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Celtics And Warriors Look to Take Control
Take the Warriors and Celtics on Thursday
By Liam Davis
The Washington Wizards can only hope things are different for them now that they're on their home floor.
Despite holding double-digit leads in each of the first two games against the Boston Celtics, they have zero wins to show for it. That's never happened before in NBA history, according to ESPN STATS & Info. And that puts them in an awkward situation.
People say a best-of-seven series doesn't begin until a team loses on its home floor, but those who fall behind 2-0 in these sets seldom survive them. They're usually so emotionally beaten or thoroughly outmatched that they drop one of the next two on their home turf, sending them into insurmountable gaps or flat-out eliminations.
At the same time, the Wizards have been beasts at home since Christmas. Including these playoffs, they are 23-5 in friendly territory over their last 28 home games. That's quite absurb. Combine this with the fact that they've held sizable leads in the first two games, and you almost have to like their chances.
Still: A decisive victory almost feels out of the question. The Wizards continue to be too shallow. They need three to four of their starters firing on all cylinders every night, otherwise they are toast. That's what happened in Game 3, when Bradley Beal's offense stalled and Otto Porter continued to struggle on three-point attempts.
Even one ill-timed malaise exponentially increases the burden on John Wall. That the Celtics are so much deeper should scare the Wizards. Where Isaiah Thomas has the luxury of being stashed on defensive liabilities, Wall is taking on tough assignments, like Thomas himself. He isn't going to have the stamina to keep dropping 40 points while running around like whoa on the less glamorous side.
We picked the Celtics to win this series in seven games. Ultimately, though, this may end up being very wrong. They could get it done much sooner. They'll almost certainly do just that if they win this one.
Yet, even if they don't win, they've shown enough fight since Game 3 of their first-round set against the Chicago Bulls for us to know they'll go down swinging, in a tightly contested affair.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (+5.5)
The Utah Jazz's worst fears were confirmed in Game 1 on Tuesday night: They have no chance of winning this series.
Sure, it's only one game. Gordon Hayward and Joe Johnson are going to shoot better form the floor. And the team was able to remain within striking distance of a single-digit deficit for more than half the game. The Jazz also showed that they are willing to take as many threes as Golden State.
All good things.
All meaningless things.
The Jazz actually converted more three-pointers (nine) than the Warriors (seven) in Game 1. And they still lost. There were times when they forced the Warriors to operate almost solely as a half-court team. And they still lost.
No matter what the Jazz do, they don't have the goods to keep up with this squad. They were blown out in transition, 29-6, they didn't dominate the defensive glass, and there were stretches when it looked like Rudy Gobert couldn't even be on the floor.
Worse: The Warriors' offense is only going to get better. They aren't going to shoot 7-of-29 from beyond the arc every game. Stephen Curry will take and make more threes. Ditto for Kevin Durant. Andre Iguodala won't remain scoreless from long range forever.
This is all too overwhelming for the Jazz. They can make adjustments, and try to play smaller, and even try to play faster. But they can't do anything, as of now, that would suggest they're getting ready to lose by less than double digits.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-12.5)
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