Celtics vs Bucks
The defending champs had a chance to put the Celtics on the brink of elimination in Game 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the undermanned Bucks have continued to show their mental toughness but they were throttled by a veteran. Al Horford, at 35 years old, scored 16 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter leading Boston to a 116-108 victory. It was a truly incredible performance. Now we head to a pivotal Game 5 back in Boston to see who takes control of the series. It isn’t an exaggeration to say the winner of this series will be a big time title favorite.
Grizzlies vs Warriors
In a series filled with flagrant fouls, suspensions, and trash talk, the veteran Golden State team finds itself on the brink of another conference finals trip. Steph Curry scored 32 points in Game 4 leading the Warriors back from a lackadaisical performance to win 101-98. All of this is marred by the injury that was sustained in Game 3 by Grizzlies star Ja Morant. Ja is going to miss the rest of the playoffs with a bone bruise in his knee. With a 3-1 series lead and Memphis injured and inexperienced, the Warriors are poised to close the series out. The Grizzlies have fought all season, and expect a fight from them in Game 5 at home.
Heat vs Sixers
Miami took a 3-2 series lead with a dominant 120-85 victory Tuesday night in Miami. After two disappointing games on the road, the Heat was on as they shot 53 percent from the floor and hit 13 threes. Their defense was suffocating and more like the Heat team we’ve seen the whole season. Philadelphia struggled mightily, and star center Joel Embiid was not on his game. Considering what he’s been through-an orbital bone fracture and a concussion and torn ligaments in his thumb-you have to feel for him. Can the Sixers summon one more performance at home to force a game 7? Absolutely. However with the way the Heat have defended all postseason plus Embiid and James Harden’s lack of help around them? Winning this series seems like it would be a shock at this point.
Suns vs Mavericks
Dallas shot their way back into the series with 2 big wins at home with a barrage of 3 pointers. The Phoenix Suns got back to their defensive ways in Game 5, only allowing 80 points as the Mavs committed 18 turnovers. Dallas couldn’t get anyone besides Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson to hit a shot. Devin Booker led Phoenix with 28 points and the Suns can end the series Thursday in Dallas. The Mavericks showed a lot of heart tying the series, but now their feet are to the fire. Can they force a game 7? The odds are against them, and the Suns are the better team. Sometimes it just comes down to if you can make shots.
The Most Valuable Player
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic will be announced as the MVP for a second consecutive year. Jokic would be the 13th player to do so, and it’s well deserved. Jokic (27.1 ppg 13.8 rpg 7.9 apg) carried a team that was missing its second and third best players all season. He improved on his first MVP season, showing growth in all facets of his game, including his much maligned defense. Truth be told, we haven’t seen a talent like him; an offensive hub at that size with passing skills like a guard is incredible. You can’t guard him as he has so many moves in his bag. Get that man some help.
Joel Embiid would be a great choice, too, and most wouldn’t have quibbled with it. He was deserving as well, and hopefully he’ll get his opportunity to win eventually. However this was Nikola Jokic’s year again and we can look forward to seeing this battle continue into next season.