Two series favorites are down 3-2 in the East and West semifinals of the NBA playoffs. Can either the Celtics or Grizzlies pull out a big win on the road Friday night?
It’s crunch time in the Showstopper as we break down all the betting angles for Celtics vs. Bucks and Grizzlies vs. Warriors. Read on before dropping those bet slips for this blockbuster duo.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Friday, May 13 | TV: ESPN
After blowing a late lead against the Bucks in Game 5, the Celtics find themselves on the ropes heading into Milwaukee. The Celtics held Giannis Antetokounmpo in check for the first couple of games of this series, but he’s reasserted his dominance with forceful drives to the basket. The Greek Freak has averaged 38.6 points and 13.6 rebounds over the last three games. And despite not shooting well, Jrue Holiday has continued to play terrific defense, averaging 2.4 steals per game in this series, and also delivered a clutch block to seal the Game 5 victory. Ultimately, great defensive adjustments are a huge reason why the Bucks have the edge.
For the Celtics to win on the road, they’ll need to connect at a better clip from long range. In Boston’s most convincing win (Game 2), Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to go 11-of-20 from three-point range. Marcus Smart will be relied on again as the third scoring option, especially if the Celtics can’t muster more offense from Al Horford, who had an incredibly quiet Game 5 after scoring 30 points in Game 4. Trying not to get outrebounded and keeping Giannis from too many easy looks in the paint will also be big priorities, but with center Robert Williams questionable due to his sore left knee, it’ll mean heavy minutes for Horford. The Celtics are in a pretty tough spot, though they won’t go down without a fight.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors
Friday, May 13 | TV: ESPN
Even without Ja Morant, the Grizzlies routed the Warriors in Game 5 with their highest-scoring performance in franchise postseason history. After that 39-point drubbing, however, you have to think the Warriors will be out for vengeance back at the Chase Center. The Warriors are a perfect 5-0 at home so far this postseason, highlighted by a much better three-point shooting percentage (37.7% at home compared to 30.4% on the road). Losing guard Gary Payton II to a fractured elbow has put a dent in the Warriors’ perimeter defense. Memphis connected on 18 of 41 three-point attempts (43.9%) in Game 5 and will try to play off that strength once more. The Grizzlies have posted an early lead after the first quarter in each game of this series.
Morant has already been ruled out for Friday night’s matchup, so look for Tyus Jones to play a major role in the starting lineup again. Jones was very impressive in Game 5, tallying 21 points, nine assists and zero turnovers in just 24 minutes of action. Expect Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. to also carry the team on the offensive end, as they’ve both connected on over 42% of their three-point attempts this series. For the Warriors, Steph Curry has averaged 28.4 points at home this postseason. Jordan Poole is second on the squad with 21.6 points per game at the Chase Center. The Grizzlies won’t be shy about shooting from long distance, so the Warriors will have to match with some sharpshooting of their own.