The Memphis Grizzlies didn’t mess up at home with another opportunity to seal the deal in their series with the Portland Trail Blazers, winning to claim a 4-1 victory. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks are in the lead again after their game 5 win over the Brooklyn Nets, taking the 3-2 advantage.
No Mike Conley meant a more difficult route for the Grizzlies, but they’re still the better team than what’s left of the Blazers, going into an offseason that’s all about waiting to hear what LaMarcus Aldridge has to say. Aldridge was bad in game 5, bad in the series. He scored just 14 points on 5-of-18 from the field, and shot 34% from the field in the playoffs. Not exactly a respectable way to go out, if this was indeed his last game as a Blazers player.
The Grizzlies were carried by Marc Gasol with 26 points in his finest performance of the series. Courtney Lee scored 20 points and Zach Randolph added 16, with the Grizzlies dominating the paint (44 points to 30, 15 offensive rebounds to 5). C.J. McCollum led Portland with 33 points off the bench in what might have been a breakout series for him, but the Grizzlies were willing to live with him being the only one actually causing them consistent damage.
Memphis won the game 99-93 and now head into a series without home court advantage, playing the favorites to win the title, especially now that the Cavaliers have lost Kevin Love for good. One thing they might be able to count on is the Warriors being a little bit rusty from finishing their first round series too quickly, which usually affects the first game after the long break.
The Atlanta Hawks started great (33-16 in the first quarter) and never looked back although they couldn’t keep up that pace for an entire game. Still, they’re perfect at home in this series and winning 25 of their last 28 games in Atlanta, maybe keeping them more relaxed as they head into game 6, back in Brooklyn, where they lost games 3 and 4.
DeMarre Carroll led the Hawks with 24 points, while Al Horford and Jeff Teague each scored 20. Kyle Korver added 17 points and Paul Millsap finished with 10, as 91 of the 107 points by the Hawks came from their starting lineup. The Nets got 41 of their points from the bench in the 107-97 loss, as Deron Williams looked nowhere near the player who torched the Hawks in game 4.
Can the Nets bounce back? Even if for the first time in this series their defense and pace failed to slow down the Hawks, we’ve seen that both teams fail to play their brand of basketball in a successful way for more than a game or two in a row. The Hawks might have unlocked something, but playing on the road has been difficult for them.