NBA First Round Playoffs Nearing Their Conclusion
The Hawks took a 3-2 lead in the series with their 107-97 win against the Nets and this is a series that keeps on giving with respect to drama and excitement. In the other game on Wednesday night, the Grizzlies wrapped up the series with a 4-1 lead thanks to their 99-93 win against the Portland Trail Blazers. This win places the Grizzlies into a Conference Semi-final where they will face the Golden State Warriors, which will represent an even bigger challenge to the team from Memphis.
Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks
There was a spell when this was looking like an easy job for the Bulls, one they could dismiss with the minimum of fuss and then move on to bigger challenges. At 3-0 up in the series, this was definitely looking the case but the score line now stands at 3-2 and with this game taking place in Milwaukee, the Bulls find themselves on the brink of being dragged into a sudden-death scenario with respect to the rest of their season.
History remains on the site of the Bulls as no NBA side has been eliminated after winning the first three games in a series but at this moment in time, this is very little comfort for the Bulls. When you lose two games in a row and the next game on the schedule is away from home against a team that is fighting for their season, you cannot take anything for granted. There will be plenty of nervous Chicago Bulls players going into this one, which means that you cannot be sure that they will play to their full potential.
Game 4 was lost due to a last gasp layup and on Monday, they were defeated 88-94 at home when they had another chance to put the Bucks away. After a strong start to his post-season Derrick Rose once again laboured in this game and while the Bulls felt that they were going to be relaxing and regrouping for a game against the Cavs, they still find themselves mired in the middle of a very tough challenge.
The Bulls haven’t been at their best of late, and this is true all over the court. They have been second to loose balls, they have struggled to shake off their opponents and they haven’t set their tempo out in a way that many people would have expected them to.
The Bucks know that they have nothing to lose and the way that they shot down the Bulls, and prevented the Bulls from really getting into the game will give them a great deal of confidence. It only takes one big push from the Bulls to end this series, and that is always in the back of your mind, but the Bucks know that they have an opponent that is toiling and they have to be considering this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves and rewrite the history books in the NBA.
The Bulls have a 53-34 record so far this campaign and this includes a 24-19 record on the road, and a 7-3 record in their 10 most recent games. They face a Bucks side that holds a 43-44 record with a 23-19 record at home and a 5-5 record in their last 10 games. With respect to average points for, the Bulls have the edge 100.6 to 97.6 and for average points against, the Bucks lead narrowly 97.4 to 97.5.
Taking the Milwaukee Bucks at +3.5, and odds of 1.90, isn’t a bad bet for Thursday. Bet Now!
Los Angeles Clippers @ San Antonio Spurs
If you are the sort of basketball fan that believes history has an odd habit of repeating itself, you will be looking at this game and wondering if lightning is going to strike twice. The Clippers grabbed a double-digit in Game 5 last season (in a second round series) only to lose the game right at the death and suffer a very questionable decision against them, before slipping out of the season two days later.
This is exactly the situation that the Clippers are looking at now coming into Game 6 on Thursday night. The Los Angeles side held a 14 point in Game 5, DeAndre Jordan suffered a call with less than 5 seconds on the clock and the Spurs are in the lead with a 3-2 score line after they triumphed 111-107.
The Clippers were a point behind when a replay review confirmed the fact that Jordan had tipped in a shot from Blake Griffin, leaving many to wonder what might have been. This has been a fascinating series and while it is one that many basketball fans would prefer not to end, the end is looming, maybe even on Thursday night if the Spurs hold firm at home.
There is no guarantee that this will happen though as both sides in the series have managed to grab an away win, and the Clippers will have nothing to fear in this match. They know that a loss ends their season but having already tasted victory in San Antonio, they have to have a sense of confidence that they can take care of business and take this series to Game 7.
Tim Duncan continues to show fine form and after 22 points and 14 rebounds in Game 4 of the series, he offered up 21 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday night in Game 5. With four double-doubles in the five games, Duncan is a big reason why the Spurs can be confident about the game on Thursday night but the Clippers are expected to come out firing on all cylinders in this game.
If the Clippers do lose, it will be another early exit for them and they have never made it to the Conference Finals since they became a franchise team. The last time it happened was when the Buffalo Braves reached the Conference Final in 1970, so there is a lot of hope and expectation on this side and this series. When you think that many people have ranked the Clippers as favourites for the Championship since the arrival of Chris Paul, which took place in 2011/12, you can see why there is a growing sense of frustration at the lack of progress being made by the club.
The Clippers are 58-29 for the season and this includes a 27-16 record on the road and the 7-3 record that they hold on their last 10 games. The Spurs are also 58-29 for the season with a 34-9 record at home and in their last 10 games, the Spurs stand at 7-3. With respect to average points for, the Clippers lead 106.4 to 103.2 and for average points against, the reigning NBA Champions have the lead with a 97.3 record compared to 100.3.
Both teams will be desperate to win this game but taking the San Antonio Spurs at a handicap of -5.5, and odds of 1.90, is likely to be a decent bet for Thursday. Bet Now!