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Friday NBA playoff previews: Can Wizards take 3-0 lead on Bulls?

Apr 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Reuters

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.
—Brett Pollakoff

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.
—Dan Feldman

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.
—Dan Feldman

  1. turnmymicup - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    The Aldridge vs Howard show has everyone entertained. Want to see how Houston is going to respond being down 2 heading to Portland. Raptors vs Brooklyn series is still up in the air. If BK can figure out how to put the ball in the damn basket they should be fine. The more interesting thing to me is the counted out Washington Wizards. Here you have a squad that nobody gave a chance. Now they’re up 2 heading back home. Chi-town is in trouble if they don’t get their role players to step all the way up.

  2. azarkhan - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Go Rockets! (aside from the Thunder, I think the Trail Blazers are the biggest threat to the Spurs)

    • sire2334 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      I don’t even know about OKC right now…Love how the Blazers look though.

  3. Awol.West - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Not that it matters because none are title contenders, but if Hinrich actually makes open shots this is a split or 2-0 Bulls. Wizards are good on both ends apparently, the series isn’t over even if they go up 3-0. You can tell in how the matchup is played, Washington has to keep their poise and not change too much.

    • redbaronx - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Awol.West – Sorry, but if the Wizards go up 3-0, this series IS over. You can talk about Heinrich if you want to, but then I could talk about how Beal and Wall didn’t really show up in Game 1. So let’s just take it for what it is:

      Wizards 2, Bulls 0

      • chicitybulls - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        But as he said, neither are championship contenders. So at the end of the day, does it really matter who wins this series?

      • redbaronx - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        @chicitybulls – It matters for the Wizards. Chicago have some organizational momentum so it might not matter to the Bulls, but this matters a lot to the Wizards.

  4. canadatude - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    K G loves his trash talk. Try this on for size. The Nets tanked to get the Raptors so he could see his mistress (Annie Silvestri) in Toronto.

    • paleihe - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Thank you. Just googled her and I wasn’t disappointed.

    • azarkhan - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Her a@@ is so big he can see it from Boston.

      • azarkhan - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        or Brooklyn!

  5. thekingdave - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Better blend Howard into the offense? He’s scoring 29.5 pts a game as you said. How do you suggest we do that? There are a myriad of issues with the Rockets and Dwight’s shortcomings are FAR down the list. Harden relies too much on getting to the line to score and he doesn’t get the same calls he does during the regular season. He also lacks defensive effort, especially after big scoring plays on the offensive end. We don’t have anyone that can guard Aldridge on the perimeter and McHale has refused to experiment with anything else at this point. I think we miss losing Kelvin Sampson to UH (he was basically our defensive coordinator). And why don’t we just give credit where credits due? Aldridge has taken his game to another level. Our team was an 8 seed last year. Adding Dwight Howard doesn’t instantly make you a title contender. I have consistently followed the Rockets since the early 90s and predicted a 4 seed and loss in the second round coming into this season. Obviously this is a disappointment going out in the first round, but that will only increase the urgency for more to round out the roster and hope Dwight hasn’t started a steep decline given his time in the league by that point. All of these chest thumpers that came out of the woodwork this past offseason and predicted title never, and still don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • redbaronx - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      @thekingdave – Well said. If the Rockets don’t beat the Blazers, it’s not a failure. Miami and the big 3 took a year to come together. Chemistry takes time, and I don’t think Houston is done adding players.

      Also it’s nice to see a Houston fan give credit to Aldridge. I have no dog in this as I’m from DC, but Aldridge really has stepped up and he deserves a lot of credit for Portland starting to get into contender conversations. I think Portland is another team like Houston that just needs time and a little more roster reinforcement.

  6. paleihe - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Harden is so bad on defense, it’s laughable.

    In game one, I remember LA going around Harden from the perimeter. A power forward blowing past “one of the best two guards” in the league, from the freaking three point line. Hilarious.

    One way players should never receive much credit. Harden is horrible.

  7. ptownbearsfan420 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    RIPCITY is bout to go bananas tonight!! Mr. HardOn and Dwight the Choke have no chance!! 113-98 Trailblazers W

  8. redbaronx - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Wizards vs. Bulls game 3 should be great! Bulls aren’t going to lay down for the Wiz. This should be a great game.

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