SPORTS

NBA Playoffs: The Battle for a Step towards Semifinals

TAGs: NBA 2016, NBA Playoffs 2016

The NBA Conference semifinals picture is settling with expected teams Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland Cavaliers taking its respective slots, no sweat!

The Atlanta Hawks – Boston Celtics first-round series has been one of the most exciting matchups in the NBA postseason so far.

NBA Playoffs: The Battle for a Step towards SemifinalsThe Hawks suffocated Celtics with great defense and won two games apiece, taking a 2-0 series lead. But the Celtics made a stunning turnaround defeating the Atlanta Hawks, 111-103 in Game 3, thanks to Isaiah Thomas who scored a career-high 42 points. Celts down Hawks again in an overtime and tie the series at 2 in Game 4.

After losing two straight on the road, Hawks moved ahead 3-2 with a 110-83 rout on Tuesday. Although home court has been massive in this series, as no road team has won yet through five games, the visiting Hawks closed out Boston in Game 6, 104-92.

What remains are the teams still battling to reach the second round of the NBA post season in a do-or-die settos on Friday and its betting odds are as exciting as the games itself.

Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat

After having one of the best games in franchise history, the Miami Heat continued its dominance over the Charlotte Hornets with a 115-103 win on Game 2 taking a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The Hornets was able to gain momentum by outscoring Heat by 16 points in Game 3 and tied up with Miami at 2-2 in Game 4, thanks to big performances from Jeremy Lin, Kemba Walker and Frank Kaminsky. The team played one of the best games in franchise’s history in Game 5, edging Miami 90-88 to take a 3-2 lead in this best of 7 series.

Game 6 will in Charlotte, with the Hornets as the 1.5-point favorites to clinch a thrilling series at home.

Toronto Raptors – Indiana Pacers

The Raptors’ streak of losing every playoff opener in franchise history continued, after losing Game 1 of their first-round series at home to the 7-seeded Indiana Pacers. Paul George, who watched the Pacers miss the playoffs while sidelined by injury last season, scored 33 points.

But Raptors achieved a sweet redemption with a 98-87 win over the Pacers to tie Round 1 of the NBA playoffs and then followed by another win in Game 3, taking a 2-1 series lead. But Indiana bounced back in a big way en route to a 100-83 triumph to knot the series at two. Indiana head coach Frank Vogel chose to send Myles Turner and Ian Mahinmi, a move that paid big dividends in his team’s win.

Just when you thought the Raptors were headed toward another embarrassing postseason loss, they staged a comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 5 to snatch the victory away from the Pacers. DeMar DeRozan’s 34-point effort helped the Raptors salvage not only a game but perhaps their season with a 102-99 victory over the Pacers.

Raptors are up 3-2 in the series and are one win away from advancing past the first round for the first time since 2001. The two teams will meet for Game 6 in Indianapolis, with Pacers as the 2-point favorite to get a slot in the Eastern Conference semis.

Los Angeles Clippers – Portland Trail Blazers

The Clippers ran away with the first two games against the Trail Blazers. Portland bounced back and tied their series at two games apiece.

The Clippers had the entire landscape of their playoffs changed after Game 4, having to cope with complications from two vital players on the team. Chris Paul fractured his hand during Game 4 and will require surgery and before Game 5, it was announced that Blake Griffin would miss the rest of the playoffs with his quadriceps issue.

While no one wishes injuries on any players, especially those of the caliber of Paul and Griffin, these injuries open the door for the Blazers to take this series. The Clippers actually held the lead at halftime of Game 5 and it looked like they might hold serve on their own floor but Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum started with their dynamic court, which puts them one game away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

The two teams will meet in Portland for Game 6 with Blazers as 10-point favorites to upset the fourth-seed Clippers on route to take the only slot remaining in the Western Conference semis and to face off with the favorite to win the NBA championship, the Golden State.

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