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IC Cold Links: NBA Playoffs Offer Plenty Of First Round Surprises

Injuries and inexperience figured to zap the juice out of some intriguing first round NBA playoff series matchups. Fortunately, no one told those teams with the injuries and inexperience.

For starters, the Oklahoma City Thunder figured to be sacraficial lambs in their first playoff series against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, the Thunder return to L.A. with the series tied 2-2 for tonight's pivital Game 5 and the only lamb Phil Jackson sees if his own Ron Artest.

Then there's the Milwaukee Bucks without Andrew Bogut, coming up huge at home to even their series with what has become a mercurial Atlanta Hawks team. The Hawks have so much fun talent, but need to flash a little bigger bratwurst to come up with a road win and show some growth.

After the jump, a little more on the possible close-out games tonight along with some links of interest.

Boston, Cleveland and San Antonio can all move onto the second round with a win tonight. The Celtics and Cavaliers should get a boost from the home crowd to rise up and get it done, but San Antonio will have to do it on the road. While the Spurs have been playing like a 2 seed their actually doing their damage as a 7 seed. Suddenly the Spurs look like legit title contenders once again and really, when they're playing their game it doesn't seem to matter if they're at home or on the road.

Deron Williams, a favorite around my house, and the Utah Jazz have also scoffed at the injury bug by taking a 3-1 advantage over the bickering Denver Nuggets. The Jazz are moving along nicely without Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. The Jazz can close it out tomorrow night although it should be a challenge playing at Denver with the Nuggs backed up against the elimination wall.

Links of interest:

Lottery just the first key date on offseason schedule
Bruno marks his calendar with key offseason dates while for the Pacers.

Gordon upbeat about his future
Jeff Rabjohns catches up with Eric Gordon coming off his second NBA season and already making an offseason impact in Indy.

Should the Pacers try to acquire a second first round pick?
Mike Wells ponders the Pacers' options for maneuvering up or down in the upcoming NBA draft.

Phil Jackson thinks Ron Artest is a 'naïve, innocent lamb'
The Lakers' coach pegs Ronnie perfectly with his comment that Artest is no Dennis Rodman.

Brown's Bobcats tenure ending?
Larry Brown may be ready to move onto a new town after Charlotte bowed out of the playoffs last night.

Orlando Magic 99, Charlotte Bobcats 90 - Orlando Pinstriped Post
The Magic closed out Charlotte last night making the the first team to advance to the EC semifinals.

Suns Dominate the Glass to Take Down Blazers
The Phoenix Suns regain control of the series with another big victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. But can the Suns close out the Blazers?

Bucks 111, Hawks 104: White-hot Bucks tie series - Brew Hoop
Fear the Deer is in full effect as the Bogut-less Bucks even up the series with the Hawks.