NBA action on DISH TV is heating up as 4 of the 6 teams that were down 3-1 in their opening playoff series won games (sorry Orlando Magic & NY Knicks) to extend their seasons at least one more game. In a league known for superstar talent and athletic displays that bring fans off their feet, it’ll take a team effort from any of the four remaining teams to get through the first round and into round two. Fans of the Bulls, Grizzlies, Nuggets and Hawks are filled with nervous excitement while fans of the 76ers, Lakers, Clippers and Celtics fear entering the record books as the 9th team in NBA history to lose a playoff series when leading 3-1. Today’s discussion dissects which of the teams behind 3-2 have the best chance of thrilling their fans and playing in round two of the NBA Playoffs!
Team Most Likely To Get To Round Two Of The NBA Playoffs
#4 Atlanta Hawks: Atlanta tried their best to give the first round series away to the Boston Celtics at the end of Game 5 when Josh Smith let Rajon Rondo steal the inbounds pass with ten seconds to go and the Celtics down only one point. Fortunately for the Hawks, Rondo dribbled up the court, lost his bearings at the three point line, and never got the offense set for a shot as he let the ball go out of bounds as time expired. While there’s no guarantee Boston would have made that shot, it’s mental mistakes with the game on the line that leave Atlanta least likely to advance into round two of the NBA Playoffs this Year. The Celtics, with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, have the experience and skill to make teams pay for those mistakes. On the bright side, the last time the Hawks won a playoff series in the NBA they came back from a 3-2 deficit to do it – but we just can’t see them winning in Boston with Boston Garden fans ramping up the intensity against them. Possible? Don’t count on it.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics Game 6 – May 10th, 8:00 E.S.T on TNT (Channel 132 on DISH)
#3 Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets brought a level of intensity to game 5 in L.A. that few thought they were capable of on the road. Javale McGee, with his energy on both ends of the court, led the team. Expecting the Nuggets to continue that intensity all the way through game six at home and game seven on the road seems like too much of a hurdle for this young team to overcome. You certainly like the chances of the Nuggets in game six in Denver where they led the league in points per possession, points scored per game and assists per game. Their up-tempo style and Denver’s elevation combine to wear out visiting teams still adjusting to the mile-high air. But as Kobe Bryant showed at the end of game five by making four 3-pointers in 1:29 to bring the Lakers back from a fifteen point deficit in the final six minutes of the game, the Lakers are never out of a game at home. Beating the Lakers in game seven on the road would be an unbelievable accomplishment for the Nuggets, especially when you consider this team has never beaten the Lakers in the playoffs in their five decades of existence. Possible? Very doubtful.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 6 – May 10th, 10:30 E.S.T on TNT (Channel 138 on DISH)
#2 Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have every reason to believe they can take the L.A. Clippers to a game seven and win it considering they’ve held the lead for more minutes of the series and simply missed last minute shots in two of their losses. Had those shots been made, the Memphis Grizzlies could already be home resting for a round two matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. When you think all the way back to game one when the Grizzlies let a 27 point fourth quarter lead slip away, you can make the case that the Grizzlies are losing this series as much as the Clippers are winning it. If the series does get to game seven, the game will be played in Memphis which would be a raucous environment for the Clippers to deal with. Furthermore, Chris Paul aggravated his right groin injury in game five and was unable to finish the final 1:24 of the fourth quarter. If he’s not in full health, watch out L.A.! With all of these factors in place, the chances Memphis will see San Antonio in round two of the NBA playoffs are increasing. Possible? Outlook good.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game 6 – May 11th, 10:30 E.S.T. on ESPN (Channel 140 on DISH)
#1 Chicago Bulls: The Bulls and their fans feel snake bitten in the playoffs, as they did during the season. Simply put, injuries have decimated this team from top to bottom. Losing Derrick Rose to a torn ACL was the big story coming out of the first games in round one, and it didn’t stop there as Joakim Noah went down midway through game 3 and hasn’t played since. Add Luol Deng’s wrist and Taj Gibson’s ankle and the Bulls look more like a MASH unit than a number one seed in the NBA playoffs. Even with all that taken into account, the Bulls still look like the most likely of the four teams down 3-2 to make it through to round two of the NBA playoffs. Confidence in the Bulls comes from two primary factors – the Bulls defensive intensity and the Philadelphia 76ers propensity to fall into an offensive hole. The Bulls have played depleted (including Derrick Rose missing twenty-seven games in the regular season as the Bulls ran up a 50-16 record, best in the NBA) and managed to overachieve thanks to effort and talent on the defensive side of the ball where they were first in the league in rebounds per game and first in points allowed. Couple that with the 76ers offense that’s shot below 40% the last three games of this series and the Bulls likely have the heart and the hustle to get it done, willing themselves into round two of the NBA playoffs. Possible? Signs point to yes.
Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 6 – May 11th, 7:00 E.S.T. on ESPN (Channel 156 on DISH)