I got both Thursday Night games right on the button. The Spurs jumped out to a huge lead (*up 20+ in the 2nd quarter) but the Mavs fought back to take the lead midway through the 3rd. But San Antonio hit big shots late and clamped down defensively during key moments to take the game, and the series, from the favored Mavericks. In Portland, the Suns led nearly the entire game, and though it was tied at one point in the 4th, Phoenix stayed in control, hit some big shots, and held a double digit lead late in the 4th. They ended up winning by 9. It might just be a couple game thing, but the Suns look to be playing solid defense. That might make for an interesting 2nd Round match-up. Here’s my take on tonight’s games.
Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks (+2) (4-30: ESPN): The Hawks have really let me down, but in a good way, because you know I’m pulling for the underdog Bucks team playing without one of their best players, big man Andrew Bogut. Jennings has been very good in the playoffs, again looking like the kid that took the NBA by storm in the first few weeks of the season. John Salmons has also been impressive, continuing to play well since coming over in a trade from Chicago. This Bucks team is tough, and they don’t give away anything. Milwaukee at home as a two point underdog seems like a good enough deal for me.
LA Lakers (+1.5) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (4-30: ESPN): I want Oklahoma to win. I couldn’t think of a better situation than Kobe and the Lakers losing to the Thunder in Game 7 in L.A. – but I still don’t think it will happen. I know the Thunder have impressed at home, and they definitely play tougher and with more confidence at home – but the Lakers are smelling a chance to end it right now, and I don’t think they pass it up. A smarter game plan, getting the bigs involved, taking advantage of Oklahoma’s lack of size – that seems like a must, and a sure way to take Game 6.
Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz (-4.5) (4-30: ESPN): This game is yet another deciding Game 6 (the third on Friday Night) and I expect the Jazz to make me wrong (in my original playoff predictions) and close out the Nuggets in Utah. The Jazz play much better at home, namely their role players seem to play with more confidence – and Denver just hasn’t shown me what I need to see to take them on the road in a big time game. We’ll see, but I like Utah to get the win.
Three Game 6′s all go to the team closing it out? Seems nuts, but that’s what I’ve got.