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NBA playoffs to match Stanley Cup with Game 7 first round tripleheader

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The NBA playoffs are directly copying the Stanley Cup playoffs these days. Not only are the NBA and NHL postseasons having their best first rounds in recent memory, they will both close their opening round with a tripleheader of Game 7's. One day after the three Game 7's that closed the Stanley Cup's opening leg, the NBA saw three Game 7's of its own being forged by the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors on May 1.

The Pacers avoided an historic upset to the Atlanta Hawks, at least for now, by rallying late for a 95-88 Game 6 win. The Thunder didn't need as much trouble to delay a surprising early exit, blowing out the Memphis Grizzlies by 104-84. Finally, the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers were forced into a Game 7 thanks to a 100-99 Golden State victory.

Indiana started strong, but went into another ugly stretch in the third quarter and the start of the fourth. With Atlanta up by 84-79 late in the fourth, it appeared that the sub .500 No. 8 would finish off the skidding top seed. But with the season and perhaps much more on the line for the Pacers as currently constructed, they stood tall against adversity for once and finished Game 6 on a 16-4 run.

The Thunder are another team being pushed earlier than expected in the NBA playoffs. But they pushed back against the Grizzlies in Game 6, without even needing overtime. Right after being criticized for being "undependable" by the Oklahoman, Kevin Durant answered the newspaper with 36 points and a trip back home.

The Clippers are also going home after failing to finish the Warriors off. In perhaps their first normal NBA playoff game since the Donald Sterling scandal started, the Clippers went cold from the floor, although the Warriors weren't much hotter. But despite playing an ugly game, Los Angeles and Golden State each have one more chance for a big finish.

That finish will come at the tail end of the Game 7 tripleheader on May 3. Beforehand, the Pacers and Hawks will kick it off at 5:30 p.m. est, followed by the Grizzlies-Thunder finale at 8 p.m. and the Warriors-Clippers at 10:30 p.m. Yet if the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks all have their way on May 2, another trio of Game 7's will follow on May 4.

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