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NBA Playoffs Day 12: Two Eastern Conference Game Fives

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We move east for today’s action.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Hawks at Wizards
5:00 pm CDT
TNT

A return to Washington for game five is welcomed by the Wizards, who dropped both in Atlanta to even the series at two games each.

Frankly, I expected the Wizards to control this series, and it looked like they would do so after winning the first two at home, but the Hawks bounced back behind terrific play from Paul Millsap in Atlanta. The Hawks have managed to put tremendous pressure on the Wizards’ defense, and it has resulted in a big free throw disparity: Ten more free throw attempts per game for the Hawks.

The Wizards have countered with 52 per game from their back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but need better shooting (under 30 percent from three) and more contributions from the likes of Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter, both of whom are only scoring eight a game in the series. The pressure is squarely back on the Wizards to defend home court.

Bulls at Celtics
7:30 pm CDT
TNT

Another series that is tied two games each, but this one has been dominated by the road teams, as there hasn’t been a home win yet.

The Celtics will try for one tonight after recovering with two straight wins in Chicago. For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas has, as always, carried the load. Al Horford started to look much better in Chicago, and will try to carry that over into tonight’s game. On the whole, the Celtics are shooting it alright and defending Chicago’s stars fairly well; their problems early in the series were on the boards. This has been their weakness all season, and the Bulls were able to exploit it in Boston; oddly the C’s going smaller and starting Gerald Green seems to have staunched that bleeding.

The Bulls meanwhile appear to be missing Rajon Rondo, and haven’t gotten great efficiency from their stars. Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are shooting just 41% between them. They’ve defended fairly well in spots, though Thomas managed to take over for parts of game four, but they are reliant on offensive rebounds to score enough, and that has come and gone. Still, given they are the eighth seed and what their season was looking like much of the way, being even in this series after four games is an accomplishment.

Enjoy the games. Chat here.