There were monster games last night in both the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League and tonight is going to be no different. On the hard court last evening, the Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead in their series over Chicago with a 104-94 win while on the West Coast, the Spurs cooled off the Warriors with a 102-92 victory to take a 2-1 lead there.
On the ice, the Detroit Red Wings tied their series with Anaheim at three games apiece by winning their third overtime game of the series 4-3 in the extra stanza. Game seven is on tap for tomorrow night in California. More disappointment for St. Louis Blues’ fans as the team blew a 2-0 lead in the series and lost to Los Angeles last night 2-1 to lose the series 4-2.
Coming up Tonight in Both Leagues
Pittsburgh at New York Islanders (Pens lead series 3-2) – Back-up goalie Tomas Vokoun made head coach Dan Bylsma look like a genius by pitching a shutout in a decisive game five. The win for Vokoun lowered his goals against average versus the Islanders this season to a stunning 0.69.
Pens’ star Sidney Crosby authored the goal of the playoffs as he split two defenders while taking a pass and scored. His play has been up and down since returning from that broken jaw suffered at the end of March. If his game on Thursday night was any indication, he could be getting his game legs again which is bad news for the opposition.
I like the Pens, who are -1.5 tonight to cover that and end the series with a big win.
Oklahoma City at Memphis (Series tied 1-1) – The Grizzlies could very easily be up 2-0 in this series had they not gone stone cold from the free throw line in game one. Be that as it may, they accomplished their number one goal of stealing home court from the Thunder and now must take advantage of it.
What’s apparent in this series is that the Grizzlies seem willing to let Kevin Durant score while limiting everyone else. There is of course danger in that simply because Durant can score at will so I expect a number of guys to be thrown at Durant throughout the evening. The biggest factor in my mind for Memphis is fighting off complacency. The media is buzzing about them getting through this series and on to the Western Conference Finals.
So far they’ll have none of it though and seem focused on the task at hand. The Griz are favored by five points tonight and the factor you have to watch is guard Mike Conley who had a big game two. If you think he plays well again tonight, then take the Griz -5. If he is limited, I like the Thunder. I’m putting this one on you.
New York at Indiana (Series tied 1-1) – Like Memphis, Indiana accomplished the one goal it set out to do and that was earn a split and return to Indy with home court advantage. The question for the Pacers is not whether they’ll play well at home because they do, but will the affects of the fourth quarter blowout in game two remain in their heads?
The Knicks know they have to at the very least, get a split in Indiana or they will be in serious trouble. J.R. Smith has not been the same player since he was ejected and suspended and game in the Boston series. While Carmelo can certainly do a lot, he cannot do it all and Smith must start knocking down some shots.
Indiana is favored by four points tonight and I think that is little low. Take the Pacers to win bigger than that in front of a frenzied crowd at home.