Apr 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Three games on tap for Friday night, including the 4-5 series from each conference, which has been interesting.
Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets (Series tied 1-1): The Raptors evened the series with a Game 2 victory that saw DeMar DeRozan explode for 30 points, while Paul Pierce and Deron Williams struggled to shoot a combined 7-of-26 from the field — and yet, Brooklyn was down by just two with 18 seconds left.
DeRozan didn’t exactly go LaMarcus Aldridge on the Nets, as he was just 9-of-21 from the field. But he was aggressive in getting to the line for 14 free throw attempts, so the Nets will need to work on containing him on the perimeter, even though he was uncharacteristically efficient from midrange, where hie hit six of his nine attempts.
This feels like the Nets’ series to lose, but they’ll need to get more traditional performances out of Pierce, Williams and Joe Johnson (or at least from one of them) in order to fulfill that destiny.
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards (Wizards lead, 2-0): What’s at stake? Oh, just Chicago’s last realistic chance to get into this series and the Wizards’ exhilarating momentum.
The Bulls haven’t lost four straight (they lost their regular-season finale) since trading Luol Deng. The Wizards haven’t won seven straight (they won their final four regular-season games) since January — of 2005. Both would happen with a Washington win tonight. If Chicago wins, the series would be as close as possible through three games and anyone’s for the taking.
Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers (Trail Blazers lead, 2-0): This series features the two biggest risers in regular-season scoring average to postseason scoring average — LaMarcus Aldridge (23.2 points per game to 44.5) and Dwight Howard (18.3 to 29.5). However, unlike Howard with the Rockets, Aldridge really moves the needle for the Trail Blazers. Portland scores 120.3 points per 100 possessions with Aldridge and 81.5 without him — the difference between the best- and worst-scoring teams of all time. Houston, on the other hand, has an offensive rating of 104.4 with Howard and 101.0 without him.
Down 2-0 and headed on the road, the Rockets have full responsibility to figure out how to better blend Howard into their offense and harass Aldridge in the mid-range.
- Five Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: James Harden, LeBron James want your MVP vote 10
- Report: Sixers agree to buyout with JaVale McGee; he can sign with contender 27
- Bulls’ Jimmy Butler leaves with elbow injury, does not return (VIDEO) 0
- Adam Silver says data may prove Gregg Popovich right in terms of resting multiple players 13
- Rockets general manager Daryl Morey proposes loosening NBA trade rules 6
- Derrick Rose starts rehab, in “good spirits” after knee surgery 11
- Russell Westbrook undergoes procedure to address cheek fracture, will be re-evaluated next week 6
- Russell Westbrook takes knee to face, it leaves dent (VIDEO) 15