#3 Miami Heat vs. #2 Toronto Raptors, Series tied 0-0 (8pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
On April 22, the esteemed fivethirtyeight.com declared The Miami Heat Are The Most Impressive Playoff Team So Far, based on the fact that they’d beaten the Hornets by an average of 22 points in the first two games. Five days after that story ran, the Heat found themselves on the brink of elimination, down 3 games to 2. Game 6 saw the Heat tie it up with a 97-90 victory powered by some sharpshooting from Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade, before taking the series Sunday night, with a 106-73 beatdown, as Goran Dragic awoke from his slumber to score 25 points, grab 6 rebounds, and dish out 4 assists.
The Heat remain without the services of Chris Bosh, who continues to struggle with blood clots. The Heat front office finds itself in a curious position, as their medical experts have told them that going back on the court could kill Bosh, but Bosh insisting he’s fine and wants to play. It’s quite a pickle, isn’t it?
The Toronto Raptors narrowly avoided being the first #2 seed since the 2010 Dallas Mavericks to go down in the opening round of the playoff, beating the Pacers 89-84 in Game 7. The Raptors were up by 16 with 7:31 to play when the Pacers went on a 15-2 run that pulled them within 3 with 2:36 left on the clock, but the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan iced the game with a pair of free throws with 7 seconds to play, and Indiana without the services of the long retired Reggie Miller. DeRozan wound up with one of the ugliest 30-point nights in NBA playoff history, hitting on just 10 of 32 shots, while backcourt mate Kyle Lowry managed only 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting. DeRozan and Lowry were both off the mark for most the series against Indy, each shooting just 32% from the floor – this will not cut it against the Heat.
#5 Portland Trail Blazers vs. #1 Golden State Warriors, GSW leads series 1-0 (10:30pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
The Warriors on Sunday jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter of Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, and from there it was just a mtter of time. The Warriors scored first, on a Klay Thompson 3-pointer, and never relinquished the lead, with the Blazers getting no closer than 9 after the first quarter. Thompson scored 18 in that opening frame, and 37 for the night, on 14-of-28 shooting, casting doubt once again on the importance of Steph Curry to this Warriors team, while Draymond Green chipped in with a triple-double, going 23-13-11. Portland’s Damian Lillard joined Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the “Ugly 30 Club”, scoring 30 points on 8-for-26 shooting, while his backcourt mate CJ McCollum managed just 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting – kinda like McCollum.
One shudders to think how bad things would’ve gotten with Curry in the mix. Curry is itching to come back for Game 3 on Saturday, but as long as the Warriors are winning, there’s no reason to rush.