The Chicago Bulls took care of business in emphatic fashion defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in their homercourt 120-66 in the most lopsided series clincher in NBA playoffs history. With the win, the Bulls now advance to the second round where they will play the waiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the second game, the L.A. Clippers survived the first of two do-or-die games against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and sent their series to a winner take all Game 7. For the second time in the series, an offensive goal tending call in the endgame may have cost one team the victory. In Game 5, it was DeAndre Jordan who commited the violation that nullified a basket that would have given them the lead. In Game 6, it was Boris Diaw who tapped Marco Belinelli's three pointer that would have cut the lead to one point. The Clippers' win gave each team two road wins each in this series and the home teams going 2-4 in six games.
Aside from the Clippers-Spurs pairing, the only other first round series that isn't over yet it the Hawks-Nets tussle. But while we expected the Spurs-Clippers pairing to go at least 6 games because the teams are well-matched up, nobody expected the Hawks to struggle against the Nets who had 22 less wins than them during the regular season. In this series, the Hawks lead by one game at 3-2 after winning game 5. Atlanta's not dominated Brooklyn and have been just an aggregate +9 points over the Nets thru five games at 500-491.
That dominance should be a secondary goal right now as what the Hawks need is a win by any margin to put an end to the series and get some rest as their second round opponents, the Washington Wizards must be well rested by now.
But will the Hawks finally put Brooklyn out of its misery? Or do the Nets still have one more bullet left in their gun to send it to a game 7?
We'll help you answer that question by previewing Game 6 of the Hawks-Nets first round series scheduled for tomorrow. We'll also be giving you the SportHold Super Prediction score to help you make your pick for Friday .
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 May 1 to help you out:
|AT||HT||Top 25% Margin||SportHold Margin||Top 25% Pick||Sporthold Pick|
This series has so far been all about home court advantage with the home team winning every game. If that trend continues, then we should expect the Brooklyn Nets to come up victorious in Game 6 which will be played at the Nets' Barclays Center.
History is on the side of the Nets, as the franchise has never lost a Game 6 in the first round of the playoffs. Five times they've won including the last two seasons where they lost Game 7 to the Bulls in 2013 and ousted the Raptors in the 7th Game last season.
However, they'll need more than that to topple the Eastern Conference champions in the Atlanta Hawks who were already in auto pilot in the final weeks of the season when the Nets were still fighting for the 8th spot. But throw out of the window their regular season records of 60-22 and 38-44 because the only standing that matters now is 3-2 and forget even the fact that the Hawks swept their regular season series 4-0 by an average margin of 17.3 points per game because the Hawks have beaten the Nets by an average of 10 points less at 7.33.
It's been a very competitive series because the Nets have shown resiliency behind their veteran crew. They fought back in Games 1 & 2 and lost by single digits. Instead of folding after falling behind 0-2, the Nets fought back to tie the series. Even in Game 5 which was perhaps the best game Atlanta's played all series, Brooklyn staged a comeback that once again fell short.
Even in that loss, there were some positives for the Nets. Behind Alan Anderson's 23 points and Jarrett Jack's 18, Brooklyn won the battle of the bench 41-16. Another was Joe Johnson who shot 40%f rom the field for the first time in the series.
The Nets though need a better effort from Brook Lopez and DeRon Williams who were a combined 20 points only in Game 5. Lopez was averaging 21 points and 11 boards in the series, but the Hawks limited him to just three rebounds and a 31% FG shooting in Game 5.
One key adjustment Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer made was to play his starters more in Game 5 as all five members of the first five logged in at least 35 minutes per game Another has been controlling the boards. After being dominated by the Nets off the boards in the first three games of the series, the Hawks have gone on to outrebound the Nets 98-75 in the last two games. Al Horford led the way in Game 5 with 15 boards while every Hawk player fielded in (except Malik Scott) had at least one rebound.
Offensively, the unsung hero for Atlanta has been DeMarre Carroll who is averaging 17 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting at a very high 42% from three ball in the series. For the Nets, the key should be DeRon William's production because aside from Game 4, it's been close to being non-existent.
One more thing to watch in this game is how each team starts. In the Games where the Hawks have won, they are a +34 in aggregate scores. However, the Nets are a +16 in the two games they've won at home. So whether this is driven by the fact that the winning team is also the home team is not the point. It's the team with the big first quarter that has won each game of this series.
The Wizards are getting all the rest that they can get and even need while the Hawks can't prepare yet because they still have a business to finish. One thing is sure though: The Hawks will play again on Sunday. Whether that would be against the Wizards in Game 1
of the 2nd round of the playoffs or Game 7 against the Nets, this has been an eye opener for the Hawks who now know never to take anyone in the playoffs for granted. They've learned that lesson the hard way
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