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NBA Playoffs Day 19: Desperation Time

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Can Washington or Utah get off the mat?

NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get to tonight’s games, a sad note on Tony Parker: The Spurs guard suffered a torn quad tendon in last night’s win over the Rockets, and will require surgery that will obviously end his season.

Celtics at Wizards
7:00 pm CDT
ESPN

The scene shifts to Washington for game three of this series, and the Wizards hope for better results at home. The two losses in Boston had to be hugely disappointing for the Wizards, who had stretches of dominance in both games—primarily the first quarters—but were unable to sustain it long enough to grab a win. The game two overtime loss when Isaiah Thomas absolutely took over offensively had to be particularly galling, since the Wizards had a late lead in regulation that they couldn’t hold.

The Celtics offense has been humming so far in this series, driven by Thomas’ incredible scoring ability and their success beyond the arc. They’ve made 32 threes in two games, at a 43 percent clip. In addition to Thomas’ penetration, Al Horford has caused the Wizards real problems with his ability as a scorer and passer. Finding open shooters has led to 13 assists for the big man over two games. The Wizards need a way to slow down the Celtics, or at least they have to hope some of those threes stop going in.

The Wizards have had little trouble on offense themselves, led by John Wall and Bradley Beal, and finally getting contributions from Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter (both averaging double-doubles so far and shooting well over 50 percent.) It’s tough to keep up with the Celtics three point shooting, however, and the 36 point spread in points from the arc over two games tells a big part of the story. Still, it’s been competitive, and I would not write off the Wizards just yet. We’ve seen that the Celtics are capable of struggling, and the Wizards are capable of taking advantage. It has to start tonight.

Jazz at Warriors
9:30 pm CDT
ESPN

The Warriors were in complete control of game one, and as much as I admire the Jazz, it’s hard to see them mounting much of a challenge in this series. The Warriors shot poorly from three (7-29) on Tuesday night, but still dominated the game with their superior talent and depth. Amazing stat from game one: Five Warriors finished with five or more assists, led by David West with seven in 18 minutes. The Warriors move themselves and move the ball, and they have so many weapons that someone who can score gets open. When they limit the turnovers as they did (only seven on the night) they are essentially impossible to beat.

The Jazz need to force more miscues, and need a better game from Gordon Hayward, who made only four of 15 shots. Credit the Warriors defense, which made things very tough on him, but he’s got to be a star to keep the Jazz in these games. The disturbing thing for the Jazz is the game was played at their pace, none of the Warriors stars really went off, threes didn’t hurt them (they actually made nine to the Warriors seven,) and yet the game was still not close.

It’s hard to see that changing, but the Jazz will try to make something happen tonight. Unfortunately, they will have to do so without George Hill, who will miss tonight’s game with a toe injury.

Enjoy the games. Chat about them here.