LAST night the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets took a commanding 3-1 series lead against the OKC Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves respectively. That leaves three of the series’ deadlocked at 2-apiece, all of which are Eastern Conference battles. With Game 5 action getting underway tonight, there is a lot at stake in a now best-of-3 series, with some teams better suitd to advance than others.
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#2 Boston Celtics vs #7 Milwaukee Bucks
AFTER throwing shade at the Celtics and Bucks before this matchup got underway I’ve actually found myself watching a lot of their games. I mentioned that this series would be the one I was least likely to watch, but as it stands right now, there may not be a more entertaining matchup. With Jaylen Brown playing like he is a seasoned veteran and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other side defying what we thought was possible from a basketballer, this series is far from done.
WHEN trying to determine a tiebreaker in this scenario there are two different routes you can go down. One is that Milwaukee has the best player in Antetokounmpo and he will help drag them over the line. On the other hand, Brad Stevens is one of the best coaches in the league and he has his players stepping up when it matters most, in the absence of their star power. I literally think it’s anyone’s game at the moment and if it comes down to a winner take all Game 7, I’m backing Stevens in.
Verdict: Celtics in 7
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#4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #5 Indiana Pacers
I’LL admit I wasn’t too scared by the Indiana Pacers. Until we started the series. The ledger could very easily be a 3-1 lead to Indiana if a few things went their way to close out either Game 3 or 4. Led by Victor Oladipo, the Pacers might just be favourites to close it out from here with the Cavs offense struggling to click. Cleveland ranks dead last in point per game (93.5) in the postseason, despite being 5th in the league during the regular season (110.9).
KEVIN Love is struggling (12 PPG on 36% shooting) and if it wasn’t for some inconsistent shooting then the Pacers would be up. If Cleveland does advance then I think it’s a good thing for them to be involved in a competitive series as it will allow them to tinker lineups and find out what works. Fingers crossed Ty Lue can find out the magic lineup and fast. Indiana isn’t going to die quietly and they are a real chance to cause a massive boilover. That being said I can’t see Cleveland’s offense struggling like this for the whole series and I’m guessing they find their mojo to advance. Get ready for war though.
Verdict: Cavs in 7
#1 Toronto Raptors vs #8 Washington Wizards
IT seems like we have a series on our hands. After the Raptors stormed to a 2-0 lead the Wizards tied the series up after stellar performances in Games 3 and 4. John Wall and Bradley Beal are clicking and getting meaningful contributions from other guys and Toronto now heads home with a battle on their hands. Washington has played like a No. 8 seed for most of the season, but right now they look like the top-ranked team, not the Raptors.
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WE have seen Toronto flake out in the postseason before and they are looking to re-write the narrative in 2018. The Wizards are well and truly alive in this now three-game series and they will fancy their chances in Game 5. If John Wall can keep up his torrid pace (averaging 26.8 points and 13.0 assists) and Beal can keep up his hot shooting numbers (20-38 from the field, 9-16 from 3-point land) anything is possible. The Raptors have been better all year though and they are poised for a deep run. Will Toronto resort back to their ways of old? Or will they stabilise and advance to the next round? Time to find out.
Verdict: Raptors in 6
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