May 7th will be an important date in the 2012 NBA playoffs. There are two pivotal contests set for Monday night, and these two Game 4 matchups will define their respective first-round series.
Game 4 of the NBA playoffs is one of the more important games of a series, and tonight will be no different. By Tuesday morning, a team will be out, up by two games or a series will be tied.
Game 4 will set the pace for the rest of these series, and we are lucky to have a double dose of crucial games on the schedule tonight.
Here are some previews and predictions.
San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Series: Spurs lead 3-0
Preview: Before the NBA playoffs even started, I stated that this series will be one of the most disappointing first-round matchups in the Association.
I wrote,"The real Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will crush Utah. It won’t even be close.”
So far I’m right.
San Antonio has come out and played like the best team in the league, while the Jazz have looked like a team that barley squeaked into the postseason.
At the end of the day, the Spurs have higher hopes than a second-round series, and they should dismantle Utah with ease.
It was an accomplishment for Al Jefferson and company just to sneak into the playoffs, and no one expected to them to be competitive.
Utah is a young team and will be better in future years, but San Antonio is the best team in the NBA and is peaking at the right time.
Utah has lost the first three games by 58 points combined, with Tony Parker absolutely exploding for 24.3 points per game.
The Beehive State will just be a minuscule obstacle on the Spurs' quest for the championship. This game might be closer than the others just because of the determination of Paul Millsap and his team to not got swept.
But this was a mismatch from the start. The veteran presence of Tim Duncan and his buddies is way too much for the inexperienced Jazz to even begin to handle.
I would like to see this young team get a playoff victory under its belt, but this is a Spurs squad that is far too dominant to let that happen.
Prediction: The first half is close and San Antonio takes a six-point lead into the locker room. But the Spurs start pulling away halfway through the third quarter, and the Jazz emotionally shut down.
The home crowd gets Utah back in the game, but it is too little too late, and Gregg Popovich’s team wins by 14 to seal the series shut.
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers
Time: 10:30 PM ET
Series: Clippers lead 2-1
Preview: What a series! This matchup has routinely provided close game after exciting game after close game, and that has made for the best first-round entertainment in the NBA.
Game 4 will not disappoint.
While I do believe that the game will be closer than the others, it will still be interesting.
The Clippers have always proved their adequacy late in the game, but this time the home team will be able to show their worth throughout the four quarters.
These two teams are so evenly matched that picking either the Grizzlies or the Clippers is a respectable choice. Whereas the Spurs and Jazz are two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum, Memphis and Los Angeles are very similar squads.
The Clippers will feed off the home crowd at Staples Center, and that momentum will make a fourth-quarter team even better when it counts.
But “The Other L.A Team” needs to work on free throws in order to move on. The Clippers were 13-for-30 from the charity stripe in Game 3.
You can’t win games when you give up points like that.
You also can’t win games when your two biggest stars have no chemistry to speak of. That is the problem that the Grizzlies face with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay.
Both these players are top-notch scoring athletes, but the team thrives when one of them is on the bench.
In order for Memphis to pull out a win in Los Angeles, Randolph and Gay need to be on the same page.
Randolph will especially have his work cut out for him when he matches up against fan favorite Blake Griffin. The Gay and Chris Paul matchup will also be an individual contest that will be fun to highlight.
But the Grizzlies will need great production from their center Marc Gasol to put up points, grab rebounds and block shots as well as limit DeAndre Jordan.
Honestly, I can see this series going either way and it will be interesting to watch it play out.
Prediction: The first half is even and the Grizzlies take a lead in the third quarter, but aided by the cheering home crowd, Chris Paul and company claw back in the fourth.
They go back to Memphis with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Thanks for reading and please comment with your opinions and predictions below!
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