We carry on with the incredible NBA playoffs, taking on three game 5’s, with one of them between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls potentially ending the series. Things are a lot more closer in the tied series between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, with the situation exactly the same for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Things will be interesting, and maybe even boiling, at the Staples Center. Mark Jackson has called Clippers fans not to come to the game. Maybe he has a point as someone offended by the words of Donald Sterling, but he is obviously trying to make the most of the situation. It might be more interesting what the state of mind might be on the other side of the fence, but there’s a good chance that the blowout loss in game 4 was simply a team unable to contain Stephen Curry early on and chasing the Warriors too much the rest of the way.
But will all due respect to Curry, it’s not his ability that matters. The Warriors will win with defense and early stops. This means great games for Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. That trio was exceptional in the second win, and their presence and ability to slow down the Clippers in the early goings, as they’ll probably be starting the game very aggressively, and they’ll need to be again in order for the Warriors to be a step away from moving on to the conference semifinals.
Another tied Western series is the one between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder can’t get Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to have good, efficient performances, especially with the game on the line. But as with most games, it what’s the other players, the minions and role players, do that makes all the difference, like Reggie Jackson stepping up big time in the fourth quarter and overtime of game 4.
Maybe it all comes down to what happens in the paint. If Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have their way with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, it won’t matter how many points the Durant-Westbrook duopoly scores. But winning the rim battles means Mike Conley having a harder time making his way into the paint and dominating, and more breathing room for Durant and Westbrook to make mistakes.
And in Chicago, it’ll be the Bulls, who have been struggling to have their way this series, with their backs to the wall, hoping to avoid elimination. Except for one rare shooting spree from Mike Dunleavy in game 3, the Wizards have been the dominant team all throughout this series. This might mean Chicago need to find a long-range shooting touch and early, as it might be their only way to overcome the offense the Wizards bring to each game.
Trevor Ariza stepped up big time for Washington in game 4, Nene is coming back. The Bulls are doing OK defensively, but not enough to overcome all of their mistakes and shortcomings offensively. They need to try something different on offense, which might mean giving up on Carlos Boozer completely or trying strange lineups that will give them the edge on the perimeter, because most of what they’ve been trying hasn’t been working.