NBA Play-In Tournament Predictions: Round Two
Source: Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group
Lebron and the Los Angeles Lakers cemented their spot in the NBA playoffs, as did the Celtics. Unfortunately, the Charlotte Hornets and San Antonio Spurs were sent packing. So for the remaining four teams it's a do or die to keep their playoff hopes alive. Here are my predictions!
Washington Wizards Vs Indiana Pacers
The Pacers blew out the Hornets, but they have not been able to solve the Wizards this season. Washington is 3-0 in the season series, but none of the three victories were blowouts by any means. All three games had a margin of victory within 10 points. In their last meeting, Washington had their worst shooting performance against Indiana and still got the job done. So they are probably feeling confident.
Indiana gave Charlotte a smackdown. They were up 23-9 early in the first quarter and scored 69 points in the first half. Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double in the contest, and the Pacers had one of their best shooting performances of the season, hitting 55 percent of their shots. They will look to continue to feed their big man and ride their hot streak against a team that had their number all season long.
The Wizards, on the other hand, fell short against the Celtics. They couldn't contain Jayson Tatum. The Celtics all-star roasted Washington for 50 points while Westbrook and Beal were kept in check, combining for just 22 points. Fortunately, the Wizards duo has been magical against the Pacers this year and will look to avoid being dropped from the playoffs despite catching fire down the stretch.
The Pacers looked dominant against the Hornets, but the Wizards are a different story. I believe Washington will rebound and knock off the Pacers to remain perfect against Indiana but expect the game to be a tightly contested battle like their regular-season matchups.
Memphis Grizzlies vs Golden State Warriors
The Warriors and the Grizzlies met three times during the regular season. Golden State won two of the three meetings, including winning the season finale to lock up the 8th seed. In both Golden State victories, they hit 17 more three-pointers (29-12) than Memphis did, so obviously, chef Curry will be looking to cook with their playoff lives on the line. It should also be noted, that Curry averaged almost 25 points throughout his career against the Grizzlies.
The Warriors gave all they had against the Lakers, but it wasn't enough. Their defence in the first half contained the perimeter on the floor and successfully locked down AD and Lebron. In the second half, the big guns for LA began to wake. Despite Steph’s 37 points and 67 percent from three, an outrageous Lebron three late in the game cooked the Warriors' hopes of locking down a spot in the playoffs. It was an ultra-competitive game, so no shame should be had.
The Grizzlies' defence stifled the Spurs, keeping them to a poultry 35 percent shooting. Demar Derozan was forced to take tough shots and was never allowed to find any sort of rhythm. Both Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas came up big for the Grizzlies and helped give them an early double-digit lead. Memphis didn’t shoot well at all from three, but their defence led the way as it has all season for them. However, they’ll have to find their shooting touch against GS.
The Warriors' biggest success against the Grizzlies has been their shooting. Golden State proved that they belong in the playoffs with their performance against the Lakers. With Steph as hot as ever, I like Golden State beating the Grizzlies and lock down the last spot in the Western Conference.