In a best of seven series, every game is pivotal. Game one is important because you want a good start. Game two is important for the team trying to even the series. Game four could be for a sweep or to simply stay alive. Games five, six and seven speak for themselves.
Tonight in the National Basketball Association there are three very important game three match-ups. In each, both teams have the opportunity to go up 2-1 in their respective series. While winning game three does not always guarantee success for the series, the winner does take the series more than 50% of the time.
With that in mind, here are your games for tonight in the NBA.
Indiana (-2) at Atlanta, Series Tied 1-1 – If the Indiana Pacers somehow get through this series, they may look back to game two. As huge as Paul George’s performance was Tuesday night, the guy who really made the difference was Luis Scola.
Scola came off the bench to hit his first four shots on his way to a 20 point, seven rebound night. Had he not done this, we could be talking about a 2-0 deficit for the Pacers.
Many will ask how the switch was flipped for Indiana, but they did just that turning the tables on Atlanta in the third quarter. They outscored the Hawks 31-13 in the period. The Hawks split their games with Indiana in Atlanta this year and I believe need to win game three in order to win the series.
The question here is whether the Pacers we saw in the second half will return tonight. I have doubts… Take the Hawks getting the two points.
Oklahoma City (-1) at Memphis, Series Tied 1-1 – You have to wonder if the Memphis Grizzlies realize just how lucky they are to be tied in this series. Despite looking like the better team throughout game two, they nearly let it slip away behind a Kevin Durant four-point play before finally closing out the Thunder.
Thankfully, they have the split and now return home where they are 1-1 against the Thunder this season. Memphis limited OKC to just 16 fast break points and also outscored them by 20 in the paint. That formula is needed for success.
With that in mind, look for the Thunder to get back to running a bit more which means they’ll need to control the boards which isn’t going to be easy despite beating the Griz in this department by two in game two.
I like Memphis getting the point and winning tonight at home.
LA Clippers (-1.5) at Golden State, Series Tied 1-1 – What a turn-around performance from game one to game two for the Clippers who blew the doors off the Warriors to even the series. The biggest difference was clearly the play and presence of Blake Griffin.
If you recall, Griffin spent much of game one on the bench in foul trouble. In game two, he erupted 35 points and didn’t play a second of the fourth quarter. He hit a variety of shots which is what makes defending him so difficult.
The Warriors have to realize that life without Andrew Bogut is going to be tough and they found out the hard way as Griffin went through the lane without anyone in his way. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson must do better than their combined two of nine from three-point land in order to win.
I fully expect a much better performance all-around from the Warriors tonight but I expect the Clips to escape with a tough win so take them to cover.