Out of the four NBA playoff series currently tied at a game apiece, three of them play tonight. Game three is debatably the most pivotal game in a series, swaying momentum with a road victory, or having home court advantage to regain a team’s confidence from the fans.
With the series all headed to the lower seed’s home courts, all three games tonight should be entertaining and within reasonable scoring differences. It’s not crazy to believe all the lower seeds can win tonight, but it will be a bit of a stretch. The NBA playoffs have been wild, exciting, and unexpected, so why not continue the trend? Here are some predictions for tonight’s games.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers @ #6 Brooklyn Nets (Nets win and go up 2-1)
Game one came as a surprise with the gritty Nets winning 111-102 at Philly, but game two was expected as the 76ers showed up enormously, winning a 145-123 blowout. The fascinating aspect about the game: not a single player on the 76ers scored more than 25 points. Rolling off a blowout into Brooklyn, the 76ers are about to have their cocky attitude halted and humbled quickly. The Nets went 23-18 at home this season, which isn’t too impressive, but the 76ers on the other hand, did not play like a #3 on the road.
Their road record was 20-21, and with the Nets awaiting revenge from their blowout, D’Angelo Russell is about to give the crowd a show. Aside from Russell, the Nets’ starters need to show up immensely as the other four starters only scored 27 points. If the starters show up and their bench mob, which scored an unreal 80 points, continues their success, the 76ers are in for a tough fight.
#2 Denver Nuggets @ #7 San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win and go up 2-1)
Both games have been relatively close this series with the Spurs winning game one 101-96, and the Nuggets regaining confidence with a game two 114-105 victory. But now, the Nuggets bring their 20-21 away record to the “House that Popovich built.” The AT&T Center boasts five championships, a crowd of loyal and experienced fans, and most importantly, a 32-9 home record. Game two was a great team win for the Nuggets as four starters had over 20 points, but against the Spurs at home, they will need their bench to help tremendously.
This is where the inexperience comes in: the starters will not repeat their success, will make early mistakes such as turnovers or fouls, ultimately leading to a necessary bench revival. The Nuggets’ bench is average at best, whereas the Spurs bench includes playoff experience in Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, and veteran leadership in Rudy Gay. Also, DeMar DeRozan dropped 31 points in game two and if his shooting carries over, the Nuggets do not stand a winning chance.
#1 Golden State Warriors @ #8 Los Angeles Clippers (Warriors wins and goes up 2-1)
This game will be closer than most fans expect. After an incredible victory for the Clippers, erasing an NBA playoff record 31 point deficit, they are headed home with a chest-puffed mentality to compliment their 26-15 home record. As for the Warriors, their away record matches up near perfectly at 27-14. The Warriors refuse to lose two games straight in the first round; it seems ridiculous to think otherwise. But, momentum wise, the Clippers have all the rhythm and swagger to present at the Staples Center.
It would be unbelievable if the Clippers pulled off another victory, but there is a slim chance considering it’s the Warriors. If the Clippers do not win this game, they will not win game four and the Warriors close out the series 4-1. The main game plan for the Clippers: play to their strengths (bench play and ball distribution), and hope Patrick Beverly causes a Kevin Durant mental breakdown. Follow those three factors and the Clippers may pull off another win.
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