The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, and it’s going to be tough to top the entertaining games on Wednesday night. We saw the Bucks show that they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference when clicking, as they absolutely dismantled the Celtics, winning the final four games of that series, most of them in blowout fashion.
And then there was Warriors-Rockets — a game for the ages. The Warriors jumped out to a 20-point lead late in the second quarter, and it appeared that game was over quick. A 14-point lead going into the half sure looked safe, given that the Warriors are the best third-quarter team in the league. But a ferocious Rockets comeback cut the lead to one, and then Kevin Durant went down with injury, completely changing the scope of the series. The Warriors went on to win Game 5, but the rest of the series is now very much up in the air.
Thursday has only one NBA game, though, so we gave our pick for that, as well as the opening matchup of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals.
NBA teams do all they can not to get eliminated from postseason contention in their home crowd. And if the fans don’t provide the added assistance the players thrive off, then the referees often help as well.
Damian Lillard has not played very well in this series, but we expect him to pick up where he left off last round, and believe he’s going to go off on Thursday night. Nikola Jurkic is a matchup problem, especially against defensive liability Enes Kanter, but Lillard and CJ McCollum should shoot the Nuggets out of the gym — forcing a Game 7.
This one is about as close to a no-brainer as it gets. Sure, the Hurricanes are rested, while the Bruins played a Game 7; that’s the one advantage Carolina has over Boston, and it can’t be overlooked.
However, the Bruins have the better goaltender in Tuukka Rask, and, most importantly, they have a more experienced team. The core players — Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron — have all won a Stanley Cup title. They know what it takes to win, and they’ve faced (and beaten) much tougher competition then the Hurricanes have to get here. They’ll win this series in six games, starting in Game 1 on Thursday night.