The NBA Conference Semifinals have become a can’t-miss series of competitions with cliffhangers and surprise twists that are attracting a lot of attention. If anyone had expected there to be an easy run to the Playoffs, they were very mistaken. Most of the battles are going the distance and each contest brings new excitement to what had been, until now, a somewhat lackluster NBA season. The LA Lakers couldn’t repeat their performance of last year, and the race for the championship is still wide open.
Hawks Continue To Soar
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a little bit of trouble. Sure, they played a decent Game 5 yesterday, but only for the first half. The rest of the time was dominated by the Atlanta Hawks, who have now taken a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Doc Rivers was having difficulty keeping his Sixers organized and focused, and it showed in the second half. Six turnovers in ten possessions isn’t going to win a ball game. Maybe it was the 22-point lead Philly developed in the first half, but something caused them to mentally hit the showers with 24 minutes still to play. That allowed the Hawks to come back and take the 109-106 win.
Trae Young put up 39 points last night to help the Hawks take the lead in the series. Joel Embiid also had 39 for the Sixers, but the big difference came in the last quarter. The game was looking like it would go to Philly, but the Hawks went on a 40-19 run that had everyone’s jaw hitting the deck. 15 turnovers in total, ten in the second half alone, hurt the Sixers and, if they want to advance, they will have to figure out how to stay organized tomorrow night in Game 6.
Clippers Get the Advantage
The LA Clippers and the Utah Jazz were tied at two games each before they met last night and this was expected to be a close game. When it was announced a few hours before tip-off that Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t be on the court, the Jazz suddenly got a boost of confidence that they would take the win. However, Paul George had other plans for his Clippers and picked up for Leonard’s absence.
The Clippers pulled off a 119-111 win with a targeted performance that had George getting 37 points, 16 rebounds and five assists, setting a franchise record. Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson were in on the action, as well, adding 25 and 22 points, respectively. Leonard had been a crucial piece of the Clippers’ success in the previous two games and he watched from the bench as his teammates led the team to score 51% from the field. The battle isn’t over, though, and the two teams will meet for a decisive game tomorrow night in LA.
The Bucks Truck Stops Here?
This could, in theory, be the last game for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. They are 2-3 in their series against the Brooklyn Nets, who are coming off a strong win Tuesday night. Chaos is the word that would best describe how this series is going. Star players have been in and out due to injuries and Kyrie Irving is now on the bench, with James Harden coming back for his second game in 12 days. If Harden can repeat what he did Tuesday, the Nets are going to be unstoppable.
However, it has to be pointed out that tonight’s game is back at Fiserv Forum and the Bucks are comfortable playing at home. So comfortable, in fact, that they haven’t lost a postseason game there yet this year. That’s enough to give oddsmakers a little more optimism, listing the Bucks at -235 with a 6-point spread. The Bucks are going to keep the series alive tonight and the Over/Under of 220 makes for an interesting opportunity. Both teams know what’s on the line tonight and the Over/Under is the lowest of their semifinal series. Four games have hit the Under and one, Game 5, was a push, but there’s a lot more riding on tonight’s game and a higher score is likely.