The Chicago Bulls will open the postseason Saturday against Philadelphia, just before Miami and New York renew their playoff rivalry.
Oklahoma City hosts defending NBA champion Dallas later Saturday, while Indiana faces Orlando in the early Saturday night game.
On Sunday, it’s Utah-San Antonio in the opener, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers hosting Denver. Boston visits Atlanta and Memphis hosts the Clippers on Sunday night in the two 4-5 series.
The Bulls, the overall No. 1 seed in the postseason, didn’t know their opponent until Thursday night, when the 76ers lost to Detroit 108-86 to finish eighth in the East. Philadelphia guard Evan Turner had said he preferred the Bulls, believing the Sixers matched up better with them than the Heat.
”Love it. We just have to give them what they ask for,” Bulls guard Richard Hamilton said.
The No. 2 Heat will host No. 7 New York in their Game 1 on Saturday, their first postseason meeting since they faced each other four straight years from 1997-00.
Saturday’s late game is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals. The Mavericks fell to the No. 7 seed with a 106-89 loss in Atlanta and hope to put aside some ugly late-season play when the playoffs open.
”The dress rehearsal’s over,” guard Jason Kidd said. ”Now it’s time for us to protect our crown.”
The Boston-Atlanta and Memphis-Clippers series had already been set, but the site of the opening games wasn’t determined until Thursday night. The Hawks will host Game 1 despite being the lower seed against the Atlantic Division champion Celtics, because home-court advantage in the NBA is determined strictly by record.