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NBA Playoffs Day Ten: Crucial Games and a Possible Elimination

Three more games tonight—the NBA playoffs are much better than the NCAA tournament.

NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Bucks at Raptors
6:00 pm CDT

The fact that this game is airing on NBAtv is quite irritating to me. It’s been a fascinating series (if a bit limited offensively) that is now tied at two games each, making tonight’s game five absolutely pivotal. The teams have split in each city, and now return to Toronto.

In truth, it feels like the Bucks have been the better team, and indeed they have outscored the Raps in the series, but Toronto is right there and have a home game tonight that could put them on the brink of the second round. I have been impressed by the play of the young Bucks, but they need to shoot the ball more consistently. The Raptors need better, more game-controlling performances from their stars in the back court, though DeMar DeRozan was the key factor in their game four win. That must have been heartening for Raps fans after his miserable game three, and they will be looking for more of the same.

Wizards at Hawks
7:00 pm CDT

The Hawks got their first win of the series behind monster performances from Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder, along with an impressive game from rookie Taurean Prince, and will look to even things up tonight. I thought the Wizards were in control of things, and I still think they should win this series, but tonight’s game is key—a win tonight and the Wizards are odds-on to finish it at home in game five, a loss and it’s a real slog.

Both teams need to shoot it better—they are both under 30 percent from beyond the arc, and both are hoisting it up there over 20 times a game. It’s been a pretty ugly brick-fest. The Wizards advantage has been turnovers—they’ve forced 16 a game and they were the biggest factor in the wins in Washington, while the Hawks have thrived at the free throw line, getting there 36 times a game compared to 23 times per for the Wizards. The Hawks were able to limit their TOs in game three while maintaining their free throw rate, so we’ll see how those categories go tonight.

Warriors at Blazers
9:30 pm CDT

Neither the return to Portland nor the return of Jusuf Nurkic was enough to change the fortunes of the Blazers in game three, another Warriors win thanks to a dominant second half in which they overcame a 13 point halftime deficit. The Warriors can finish off the sweep tonight.

As was fairly clear heading into the series, the Blazers have their virtues, but simply don’t have enough to keep up with the Warriors, or slow them down over the course of 48 minutes. Their star back court of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been performing fantastically on offense, but it’s simply not enough against the juggernaut that is the Warriors.

Steve Kerr will not be coaching tonight, and perhaps not for a while, with issues stemming from his back surgery that kept him out for much of the 2015-16 season. Mike Brown will be at the helm for the Warriors, but frankly with their veteran roster and consistency, it’s not clear how much sideline coaching they actually need.

The Blazers can gain a small victory by forcing this series back to Oakland for a game five, but realistically, it’s over.

Enjoy the games and chat about them here.