Two best squads in the league this season are playing tonight. The Dubs are the only team in the NBA semifinals to defend their home-court advantage. For the Hawks, this is a must win game after losing to the Wizards led by stellar performances by Beal and Wall.
If Mike Conley doesn’t return soon, the Grizzlies have zero chances to make this series interesting. Without Conley their backcourt is benign, just can not produce enough on the offensive end. The Warriors look unstoppable right now, but you never know when surprise will happen.
Atlanta lost its soul in the postseason, similarly like the Pacers last year. The Hawks were wingless in Game 1, and severe adjustments must be made.
Excluding Carroll, their starters don’t play convincingly. On the other side, Washington Wizards at the moment look like the most Finals-ready team from the East, going 5-0 in the playoffs so far.
We have two games: Wizards vs. Hawks and Grizzlies vs. Warriors.
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The High Expectations
Stephen Curry: Steph was named NBA MVP for the 2014/15 season yesterday, and it is well deserved. The game’s premier shooter and one of the most skilled offensive players will have his job relieved without Conley chasing him down the court. He scored 22 in Game 1, tonight expect 30+.
Bradley Beal: Young guard is issuing injury problems in his career, but when the postseason starts, Beal is the offensive juggernaut. So far, he is averaging 22.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 3.4 apg in the postseason. He suffered minor injury in the previous game, but he will be ok.
Paul Millsap: Paul is getting healthier, and that’s bad sign for Washington. He flirted with triple-double, in the first game and it is obvious that Nene can’t guard him.
DeMarre Carroll: He is the dark horse of the season. He was the difference-maker against the Nets, and he earned big contract this summer. Pierce is aging, and Porter is not strong enough to contain him.
Jeff Green: Gasol and Z-Bo will probably do their job and cause the damage in the paint, but Grizzlies need contributions from the outside. Without Conley, Jeff is the most competent guy to fill that gap and provide points. Green is a gamble-worthy option for tonight.
Klay Thompson: Klay will have to battle against the mirror-image defender Tony Allen and also against Lee and Calathes, who are solid defenders themselves. We don’t see him dominating.
Marcin Gortat: The Polish Hammer is inconvenient to guard, but Horford and Millsap are among the best team defenders in the paint. The Hawks can’t be this bad for much longer.
Zach Randolph: Z-Bo is facing Draymond Green, who finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year. Green is physically gifted and capable of wrestling and sticking with Randolph. Somebody beside Zach must step up for Memphis on the road.