Two series could possibly come to an end today in the first round of the NBA playoffs, as we reach game fours in two series and see game threes in two others.
The Hawks and Nets get things started this afternoon from Brooklyn, with the Hawks holding a 2-0 lead, though it hasn't been as easy as I expected. The Nets competed in both games in Atlanta, and must figure that they have a chance to get back into the series at home. The Hawks are still looking for the form that got them 60 wins and the top seed in the East, as their front court guys--Paul Millsap and Al Horford, have struggled offensively, combining to shoot just over 40%. The Hawks have managed to win with excellent free throw shooting and a 22-13 advantage in made threes over the first two games, but really need to get things going inside. That's where the Nets have found success, especially behind Brook Lopez, who is averaging 18.5 and 10.5 so far on 64% shooting from the field. That's a match up they need to continue to exploit, while hopign Joe Johnson (36%) find the range back at Barclay's Center.
The Bulls will look to close this one out after winning the first three games of this series, the last one in overtime in Milwaukee. Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose have been dominating the series offensively for the Bulls, averaging 50 a night between them, while their defense has held Milwaukee to under 40% so far. The Bucks made a furious charge to get game three to overtime, but the Bulls dominated the 2nd extra period and are now on the verge of the sweep, and it doesn't look like the Bucks can do much about it.
Game three was brutal for the Pels, as they had a 20 point fourth quarter lead but couldn't hold it; Steph Curry buried a ridiculous game tying three, and the Warriors prevailed in overtime to take a 3-0 series lead. Talk about deflation. The Pels are actually shooting a higher percentage from the field, from three, and from the line, but the Warriors are dominating the offensive glass and have made 12 more threes than the Pels over the three games. Curry and Klay Thompson are, as usual, dominating the scoring for the Warriors, averaging 32 and 25 respectively, while Anthony Davis is having a huge playoffs debut, going for 30 a night but not getting a ton of help.
Grizzlies at Blazers
9:30 pm CDT
The Grizz dominated both games in Memphis, and haven't lost to the Blazers all year. Their defense has stifled the Blazers, who are shooting 36% in the series. LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 28 a game, but is shooting 37% to get there, and Damian Lillard has had a brutal time of it, shooting only 27% so far. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies offense has been surprisingly spry, with only 13 turnovers in 2 games (compared to 26 for the Blazers) and some good three point shooting. Their main perimeter guys--Mike Conley, backup point guard Beno Udrih, and shooting guard Courtney Lee--have all been making their shots, which has translated into two fairly comfortable victories. Arron Afflalo is expected to return tonight after missing the first two games with a shoulder injury, which should give the Blazers a little more firepower, but Lillard has to get things going if they are going to get back into this, a dicey proposition given how the series has started.