NFL: Week 3 scores
NBA: Miami Heat defeat Boston Celtics 125-113 in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat win series 4-2
The Miami Heat secured their spot in the NBA Finals with a 125-113 win over the Boston Celtics in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Bam Adebayo scored a game-high 32 points, to go along with 14 rebounds and 5 assists. Jayson Tatum had a very inefficient 24 points, which was not nearly enough to keep his team’s season alive. The Heat will face off against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Game one is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30th at 6 PM PT on ABC.
NFL: Week 3 of the regular season!
NBA: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat lead series 3-2
The Miami Heat look to finish off the Boston Celtics in their second attempt to clinch an NBA Finals berth. The Celtics roared back in game five to keep their season alive, they cannot afford to play with fire again. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the charge, and will need to keep playing at a high level to force a game seven. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic have led the Heat throughout their postseason run, they’ll look to put together another stellar performance to finish off the Celtics.
Celtics: 117 Heat: 115
These two teams are evenly matched, why not predict a Celtics victory to force a game seven? The Celtics were my pick before the series started and I will not abandon them yet.
Vacation: was not around to write previews and reviews for these days. This will happen on occasion. Recap below:
9/21/20 – NFL: Las Vegas Raiders defeat New Orleans Saints 34-24 on Monday Night Football
9/22/20 – NBA: Denver Nuggets defeat Los Angeles Lakers 114-106 in game 3 of the Western Conference Finals – Lakers lead series 2-1
9/23/20 – NBA: Miami Heat defeat Boston Celtics 112-109 in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat lead series 3-1
9/24/20 – NBA: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Denver Nuggets 114-108 in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals – Lakers lead series 3-1
9/25/20 – NBA: Boston Celtics defeat Miami Heat 121-108 in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals – Heat lead series 3-2
NBA: Boston Celtics defeat Miami Heat 117-106 in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat lead series 2-1
The Boston Celtics saved their season with a 117-106 victory of the Miami Heat to win their first game in the series. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 25 points. Four of the Celtics’ five starters scored over 20 points, giving the Heat defense fits all night. Gordon Hayward returned from his ankle injury scoring six points in 31 minutes. He looked rusty, but the Celtics were +1 when he was on the floor.
The Heat were led by Bam Adebayo with 27 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He was a menace all game, but was not able to lead his team to victory. Rookie Tyler Herro has looked like a veteran all series, putting in 22 points in this game and looking like the moment was not too bright for him. Regardless of the outcome of this series, his playoff performance has to be encouraging for Heat fans.
Game four will be on Wednesday at 5:30 PM PT on ESPN.
NBA: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat lead the series 2-0
After dropping the first two games in this best-of-seven series, the Boston Celtics are in a do-or-die game three against the Miami Heat. The Heat are on fire, dropping only one game so far this postseason. The Celtics are likely to get forward Gordon Hayward back, who has missed the last few weeks with an ankle injury. It’s to-be-determined how many minutes he’ll be able to play, but he might be able to provide the boost the Celtics will need to get over the hump after two tightly contested games.
The favored Celtics haven’t been able to solve the Heat’s zone defense. If they continue struggling against Coach Erik Spoelstra’s zone, this series is a wrap. Celtics Coach Brad Stevens is one of the best X’s and O’s coach in the NBA, so look for a few new wrinkles thrown the Heat’s direction in this chess match between elite coaching staffs. Ultimately this game is played on the court, so it won’t matter what the coaches conjure up if their players cannot execute.
Celtics: 111 Heat: 103
This is a must-win game for the Celtics. They are far too talented to lose this series without putting up a fight. If Gordon Hayward can give them quality minutes, the Celtics will win.
NBA: Miami Heat defeat Boston Celtics 106-101 in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals – Heat lead series 2-0
The Miami Heat have jumped out to a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals with a stunning come-from-behind 106-101 victory. The Celtics had a 17 point lead before their stunning collapse. Down the stretch Jayson Tatum was nowhere to be found. Marcus Smart was making decisions that make his last name seem ironic. The Heat changed the flow of the game when Coach Erik Spoelstra decided to try a zone defense. The Celtics were rattled, having no answers for this zone. Jimmy Butler was a menace on defense and Goran Dragic put the team on his back offensively with 25 efficient points. Bam Adebayo played with excellent energy and poise on both ends of the floor. The Celtics are in a world of trouble. They cannot afford to fall behind three games, for all intents and purposes game three is a must win game if they want to keep their championship hopes alive. Game three will be on Saturday at 5:30 PM PT.
NBA: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Heat lead the series 1-0
After a thrilling first game in this series, the Celtics and Heat will square off again in game two in the Orlando bubble. These two battled into overtime in game one, expect more of the same tonight between these two evenly matched teams. Bam Adebayo’s block on Jayson Tatum was the play that stuck out in everyone’s mind from their overtime thriller, it’ll be up to Tatum to shrug off that play and move forward with the same confidence he’s shown throughout bubble play. The Celtics cannot win without him.
The Heat will need their star to show up too. Jimmy Butler’s jumper has seemingly returned since the beginning of bubble play, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for this gritty Heat team. He’s been the heartbeat of this team since arriving in Miami in the offseason. This team is full of confidence, shooting, and smart role players which has allowed Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to be versatile in their game plan
Celtics: 104 Heat: 96
The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to clinch an NBA Finals berth. Before the series I predicted the Celtics would win in six games. If they fall down 0-2 they’ll have a monumental climb against a soaring Heat team filled with confidence. I expect the Celtics to bounce back led by their trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 135-102: The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. This is the third consecutive year that the Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 23 points. He’s been their most consistent player on both ends of the floor throughout the postseason. LeBron James had another stellar game, scoring a game-high 35 points on 13-18 shooting from the field. He’s proven all postseason that he’s still the best player in the world. The Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors in game one of the NBA Finals next Thursday in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Ottawa Senators 3-2 (2OT): WOW, what a game! This is why the playoffs are exciting. There are no two words more exciting in sports than game seven, and this game was more exciting than most game sevens. The Penguins scored the first goal of the game in the second period, but the Senators responded with a goal twenty seconds later. The Penguins took the lead again in the third period with a power play goal. Once again, the Senators responded with a goal to tie the game a few minutes later. Neither team would score again in regulation, so the game would head to overtime. Neither team scored in the first overtime period, so the game headed to a second overtime. Chris Kunitz would score the game-winning goal in the second overtime, which was his second goal of the game. This goal clinched a Stanley Cup Finals berth for the Penguins. The Penguins will host the Nashville Predators in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals. With a 3-1 series lead, the Cavaliers have a chance of finishing the series and clinching their third straight trip to the NBA Finals. With star point guard Isaiah Thomas sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, the Cavaliers will be heavy favorites to win this game. If the Cavaliers do win the game, they’ll play the Warriors for the third straight year in the NBA Finals. This is a must-win game for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins host the Senators in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. There are no two words more exciting in sports than game seven. Although the Penguins are favorites to win the game, anything can happen in a game seven. This is what makes sports exciting. The winner of the game will face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 112-99: The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics to take a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics led by 10 points at halftime, largely due to the stellar play of Avery Bradley. Bradley scored a team-high 19 point and played at a high level on the defensive end of the floor. But the second half belonged to the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James took over the game in the third and fourth quarters. Irving and James scored 42 points and 34 points, respectively. Kevin Love tallied 17 points and 17 rebounds. This was a pivotal game for the Cavaliers’ big three. With Isaiah Thomas out for the remainder of the season, the Cavaliers will be favorites to finish the series in the next game. These two teams will play game five on Thursday in Boston.
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Celtics in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. After dominating the first two games in Boston, the Cavaliers returned home for game three as heavy favorites to complete their third straight series sweep. The Celtics ruled out star Isaiah Thomas for the rest of the season, so it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers would easily win. However, the Celtics showed their resilience and defeated the Cavaliers on a game winning three-point shot by Avery Bradley. They were down by 21 points in the third quarter, but didn’t quit fighting. LeBron James had his worst playoff performance in years. He looked tentative the whole game. This should be a wake-up call for King James and company. They’ll be heavy favorites to win this game too, but cannot be complacent against the desperate Celtics. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Boston Celtics defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108: The Celtics shocked the Cavaliers in Cleveland to win their first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. They won the game without their All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. Marcus Smart stepped up in his absence and scored a team-high 27 points on 7-10 shooting from beyond the three-point line. The Cavaliers had a 21 point lead in the third quarter before collapsing down the stretch. LeBron James had his worst playoff performance in years, scoring 11 points on 13 shots. Avery Bradley hit the game winning three-point shot with 0.1 seconds remaining. Celtics coach Brad Stevens drew up a great play to get Bradley open. The last two threes by Boston were made because of defensive miscues by J.R. Smith. He continuously makes boneheaded decisions and has lapses in judgment during key moments of games, especially on the defensive end of the floor. It’s shocking that Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue continues to keep Smith in the game in key moments. He shot the ball well, but has been a defensive liability throughout his career. The Cavaliers are still favored to win the series, but losing this game in the manner that they did seems like something a championship caliber team wouldn’t do. These two teams will play game four on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Celtics in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals. After two dominating performances in Boston, the Cavaliers return home to play in front of their home crowd. Boston’s star point guard Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Boston’s chances of defeating the defending champions were already decimated when they got embarrassed in game two, but now it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers will be playing in their third straight NBA Finals. This game will give the Celtics an opportunity to show what they’re made of. They’ll have to find a way to slow down LeBron James. He’s had ten straight fantastic games, and seems to be using the playoffs as an opportunity to remind the world that he’s the best player in the NBA. This is a must-win game for the Celtics.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 130-86: WOW! The Cavaliers are a team on a mission. This game was over at halftime. Actually, this game was over before either team arrived to the arena. LeBron James decided that they would win by a lot, so King James made it happen. He proved again that he’s the best player in the world and it’s not even close. The Cavaliers led 72-31 at halftime, which was the biggest halftime lead in NBA playoff history. This was embarrassing for the Celtics and boring for casual fans. We should skip the rest of the Conference Finals because we are all tired of these boring games. The Cavaliers are going to play the Warriors for the NBA championship, let’s just get it on right now. Unfortunately, these two teams will play game three on Sunday in Cleveland.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. After getting dismantled in game one, the Celtics need to rebound and even the series. They cannot afford to lose the first two games at home in this series. They were able to win their first round series after losing the first two games at home, but this Cavaliers team is a lot more talented than the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James has increased his intensity during the postseason. He is showing everyone that he’s still the best player in the world. He’s been dominant in all nine games this postseason. Boston will need to find a way to limit his impact. This is a must-win game for the Celtics.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 117-104: The Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston to take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers had this game won by halftime. The Celtics were outscored by eleven points in each of the first two quarters. LeBron James and Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 38 points and 32 points, respectively. Isaiah Thomas struggled in this game, scoring 17 points on 7-19 shooting from the field. Avery Bradley scored 21 points and was gritty on defense, but didn’t get enough help from his teammates to help get the Celtics back in the game after a horrible first quarter. The Cavaliers didn’t care about getting the number one seed. After this game, it seems like they made the right decision to rest their starters during the final games of the regular season. The Cavaliers now have the home-court advantage in this series. The Celtics cannot afford to lose game two. These two teams will play game two on Friday in Boston.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. After conceding the number one seed by resting their starters in the final games of the regular season, the Cavaliers have to go on the road to Boston to start this series. The Cavaliers cared more about resting their starters than owning home-court advantage over the Celtics. The last time these two teams played in Boston, the Cavaliers won in convincing fashion. The Cavaliers haven’t lost a game yet in the playoffs and are heavy favorites to win the series, but they’re facing their toughest challenge yet this season. The Celtics have been called the worst number one seed in NBA history by many NBA experts. They will definitely use this as motivation. The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and have multiple wing defenders that they can put on LeBron James. If they want to win this series, they’ll have to find a way to limit King James’ impact. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game can set the tone for the rest of the series.
Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 115-105: The Celtics eliminated the Wizards in game seven to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. John Wall had his worst game of the series when it mattered most, but the Wizards would’ve been swept without him. Bradley Beal put up 38 points on 12-22 shooting from the field. He had a great game, but wasn’t enough to overcome Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk. Thomas was his usual self, leading the Celtics with 29 points. Olynyk had the game of his life in the most important game of his life. He scored 26 points on 10-14 shooting. The Celtics’ bench combined for 48 points, which was the deciding factor in the game. The Wizards’ bench has been terrible all season. Their starters played more minutes than any starting unit during the regular season because of their horrible bench. Washington’s bench only scored five points in the most important game of their season. They’ll need to improve their bench next season. The Celtics will face the Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards in game seven of this second round series. The home team has won the first six games of this series. Although the Celtics are favored to win this game, anything can happen in game seven. The Wizards’ bench has struggled throughout the playoffs, especially in the three games in Boston. John Wall has been the best player in the series, but he cannot win this game by himself. The Wizards need to keep the game close when their second unit is on the floor. The Celtics’ backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley has played at a high level in this series. If they are able to outplay the Wizards’ backcourt, they will win the series. The winner of this game will face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday in Cleveland.
Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 92-91: The Wizards won game six at home to force a game seven against the Celtics in Boston. John Wall hit a clutch three-point shot with three seconds remaining to win the game. Wall has never been a great jump shooter, but he confidently made the biggest shot of his life to keep Washington’s season alive. Wall struggled in the first quarter, but ended up with 26 points and 8 assists. Bradley Beal scored a game-high 33 points. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley both scored 27 points. Bradley had a much more efficient night shooting the basketball, and played at a high level on the defensive end of the floor. He was the Celtics’ best player all game. The last minute of the game was back and forth with both teams hitting clutch shots. Most playoff games have been blowouts this postseason, so it was nice to see a competitive game come down to the last shot. Hopefully game seven is as exciting as game six was. These two teams will play game seven on Monday in Boston.
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Wizards look to keep their season alive in this must-win home game. The home team has won the first five games of this series, which is a trend that the Wizards must continue if they want to avoid being eliminated from the playoffs. John Wall has been the best player in this series. He had his first poor playoff performance in game five, but has been dominant in every playoff home game. Wall will likely play at a high level in game six, but will need help from his teammates to force a game seven. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are the second and third best players on the Wizards. They’ve been inconsistent throughout the playoffs. When they have a good game, the Wizards are hard to beat. With Washington’s terrible bench consistently struggling, the starters will need to play at a high level. Isaiah Thomas has been the star for the Celtics this postseason. Thomas doesn’t have a sidekick that he can consistently depend on, but he has multiple role players that have stepped up at key moments throughout the playoffs. Avery Bradley played like a superstar in game five. Al Horford and Jae Crowder have played like stars during key moments of games. Boston’s depth has been a major key to their success. Thomas is the engine that keeps them going, but he has a lot more help than John Wall does. Although Boston will be favorites in game seven if Washington wins this game, the Celtics cannot get complacent. Both teams will be fighting for their playoff lives in this pivotal game six.
Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 123-101: The Celtics defeated the Wizards at home to take a commanding 3-2 series lead. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 29 points on 12-19 shooting from the field. Al Horford scored 19 points and both Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder scored 18 points. The Celtics defeated the Wizards in the first two games in the series largely due to their bench, but this game was won by their starters. John Wall scored 21 points and only had 4 assists. This was by far his worst game of the series. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter had decent games, but they didn’t play well enough to help pull off the upset. The Wizards have struggled in Boston, but will now have to win game seven on the road if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But they’ll have to win game six at home to force a game seven. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Washington.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards in a pivotal game five. With the home team winning the first four games, the Celtics are favorites to win game five in Boston. But John Wall has been the best player in this series. In the two games that Washington won in this series, the other starters have helped Wall lead the Wizards to victory. The key to this game will be the other four starters on the Wizards. The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They don’t have an answer for John Wall, but they do have the talent to slow down Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards’ bench has been terrible all season, so it’ll be up to the starters to win this game. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic throughout the playoffs. The Celtics has one of the deepest benches in the league that should be able to feast on Washington’s putrid bench. Washington’s starters have outplayed Boston’s starters in this series, but they haven’t always been able to overcome the runs Boston goes on when both team’s second units are on the floor. With these contrasting styles of play, it’ll be interesting to see which team will step up and play at a higher level than usual. With the series tied at two games apiece, the winner of this game will be overwhelming favorites to head to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 109-102: The Cavaliers completed a four game sweep of the Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Kyle Lowry missed the game due to an ankle sprain. His backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan was dominant in his absence. DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Corey Joseph all scored at least twenty points. P.J. Tucker scored 14 points and competed at a high level on the defensive end of the floor against LeBron James. The starters played well enough to win, but they didn’t get enough help from their bench. The Raptors’ bench scored a combined 15 points. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 35 points and 27 points, respectively. Kevin Love only scored 5 points, but the Cavaliers didn’t need him to contribute in this game. They were the dominant team all series. Cleveland has won their first eight playoff games. They look poised to return to the NBA Finals, but have one more team standing in their way. The Cavaliers will either play the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 121-102: The Wizards held serve at home against the Celtics to tie the series at two games apiece. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter led the way with 27 points, 29 points, and 18 points, respectively. If they all play well, the Wizards are nearly impossible to beat. John Wall has been fantastic all postseason. He’s been scoring at will and gets double-digit assists on a regular basis. Markieff Morris battled through an ankle sprain to score 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The Wizards’ bench struggled again, but their starters dominated the Celtics’ starters. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points. The rest of the starters scored eleven points or fewer. Boston’s bench played well, but not well enough to overcome the starters’ lackluster performance. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.
Houston Rockets defeat San Antonio Spurs 125-104: The Rockets dominated the Spurs to even the series at two games apiece. After a poor performance in game three, the Rockets rebounded by shooting 44.2 percent from three point range. Since they shoot so many three point shots, the outcome of their games usually depends on how well they shoot. The Rockets did a great job of penetrating the Spurs’ defense and kicking the ball out to open shooters. This was their recipe for success in game one, but they got away from this strategy in games two and three. James Harden led the Rockets with 28 points and did a fantastic job of getting his teammates involved. The Spurs struggled without Tony Parker, even though his backups did a solid job replacing him in this game. They could’ve used his veteran leadership in the second half when they were struggling. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 16 points. The Spurs needed a greater contribution from their two best players. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in San Antonio.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors: The Cavaliers look to sweep the Raptors in Toronto. Raptors’ All-Star Kyle Lowry will miss this game with a left ankle sprain. Without Lowry, DeMar DeRozan will have to pick up the slack. He’s been inconsistent throughout these playoffs. The Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline to try and knock off Cleveland in the playoffs. So far this plan has backfired. Ibaka and Tucker are both free agents after the season, so they may have wasted their one opportunity. LeBron James has played at an extremely high level in all seven postseason games. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have been inconsistent, but have shown flashes of brilliance. They’ll need to be more consistent if they want to repeat as NBA champions. This is a must-win game for Toronto, but even they know the series is over.
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Wizards will attempt to hold serve at home and even the series at two games apiece. After losing the first two games in Boston, the Wizards dominated the Celtics in game three to keep their chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals alive. They cannot afford to lose game four at home. Although it’s possible to win a series after falling behind 3-1 (Warriors blew a 3-1 lead!), the Wizards are not talented enough to pull off that feat. John Wall has been fantastic throughout the playoffs, and will need another fantastic performance to help even the series. Wall’s teammates have been inconsistent during the playoffs. They cannot afford another poor performance. Isaiah Thomas has elevated his game in these playoffs, which has been an amazing feat because of the tragic loss of his sister before game one of their first round series. Thomas and the Celtics have an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. This is the most important game for the Wizards this season.
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: The Rockets look to rebound after a game three loss at home to even the series at two games apiece. After losing Tony Parker in game two, the Spurs pulled off a shocking upset in game three on the road. The Rockets have struggled from behind the three point line in the last two games. They’ll have to make these open shots if they want to advance to the Western Conference Finals. After game one, coach Gregg Popovich decided to put Kawhi Leonard on James Harden. Leonard has done a fantastic job of limiting Harden’s impact. Harden has struggled with his shot in the last two games, but he’s had a tough time finding open looks. He’s getting to the hoop but is having trouble finishing over the Spurs’ bigs. Harden will need to do a better job of putting the ball in the hoop when he gets near the basket. His teammates will have to help him by knocking down open threes. The winner of this game will be favorites to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 116-89: The Wizards defeated the Celtics in a must-win home game to win their first game of this series. After losing the first two games in Boston, the Wizards needed to fight back (I see you Kelly Oubre) against the heavily favored Celtics. All five Wizards starters scored in double figures, led by John Wall’s 24 points. The Wizards’ starters needed some help from their bench, and Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up to the challenge. He scored 19 points on 4-7 shooting from behind the three point line. Isaiah Thomas struggled all game after scoring 53 points in game two. Thomas scored just 13 points on 8 shots. He’ll have to put up more shots in game four if they want to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Washington will need another strong performance to even the series at two games apiece. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Washington.
Golden State Warriors defeat Utah Jazz 115-104: The Warriors defeated the George Hill-less Jazz to take a 2-0 series lead. Draymond Green played another fantastic game, scoring 21 points to go along with his 7 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and stellar defensive effort. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson all played at a high level, but none of them dominated on both ends of the floor like Green. Gordon Hayward bounced back from a disappointing game one to score 33 points on 11-21 shooting from the field. Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 16 rebounds to go along with his stellar defensive play. Utah missed their floor general George Hill in this game, and will need him going forward if they are going to pull off this monumental upset. After a terrible first quarter, the Jazz outscored the Warriors by seven points in the final three quarters. They showed that they can play with the Warriors if they limit their fast break offense. But that’s much easier said than done. These two teams will play game three on Saturday in Utah.
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Celtics look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Wizards. Since no NBA team has ever won a seven game series after losing the first three games, this is a must-win game for the Wizards. John Wall has been fantastic in the first two games, but he hasn’t gotten much help. He’ll need his backcourt mate Bradley Beal to be more consistent for the rest of this series if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards have one of the worst benches in the NBA, so they’ll have to play above their talent level to defeat the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic all postseason, which has been extremely impressive to watch due to the difficult circumstances affecting his personal life. Thomas has gotten help from him teammates in ways that John Wall hasn’t, which is why the Celtics have a 2-0 series lead. The Wizards need to defend their home court to keep their chances alive of advancing the Eastern Conference Finals.
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Jazz. Both teams had poor performances in game one, but the Warriors still won the game comfortably. The only chance that the Jazz have of winning against this stacked Warriors team is by playing at a high level during an off night for Golden State. If both teams play at a high level, the Warriors will win convincingly. If both teams struggle, the Warriors will win convincingly. The Jazz have the personnel to give the Warriors fits, but cannot win if Gordon Hayward has another poor performance. George Hill is arguably their most underrated player, and he won’t play because of a toe injury. This is a huge blow to the Jazz. They have enough problems trying to beat Golden State when healthy, so losing a key starter will make this a nearly impossible task. If they are able to even the series without Hill, they should be confident going into game three. If Utah struggles again, Golden State might put the game away in the first half.
Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 129-119 (OT): The Celtics defeated the Wizards in one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory to take a 2-0 series lead. This was the battle of the point guards, in which Isaiah Thomas and John Wall combined for 93 points. All five Wizards starters scored in double figures, which was impressive because Markieff Morris was playing with a bad ankle sprain. The Wizards were worried that he wouldn’t be able to play. Otto Porter and Bradley Beal scored 13 points and 14 points, respectively. But Wall needed more help from Porter and Bradley. John Wall scored 40 points and had 13 assists, but seemed to tire towards the end of the fourth quarter and overtime. Isaiah Thomas single-handedly led his team to victory by scoring a game-high 53 points. He played his best basketball when his team needed him most – in the fourth quarter and overtime. Thomas didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates, but they did just enough to win the game. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Washington.
Golden State Warriors defeat Utah Jazz 106-94: The Warriors won the first game of this series at home against the Jazz in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Neither team played a great game, but the Warriors did enough to maintain a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half. George Hill and Gordon Hayward both struggled with their jump shot. They combined to score 19 points on 7-24 shooting from the field. Rudy Gobert scored a team-high 13 points, which isn’t nearly enough to challenge the heavily favored Warriors. Steph Curry scored a game-high 22 points, but could’ve scored a lot more if the game was close. The Warriors spread out their minutes and points because they had a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. Draymond Green was the best player in the game, dominating on both ends of the floor. These two teams will play game two on Thursday in Oakland.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Wizards will look to rebound after losing game one of this series in Boston. After falling behind 16-0, the Celtics were unstoppable offensively in the final three quarters. Both teams have defensive stoppers on their roster, but nobody decided to play defense in the first game. Both teams will try to make adjustments to their defensive strategies, and the team that makes the better adjustments should win game two. Isaiah Thomas was unstoppable for the Celtics, so the Wizards will need to come up with a game plan to limit his impact. Thomas is undersized, so their plan should include being physical with him. The Wizards have one of the best starting units in the NBA, but they’re a very top-heavy team. They’ll need to get more contributions from their bench if they want to pull off this upset. Markieff Morris sprained his ankle in the first game, and may not be able to play in game two. If he does play, it’s safe to assume that his mobility will be limited. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game will determine which team has the home-court advantage in this series.
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors: The Jazz and Warriors begin their second round playoff series in Oakland. After sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, the Warriors had time to rest heading into this series. Coach Steve Kerr is still sidelined indefinitely because of complications from his back surgery, but Mike Brown has done a stellar job in his absence. Superstar Kevin Durant was injured in their first round series, but he should be fully recovered by now. The Jazz needed seven games to eliminate the Clippers in their first round series. They have dealt with injuries all season, and unfortunately those injury problems have continued in the playoffs. Rudy Gobert missed multiple games with a knee injury, and still seems a bit limited in his movements. Derrick Favors stepped up admirably in his absence, but he’s dealing with nagging injuries too. Even if the Jazz are at full strength, they’ll be heavy underdogs in this series.
Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 123-111: After starting the game down 16-0, the Celtics stormed back to defeat the Wizards in game one of this second round playoff matchup. The Wizards’ backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal scored a combined 47 points, but didn’t get enough help from their bench to pull off the upset. The Wizards had a tough time on the defensive end of the floor in the last three quarters of the game. Markieff Morris rolled his ankle and missed the rest of the game. The injury looked painful, which may be a major issue going forward. Isaiah Thomas had an eventful game with 33 points and one missing tooth. He didn’t allow the missing tooth to slow him down one bit. After losing the first two games of their first round playoff series, the Celtics look like a completely different team. They’re playing like the team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. These two teams will play game two on Tuesday in Boston.
Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 104-91: The Jazz eliminated the Clippers by winning game seven of this first round playoff series in Los Angeles. After losing game six at home, the Jazz were the underdogs heading into the series’ decisive game. A lot of teams would have folded after losing an opportunity to win the series at home, but the Jazz rebounded by winning this road game in convincing fashion. Chris Paul picked a terrible time to have his worst game of the series, scoring just 13 points on 6-19 shooting from the field. DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford were the only two Clippers that played well, but they weren’t enough to make up for their teammates’ poor performances. Paul Pierce’s career came to an ending with this defeat. I speak for everyone when I say that he was ‘The Truth’. Rudy Gobert only scored one point in 13 minutes due to foul trouble, but the Jazz were able to overcome his poor performance because of Derrick Favors stepping up in his absence. Favors isn’t a defensive presence of Gobert’s caliber, but he made up for his lack of length and agility with supreme effort on that end of the floor. He was an offensive monster too by scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Gordon Hayward and George Hill both had clutch performances when their team needed it most. The Jazz begin their second round series against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in Oakland.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards for game one of this second round playoff series. These two teams do not like each other, so it should be a physical series. After losing the first two games to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics found their stride and won the last four games of the series. The Wizards defeated the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs in six physical games. The Celtics are the favorites to win the series, but the Wizards aren’t afraid of playing the role of the underdog. They know they have enough talent to defeat the Celtics if they play up to their potential. This series should be fun and extremely competitive.
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: The Jazz and Clippers will meet in Los Angeles for the right to face the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs. This game epitomizes the best two words in sports: game seven. After losing game six at home, the Jazz are now the underdogs heading into this matchup. The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the rest of the playoffs, but have relied on superstar Chris Paul in his absence. The winner of this game will face the Warriors on Tuesday in Golden State.
Washington Wizards defeat Atlanta Hawks 103-99: The Wizards won a pivotal game five at home to take a 3-2 series lead over the Hawks. Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap were phenomenal again, but they weren’t enough to overcome a lackluster performance from the Hawks’ bench. John Wall and Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 20 points and 27 points, respectively. Otto Porter Jr. had an efficient day with 17 points on 4 shots. Their bench also struggled, but the three-headed monster of Wall, Beal, and Porter Jr. were enough to seal the victory. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Atlanta.
Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 108-97: The Celtics won their third straight game in this series to take a 3-2 series lead over the Bulls. Chicago was without point guard Rajon Rondo for a third straight game, which may end up being the deciding factor in this series if Rondo isn’t able to return. Rondo was inconsistent all season, but played at an elite level in the first two games of the series. He’ll try to play in game six, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to return. Jimmy Butler had his first mediocre game of the series, and his teammates were not able to pick up the slack. The Tacoma, Washington backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 24 points. Chicago will need to slow down the Celtics’ backcourt if they want to win game six and keep their season alive. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Chicago.
Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards: After losing the last two games in Atlanta, the Wizards return home to face the Hawks in a pivotal game five. With the series being tied at two games apiece, the winner of this game will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Hawks have played up to their potential for two straight games, but haven’t shown the ability to dominate the Wizards on the road. John Wall has been the best player in the series through four games, but hasn’t gotten the help from his teammates on the road that he did at home. Now that they’ve returned home to Washington, Wall will need his teammates to play at a high level if they want to win this series. The Wizards cannot afford a slip up against a less talented Hawks team. Although this game isn’t the deciding game in the series, it is crucial for both teams that they play at a high level in this pivotal game five.
Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics: The Celtics return home to Boston to face the Bulls in a pivotal game five. After losing the first two games at home, the desperate Celtics evened the series by winning back-to-back road games in Chicago. Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo missed games three and four with an injury, and likely won’t be able to return in this series. The Bulls struggled without their point guard in the last two games, and will need some sort of contribution from Rondo’s replacements. With the Celtics back in the driver’s seat, they cannot afford another home loss to this injured Bulls team. Although this game isn’t the deciding game in the series, the winner will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 106-102: The Cavaliers completed the sweep against the Pacers in what might be Paul George’s last game in Indiana. If this was George’s last game in Indiana, it was a terrible way to conclude a great Pacers career. George shot 5-21 from the field and ended up with 15 points. Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson scored 20 points and 22 points respectively. Both Turner and Stephenson were criticized by George in the media, and both outplayed their teammate in this must-win game. LeBron James had another fantastic game leading the Cavaliers with 33 points. Kevin Love struggled again scoring just five points on 2-13 shooting from the field. The Cavaliers had the ball up by three points in the final seconds when J.R. Smith went full J.R. Smith and tried an extremely stupid behind-the-back pass that resulted in a turnover. Paul George would get off a three pointer with a few seconds remaining that would’ve tied the game, but he missed wide right which ended the Pacers’ season. The Cavaliers will face the Toronto Raptors or Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs.
Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109: The Houston Rockets got an impressive contribution from their bench to help win game four and take a 3-1 series lead against the Thunder. The Rockets played three bench players, and they happened to be the team’s three leading scorers. Nene scored a team-high 28 points on 12-12 shooting from the field. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams both contributed 18 points to help pick up the struggling starters. James Harden shot 0-7 from three-point range and made only six free throws. His 16 point performance was way below his average, but he was able to depend on his teammates to help him in ways that Russell Westbrook’s teammates couldn’t. Westbrook scored a game-high 35 points and had a triple-double at halftime. Steven Adams had a solid game, but they didn’t get any contribution from their bench. Andre Roberson played great defense, but he shot 2-12 from the free throw line. The Thunder need to win three straight games to win the series, but don’t have any chance if they don’t get a contribution from their bench. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in Houston.
Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 104-95: The Celtics defeated the Bulls in Chicago to even the series at two games apiece. Without Rajon Rondo, the Bulls have struggled to keep the momentum that they obtained after winning the first two games in Boston. Jerami Grant and Michael Carter-Williams took Rondo’s place at point guard and combined to score as many points as I did in this game. Yes, the two point guards for Chicago couldn’t manage to score a single point. Michael Carter-Williams has been a terrible basketball player since his first game of his career when he almost registered a quadruple-double, but he and Grant need to at least score a few points if they want to have a chance in this series. They won’t be able to match Rondo’s level of production, but they can’t afford to play as terribly as they did in this game. Jimmy Butler was fantastic again, but he can’t carry the team by himself. Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green led the Celtics with 33 points and 18 points, respectively. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.
Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 105-98: The Jazz evened the series at two games apiece with a home win against the Clippers. The Jazz were able to win without a contribution from their star player. Gordon Hayward was struggling with food poisoning, and was only able to play nine minutes in the game. “Iso” Joe Johnson was able to pick up the slack, scoring a game-high 28 points off the bench. He was very mamba-esque in the fourth quarter hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 27 points and 25 points respectively, but they didn’t get much of a contribution from the rest of their team. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: The Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to pull off a four game sweep of the Pacers in Indiana. LeBron James and Paul George have been dominant throughout the series. George has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Pacers, but hasn’t gotten consistent help from his teammates. Although Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love haven’t been consistent, they’ve had enough flashes to help the Cavaliers win each of the first three games. The Pacers will try to become the first team in NBA history to win a seven game series after falling behind 3-0. They can’t win all four games at once, so they’ll have to start by winning this game at home.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder look to even the series at 2-2 at home against the Rockets. After an exciting game three, both teams have a chance to make their mark on the series in game four. The Thunder need to keep pace with the Rockets by winning their second straight home game. If they lose, the Rockets will take a commanding 3-1 series lead and look to finish off the Thunder in game five at home. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls: The Boston Celtics will look to even the series at two games apiece with a road win against the Bulls. After losing the first two games at home, the Celtics rebounded with a dominating road win. The Bulls lost point guard Rajon Rondo to an injury suffered in game two, which was a major reason why they lost game three. Rondo will likely miss the rest of the series (and playoffs), so they’ll have to find a way to win without him. Jimmy Butler is the best player in this series, so he’ll have to put the Bulls on his back if they want to advance to the second round. The Celtics can regain the home-court advantage with a win, which will put them in the driver’s seat to move on to the second round. The winner of this game will be huge favorites to win the series.
Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz: The Jazz look to even the series at two games apiece against the Clippers in Utah. These two teams can beat anyone when healthy, but both have suffered a key injury during this series. They’re both used to playing with adversity due to the plethora of injuries both teams suffered during the regular season. Jazz star Rudy Gobert got injured ten seconds into the first game of the series, and is questionable to return in game three. His injury looked worse than it was, but he still might not be able to return in this series. Clippers star Blake Griffin injured his toe and will miss the rest of the postseason. This is a huge blow to the Clippers, which they were able to overcome in game three because of the brilliance of Chris Paul. The winner of this game will likely win the series, so it’s extremely important for both teams that they play their best basketball.
Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 104-87: The Boston Celtics won a must-win game in Chicago against the Bulls to avoid going down 0-3 in this series. The top seeded Celtics finally looked like a championship contender. They outscored Chicago 33-15 in the first quarter and never looked back. Their Tacoma, Washington backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley were fantastic all game. Al Horford bounced back after a pitiful game two to lead the Celtics with 18 points. The Bulls were clearly missing starting point guard Rajon Rondo, who broke his thumb during the last game and may miss the rest of the playoffs. Jerami Grant and Michael Carter-Williams played in his place, and both had awful games. Jimmy Butler struggled with his shot all game, only scoring 14 points on 7-21 shooting from the field. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Chicago.
Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Houston Rockets 115-113: The Thunder were finally able to hold on to a fourth quarter lead to win their first game of the series. Russell Westbrook had another triple double, but was much more efficient than in game two. He got his teammates involved instead of resorting to “hero ball.” Westbrook missed two key free throws in the final minute of the game, which almost cost them the game when Harden missed the potential game-winning shot. Down by two points with less than ten seconds remaining, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni decided not to call a timeout and let James Harden make a play. Although Harden missed the game-winning shot, this was the right decision by D’Antoni. Harden and Westbrook have put up amazing stats in all three games, but have struggled with their shooting during the last two games. Whichever of these two MVP candidates finds their shooting stroke first will give their team a huge advantage in the rest of the series. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Oklahoma City.
Los Angeles Clippers defeat Utah Jazz 111-106: The Clippers defeated the Jazz on the road to regain the home-court advantage in this series. The Jazz had a comfortable lead in the second half before collapsing down the stretch. Clippers star Blake Griffin injured his toe before halftime and did not return to the game. Unfortunately for the injury-prone Griffin, this injury is serious enough that he will miss the rest of the postseason. This is a huge blow to the Clippers, but it evens up the injury score because of the injury to Jazz star Rudy Gobert. Both the Clippers and Jazz suffered a plethora of injuries during the season, and it’s unfortunate that these two teams will not play each other at full-strength. The Clippers won the game because their star came up bigger than the Jazz’s star in the key moments of the fourth quarter. Chris Paul put the Clippers on his back during the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 34 points and 10 assists. Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 40 points, but he shied away from the pressure moments towards the end of the game. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Utah.
Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls: The Boston Celtics are fighting for their playoff lives in Chicago against the Bulls. Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo broke his thumb in game two, and will be out indefinitely. This is crushing news for the Bulls because Rondo was playing his best basketball in years. This means Michael Carter-Williams will be getting more minutes, which should be alarming to Bulls fans. The Celtics had the best record in the Eastern Conference this season, but few people thought they were the conference’s best team. They haven’t played like a number one seed during this series, but have a talent and health advantage going into this game. This is a must-win game for the Celtics to avoid going down 0-3 in this series.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder travel to Houston to take on the Rockets in a must-win game. After a crippling loss in game two in which they blew a fourth quarter lead, the Thunder need to regroup and give their best effort in front of their home crowd. Westbrook put up amazing stats in game two, but he struggled shooting from the field. He’ll need to be more efficient in this game and help get his teammates involved. James Harden also struggled in game two, but he wasn’t trying to force things like Westbrook did in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City cannot afford to go down 0-3 in this series, so they’ll need to play better as a team and not allow Westbrook to try and play hero ball for 48 minutes.
Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz: The Clippers and Jazz will play game three with both teams trying to take a 2-1 series lead. Jazz center Rudy Gobert is still injured, so they’ll have to make adjustments to stop the Clippers from scoring at will in the paint. The Clippers weren’t able to make on-the-fly adjustments in game one, but smartened up before game two and decided to attack Utah’s weakness. Utah was able to win game one and keep game two close without Gobert on the road, so they should have enough firepower to win without him at home. If he was healthy, they probably would be up 2-0 in this series. Since Gobert might not return in this series, they’ll need to have role players step up in his absence. They’ve had a lot of injuries all year, so they are ready for this adversity. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Toronto Raptors defeat Milwaukee Bucks 106-100: The Raptors were able to defeat the Bucks in this back-and-forth game to even the series at one game apiece. Kyle Lowry was able to bounce back after a horrible game one to lead the Raptors to victory. Although the Bucks kept it close, they were not able to take the lead down the stretch. This game was lost by Milwaukee due to their coach Jason Kidd. It was obvious that Spencer Hawes and Mirza Teletovic were struggling, but he refused to pull them from the game. Greg Monroe was a dominant force all game, but Kidd decided to play rookie Thon Maker down the stretch. Milwaukee fans are used to Kidd’s head scratching lineups, but this was an inopportune time to make terrible coaching decisions. Toronto deserves credit for evening the series, but the Bucks missed out on a great opportunity to take a two game lead heading to Milwaukee. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Chicago Bulls defeat Boston Celtics 111-97: For the second consecutive game, the Bulls dominated the top seeded Celtics in Boston. Once again, Isaiah Thomas did not get enough help from his supporting cast to defeat the Bulls. Chicago has a lot of talent, but underachieved all season. They have the best player in the series in Jimmy Butler, and have two veterans in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo with championship experience. Rondo was dominant all game, falling just one rebound shy of a triple-double. The Celtics now head on the road down 0-2 in this series, which has to be extremely disappointing. They’ll likely need to win both games in Chicago, especially game three. These two teams will play game three on Friday in Chicago.
Los Angeles Clippers defeat Utah Jazz 99-91: The Clippers were able to take advantage of a Rudy Gobert-less Jazz team to even the series at one game apiece. Although Gobert missed all but ten seconds of the first game, the Clippers weren’t able to make in-game adjustments to their game plan to attack the basket. This showed that Doc Rivers isn’t a great coach like many people think. The Clippers were able to make adjustments between games to attack the Jazz’s new weakness. Without Gobert, the Jazz don’t have a rim protector to stop the Clippers from scoring at will in the paint. This was evident all game. The Jazz fought hard to keep the game competitive, but they didn’t have enough firepower without Gobert. Hopefully he’ll be able to return during this series. These two teams will play game three on Friday in Utah.
Washington Wizards defeat Atlanta Hawks 114-107: The Wizards and Hawks played a tight game until the third quarter when the Wizards pulled away. All five starters for the Wizards were in double figures, which was a common theme this year. The Wizards’ starters played more minutes than any starting unit in the NBA. Teams typically play their bench less minutes in the playoffs, which should be an advantage for the top-heavy Wizards. But they could get worn out if their bench doesn’t give them any help. John Wall was the star of the game with 32 points and 14 assists. The Hawks’ starters didn’t play well enough to give them a chance. Their bench outplayed the Wizards’ bench, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to make a big enough impact on the game. These two teams will play game two on Wednesday in Washington.
Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 121-109: The Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Trail Blazers in game one at home. The game was incredibly close through three quarters because of the scoring output of the Trail Blazers’ backcourt. C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 75 of Portland’s 109 points, but that wasn’t enough to defeat the heavily favored Warriors. Draymond Green was phenomenal on both ends of the floor. He had 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals. The Warriors have too much firepower for McCollum and Lillard to beat them singlehandedly. The Trail Blazers need other players to step up. If Jusuf Nurkic isn’t able to return during this series, the Blazers could be in serious trouble. Game two will be played on Wednesday in Golden State.
Chicago Bulls defeat Boston Celtics 106-102: The Chicago Bulls pulled off the upset on the road in game one of this series. The Bulls have the best player in the series in Jimmy Butler, who went off for thirty points. The Bulls also have two former champions in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo who can provide valuable leadership. Bobby Portis was a major contributor off the bench with 19 points. Isaiah Thomas played a fantastic game just one day after the tragic death of his younger sister. Nobody knew if he would play going into the game, and nobody would’ve blamed him if he decided to sit the game out. Instead, he battle hard and led his team with 33 points. But the Celtics didn’t get enough of a contribution from the other starters. These two teams will play game two on Tuesday in Boston.
Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 118-87: In the game that most NBA fans looked forward to more than any other playoff game, the Rockets dominated the Thunder in a game that wasn’t close after halftime. If this game was the deciding factor on who should win the MVP award (which it won’t be), James Harden would be walking away with the trophy. Russell Westbrook had a nice game with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, but that isn’t up to the level he played at during the season. He also had 9 turnovers and was forcing up bad shots at times. James Harden scored a game-high 37 points, to go along with his 9 assists and 7 rebounds. His teammates also gave him more help than Westbrook’s teammates, which was a common theme throughout the season. Harden’s Rockets are a more talented team, which is why they are favored in this series. Russell Westbrook has to do everything for the Thunder if they want to win, which is something that he’s capable of doing at times. These teams will play game two on Wednesday in Houston.
Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards: The Hawks and Wizards will meet in Washington for game one of this first round playoff series. The Hawks are one of the hottest teams in the NBA during the last few weeks of the season, which could give them confidence heading into this series. The Wizards struggled a bit during the regular season’s last month, but are the more talented team in this matchup. The Wizards played their starters more than any team in the league, which could lead to them being worn out during this postseason run. Their bench is an issue, but teams typically play their bench fewer minutes in the playoffs. They definitely have the talent advantage over the Hawks, but Atlanta has enough firepower to keep the series close. Game one will be crucial in both teams’ efforts to advance to the second round.
Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will meet in Golden State for game one of this first round playoff series. The Trail Blazers are one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs. They are led by the duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. This backcourt is as talented as any in the NBA. After the addition of center Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers started playing up to their potential. Nurkic suffered an injury and may miss the series, which could be detrimental to their chances of pulling off the upset over the heavily favored Warriors. Golden State didn’t win as many games as last season, but they are a much more talented team because of the addition of superstar Kevin Durant. Lillard predicted the Trail Blazers would win the series in six games, so he’ll need to help his team pull off the upset in game one if he wants to make his prediction come true.
Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics: The Bulls and Celtics will meet in Boston for game one of this first round playoff series. The Celtics were able to take the number one seed after the Cleveland Cavaliers stopped trying to win during the last few games of the season. The Celtics have a lot of talent on both sides of the floor. Isaiah Thomas has been one of the best players in the league all season, and could take over the series if Chicago isn’t able to limit his impact. The Bulls are one of the most confusing teams in the league. They have the best player in this series in Jimmy Butler, and have playoff veterans in Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The Bulls have the talent to beat the Celtics, but they’ve underachieved all season. This is an interesting 1-8 matchup, and it could be closer than most first round series that include the top seed.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: The Thunder and Rockets will meet in Houston for game one of this first round playoff series. This is a dream matchup for all fans of basketball. Not only are Russell Westbrook and James Harden competing for the MVP, but they’re facing each other in the first round of the playoffs. These two MVP candidates were once teammates, but they weren’t even the best player on that team. The Thunder have been led by Russell Westbrook’s historic season. The Rockets are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Coach Mike D’Antoni brought his fast-paced style of basketball to Houston, and it has been run to perfection due to James Harden’s ability to adapt. He was a shooting guard before this season, but Harden has changed his game to become a point guard in D’Antoni’s system. These two teams are led by superstars, but Houston is the favorite because they have more talent around their superstar. This series will be must-see TV.
Toronto Raptors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 98-83: The Cavaliers decided a few days ago that it is more important to rest their starters before the playoffs than try and compete for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Cavaliers are confident that they can win a seven game series against the Celtics without home-court advantage. The last time these two teams played, the Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston. It’s hard to bet against LeBron James, but the Cavaliers aren’t playing their best basketball heading into the postseason. This strategy will be questioned all offseason if the Cavaliers don’t make it back to the NBA Finals. Although this game was played by backups for both teams, this could be a potential second round playoff matchup. The Raptors are a much more dangerous team with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. With the return of a healthy Kyle Lowry, this Raptors team has enough firepower to make an NBA Finals run.
Boston Celtics defeat Milwaukee Bucks 112-94: In a game that was a lot closer than the score suggests, the Boston Celtics were able to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference by defeating the Bucks. This game was extremely close through three quarters before the Celtics were able to pull away in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were resting most of their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This game shouldn’t have been close, but it seemed like the Celtics were feeling the pressure of competing for the top seed. Since the Cavaliers lost, the Celtics would’ve been the number one seed even if they lost this game. If this is how the Celtics play under pressure, they may have a disappointing showing in the playoffs.
Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 110-102: The Miami Heat’s improbable season came to an end after a victory over the Wizards. The Heat needed either the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls to lose in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but both of those teams won and clinched playoff berths. The Heat had one of the greatest endings to a season for a non-playoff team in NBA history. They had a ton of injuries and had one of the worst records in the NBA halfway through the season, but they never gave up. Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for the way he led his team to the precipice of the playoffs. Although they came up short, this season proves Miami has a bright future ahead of them.
Indiana Pacers defeat Atlanta Hawks 104-86: The Indiana Pacers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a win against the Hawks. The Pacers would’ve missed the playoffs if they lost this game. The Pacers have a great challenge ahead of them in the first round of the playoffs when they face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Although LeBron has had the Pacers’ number in past postseason matchups, this year’s Cavaliers limped into the playoffs. The Pacers aren’t as big of a threat as they’ve been in year’s past, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George looks like the pre-injury Paul George again, and that could be a major problem for the Cavaliers. The defending champions will be heavy favorites in this series, but you can’t sleep on a team with a superstar of Paul George’s caliber.
Playoff standings –
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Houston Rockets
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Utah Jazz
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards
- Atlanta Hawks
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Indiana Pacers
- Chicago Bulls
All non-playoff teams: Fans of non-playoff teams should watch their team’s season finale. This will be the last time to watch your team until next season.
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: Although this is an extremely important game for the Cavaliers, there is a good chance that they will rest their starters. The Cavaliers are in second place in the Eastern Conference and are just one game behind the Boston Celtics. They rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in their last game, which cost them the top seed in the playoffs. The Cavaliers seem to care more about resting their players than getting the top seed. The Cavaliers destroyed the Celtics in Boston the last time they played, so they might not be worried about beating the Celtics on the road in the playoffs. This strategy is extremely risky and may come back to bite them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: The Boston Celtics are currently one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. With Milwaukee already locking up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s a good chance the Bucks will rest their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This could help the Celtics clinch home-court advantage.
Washington Wizards at Miami Heat: This game is a must-win for the Miami Heat. They are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls, but they don’t own the tiebreaker. They are one game behind the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers, but in this case they own the tiebreaker over Indiana. If the Heat lose to the Wizards, their valiant effort to get back into postseason contention will be wasted. There are multiple scenarios that could lead to the Heat making the playoffs. If the Heat and Pacers win and Bulls lose, the Pacers and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If the Heat and Bulls win and Pacers lose, the Bulls and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If all three teams win, the Heat will stay in ninth place and will miss the playoffs. The Heat must win and hope either the Bulls or Pacers lose.
Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers control their own destiny. If the Pacers beat the Hawks, they will clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Pacers lose, they could fall to eighth place if the Heat or Bulls win. The Pacers will miss the playoffs if they lose and both the Heat and Bulls win. If all three teams win or lose, the playoff standings will remain the same. The Hawks have already clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and may decide to sit their starters. This would be an enormous help for the Pacers. Indiana cannot focus on all the potential playoff scenarios, they just need to focus on themselves and beat the Hawks to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Third-round play at The Masters concluded with a tie at the top of the leaderboard. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are tied at -6 heading into Sunday’s final round. Jordan Spieth had another nice round on Saturday and is now tied for fourth place at -4. Sergio Garcia is one of the world’s most prominent golfers without a major. He’ll try and finally break that streak on Sunday.
Boston Celtics defeat Charlotte Hornets 121-114: The Boston Celtics won an important game in Charlotte against the Hornets. The Hornets have nothing to play for but pride, and made the game close after a dominating third quarter. Nicolas Batum’s 31 points and 8 rebounds led the Hornets. Isaiah Thomas led his team with 32 points in this must-win game. The Celtics are now a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn Nets defeat Chicago Bulls 107-106: The Chicago Bulls continue to disappoint with another baffling loss. The Bulls are in the thick of the playoff hunt, but laid an egg against the NBA’s worst team. The Nets don’t have an incentive to tank because their first round pick belongs to Boston, so they’ve continued to play hard despite being the laughingstock of the league. Dwyane Wade scored 14 points in his return and superstar Jimmy Butler put in 33 points. But that wasn’t enough as the Bulls fall to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining. They are tied with the ninth seeded Miami Heat and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 106-103: The Miami Heat won another impressive road game against a Washington Wizards team that is trying to get the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are currently in fourth place, just one game behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors. With their playoff ticket already punched, they are trying to improve their seed so they can avoid the Cavaliers in the second round. On the other hand, the Miami Heat would be at home if the playoffs started today. They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, but are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls. With the Bulls owning the tiebreaker, the Heat will have to jump ahead of them in the standings with only two games remaining.
Portland Trail Blazers defeat Utah Jazz 101-86: The Portland Trail Blazers won an important game at home against the Utah Jazz. With this loss, the Jazz fell from fourth to fifth place in the Western Conference. They’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, and have two games remaining that will determine which team will get the home-court advantage. The Trail Blazers are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference. They have a 1.5 game lead over the ninth seeded Denver Nuggets. The Trail Blazers control their own destiny, and are surging at the right time with eight wins in their last ten games.
Third-round play at The Masters begins today with a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard. Sergio Garcia is one of the leaders at -4 and is in search of his first career major. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson are all within striking distance.
Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets: The Celtics will try to take advantage of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ baffling loss yesterday to an Atlanta Hawks team that was resting four starters. The Hornets haven’t lived up to expectations this year, but are plenty talented enough to knock off the Celtics as they try to move closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are one game behind Cleveland with both teams having three games remaining.
Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets (NBATV): The Bulls are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference going into today’s matchup with the NBA’s worst team. They are tied with the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers and are just one game ahead of the Miami Heat. With three games remaining, the Bulls are trying to get ahead of the sixth seeded Milwaukee Bucks so they can avoid facing either Boston or Cleveland in the first round. This is a game the Bulls cannot afford to lose.
Miami Heat at Washington Wizards: This season’s most surprising team has been the Washington Wizards. After a slow start to begin the season, John Wall and company have been one of the most consistent teams during the last few months. Currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are just a half game behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors with three games remaining on their schedule. To a certain degree, the Miami Heat have also been one of the more surprising teams after a slow start to the season. With all the injuries that the Heat suffered this season, Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for helping his team back into the playoff race. The Heat are one game behind the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers in a very competitive Eastern Conference. This game has major playoff implications.
Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: The Utah Jazz are one of the more underappreciated teams in the NBA this season. With all the injuries that they’ve suffered, the Jazz are in fourth place in the Western Conference. They are one game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers, another talented team that has suffered crippling injuries throughout the season. The Jazz cannot get a top three seed and won’t fall below fifth, so they’ll face the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. These last three games will determine which team will get home-court advantage. The Trail Blazers have disappointed this season but still have a chance to make the playoffs. They are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference with three games remaining. The Denver Nuggets are one game behind them, so this is a crucial game for the Trail Blazers.