The Western Conference has had some tremendous matchups while the majority of Eastern Conference series could be done very quickly. With the Miami Heat already eliminated, the other two bottom seeds in the East - the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics - seem to not stand a chance against the juggernauts of the conference. Unfortunately for one of those juggernauts, Bucks shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo will miss the remainder of the postseason due to a tendon injury. Former San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes will look to continue to make an impact as the main replacement for DiVincenzo.
Other Eastern Conference injuries include the following:
Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook should not miss any time, but he may be limited due to a sore right ankle. He twisted it earlier in the series.
Nets power forward Jeff Green is out through at least June 6 due to a strained plantar fascia.
Let us now move over to the Western Conference, where the Lakers and Suns are locked up in a tight series even with the injury of Chris Paul. The seventh-seeded Lakers still feel like the favorite in their series while the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks went from 2-0 to 2-2 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Luka Dončić’s cervical strain is a frustrating development for Dallas. Similar to the Mavericks, the Memphis Grizzlies stole home court early in the series, but Donovan Mitchell’s return has revitalized the Utah Jazz.
The 3-6 matchup in the West is another intriguing one with Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets tied 2-2 with the Portland Trail Blazers. The potential MVP had at least 34 points in the first three games, but Jokic scored just 16 points in Game 4’s loss. We will see if Will Barton’s return will help the Nuggets get the series back in their favor.
(7) Los Angeles Lakers are tied with the (2) Phoenix Suns, 2-2
Game 5 tips off at 10:05 pm ET on Tuesday, June 1
Game 5 Spread: opened at Suns -4.5; currently Suns -5.5
Game 5 Moneyline: opened at Suns -182; currently Suns -210
Game 5 Over / Under: opened at 208.5; currently 207.5
Remaining Schedule for the Series:
Game 6. Thursday, June 3, time TBD at Staples Center in Los Angeles Game 7. Saturday, June 5, time TBD (if necessary) at Phoenix Suns Arena
FiveThirtyEight prediction: Lakers win the series (51%)
Series Update: LeBron James and now-injured Anthony Davis were reaching new heights early in the 2021 playoffs, as they scored their most combined points in a quarter as teammates in the Game 3 victory, as playoff basketball finally returned to Staples Center. The Lakers’ size is impressive, and they were taking advantage of the paint: making it to 50 points in the paint is a high bar, and LeBron and company have accomplished that three times since the beginning of the 2020 postseason. The rest of the league has just two such performances combined. It felt like the Lakers were able to physically dictate the series until Davis went down with his injury.
Series Outlook: Originally, it was the Chris Paul situation that was affecting the Suns in the 2021 playoffs. Phoenix unfortunately drew the Lakers in the 2-7 matchup, which put the Suns in a very difficult position. Phoenix won Game 1, but Paul’s right shoulder contusion has shown that Monty Williams’ team is not the same without its floor general. However, the series has shifted because of Anthony Davis’ injury, and the Suns appear to be the favorite to move to the second round. The defending NBA champions are surely in trouble due to Davis’ left groin strain.
(5) Atlanta Hawks lead the (4) New York Knicks, 3-1
Game 5 tips off at 7:35 pm ET on Wednesday, June 2
Game 5 Spread: opened at and currently Knicks -1.5
Game 5 Moneyline: opened at Knicks -121; currently Knicks -125
Game 5 Over / Under: opened at and currently 207.5
Remaining Schedule for the Series:
Game 6. Friday, June 4, time TBD (if necessary) at State Farm Arena in Atlanta
Game 7. Sunday, June 6, time TBD (if necessary) at Madison Square Garden in New York
FiveThirtyEight prediction: Hawks win the series (96%)
Series Update: In Game 2, Julius Randle was a fantastic defender, as he forced 15 missed shots out of 15 Hawks field goal attempts as the primary defender. Randle scored only a combined 44 points in the first three games of the series. Randle, who made his first All-Star Game in 2021, will need to step up on the offensive end for the rest of the series if the Knicks want a chance at moving to the next round. New York just does not have a consistent scorer like Trae Young, who averaged 25 points per game during the regular season - just 1.2 more points per game than Randle. However, Young, who made his first All-Star Game in 2020, scored a combined 83 points in the first three games of the series. Although Randle had 23 points in Game 4, Young still topped him with 27 points.
Series Outlook: The Knicks evened the series with the Game 2 victory and had Madison Square Garden celebrating like it was 1973, but most oddsmakers were still favoring the Hawks in this series. Neither the Knicks nor the Hawks have much playoff experience, but it has been the Hawks who have dominated the majority of the series. Atlanta is in search of its first playoff series victory since 2016, as Nate McMillan looks to lead the squad to success.