NBA Playoffs – April 28 Preview

After four-a-days during the weekend we are back to three games today and two of them could end their respective series. Scroll down if you are only interested in reading about a specific series:

Orlando vs. Toronto – Game 5

Orlando won one game in Toronto and broke the Raptors will at the same time. Chris Bosh was unstoppable (39 points and 15 rebounds) and by limiting their turnovers, they had 17 more shot-opportunities than Orlando. They moved the ball pretty well, but they couldn’t win. Their shots just didn’t fall. How are they supposed to win when they only knock down two shots from downtown? Orlando took twice as many threes and went to the line 31 times compared to Toronto’s 17.

Orlando won because of their great team effort and two dagger threes in the last two minutes. The most improved player this year, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rashard Lewis came into their own while Dwight Howard was his usual dominating self (19 points, 16 rebounds, 8(!) blocks).

Orlando won both games at home, one was a 14 points win and the other a nail-biter one-point win. Toronto isn’t done yet, but they are in a very, very deep hole. If they start hitting their shots, they can win this game. Getting hot at the right moment can change a series (example: Pistons vs. 76ers). Chris Bosh is playing probably the best basketball of his career, but the other Raptors need to step up, feed of his energy and do what they are supposed to do. They are doing a nice job on defense even tho I’d like to see a few more traps and double-teams here and there, but it’s nonetheless decent. With their line-up, there is only so much they can do against Orlando’s frontcourt.

I give them a slight chance at winning this game if they get hot, but I think the Magic will take care of business at home. Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu are just too much to handle for the Raptors.

Prediction: Magic win this game and end the series 4-1.

Celtics vs. Hawks – Game 4

Game 4 in Atlanta. The Hawks surprised everyone by winning game 3. If you need some help remembering it, this should help you:

Josh Smith on fire

Josh Smith‘s Statline: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block – but it’s not only about the statline. He scored 3/6 from downtown and dunked so often and so hard that you probably still can hear the echo in the arena tonight.

He dominated the Celtics with help from Joe Johnson, Al Horford (he is a lock to average a 20/10 double-double every year starting next season – he will be that good) and Marvin Williams. It was a great team effort. They controlled the tempo at times, played their kind of basketball, ran the Celtics into the ground and you could make a dunk highlight reel out of this game. It felt like a 2nd All-Star Weekend. The Hawks are so fast and athletic that other fast and athletic people just don’t look so fast and athletic compared to them (do you know from what movie I stole that quote?).

Quick note on Horford: What he did to Paul Pierce at the end of game 3 wasn’t okay, but I loved every second of it. That is the emotion I want to see in the playoffs…the fire…you know what I’m talking about.

What about the Celtics? Everyone but Kevin Garnett had a bad night. KG’s double-double (32 and 10) was great, but a one-man-army isn’t enough when your opponent is stepping his game up. Paul Pierce scored 17 points on 13 shots and hit 50% from deep while Ray Allen only scored 13. They combined for 30…just not enough. Their big three need to score at least 70 combined to win a game. Yes, Rondo is coming into his own and Perkins can finish around the rim (sometimes), but they still need the big three to make it easy for them.

Let’s call the last game a fluke, because the Celtics were consistent the whole season and in the first two games. Expect them to make game 4 a statement game and remind everyone why they are favored to win the east.

Prediction: Boston wins this game by 7+ points

Lakers vs. Denver – Game 4

I’ll keep this one short. The Lakers dominated them in their house in game 3. They won by a landslide, because Denver gave up before the game even started. They have the talent to win a game, but they don’t have the mindset. If it wasn’t for this lil thing called “pride”, I’d say that this series is 100% over after game 4…

Prediction: Lakers win without breaking a sweat

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