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After a fairly predictable and straightforward opening round, the 2019 NBA postseason has roared to life in the conference semifinals.
Seven of the eight teams have multiple victories. The one exception, the Boston Celtics, have a 22-point road win this round and were billed in the preseason as the Eastern Conference’s strongest squad.
In other words, the basketball gods have outdone themselves.
With all four series undecided, let’s layout the remaining schedule and broadcast information before examining the biggest recent buzz.
2019 NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals Schedule
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 4 Boston Celtics (MIL 3-1)
Game 5: Boston at Milwaukee, Wednesday, May 8, 8 p.m. ET on TNT
*Game 6: Milwaukee at Boston, Fri, May 10, TBD on ESPN
*Game 7: Boston at Milwaukee, Mon, May 13, TBD on TNT
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers (TOR 3-2)
Game 6: Toronto at Philadelphia, Thu, May 9, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
*Game 7: Philadelphia at Toronto, Sun, May 12, TBD on TNT
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 4 Houston Rockets (Tied 2-2)
Game 5: Houston at Golden State, Wed, May 8, 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 6: Golden State at Houston, Fri, May 10, TBD on ESPN
*Game 7: Houston at Golden State, Sun, May 12, TBD on TBD
No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers (DEN 3-2)
Game 6: Denver at Portland, Thu, May 9, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
*Game 7: Portland at Denver, Sun, May 12, TBD on TBD
Draymond Says Dubs Are ‘Just Fine’
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The defending champs are wobbling.
After scampering out to a 2-0 lead on the Rockets, the Warriors gave up all that ground with back-to-back losses in Houston.
The Splash Brothers are unseasonably dry, with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined 27.8 percent from three this series. The second unit is almost silent—two reserves have double-digit points for the series. They’ve been a step slow to loose balls and muscled off the glass for rebounds.
But Draymond Green isn’t worried. Correct that last part, the three-time All-Star said, and Golden State has nothing to worry about, via USA Today‘s Martin Rogers:
“We are going into a fight thinking it is a fair fight. It’s not. They’re doing whatever it takes to win. We are just going in there like, ‘Oh OK, we’ll box.’ And they’re slamming us.
“It starts from me. Our vibe is great because we know that if we just correct the effort thing, we are just fine. Everyone is feeling good. We know the answer to our problem and that is pretty exciting. That’s my department to lead in. If I do, I have no doubt everyone else will follow—and we will win.”
Effort probably isn’t the Warriors’ only issue.
They’re struggling to find ways of even containing James Harden, who averaged 39.5 points in the Rockets’ two wins. Houston has hit 26 more three-pointers or earned 78 additional points from distance.
Golden State is winning several hustle categories, including screen assists (23-16), deflections (57-45) and contested shots (256-227). But it was clobbered on the glass in Houston, with the Rockets corralling 54.2 percent of all rebounds and 35.2 percent on the offensive end.
It’s possible shoring up their effort is all the Warriors need to reclaim control of this series. Of course, it’s also possible this nucleus is exhausted after four consecutive trips to the Finals. Tack on their depth deficiencies, and maybe the effort and execution issues are tied to fatigue.
Whatever the problem, Golden State has little time to figure it out.
Kyrie Trapped in Career-Worst Playoff Slump
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Given the uncertainty around his upcoming free agency and the 3-1 hole the Celtics are trapped in, it’s possible Kyrie Irving has already played his last home game at TD Garden.
If he has, Shamrocks supporters might find themselves asking: “Was that really it?”
Uncle Drew, added to the roster to lift this club’s ceiling to a championship level, has been missing in action at the least opportune time. After steering the Celtics to a Game 1 rout with 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, his efficiency has seemingly evaporated.
His best shooting effort in the three losses was an 8-of-22 performance in Game 3. Altogether, he’s a woeful 19-of-62 overall (30.6 percent) and 4-of-20 from three (20 percent) in Boston’s losses. His 43 missed field goals are the most he’s had over a three-game postseason stretch, according to ESPN Stats & Information (via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps).
When pressed on his shooting woes, Irving responded “Who cares?” He went on to say he’s facing “sky-high” expectations, and that if anything, he should be launching even more because, “I’m that great of a shooter.”
Irving has the past production and pedigree to justify having supersized confidence. But truth be told, he’s rarely looked the part of a great shooter this entire postseason. He’s only topped 37 percent shooting in two of his outings, and both his field-goal (39.9) and three-point (33.3) percentages are the worst he’s posted in the playoffs.
With the Celtics facing win-or-go-fishing stakes, it’s now or never for Irving to find his touch.