The Warriors, Cavs, Wizards and Rockets have already advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs but none of them know their next opponent yet.
Two of the other series have gone 3-2 after the Bucks upset the Bulls in Game 5 and the Spurs outlasting the Clippers in their own Game 5. On the other hand, the Memphis Grizzlies hope to put away the Portland Trailblazers without PG Mike Conley in one of the two games scheduled for Wednesday.
But the focus of the day will be on the Hawks-Nets series after the underachieving Nets have unexpectedly tied the series at two games apiece last Sunday.
That series was supposed to be a walk in the park for the Atlanta Hawks who won 22 more games than the Nets during the regular season and who secured home court advantage in the Eastern Conference two weeks before the Nets clinced the final playoff spot in their conference. The Hawks also swept the Nets during their regular season series and beat them in Games 1 & 2. But it seemed that the constant beating they got from the Hawks awakened the sleeping giants inside them.
Don't let the Nets fool you. The team is loaded with three former All-Star players in Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and DeRon Williams. They also have added forward Thaddeus Young during the trade deadline and added back-up PG Jarrett Jack in the offseason. Coming off the bench, the Nets have very reliable players like Mason Plumlee, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alan Anderson.
Despite that line-up, the Nets struggled to make the post-season with a 38-44 record. But now that they've tied the series at 2-2, they have the opportunity to be the spoiler.
The series is back to square one with Game 5 going back to Atlanta.But the momentum is on the side of the Nets and all the pressure is on the Hawks.
Will Atlanta, the best team in the East, show up tomorrow? Or will the dangerous veteran team in Brooklyn pull off the improbable upset?
We'll help you answer that question by previewing the two match-ups for tomorrow and by giving you the SportHold Super Prediction score to help you make your picks for Wednesday's challenge.
The SportHold Super Prediction score is based on the collated predictions of SportHold users. Our users enter their predictions in our challenges page and we come up with a set of picks based on those. Those picks become our voice- or the voice of the crowd. The more predictions we get, the stronger our voice is. Remember that there is strength in numbers. Here at SportHold though, we just don't come up with a voice, but our users compete with others in our leaderboard. We give out points to every prediction you make, depending on the accuracy. Users also get points when they test their Sports IQ at our mini-games and even get a chance to win cash prizes by predicting the exact scores of NBA games. To get you started, here is the Prediction Data for April 29 to help you out:
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Mike Conley's value to Memphis has never been more emphasized than in Game 4 when Damian Lillard scored 32 points incuding 12 in the payoff period to lead the Portland Trailblazers to a 999- 92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies and stave off elimination.
Conley missed the game after being hit in the face with an inadvertent elbow in Game 3. The Grizzlies PG underwent surgery last Monday to repair facial fractures and will sit out at least one more game to let the swelling go down. With Conley out again, the Blazers have suddendly found a new lease on life.
When Conley was around, he made life miserable for Lillard by limiting the latter to an aggregate 10-37 shooting in the first two games of the series which the Grizzlies won by an average margin of 14.5 points. Lillard then played better in Game 3, with 22 points, after Conley left the game in the third period because of the injury.
In Conley's absence, Nick Calathes scored 12 points as the starter and Beno Udrih added 13 in a back-up role. But neither provided the suffocating defense that Conley applied on Lillard.
C.J. McCollum has scored a total of 44 points in the last two games for the Blazers who will try to get back in this series game by game. Meyers Leonard also provided some lift off the bench for the Blazers with 13 points, but the key to Portland's game will once again be Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
It won't be easy though because the Blazers have not won in the FedEx Forum since January 2013 and have struggled there with an 89.3 scoring average in six consecutive losses. But with Conley not around, they're hoping that Lillard will build on the momentum of the third 30 point playoff game of his career. Otherwise, the Grizzlies' bruising frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will just bully them to submission.
The Nets rallied behind DeRon Williams when Paul Pierce blasted the former All-Star PG for his lack of leadership and inability to handle pressure. They didn't even blame him for scoring just 13 points in Game 1 and going 2-15 for a total of five points in the next two games. Instead, they believed him when he said after Game 2 that he can play better. Well DeRon's answer came one game late but it arrived at perhaps the most important game of their season: Game 4.
Needing a win to tie the series before going back to Atlanta, Deron Williams-given up for dead, scored a playoff career high 35 points including 16 in the final period of Game 4 where the Nets erased an eight point lead to shock the East's best team for the second straight game at 120-115 in OT. Williams drilled seven triples in eleven attempts and went 13-25 overall from the field. He also had seven assists and three steals for the Nets in a performance that silenced all his critics, including Paul Pierce.
The question for Brooklyn though is which DeRon Williams will show up in Game 5?
Williams averaged 13.0 points per game this season, his worst since his rookie season and shot a dismal 38.7% from the field during the regular season. Against the Hawks, he averaged 9.5 points in three regular season meetings-all of which they lost. But except for his Game 4 explosion, this was a season worth forgetting for the former three time All-Star who was once considered as Chris Paul's rival for the best PG tag in the NBA.
If DeRon hasn't been consistent for the Nets, Brook Lopez has been. The oft injured big man went for 26 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4 and has had three double doubles in the series. Lopez has easily outplayed his Atlanta counterpart Al Horford and is the main reason why the Nets have hung around in the series.
Although the Hawks won the first two games of the series (which were played in Atlanta), they won by a total winning margin of just 12 points despite playing against a team that was touted as an inferior opponent with three overpaid and overrated former All-Stars. But that perception has changed now as the Nets have convinced us that they can truly beat the Hawks, even at their best like in Game 4.
Indeed There is more pressure on the Hawks in Game 5 because a loss would be close to being catastrophic. However, only five eight seeds have upset a number one seed in the history of the NBA playoffs so the odds are still stacked against the Nets.
The Hawks may have come up empty in New York but are going home to the Philips Arena where they've won 24 of the last 27 games (including Game 1 & 2) and where the Nets have lost 12 of 14. It's not yet the time to panic for the Hawks but if the "real" DeRon Williams shows up again, they're in for a fight.
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