Tuesday 23 January 2018 / 11:10 PM

All playoff series delicately poised at 3-2

With all four series at 3-2, the conference semi-finals have been a close affair throughout. On Monday morning at the latest, all conference finalists will be known. At this point, all eight teams still have a chance to go through. Historically, the team that won game 5 after a 2-2 tie has an 81.6% chance to win the series, but this year, all teams have shown that the can win on their opponent’s floor – which will make for a thrilling end in each of these tight series.

Golden State Warriors 3 – 2 Memphis Grizzlies

After going 2-1 down in the series, the Warriors took care of business and won two straight games to lead their conference semi-final series with the Grizzlies 3-2. All five games were decided early, with a total of only 12 lead changes in those five games. Golden State have been very inconsistent, especially from behind the arc. In their two loses, they shot a combined 12-for-52 (23.1%) from three, while they have been on point in their three wins, shooting 41-for-91 (45.1%). The Warriors are virtually unstoppable when they hit the long ball, and it seems that their ability to make them will determine the outcome of this series. If the Grizzlies can get back on defense to limit fast break opportunities and force the Warriors off the three-point, they have a chance to win. Their best perimeter defender, Tony Allen, did not play in game 5 due to injury, but Memphis hopes to have him back and ready for game 6 to avoid elimination. Game 6 will be played in Memphis on May 16, 11:30 AM AEST.

Cleveland Cavaliers 3 – 2 Chicago Bulls

The second-round series between the Cavaliers and the Bulls has been a grind. Every game has been close late in the fourth quarter and both teams won a game at the buzzer. Until now, the rebound battle has been decisive, as the team who dominated the boards also won the game, without exception. It is therefore not surprising that the Cavaliers took the last two games to lead the series 3-2, as the Bulls were without their leading rebounder, Pau Gasol. He is expected to be back for game 6, however, to help the Bulls clean up the glass. James has not been very efficient due to the defense of Butler, but he has been a monster on the boards, leading all players in this series with 11.4 RPG. Game 6 is scheduled on May 15, 10 AM AEST as the Cavaliers look to close out the series on the road.

Atlanta Hawks 3 – 2 Washington Wizards

With the series tied 2-2, and the Wizards behind 80-78, Paul Pierce made a three from the corner with nine seconds left in what appeared to be his second game-winner of the series. The Hawks had the final answer, however, as Horford attacked the offensive glass on the final possession for a lay-in to win the game and grab a 3-2 lead in the series. The series has been going back and forth and neither team has been able to dominate for long stretches. The Wizards have been doing a good job of chasing Atlanta off the three-point line, limiting them to 33.6% from behind the arc. Wizards’ Bradley Beal has been the best player on the court, averaging 24.4 PPG, while playing good defense on Korver, who has been out of sync, shooting only 34% from three. With the return of John Wall, who is playing with a broken hand, the Wizards will try to avoid elimination in game 6 on their home floor on May 16, 9:00 AM AEST.

Los Angeles Clippers 3 – 2 Houston Rockets

The only series that was not tied 2-2 is that between the Clippers and the Rockets. The Rockets were able to claw themselves back into the series after a blowout win at home in game five, but they will have to do it again in Los Angeles as they still trail 2-3. With exception of game 2, all games in this series were blowouts and have never been close in the fourth quarter; each game was decided by an average margin of 20.2 points. The Clippers have been punishing the Rockets on turnovers, resulting in 21 points per game. They have Paul back looking healthy and Blake Griffin has been the best player in the playoffs so far, averaging 26.6 PPG, 13.4 RPG and 5.2 APG. Los Angeles has been looking the most dominant team and are expected to take care of business at home on Friday (12:30 PM AEST).

[Youtube – NBA]

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Tim Glibert

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