NBA Game Previews for April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET
Raptors Host Bucks in Pivotal Game 5, With Series Tied 2-2
By Joel Bartilotta
The Milwaukee Bucks travel north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Air Canada Center on Monday.
The Bucks (2-2) have played some stifling defense throughout this first-round, but they need another road win if they want to win this series. In fact, Milwaukee are allowing 80 points per game in their two wins and 96.5 points a game in their two defeats. The only goal from here for the Bucks is to win one of these two road games and take care of homecourt advantage in game 6. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokoumpo will always perform on both sides of the ball, but they need rookie Malcolm Brogdon to play more consistently. Their starting point guard has just 13 points across his last three games and they simply need him to do more if they want to escape with the series upset.
The Raptors (2-2) suffered a devastating loss in Game 1, but they've bounced back nicely to even the series headed back home. It's the play of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry that's key, with them combining for 96 points in the two wins and just 52 points in the two defeats. One interesting note from the last game is the benching of Jonas Valanciunas, as Toronto chose to go smaller by starting Norman Powell. It clearly worked in that Game 4 victory, so look for them to go back to it again here.
These teams have traded off wins and losses throughout the series, with Toronto winning Game 4, 87-76. Milwaukee have really slowed down this potent Raptors offense, holding them to 87 points or less in three of the four games.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 4:55 PM ET
Updated on April 23, 2017 at 4:57 PM ET
April 24, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET
Hawks Look To Even The Series
By Dan Bruno
The Atlanta Hawks play host to the Washington Wizards in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs, at Philips Arena on Monday evening. the Wizards lead the series 2-1.
After they dropped the first two games in Washington, the Hawks bounced back with an impressive showing at home that put them right back in the series. They were hot right from the start in Game 3, their first home game of the series, as they started the game with a 19-4 run over the first six minutes. The Hawks pushed their lead up to 25 and maintained a healthy cushion for most of the game, before settling on a 116-98 win. They held the Wizards to only 41.6 percent from the field, including 24.1 percent from long range, while they out-scored the Wizards 60-34. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Dennis Schroder followed up with 27 points and nine assists. Taurean Prince was solid for Atlanta in Game 3 and will need to bring it again. The Hawks shot better in from the field and scored more points at home, than they did in either of the first two games in Washington. If the Hawks can protect their home court once again they can head back into Washington with some momentum.
Meanwhile, the Wizards were flat in Game 3, where Bradley Beal shot only 6-of-20 from the field and 0-of-6 from long range. John Wall was solid with 29 points and seven assists, but did not have enough company to beat the Hawks. Otto Ports (neck) left the game late in the third quarter but is expected to be ready for Monday. Brandon Jennings was one of four Washington players to score in double digits in Game 3, with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, in 17 minutes. The Wizards were significantly worse on the road during the season than they were at home, and that trend prevailed in Game 3; they will need to come out sharper in Game 4.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 7:03 PM ET
Updated on April 23, 2017 at 9:39 PM ET
April 24, 2017 at 10:30 PM ET
Warriors Looking For Series Sweep
By Dan Bruno
The Portland Trail Blazers play host to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs, at Moda Center on Monday evening. The Warriors lead the series 3-0.
Despite lacking Kevin Durant in Games 2 and 3, the Warriors have been able to dominate the first three games of the series. Stephen Curry led the way in Game 3 with 34 points, after solid showings in Game 1 and 2 as well. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have also given consistent efforts through the first three games, to help the Warriors remain steady despite some bumps in the road. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Kevin Durant (calf) is expected to miss Game 4, while coach Steve Kerr is also expected to miss more time. The Warriors have scored 110 points or more in each of the first three games, while they have also held the Trail Blazers below 44 percent from the field in each game.
Meanwhile, after dropping the first three games of the series, the Trail Blazers will be fighting for their playoff lives, at home in Game 4. They had a chance to make it a series when they led 67-54 at halftime at home in Game 3, but fell apart in the second half, leading to their third straight loss. The Trail Blazers only had 17 assists and gave up 16 turnovers in Game 3, and were out-scored 22-6 in fast-break points. C.J. McCollum led Portland with 32 points, while Damian Lillard followed up with 31 in Game 3. Lillard and McCollum have been solid throughout the series, but the Blazers have not had enough of a boost from the supporting cast. Evan Turner has started the first three games and come through with a couple solid performances, but Portland will need more guys to step up in Game 4. They will be without Jusuf Nurkic again in Game 4. Nurkic was a significant part of Portland's playoff push and they have certainly missed him.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 9:38 PM ET