Tonight, TNT has a great doubleheader ahead for NBA fans to get excited about. First, we have Game 2 between the two-seeded Brooklyn Nets and the three-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. (Brooklyn currently leads the series 1-0) To wrap up the night, we have Game 1 between the hungry two-seeded Phoenix Suns and the three seeded Denver Nuggets. Both matchups are a selection of compelling conference semifinal series.
NBA – The Big 3 vs The Greek Freak
After a rough Game 1 for the Milwaukee Bucks, the “Greek Freak” and company try to bounce back against the red hot Brooklyn Nets. While the Nets do hold the average in the series with the opening series Game 1 win, it did come at a cost. James Harden, who had a previous history with hamstrings issues in the regular season, re-aggravated his hamstring and will be out for Game 2, maybe even longer.
With that being said, I believe the Nets will defend their home court and take a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Bucks. The NBA these days are all about the stars, and not to take any form Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but they are not on the level as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets currently have two superstars in the lineup while the Bucks only have one in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Furthermore, the Nets role players right now are playing inspired basketball at the moment. Former All-Star Blake Griffin has shown some flashes from his old self and sharpshooter Joe Harris is continuously hitting from beyond the arc. The Bucks went ice cold from three in Game 1 which I believe is a testament to the moment being too big for them.
While Milwaukee does have some valuable playoff experience, it does not equate to the amount of experience the Nets roster has. In order for the Bucks to pull off the upset tonight, Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to be special tonight and their role players must shoot exponentially better from the outside. It will be a tough task for the Bucks especially on the road. I do not see it happening tonight.
The Joker Attempting to Cool Down the Red Hot Phoenix Suns
After the Nuggets and Suns both finished off their respective opponents in six games in the opening round, Denver and Phoenix will match up in the conference semifinals. Both teams are looking to build off the moment they have generated thus far.
While I do believe the Suns are not praised nearly enough for their play thus far this postseason, the X factor in this opening round game will be the health of Chris Paul’s shoulder. It has bothered him all series long against the Lakers, and I am not confident CP3 will be able to be himself tonight against the stingy Denver defense.
On the other side of the court, Paul will also have to go up against the unsung hero for the Denver Nuggets, Mote Morris. With the season-ending knee injury of Jamal Murray, Denver had to turn to Morris to step up in his absence. Monte Morris answered the bell and then some in the opening round against the Portland Blazers.
Morris has averaged 15 points and nearly six assists. While these numbers do not equate to the value of Jamal Murray, they did have a major impact on the outcome of the previous series especially with his 22 point game in Game 6 and his 28 point game coming in Game 5.
Emerging star Michael Porter Jr. will also be a tough matchup for the Suns as well. He has stepped up in a major way as in these playoffs respectively.
Morris and Porter aside, the Nuggets at the end of the day stop and end with reigning MVP favorite, Nikola Jokic. “The Joker” has carried his magnificent play from the regular season to the postseason, and will be a matchup nightmare for the young inexperienced Deandre Ayton.
With a fully healthy Chris Paul, I probably would have picked the Suns in this game especially at home, but due to his shoulder injury I believe the Nuggets will be too much to handle. Therefore, I am picking the Denver Nuggets to steal Game 1 on the road to get this series going.
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