The Chicago Bulls will open the National Basketball Association playoffs tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers, just before the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks renew their rivalry.
The Oklahoma City Thunder host defending champions the Dallas Mavericks later in the day, while the Indiana Pacers face the Orlando Magic in the night game.
On Monday, it's the Utah Jazz versus the San Antonio Spurs in the opener, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Denver Nuggets. The Boston Celtics visit the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies host the Los Angeles Clippers in the night in the two 4-5 series.
The Bulls, the overall No. 1 seed in the postseason, didn't know their opponent until Thursday, when the 76ers lost to the Detroit Pistons 86-108 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 tomorrow, their first postseason meeting since they faced each other four straight years from 1997-00.
Tomorrow's late game is a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals. The Mavericks fell to the No. 7 seed with an 89-106 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-Los Angeles Clippers series had already been set, but the site of the opening games wasn't determined until Thursday. The Hawks will host Game 1 despite being the lower seed against the Atlantic Division champions Celtics, because home-court advantage in the NBA is determined strictly by record.
"I have to say, 'mission accomplished'," Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. "Obviously there's plenty more work to be done but this is what we set out to do. We've got to stay focused."