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NBA Playoffs Day 9: Heating Up

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The Intensity of the NBA Playoffs is Ratcheting Up

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, let’s take a moment to talk about the insane game that happened last night between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol all had incredibly clutch moments and the Grizzlies ended up winning in overtime, tying the series up at 2-2. On top of this all, somehow Leonard is 40/40 on free throws this series.

Here was Marc Gasol’s game winner.

Before that was Kawhi’s crazy shot to put the Spurs up by two, although Conley hit a floater to send it into OT.

What a crazy game, probably the best of the playoffs so far, and we are just in the beginning of round one.

Today’s Games

Cavaliers (2) at Pacers (7) - Cavs leading 3-0
12:00 CST
ABC

Elimination Sunday. LeBron James was simply dominant in the last matchup as he put up 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists, bringing the Cavs back from down 25 at halftime to a late victory on the road. This barely was even a blip on the NBA radar, as it was just LeBron doing LeBron things. My favorite possibility out of this game, if the Cavs win, is that Jeff Teague will have been swept by LeBron in the playoffs in three consecutive years in different cities every year.

The Pacers, faced with elimination and all the personnel repercussions that will come with it, are in a tough spot. They are just not going to be able to compete with the Cavs and winning today’s game will only be forestalling the inevitable. The Cavs have certainly looked vulnerable in this series, but their defensive woes are not enough to let the Pacers back into this series. I would anticipate a clean sweep here.

Rockers (3) at Thunder (6) - Rockets leading 2-1
2:30 CST
ABC

OKC was able to steal game three, their first game at home, on the back of another amazing Russell Westbrook performance, where the Thunder won 115-113. In that game, Westbrook had 32 points, 11 assists, and 12 rebounds to James Harden’s own 44 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds. A defensive battle this is not.

The Thunder have looked like they are simply not going to be able to hang with the Rockets in this series, as while Westbrook has been able to singlehandedly keep them in the series, the Rocket’s have presented several matchup problems for the Thunder that have been keeping the Thunder’s bigs off the court. However, anything is really possible where Westbrook is concerned and this is certainly one of the marquee matchups of the first round. This should be another great game.

Celtics (1) at Bulls (8) - Bulls leading 2-1
5:30 CST
TNT

The Bulls might be in trouble due to Rajon Rondo’s injury that will keep him out of the playoffs. The Celtics might in trouble because they are playing on TNT against the Bulls. Which Bulls team will show up today? No one knows, probably not even the Bulls themselves.

Regardless, this shall certainly be a tough fought battle today. The Celtics certainly do not want to return back to Boston down two games and the Bulls would probably be in trouble if they let both their home games slip away. Certainly should keep an eye on the rebounding and assist numbers today. As the Bulls were not able to effectively move the ball without Rondo playing and if the Celtics can stay somewhat even on the board, they have a much better chance of winning.

Clippers (4) at Jazz (5) - Clippers leading 2-1
8:00 CST
TNT

A West Coast game that starts before 11 pm? Sign me up!

This was supposed to be the most competitive series of the bunch coming into the first round and while it has certainly been close, injuries to Blake Griffin and Rudy Gobert has marred the potential of this match-up. Both teams are operating at limited capacity, as Griffin and Gobert are foundational players for both teams. The Jazz really need a win here, as it is hard to imagine a first-time playoff team going to LA down 3-1 and accomplishing too much.

Chris Paul, on his end, is smelling blood. He is one of those players who just has another level that he is able to go to when it matters most. There are only a few of those guys left in the NBA, as the old guard of Stars are slowly fading away. Paul and LeBron are probably the last two of their group that can turn it on when they want to, although Dwayne Wade is only one year removed from doing so.

Joe Johnson has been very important for the Jazz this series and they will need him again tonight if they are going to be able to win at home. Should be another fun game.

This will be the game thread for today’s games.

Happy Sunday and Chat Away! Hope it is nice out wherever you are.