Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats- 2 ET
Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats are in similar positions heading into their Game 3 matchups on their home floor. For the Bobcats, it looks as though the Magic are too much handle despite being equipped with some height down low to defend against Dwight Howard. At home in Charlotte, Game 3 will be their last and final hope to steal a game in the series. Scan up and down the Bobcats roster and keep in mind personalities of that team and then ask yourself “Down 3-0, will the Bobcats even give their best effort in Game 4?” My answer is no win tonight, directly translating to no win in the series.
Magic- 96 Bobcats- 88
Phoenix Suns at Portland Trailblazers- 4:30 ET
Game 3 turned out to be an absolute nightmare for the Blazers opening home game in the playoffs. What should’ve been a highly anticipated back and forth game became the Jason Richardson show. Richardson went off for 42 points setting a personal career high while also shattering Phoenix Suns playoff records with made threes in playoffs with 8 3PT made and in attempts with 12 3PT taken. The Blazers coverage on Richardson was absolutely terrible. Very rarely did they ever keep a close eye on J-Rich floating around the perimeter allowing him to hoist up 4 or 5 more attempts than he should have. When a Suns player has the hot hand, the opposing team must make the other Suns counterparts beat you. While that may seem obvious and hold true to any team in the league, I feel it’s especially important against Phoenix. Having just one real post threat leaves 4 guys on the perimeter just salivating, waiting to get their attempt to shoot the basketball. When a guy like Richardson gets it going, force Channing Frye to knock down big shots, who went 1-7 from the field and didn’t connect on ANY of his 6 three point shot attempts. So when the ball is swung, don’t leave Richardson even if that means closing out on Frye with the ball, force him to earn that respect and force him to make a decision.
For the Suns, credit is due on the defensive end of the floor. Coach Alvin Gentry clearly made the right call going into a zone defense as the Blazers offense had no energy and no solution in breaking open their offense. Maybe I’m exaggerating but I’ve never seen the Suns force a team into as many shot clock violations as I did in Game 3. The Blazers were out of sync all game and played right into Suns defensive strategies. The zone kept the Blazers standing around the perimeter, no cutters, no flashers, just a single driver penetrating while the other four Blazers stood around to watch. After Head Coach Nate McMillan reviews the game tape, I see him finding a way to break the zone open. That’ll be the key to Game 4, if the Blazers find a solution to break open the Suns zone defense and if they can limit Richardson & Stoudemire’s point production, I see the Blazers taking Game 4.
Blazers- 101 Suns- 100
Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks- 7 ET
“Fear the Deer” has suddenly changed to “Cheer the Deer” back at home in Milwaukee, it clear the Bucks aren’t a feared by the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have no athleticism what so ever and don’t even have one player on the team that can catch an alley oop, that’s a huge problem going up against one of the more athletic teams in the league. Obviously Josh Smith being the biggest problem, the Bucks have yet to find an answer for him and I’m not sure there even is one.
For a Game 3 Bucks home victory, they’ll need to come out and get an early jump on the Hawks at home. If the Bucks can get Squad 6 and the home crowd behind them early, Brandon Jennings and the Bucks should follow. Tonight has officially been declared “A Red Out” for Milwaukee’s first MAJOR nationally televised home game of the entire year (NBATV covered a game), being broadcasted on ESPN. But shouldn’t we have some fun with the name and declare tonight’s game “A Redd Out?”, I don’t know I just think we could add even a little more flavor to Deer country. I see the Bucks winning in the same fashion as the Thunder did at home against the Lakers the other night, hanging around, hanging around and stepping up at just the right time. Bucks win at home in Game 3.
Bucks- 94 Hawks- 90
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder- 9:30 ET
Winning the franchise’s first playoff game at home in Game 3 the Thunder look to do it again at home in Game 4. Much to Kobe’s surprise (or so he says) Durant locked down Bryant in the closing minutes of Game 3. Do the Thunder have any more surprises left? The answer lies in hands of two the league’s best scorers Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Game 4 ultimately comes down to how these two cornerstone pieces of their franchise carry the team on their backs. Tonight’s Lakers-Thunder matchup in Game 4 can be defined by challenges. Of those challenges that wait, I see Kobe completing more of the challenges than Durant even when on the road. To help Kobe complete the mission, I see Lamar Odom stepping up his play after a very disappointing Game 3, only producing 4 points off a Lakers bench that put in just 15 points as a unit. Odom’s the big producer off that bench and with his veteran leadership, I see him making up for that in Game 4.
Lakers- 93 Thunder- 86
THE QUESTION BELOW SHOULD READ: WOULD THE BOBCATS & BUCKS BOTH BE BETTER OFF IF THEY SWAPPED THEIR FIRST ROUND OPPONENTS? Bobcats face Hawks & Bucks face Magic?