As everyone gets ready for the weekend, the lower seeded teams head home in the Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs. In addition to the number of blowouts so far this year, there have been very exciting moments, including the entertaining-as-hell debacle that was Game 2 of Spurs/Thunder, Dwayne Wade suddenly becoming a three-point shooter, and Lebron rounding back into deadly form. Hopefully, we get more of the adrenaline-rush this weekend. To get you ready, we put together some questions on what each series may turn on, as well as our own predictions for every Game 3.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Series: Cavs up 2-0
What to Watch For: Will Lebron James continue his tear, playing like he desperately wants back the Best-in-the-World Crown from the sidelined Steph Curry? Will the Hawks try to put up a fight? Can the Cavs fragile chemistry hold together if the shots stop falling?
Jordan Curet: Hot-lanta suddenly remembers they have to step out all the way to the three point line on D, while the Cavs shooting cools off a bit to make it a close game in the Hawks return home. Hawks win by two, giving all ten actual Atlanta fans in attendance the smallest glimmer of hope heading into Game 4. Lebron subtweets at least one teammate after the game.
Nick Bair: Yawn. The Hawks will go quietly into the night. The Cavs will use these games to try different lineups that they will need later against the Warriors, Thunder, or Spurs.
Randy Haines: Get the brooms out, this thing is done. Which is kind of sad because I will really miss the Hawks twitter account.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Series: Tied 1-1
What to Watch For: How will this game be officiated? After the fiasco in Game 2, will the refs call this game super tight or will they continue to swallow their whistles? Also, can OKC ride their home crowd to a series lead or will San Antonio take back home court advantage? Do the Spurs old-men get a foothold into the game or do Aldridge and Kawhi have to carry the load?
JC: Popovich probably had the team running sprints after losing at home and lit a fire under them. Spurs come out pissed off and take Game 3 by +10. Russ and KD start to bicker again on the sidelines.
NB: The Spurs find someone not named LaMarcus Aldridge to get some big buckets on the offensive end, while Westbrook is forced into some key turnovers down the stretch and has another meltdown. Spurs win by four and Durant starts looking at real estate in San Antonio.
RH: I think this is the game in the series where Pop really starts to work over Billy Donovan. Also what will Dion Waiters do for an encore? Will he be allowed to inbound the ball ever again? Which Spurs player will OKC fans try to grab during the final seconds?
Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Series: Dubs up 2-0
What to Watch For: Can Golden State continue to thrive without their injured MVP? Can Portland find a way to get back into this series? Does Varajeo get serious minutes ever again and, if so, why?
JC: The Curry-less Warriors continue to dismantle Portland in the fourth quarter, with Draymond going full on beastmode to lead the Dubs in blocks and assists. I also think the Warriors rest Curry until the next round.
NB: This will be the Dame Lillard game. Lillard goes off for 50 points and the Blazers get their one win in this series, before meekly losing the series in five games.
RH: I think the Blazers get their one win of the series in Game 3, but if they don’t, I think Steph sits until they lose a game. Draymond and Klay are in the zone right now.
Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat
Series: Tied 1-1
What to Watch For: Can Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make some shots? Can the Heat protect the ball a little better? Does Dragic actually wear a mouth-guard from now on? Will the old D Wade keep showing up? Or will D Wade look old after back to back OT games?
JC: I know this has actually been a decent series so far, but it feels so uninteresting knowing whoever wins will get crushed by the Cavs in the next round. I see this being the game Whiteside actually fights someone, but that won’t stop Wade and Dragic from continuing to dominate the Drakes, leading the Heat to a 2-1 series lead.
NB: This game could go either way. After two overtime games in Toronto, we have seen that these teams are pretty evenly matched. I think Lowry will break out of his shooting slump and the Raptors will steal a victory in Miami.
RH: This series looks like it will go the way both teams first round series went. Seven games, low-quality basketball, Hassan Whiteside’s skill and occasional attitude issues, and Kyle Lowry’s shortcomings. I will take the Heat in Game 3, but nothing would surprise me with these two teams.
Good luck to all of the teams going into the weekend and get healthy Steph!
-Nick Bair, Jordan Curet & Randy Haines
Photo Credit: REUTERS