The San Antonio Spurs won’t be facing Kobe Bryant when they begin their playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.It’s their 12th postseason series, but familiar foe Bryant is absent after tearing his Achilles’ tendon on April 12. Are the Spurs going to miss competing against their chief nemesis?“Not really,” Manu Ginobili said. “Of course, playing against him makes you better, that’s for sure. He challenges you on every possession, but I’m not going to miss him, that’s for sure.”The Beard is backIn a classic plot twist to spice up the NBA playoffs, James Harden and the Houston Rockets faded just enough in the final stretch of the regular season to drop to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, just as his old team locked up the top seed.That set up a first-round clash between Harden and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that drafted him and where he spent his first three seasons in the league.“I knew it was going to happen like this, for some reason,” Harden said. “That’s the beauty of it, that’s what basketball is.”Pacers, Hawks readyThree practice days have Indiana and Atlanta eager to see how they match up in the playoffs.The Hawks will try and run. The Pacers will try to get physical. Paul George wants to attack the defense, and Kyle Korver might be content to shoot 3-pointers all series long.They have been a study in contrasts all season, playing their four-game regular-season series to a draw. On Sunday, they will go at it again, this time in Game 1 of a best-of-seven first-round series in Indy.Brown eyes returnA person familiar with the situation said former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is interested in returning for a second stint with the team.Brown, who went to the NBA Finals during his five seasons with Cleveland, is “receptive to the idea” of coaching the Cavaliers again, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the sides have not yet discussed a possible return.