With no games scheduled for today, Saturday 30th April, we take a look at the match-ups for the Conference Semi-finals, which start tomorrow!
Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics
The Celtics will be boosted by the news that star shooting guard Jaylen Brown should be good to go when Game 1 tips off. That being said this is a team that just swept the highly favored Brooklyn Nets, which is to say they have no reason to be lacking in confidence. Add to that the notion of home court advantage, which they will enjoy for the first two games of the series and things begin to look promising for the Celtics. The biggest question, however, will be whether or not the Celtics can handle Giannis Antetokounmpo in the same way that they did with Kevin Durant. While it’s not likely to be the case, as Antetokounmpo is quite frankly one of the most athletically gifted players in the league, expect things to get intense as the Celtics will certainly try to make life difficult for him.
On the other side we have the Bucks, who after a brief slip in Game 2 of their series against the Chicago Bulls, went on to eliminate them in what has to be considered a comfortable manner. There is, however, one major down side for Milwaukee and that’s the news that Kris Middleton sustained a MCL sprain and as such won’t feature in the series at all. To say it’s a loss for the Bucks would be a major understatement. To date the three time All-Star has been one of the focal points of the Bucks’ offense with an average of 20 points and 5.4 assists per game. While some will argue that Middleton’s absence will only be felt in offense, the truth is he is probably the Bucks’ best wing defender. As they prepare to face a team with the two best wing players in the league – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – his absence can’t be a good thing.
The Bucks vs Celtics Game 1 tips off on Sunday 1st May at 1:00 p.m. ET at the TD Garden in Boston, MA.
Golden State Warriors vs Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies may well be the surprise package of the year, in fact that’s exactly what they are. Back in late November when talisman Ja Morant was sidelined with a sprained knee, many thought that was the end of the Grizzlies. Indeed, in that very game Memphis lost to the Atlanta Hawks by an eye opening 32 points at home no less. Yet that’s basically where the doubts ended. The Grizzlies would go on to win 10 of their next 11 games without their star. By the time Morant returned the Grizzlies were on an 11 game win streak and it was mid January. Now they enter the conference semis having closed out the T’Wolves in dramatic fashion and with Morant – the league’s Most Improved Player – having delivered once again when it mattered most. With the likes of Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., who is now a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, the Grizzlies have every reason to be confident as they head into their clash with the Warriors, which is exactly what Coach of the Year candidate Taylor Jenkins will be telling them.
Where the Warriors are concerned, this is a team that was on a record of 18-2 and looked like their old selves early on in the season. Golden State appeared to be back and with 2021 coming to an end many wondered just how far they would take it. Unfortunately after the turn of the year things took a turn for the worse. Klay Thompson returned from a long term injury, but Draymond Green was sidelined shortly after by injury. When Green returned it was then Steph Curry’s turn to go out injured. From that point to this, the Warriors have never quite got themselves going as they have been unable to have their core team on the court together for any notable period of time. That being said, Golden State has seen the emergence of Andrew Wiggins – now an NBA All-Star – along with Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II, who can make a claim as Defensive Player of the Year. Can they handle a hungry though inexperienced Grizzlies team? Given the way they finally got it together against MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in the first round, logic would say yes. What’s certain is that they will need all their craft and guile against Morant and co.
The Warriors vs Grizzlies Game 1 tips off on Sunday 1st May at 3:30 p.m. ET at FedExForum, Memphis, TN.