NBA Playoffs: An update on the second full week of the postseason

NBA Playoffs: An update on the second full week of the postseason

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland where the Cavaliers play. (photo via Wikimedia Commons user Erik Drost)

 

With the NBA playoffs in its second full week of play, multiple series are showing why they were intriguing heading into the postseason.

The New Orleans Pelicans swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round and shocked the NBA world, but other series have been just as surprising.

The Washington Wizards tied their series with the Toronto Raptors at 2-2 after being down 2-0, and the Utah Jazz extended their series lead to 3-1 on Monday over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As the playoffs continue, here’s an update on the games that will be played Wednesday:

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs No. 8 Washington Wizards

Series info: The series is tied at 2-2, and the Wizards have won the last two games. The Wizards defeated the Raptors 106-98 in Game 4.

Game 5 date and time: The Raptors will play the Wizards at home Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The rundown: Yeah, so the Raptors are in trouble. The Raptors won the first two games of the series. But since then, John Wall and Bradley Beal have shown why they have the potential to be a problem for opponents in the playoffs. In the past two games, Wall and Beal have combined for 114 points, which is 50 percent of the Wizards’ total points in the past two games. Wall and Beal are the Wizards’ best players, so the pair’s production has been necessary for the team to win. With Wall’s speed and ability to drive to the hoop, the floor opens for Beal to shoot and other players to get buckets. Still, if the Raptors can slow down Wall and Beal — or even just one of them — they’ll have a good chance at winning Game 5.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs No. 5 Indiana Pacers

Series info: The series is tied at 2-2 after the Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 104-100 in Game 4.

Game 5 date and time: The Cavaliers will play the Pacers at home Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The rundown: Man, this series has been something else. While the Cavaliers have stayed in games because of solid defense, they are lacking a consistent contributor on offense who isn’t named LeBron James. During Game 2, when the Cavs were down 1-0 in the series, James scored 46 points in the 100-97 win. James scored nearly half of the Cavs’ points, and Cleveland’s next highest scorer was Kevin Love — scoring 15 points in Game 2. The Pacers have played quality defense on the Cavs, forcing them to make bad decisions in key situations during the second half. The second half is where the Cavs’ offense has faltered in the past two games. The Pacers are playing good defense, but the Cavs are also lacking ball and player movement. Indiana has not fully relinquished momentum to Cleveland, even after the Cavs’ Game 4 win. The Pacers have played better than the Cavs for the most part. James has simply played so well that the Cavs have somehow won two games. For Cleveland to take hold of this series, they’ll need to win Game 5.

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Series info: The Rockets lead the series 3-1 after defeating the Timberwolves 119-100 in Game 4.

Game 5 date and time: The Rockets will play the Timberwolves at home Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

The rundown: OK, so this series is over. Though the Timberwolves won Game 3, the Rockets showed why they’re the top seed in the West with a win in Game 4. The Rockets outscored the Timberwolves 50-20 in the third quarter of Game 4 on Monday night. James Harden scored 36 points, and four other players scored in double figures. The Timberwolves simply can’t match the Rockets’ offense, which is one of the best in the league. The Rockets’ offense is predicated on shooting — and making — a bunch of threes. And if they can’t get a three, they’re going to look to get a layup. They shot 43 3-pointers in Game 4, and they shot 37.2 percent from the 3-point line. With the Rockets heading back home, expect them to win Game 5 and move on to the next round.

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs No. 5 Utah Jazz

Series info: The Jazz lead the series 3-1 after defeating the Thunder 113-96 in Game 4.

Game 5 date and time: The Thunder will play the Jazz at home Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

The rundown: The Thunder were down 58-52 at halftime against the Jazz on Wednesday, but the Jazz gained separation in the third quarter. They started the quarter on a 7-0 run, and then with under two minutes left in the quarter, they jumped out to an 87-66 lead. Further, the Jazz have shown why they’re one of the most underrated teams in this year’s playoffs. Rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell has averaged 27.5 points per game in this postseason. Along with Mitchell’s continued success, the Jazz are also receiving contributions from other players such as Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors. Mitchell led Utah in scoring in Game 4 with 33 points, but five other players scored in double figures. The Thunder didn’t shoot well in Game 4 as they hit 39.3 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from the 3-point line. Paul George led the team with 32 points in Game 4, and Russell Westbrook scored 29 points. But Westbrook also shot 10-of-25 from the field. For the Thunder to avoid elimination Wednesday, they’ll need to shoot better. And they’ll also need to contain Mitchell, one of the best players in this year’s playoffs.

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