The NBA playoffs take center stage this weekend on North American television with first round matches taking shape. Here are five intriguing games one should keep an eye on.
5) Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves–ESPN/Sportsnet 360–Saturday @10pm ET
Game three of the Grizzlies and Timberwolves had an incredible number of twists and turns for the ages. Minnesota actually had a first half lead of 26 points and then a second half lead of 25 points, only to lose the contest 104-95. Memphis actually outscored Minnesota 37-12 in the fourth quarter, and had a remarkable run of 23-4 to close out the second quarter. The Grizzlies lead the best-out-of-seven first round series two games to one. The odds of the Grizzlies winning the NBA Finals are +1000, while the Timberwolves are at +20000 according to betonline.ag.
4) Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz–TNT/TSN4–Saturday @4:30 pm ET
The Dallas Mavericks are awaiting the return of Luka Doncic, who is currently out with a calf injury. He could play game four of the series on Saturday. One would think the Mavericks would be struggling offensively without their big man around the glass. Wrong. Guard Jalen Brunson has simply been sensational, as he has scored 72 points in the last two games, and has only had one turnover in the process. It is the Mavericks that have the two games to one series lead at this time. The odds of the Mavericks winning the NBA Finals are +2200, while the Jazz are at +4500 according to betonline.ag.
3) Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets–ESPN/Sportsnet 360–Saturday @ 7:30 pm ET
The Brooklyn Nets are down 2-0 in the series at this time, but there is anticipation they could get their star swingman Ben Simmons in the lineup as early as game four. First, the teams have to play game three on Saturday night. In game one of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Celtics won with a buzzer beater by Jayson Tatum in a 115-114 victory, and then won game two by a score of 114-107. The odds of the Celtics winning the NBA Finals are +450, and the odds of the Nets winning the NBA Finals are +2200 according to betonline.ag.
2) Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors–TNT/Sportsnet–Saturday @ 2pm ET
The Raptors have injury woes at the moment as rookie of the year candidate Scottie Barnes is out with an ankle ailment. Game three of the series was a heartbreaker for Raptors fans as Joel Embiid delivered a game-winning shot with eight tenths of a second left in overtime in a 104-101 win. Philadelphia can sweep Toronto on Saturday with a win as they are leading 3-0. The odds of the 76ers winning the NBA Finals are +1000, while the Raptors are at +75000 according to betonline.ag.
1) Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets–ABC/TSN–Sunday @ 3:30 PM ET
Like the 76ers, the Warriors can close out their series this weekend with a game four win in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Golden State won Thursday night 118-113 in Denver. It was a spectacular game by Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic, who had 37 points and 18 rebounds, but it was not enough. It is clear Denver is missing the playoff brilliance of Jamal Murray, who was sensational for the Nuggets two years ago in the Florida bubble. Stephen Curry scored 27 points coming off the bench in game three, and now has 77 points in the first three games of the series. The odds of the Warriors winning the NBA Finals are +275, while the Nuggets are at +50000 according to betonline.ag.