You could argue there are two teams that desperately need victories tonight and I could tell you I agree. But I would take it a stretch further and tell you that all four teams would desperately like to win this evening and for a variety of reasons. For Miami and San Antonio, they would love to end their respective series as soon as possible.
The Spurs can see the other semi-final in the West is going a minimum of six games so the rest for the veteran Spurs would be extremely welcome. For the Heat, they to realize the Pacers and Wizards could go six or seven games so the quicker they finish off Brooklyn the better. The situation for both Portland and the Nets is obvious. They need wins to survive.
On to the games.
Miami (-3) at Brooklyn, Heat Lead 2-1 - The Nets did the one thing I didn’t expect them to do which was win game three especially with another poor performance from Deron Williams. The Nets’ point guard was 3 for 11 for just nine points which was nine better than his game two performance, but he is still leaving much to be desired.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined for 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting which is the type of play the Nets need on a consistent basis. In the Heat’s first loss of the playoffs the bench proved just 26 points and as a team the Heat had just 10 fast break points. That has get improved quickly in order to get the win tonight in game four.
If I’m the Nets I have to be concerned about the fact that LeBron James really hasn’t ‘gone off’ yet on them through the first three games. Yes he scored 28 points but he really hasn’t had one of those night where everything is clicking for him. That night has to be coming sooner or later.
Look for the Heat bench to get more involved and take Miami to cover tonight.
San Antonio (-3.5) at Portland, Spurs Lead 3-0 - Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich both joked about the fact that during the month of April it seemed like Parker wasn’t even on the team because of the amount of rest he received due to one ailment or another. It certainly appears that the time Parker had off has paid off as he ripped the Blazers in game three for 29 points.
Parker however isn’t the only problem right now for Portland though. Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard are both contributing at both ends as is Manu Ginobili. It seems every time down court if it isn’t one of them it’s another making a basket or getting an offensive rebound or defending on the defensive end.
For Portland, the scenario tonight is pretty clear-cut; LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard need to play up to their potential but they need some help too. In game three they combined to shoot 16 for 44 for 42 points but the bench did absolutely nothing to help. They scored just six points and the Spurs beat the Blazers in the fast break department 12-9.
While it’s doubtful that the Spurs will go 25 for 25 from the free throw line again as they did in game three, the Blazers can’t send them to line to that extent though either. So far this series has been about the aggressiveness of the Spurs at both ends of the court and unless the Blazers can match that same intensity I think we can safely get the brooms out in Portland.
I fully expect this to be the closest game of the series but I still like the Spurs to cover and advance.