Miami Heat at Boston Celtics- 7 ET- NBATV
The question isn’t whether or not the Boston Celtics are going to take the series, the real question is whether Dwyane Wade allows the Celtics to take the series in Game 5. Wade single handedly defeated the Celtics in Game 4, avoiding the Celtics sweep. He shot 16-24 from the field, including 5-7 from downtown, which for D-Wade is a very rare occurrence, going off for 46 points in total. If the Celtics get a strong performance out of Paul Pierce inside the TD Garden, Boston will be in great shape.
Quite frankly, this is a must win game from the Celtics if they hope to stand any chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2. The Celtics need as much rest as possible heading into the Quicken Loans Arena from Game 1 of Round 2. The Cavaliers should cap off their series tonight with a win over the Bulls at home, so the Celtics must do the same. It would kill their chances against Cleveland if it just so happens that the Heat upset them with a win tonight forcing the Celtics to travel back down to Miami for Game 6. It would create all that much more trouble and would also give the Cavaliers some time to tune in to watch their second round opponent. Celtics realize this and the importance of finishing up their first round matchup against the Heat tonight at home. As long as the Celtics limit Dwyane Wade to 35 points or less, they’ll win tonight.
Celtics- 97 Heat- 88
Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers- 8 ET- TNT
This game is a wrap even before both teams show up to suit up tonight. With Rose battling an injury and LeBron continuing to be LeBron, it’s a no brainer that the Bulls are cooked. But before this series becomes history, the Bulls should be given a lot of praise. Not expected to beat out Toronto for the last and final playoff spot, the Bulls got the job done, clinching the spot behind Derrick Rose’s promise of a playoff berth. After critics (like me) doubted they’d even make the playoffs, the proved critics (like me) wrong again by making Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland competitive enough to watch.
The Bulls’ charge was led by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, both of whom really earned some respect in my book for their on court play and leadership. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires this summer within the Bulls organization. From the progress of their core group of guys in Rose, Noah, Deng, and even rookie James Johnson, to dangling Kirk Hinrich yet again as trade bait, then of course comes the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro and the search for his replacement (Lawrence Frank?) and last but certainly not least which superstar or star(s) decide to sign with Chicago during the most talented free agent class in NBA history. There’s a lot of changes in store for the Chicago Bulls, tonight begins one of them: the offseason.
Cavaliers- 112 Bulls -98
San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks- 9:30 ET- NBATV
It’s a shame this game isn’t being broadcasted on one of the major networks. Tuning into a Mavericks win or go home game taking place in Dallas is all I need to know to be encouraged to watch it. The reason for that is to obviously get glimpses of the Mavericks’s biggest fan, owner Mark Cuban. Both Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson have poured their heart and soul into building this team into one that was expected to be champion contending team. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Mavericks are already on the ropes in Round 1 against their arch-rivals.
Out of all the 3-1 matchups taking place tonight, this by far (yes, I said by far) is the best one. After a very disappointing Game 4 loss, Shawn Marion said the series isn’t over until the fat lady sings. While I believe the Mavericks will pull out a big win tonight at home, we’ll really see if that fat lady is just waiting to be heard in San Antonio for Game 6. But tonight, I see the Mavericks stepping their game up and getting the job done. Having picked the Mavericks to go to the NBA Finals this season, it’s very interesting to watch them get tested so early against a very challenging San Antonio team. If the Mavericks prove they can dig themselves out of a trench like this, I see no stopping them. Tonight they’ll live another day and stay safe from a first round exit.
Mavericks- 96 Spurs- 91
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET TNT
With the recent noise the Thunder have been making with their stellar performances in Game 3 and 4 at home, I been receiving a lot of questions regarding whether or not they can take this series. I apologize if I come off sounding like a Thunder hater (if one does exist), but I don’t see the Thunder earning a victory in Los Angeles. Obviously, the most impressive trademark of this Thunder team’s success against the Lakers so far in the series is how young the team is. For many of the same reasons the Thunder and NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks deserve kudos for their accomplishments, I also feel are the main reasons they’ll fall short when facing the Lakers in the City of Angels.
From the Staples Center’s celebrity sightings to Kobe’s confortability and nearly effortless success at home, home court advantage will be the biggest factor in why the Lakers will win the series. But hey, it’s crazy even just thinking about the Lakers possibly losing this series as the #1 seed in the Western Conference, the defending champs, and on top of all of that the Thunder’s unity throughout the entire series. As Kevin Durant continues to receive much of that credit, I once again will be sort of an outkast and come out and say Kevin Durant isn’t the difference maker in the team’s success in the series. Instead I’d argue that it’s been the play and leadership of Russell Westbrook, the team’s floor general. Westbrook currently has dished out a total of 21 assists (5.25 apg) and while that may be well below his season average of 8 apg, so far this series he’s only committed a combined total of 6 turnovers! Westbrook had 11 games this season where he committed at least 6 turnovers alone. Up to this point in his young NBA career, Westbrook has been widely regarded as a point guard thats turnover prone. Since the playoffs, Westbrook has taken much better care of the ball, which clearly leads to more possessions and gives your team a better opportunity to win ball games. Head Coach Phil Jackson must switch up his defense assignments on Westbrook, testing the young guard to make in game adjustments. Personally, I like the idea of assigning Shannon Brown to Russell Westbrook, very similar physique and athletic ability, I think Brown could cause some havoc on defense. But tonight just like Game 1 and Game 2, the Lakers will do a better job executing down the stretch on their home floor. Lakers take Game 5 and prepare for another tough battle back in Oklahoma City.
Lakers- 93 Thunder- 87