NBA Playoff Schedule 2013: Breaking Down Wednesday's Semifinal Matchups
The Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies each have an opportunity to advance to the conference finals with wins on Wednesday.
Of course, elimination games tend to be difficult when the opposing team is fighting for its life.
The Chicago Bulls fought valiantly to advance past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs this season, but they've hit a brick wall against the Heat. It doesn't help that Derrick Rose reportedly won't be stepping onto the hardwood in the series.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are also without the injured Russell Westbrook against the Grizzlies, which has significantly hurt their offense, even with Kevin Durant doing everything in his power to lift them.
But don't expect these teams to give a half-hearted effort on Wednesday.
Here are my predictions for Wednesday's games.
Chicago Bulls (1) at Miami Heat (3)
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
When: 7 p.m. ET
With or without Dwyane Wade, I expect the Heat to close out the Bulls on Wednesday.
The fact of the matter is, the Bulls don't have the offense to beat the Heat, particularly when Derrick Rose isn't on the floor, and Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng are banged up. Chicago has shot 38 percent against Miami in the playoffs, including 31 percent from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Heat have been able to score against the stingy Bulls in the postseason, shooting 49 percent from the field. That's after shooting 50 percent against them in the regular season.
What's more, Chicago's rebounding advantage has been narrowed. The Bulls are averaging 2.2 rebounds per game more than the Heat in this series. Chicago averaged 4.6 rebounds per game more than the Heat during the regular season.
After an embarrassing 88-65 loss to the Heat in Game 4 in Chicago, don't expect the Bulls to win Game 5 in Miami.
Memphis Grizzlies (3) at Oklahoma City Thunder (1)
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
When: 9:30 p.m. ET
The Grizzlies went 2-1 against the Thunder during the regular season, so it shouldn't be a shocker that they are up 3-1 in this series with Russell Westbrook out due to injury.
The injury to Westbrook has decimated Oklahoma City's chances of winning the championship this season. The Thunder shot 48 percent against the Grizzlies during the regular season, but have shot 41 percent against them in the playoffs.
Will the Grizzlies finish off the Thunder in Game 5?
The Thunder have held a slight advantage in rebounding in both the regular season and the postseason, but it hasn't been wide enough of a gap.
Plus, Oklahoma City has committed more turnovers than Memphis in all three losses in the series.
In Game 1, the Thunder squeaked by with a two-point win, but the Grizzlies have momentum now, and they smell blood. As much as I want to think Kevin Durant will propel Oklahoma City to victory in Game 5, he is but one man, and the Thunder are a team with all kinds of problems right now.
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