All the NBA playoffs brought fans on Saturday was a Vince Carter buzzer-beating three to beat the San Antonio Spurs, an overtime thriller between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies that saw Reggie Jackson of all people serve as the hero, and David West drill a critical three-pointer that helped save the Indiana Pacers’ season.
Sunday’s schedule, which can be seen below, is sure to provide more of the same.
|Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards||2-1 (Wizards)||ABC 1 p.m. ET|
|Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors||2-1 (Clippers)||ABC 3:30 p.m. ET|
|Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets||2-1 (Nets)||TNT 7 p.m. ET|
|Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers||2-1 (Trail Blazers)||TNT 9:30 p.m. ET|
With so much thrilling action occurring on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose track of the scores in each series. Here is a look at the updated bracket for the entire 2014 NBA playoffs.
Now that we know what the broadcast information and bracket look like heading into Sunday’s action, let’s preview the game to watch.
From a physicality standpoint, there hasn’t been a more bruising first-round series than the one between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.
After all, we have seen back-and-forth shoving, hard fouls and now the first suspension of the postseason. Nene grabbed Jimmy Butler’s head with both hands after the two went face-to-face in a verbal argument in Game 3 and will miss the fourth contest because of it.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman discussed the physicality of the series after his team’s Game 3 loss, according to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
There's a lot of pushing and shoving and talking. We just have to be sure we're keeping our composure in that area. I don't want them stepping back at all from a physicality standpoint. Not at all. It just reaches that line, and we've got to know where that line is.
Nene’s suspension is significant because he has averaged 17 points and 6.3 rebounds in the series and has given defensive player of the year Joakim Noah all sorts of trouble. Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago believes that Nene’s absence will help Noah get an offensive rhythm going in Game 4:
Noah has to be licking his chops for tomorrow. Nene has given him trouble in this series. Without Nene's D, the floor should open up for Jo.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 26, 2014
It may seem like the obvious pick to say the Bulls will even this series at two games apiece without Nene on the floor, but the game is still in Washington, and the Wizards backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal is more than capable of providing enough offensive firepower to beat Chicago.
Wall is averaging better than 18 points per game in the postseason, while Beal is pouring in more than 21 per night. Each guard is capable of creating his own shot, which is something Chicago’s offense has struggled with in crunch time.
Despite Wall and Beal though, look for the Bulls to win on Sunday.
Who wins Game 4?
Nene’s absence is critical in regard to rebounding, Noah’s offense and depth, but that is not the only thing working in Chicago’s favor. The Bulls have led all three contests in the fourth quarter but collapsed down the stretch of Games 1 and 2 because they didn’t have enough scoring.
Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. both provided critical baskets in the waning minutes in Game 3, so there should be a level of confidence on the offensive end that may not have been there previously.
With Nene gone and the Bulls operating with some momentum after their last win, Chicago will even this series as it heads back home.
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