Celtics, Wizards Kick Off East Semis In Boston
By Dan Bruno
The Boston Celtics play host to the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
After closing out each of their first-round series in six games, the Wizards and Celtics are set to clash in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The teams split the season series 2-2, while the home team won every time. Things got heated once or twice between these two teams during the regular season, which should add fuel to the battle.
John Wall was huge all season for the Wizards, where he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game. However, Wall has taken it to yet another level in the playoffs, as he averaged 29.5 points and 10.3 assists in Washington's first-round series against the Hawks. Wall came up particularly huge in Game 6, where he poured in 42 points, to go along with eight assists, four steals and two blocks, in 44 minutes, to lead the Wizards to the second round. Bradley Beal also managed to elevate his already high-quality game for the playoffs, as he averaged 25.8 points per game on 46 percent shooting in the first round. The combo of Beal and Wall combined for 73 points in their last game, and is the key to Washington's success.
Meanwhile, the Celtics have an All-Star point guard of their own that is leading them through the playoffs, as Isaiah Thomas averaged a team-high 23.0 points per game through the first round. Thomas peaked at 33 points in the first round, but struggled from beyond the arc, as he only shot above 30 percent from long range once in the series. Avery Bradley came up huge in the Celtics' Game 6 win, as he led the team with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting. The Celtics will need to continue to use a full team effort in order to have a chance at taking down the high energy Wizards. It is possible that Amir Johnson may see more playing time as the Celtics adjust to a new opponent, however Gerald Green was solid, averaging nine points and two rebounds, in 17 minutes per game during the first round, and could possibly retain the starting role.
Posted on April 30, 2017 at 12:58 AM ET
Updated on April 30, 2017 at 1:00 AM ET
Clippers Host Jazz in Game 7
By Joel Bartilotta
The Los Angeles Clippers host the Utah Jazz in Game 7 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs at Staples Center on Sunday.
The Jazz (3-3) had the opportunity of a lifetime to close this series out at home in Game 6, but they fell just shy in a disappointing performance. Gordon Hayward did all he could for this team though, as he's had a spectacular series outside of the random food poisoning incident. This team goes as Joe Johnson goes though, as his splits in wins and losses in this series are incredible. In fact, Johnson has accumulated 63 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals on 27-of-45 shooting in their three wins, while totaling just 37 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal on 15-of-37 shooting in their three losses. That's the scoring boost that this weak offense needs and he'll need to be vintage Iso Joe in this Game 7. The status of Rudy Gobert is also critical, as he says he'll play, but is currently dealing with knee and ankle issues that he suffered in Game 1 and 6. Gobert is the best defender in the league and they simply won't win unless he's controlling the paint like he usually does.
The Clippers (3-3) looked dead after a home loss in Game 5 to go down 3-2, but a road win in Game 6 has gotten them back home for this do-or-die Game 7. Even without Blake Griffin, this Los Angeles team has shown some serious resiliency to be in this position. Chris Paul has been majestic in his absence, as he's averaging 27.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 10 assists and 2.0 steals in this series alone. That's incredible against the top-ranked defense in the league and he's likely looking at another monster workload here. He needs some help though, as role players like Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford need to step up to give this team a boost.
Utah are 2-2 in Game 7's in their franchise history.
The Clippers are 3-3 in Game 7's in their franchise history and 2-0 in both Game 7's they've played at home.
Posted on April 29, 2017 at 9:41 PM ET
Updated on April 29, 2017 at 9:45 PM ET