Our NBA picks have four winners prepared for a massive Saturday of basketball! The Bucks have the chance to sweep the Heat and advance to the next round while Memphis returns home with a chance to take a 2-1 lead of the league-leading Jazz!
Who will come out on top? Which teams can take another step towards the NBA Championship? We have all of the answers and the best winners on the market in our NBA picks below!
Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat (Game 4) – 1:30pm EDT
The first opportunity of the postseason for a team to claim a series victory and advance to the next round. The Milwaukee Bucks have dominated this series and now have the chance to sweep the Miami Heat and exorcise their demons from last season’s playoffs.
After a tight clash that needed overtime to determine the winner in game one, Milwaukee has put on the afterburners to race away to their 3-0 lead. The 29 point margin on Thursday was Miami’s largest home playoff loss in franchise history while the 63 points they were outscored by in games two and three are the largest over a two game span in their postseason history.
This version of the Milwaukee Bucks has to have the rest of the Eastern Conference worried, with everybody stepping up and playing their role perfectly. Six different players scored in double figures and Giannis Antetokoumpo took just 12 shots, making six of them for 17 points, adding 17 boards and five assists. Khris Middleton led all scorers for the game with 22 points while Jrue Holiday continued to thrive as the main playmaker with 19 points on 7/10 shooting and 12 assists.
Jrue Holiday is +88 in this series, the highest on the Bucks by far.
Jimmy Butler is -68 in this series, the lowest on the Heat by far. pic.twitter.com/eLBp0oGQBa
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 28, 2021
On the other side of the ball, Miami’s offensive struggles continued yet again. This was the second straight game where no Heat player reached 20 points for the game, with Butler’s 19 leading the way. Bam Adebayo contributed 17 points but the other three starters gave them nothing. Goran Dragic was promoted to the starting lineup and returned the favor by scoring eight points on 3/14 shooting, with Duncan Robinson and Trevor Ariza combining for just two points.
Many thought that Miami might be able to cause the upset in this series, given their exceptional play when Butler was healthy and last postseason’s outcome. However, Milwaukee have championship aspirations and are hungrier than ever after two disappointing eliminations in the last two years. While Miami has to put up a better fight, they haven’t shown it over the last two games and we don’t see that changing this afternoon.
Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers (Game 4) – 4pm EDT
After the Portland Trail Blazers won game one, and in convincing fashion too, the Denver Nuggets have turned things around and stolen all of the momentum in the series. An 18 point home win in game two was followed by thrilling road victory in game three and now Denver has regained home court advantage and complete control of this 3 v 6 series.
Portland actually controlled the first portion of the match but a three minute, 10-0 run by the Nuggets, of which Nikola Jokic scored six, turned the game on its head. The Blazers led by as many as eight in the first period but the Nuggets entered the first break with a nine point lead and Portland never saw the lead again for the remainder of the game.
Jokic had another dominant performance with 36 points, 11 rebounds and five assists but the story of the night was the emergence of Austin Rivers. Entering the final quarter on just five points and with the game on the line, Rivers scored 16 over the final 8:17 of the game to ensure that Denver escaped with the win.
This is what Austin Rivers did in the 4th quarter: pic.twitter.com/WFFVAKWuc2
— Rob / sad Houston sports fan (@Houst0n4L) May 28, 2021
On the other side of the ball, Damian Lillard continued his ridiculously hot shooting streak, making five threes and scoring a game high 37 points, while CJ McCollum had 22 and nine boards as second fiddle. Norman Powell played well with 18 points and two blocks while Jusuf Nurkic had a 13 point, 13 rebound double double, but the issue was with the bench.
We stated in our game three write up that it would be a battle of the role players to determine the winner of each game in this series, and we gave the edge to Portland for that game. It was the opposite however as Denver’s bench outscored Portland’s 24-19, with Carmelo Anthony scoring 17 of those points for the Blazers. The lack of consistent help will be the undoing for both sides, but Portland’s help is lacking right now, when it matters most.
This seems like a must win game for Portland, as heading back to Denver for game five down 1-3 would certainly be the end of their season. Terry Stotts is potentially coaching for his career here as another premature postseason exit wouldn’t be favorable with the Portland front office. With that in mind, we expect him to make some adjustments and get his team firing for this clash.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Washington Wizards (Game 3) – 7pm EDT
The Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards take their series to the Nation’s Capital with the Sixers holding a 2-0 lead. Philly dominated their two home games winning games with their offense and defense.
After uncharacteristically allowing the Wizards to score 118 in game one, the Sixers tightened things up and got back to their defense that saw them finish the regular season ranked second overall. Wednesday night’s blowout win saw Philly keep the explosive Washington offense to just 95 points, while still scoring 120 of their own.
Beal definitely got his, scoring a game high 33 points, but needed 28 shots to get there. He didn’t have any help either, with four of his teammates reaching double figures but none scoring more than 11. Russell Westbrook shot just 2/10 from the field for 10 points, but added 11 assists and six rebounds with it.
Halftime | Sixers 71 – Wizards 57
Sixers are shooting 62% from the field.
— Sixers Nation (2-0) (@PHLSixersNation) May 27, 2021
Washington shot just 40.2% from the field for the game, going 2/22 from deep as well. When you compare that to Philly’s shooting splits, it isn’t hard to see why the margin was 25 points in the game. The Sixers shot 9/21 from deep and a blistering 55.7% from the field, with all five starters shooting better than 57%.
Both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid dropped 22 points to lead the team, combining to shoot 19/27 (70.4%) from the floor. Simmons dominated both ends of the floor, adding nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block, playing less than 29 minutes for the game. Given both he and Embiid’s injury issues throughout their careers, it was a bonus for neither to be forced to play over 30 minutes, and then also getting two days off to prepare for an important game three.
Given they have won five straight and nine of their last 10 at home, the Wizards will be hoping that the change of scenery will do them wonders. However, none of the teams they faced over that stretch are of the same calibre of Philadelphia, with just two of those 10 opponents finishing the season above 0.500. The Sixers have shown their dominance in this series and we see no reason why that would change in this one.
Utah Jazz @ Memphis Grizzlies (Game 3) – 9:30pm EDT
Donovan Mitchell returned to the lineup and he brought the Jazz’s swagger back with him. After suffering a shock defeat to the eighth-seeded Grizzlies in game one, the Jazz bounced back in the only fashion they know how to.
Utah shot a ridiculous 19/39 (48.7%) from deep on their way to the 141-129 point victory, with seven different players scoring in double figures including three with 20+. Mitchell top scored for the team with 25 points in just 26 minutes, his first action since mid-April. Mike Conley scored 20, dished out a playoff career best 15 assists and had just two turnovers while Rudy Gobert controlled the interior on both ends with 21 points, 13 boards and four blocks.
Utah’s offense definitely needed to carry them in this one, as the 129 points they gave up was the equal-third most of the entire season. The main reason behind Memphis’ massive scoring outburst was the play of second-year guard Ja Morant. The 2020 Rookie of the Year finished with a career high 47 points on 57.5% shooting whilst also dishing out seven assists.
Ja Morant has set the Grizzlies franchise record for points in a playoff game.
It’s only his 2nd career playoff game. pic.twitter.com/Nyqs7fGBLn
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 27, 2021
All four other starters scored in double figures as well, with Dillon Brooks’ 23 points being next best, but it clearly wasn’t enough as their defense collapsed. Memphis finished the regular season with the sixth best defensive rating in the league but the sort of defensive effort they showed on Wednesday, allowing the Jazz to shoot so well from the floor and from deep, is simply unacceptable in the playoffs and needs to be rectified.
The Grizzlies returning home and the Jazz getting on the road adds an interesting dimension to this 1-1 series. The Grizzlies actually performed better on the road than at home during the regular season. In saying that, they have won their last five at home, including over the in-form Mavericks as well. Utah on the other hand struggled on the road throughout the regular season and went just 1-5 in their last six road games against teams who made the playoffs.
While getting back home should benefit a young Memphis side, they got 47 points from Morant and still lost by 12. While Utah won with their offense on Wednesday, they have the ability to win games with their defense as well. The Jazz were the only side to finish in the top seven for both offensive and defensive rating during the regular season, an accomplishment that should allow them to get over the line in game three.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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