from a knee surgery. Pau Gasol's younger brother made it to the All-Star team and led the Grizzlies to the team's best winning percentage in franchise history. The Clippers and Grizzlies are two teams match up evenly out on the perimeter and inside the paint although Memphis' big men combo of Marc Gasol and Randolph can step out and hit some jumpers away from the basket as opposed to the high-flying antics of Blake Griffin and the rest of the crew. CP3 has been hobbled through some injuries but he proclaimed he is good to go after the missing the last regular season game at New York with a strained right groin.

Pacers vs. Magic

The Indiana Pacers open up a busy Saturday of NBA playoff hoops, drawing an Orlando Magic team that they should fare well against with Dwight Howard out for the playoffs with a bulging disc in his back. The Pacers surely wanted no part of dealing with the Knicks, who chased Orlando's spot. Leandro Barbosa was saved from Toronto and gives the Pacers energy off the bench. The Pacers should have any trouble with a Magic team that has spiraled out of control as Stan Van Gundy and Howard butted heads.

Hawks vs. Celtics

The question down in Atlanta was whether or not the Hawks had enough to make it to the playoffs despite Al Horford's season-ending shoulder injury. The Hawks answered all the skeptics and clinched home-court advantage in their first round match up against Boston.

Horford is out for the first round but Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, who was snubbed as a potential All-Star this season, have stepped up throughout the season and carried the load.

It's the first time both teams meet in the playoffs since that memorable 2008 playoff series. The Hawks won all of their home games but were blown out in Game 7 at Boston, to the eventual NBA champs.

Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at elpiloto137@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc.

Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at elpiloto137@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc

 

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