By Rocky Garza Jr.
After one week of competitive NBA playoff basketball, we have seen stellar individual performances, surprise letdowns, and some blowouts.
In the listed playoff matchups below, we give a preview and prediction to each game that is slated for Saturday.
(3) Bucks, (6) Heat – MIL leads 3-0
Time: 12:30 P.M.
The Bucks are coming off a 113-84 victory this past Thursday which had four of their starters in double-figures and Khris Middleton leading the way with 22 points. The Heat’s highest scorer was Jimmy Butler who respectfully had 19 points. The Bucks are looking to complete the sweep against the Heat and get revenge from last season’s playoff exit in the second round, where the Heat took them down in a 4-1 fashion. On the other hand, the Heat who some critics had as a dark horse to make another run in the East are fighting for their lives and are facing elimination. However, the odds are stacked against them as no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
Prediction: Bucks complete the sweep and advance to await the winner of the Nets-Celtics.
(1) 76ers, (8) Wizards – PHI leads 2-0
Time: 6:00 P.M.
The Sixers are coming off a 120-95 rout this past Wednesday and head to Washington with a 2-0 series lead , but it seems the Russell Westbrook incident with a fan dumping popcorn overshadowed the game.
Through the first two games Bradley Beal has been the leading scorer for the Wizards with 33 points, but hasn’t had much help as Westbrook has had subpar performances.
On the other hand, the Sixers Big 3 of Simmons, Embiid and Harris have all been able to contribute all-around and because of their star power the Sixers possess it seems the series is quickly shaping towards an early exit for the Wizards.
Prediction: Sixers grab a commanding 3-0 series lead.
(3) Nuggets, (6) Trail Blazers— DEN leads 2-1
Time: 3:00 P.M.
This playoff matchup has surprised some people and including myself, as I believed the Nuggets would struggle without their star-point guard Jamal Murray, who tore his ACL earlier in the season. Their past game was back and forth and MVP candidate showcased his usual stellar play with a 36 point, 11 rebound, and 5 assist game which helped them grind out a 120-115 victory. However, his performance got overshadowed with newcomer Austin Rivers, who hit crucial 3’s down the wire and finished with 21 points.
On the Blazers side, Damian Lillard put up his usual hot performances on the court by dropping 37 points on the Nuggets head, but came up just short.
Look for the Blazers to play hungry and desperate with their backs against the wall because they know odds of coming back from a 3-1 series deficit is low.
(I mean there is always a chance though, just ask the Nuggets they did it twice just last year… )
Prediction: Blazers even the series at 2-2.
(1) Jazz, (8) Grizzlies— Series tied 1-1
Time: 8:30 P.M.
Man I wish my Spurs were in this position against the Jazz because in my entire life, I never knew what it felt like as a fan for my team to not be in the NBA Playoffs… sigh…
Anyways, the series has been exciting for fans to watch as both games have been high-scoring games and it seems there could be a chance this series goes to seven.
In their last game, the Jazz picked up a 141-129 victory despite Ja Morant’s franchise-record 47 point performance, as Mitchell came back from his ankle injury and led the way in scoring with 25 points and had help with six players in double figures.
The Jazz head to a hostile-Memphis arena looking to take a 2-1 series lead, but don’t count out the hungry Grizzlies squad.
From a fan perspective, the Grizzlies squad is playing with toughness and are hungry to prove they belong in the playoffs with Morant leading the way, they know they have the odds against them and they are determined to prove the doubters wrong.
Prediction: Grizzlies edge out a close one and take a 2-1 series lead.