There are usually seven Game 5’s in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but never five Game 7’s.
One team sweeps. A few series end after 5 games. A few after 6 games. Maybe one or two Game 7’s. Then on to the Conference Semifinals and things start to get really good. Not this year.
This year, the NBA has given us five out of eight series that don’t want to end. Miami finished Charlotte off in four, but that series was over before it started, and was officially over the minutes that Al Jefferson started limping.
Washington finished off the offensively-starved Bulls in five games. Now the Wizards wait, stirring their cauldron of youth and explosiveness while Indiana slugs it out with the Hawks.
The Blazers continued their memorable playoff ride with a genuinely improbable, and just fucking awesome, buzzer-beating victory over the Houston Rockets last night. Damian Lillard doesn’t get nervous. Damian Lillard has no doubts.
Instead of recapping the events of the last few days, here are a few very brief, but very scientific Game 7 Predictions.
Pacers 81, Hawks 74. (Indiana wins 4-3)
Paul Millsap doesn’t get any help. Paul George does. David West facilitates, focused Lance Stephenson shows up, and the Pacers give up 31 second-half points. Roy Hibbert and Frank Vogel each breathe deep sighs of relief. Larry Bird doesn’t smile, just calmly pumps his fist.
Thunder 109, Grizzlies 93 (OKC wins 4-3)
As you probably know, the NBA suspended Zach Randolph for a strange closed-fist slap/punch to the jaw, while running mid-stride, of Thunder instigator Steven Adams. Mike Conley’s hamstring is hamstrung. He will valiantly limp around for a while, but Beno Udrih will play most of the second half, while Russell Westbrook has a triumphant Game 7 without anyone to guard him. Kevin Durant and Scott Brooks each breathe deep sighs of relief. Too bad this one will likely end this way. The first five games of this series were historically good.
Clippers vs Warriors (series tied 3-3)
My head says the Clippers will survive because of DeAndre Jordan’s domination underneath and Draymond Green probably getting in foul trouble because the road calls aren’t as kind as the home calls. My heart says that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will have brilliant games and that Draymond Green will get Blake Griffin in foul trouble early. I refuse to make one prediction here. Go Warriors!
Nets 91, Raptors 88 (Nets win 4-3)
This series has been all over the place. No team has won two straight in the six games leading up to Game 7, and the Nets won Game 6 easily. Will Toronto, with all of Ontario screaming in the streets and the Air Canada Center rocking, survive? Kyle Lowry has been on a mission this entire series. DeRozan has had dynamic stretches, and a few brutal lulls. Hard to bet against the Nets veteran experience. Joe Johnson has a huge first half, and Paul Pierce hits a few timely 4th quarter baskets, as he’s been doing for the last 15 years, but its the defense that suffocates Toronto down the stretch. Pierce, KG and company are on to face LeBron and the Heat one last time.
Spurs 112, Mavs 107 (Spurs win 4-3)
Monta Ellis continues to show the NBA universe that he can contort his body in mid-air and finish in the lane as well as anyone not named Tony Parker. Few predicted the Mavs would get this far. Few believed that they could summon the defense necessary. After wreaking havoc on the Dallas reserves in the first five games, Manu Ginobili was held to 1 of 8 shooting, 0 of 5 from deep, and only 6 points and 5 assists in 23 minutes. For the Mavs to survive in San Antonio, they need more otherworldly efforts from Ellis and the rugged Dajuan Blair, in addition to keeping Duncan and Ginobili out of the paint. Not likely to happen. Spurs advance and continue yet another playoff run.