It's do or die for a couple of NBA Finals contenders on Wednesday.
The Miami Heat will look to finish off the Brooklyn Nets, while the San Antonio Spurs attempt to dispose of the Portland Trail Blazers to earn a trip to the conference finals.
It won't be easy for either team.
Brooklyn gave Miami fits during the regular season, beating LeBron James and Co. in four consecutive meetings. Even though the Heat have a 3-1 series lead, the Nets proved to have the necessary components to beat them.
San Antonio appeared to have the series against Portland well in hand, leading 3-0 heading into Game 4. The Trail Blazers had a different idea. A great team effort led by Damian Lillard's 25 points gave Portland a decisive home victory and forced a Game 5.
The NBA playoffs have been completely unpredictable to this point, so there's no reason to think Wednesday's action will be any different.
Let's take a look at each game's viewing information and updated odds, as well as predict how both are likely to shake out.
Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets
Series Record: Heat lead 3-1
When: Wednesday, May 14
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Odds: Miami -7 (via OddsShark.com)
After the Heat appeared to be dominating the series through two games, a big-time performance from behind the arc earned the Nets a huge Game 3 victory.
Unfortunately for Brooklyn, that prowess from downtown wouldn't hold up in Game 4, as the Nets connected on just five of its 22 attempts from the perimeter.
Not only was Brooklyn's long-ball accuracy missing in action, but the team's defense had absolutely no answer for LeBron James.
James put up a spectacular 49-point performance, hitting 16 of his 24 attempts from the field. Brooklyn simply couldn't keep pace with James' high-octane attack.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised James' showing after the game, telling reporters: "He was what was needed on the road and that's what makes him the best player in the game."
Here's a good look at how James got it done, according to a tweet from Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry:
Speaking to the media, Nets center Kevin Garnett lamented his team's disappointing performance: "This is very difficult to swallow. Hard to take, but it's what it is. Coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn't help us at this point."
It will be a daunting task for the Nets to take another game from the Heat, as Brooklyn is headed to Miami for a pivotal Game 5. Brooklyn may have some more difficulty from downtown in front of a hostile crowd, and James has the momentum to make them pay for it.
Miami 96, Brooklyn 88
San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Series Record: Spurs lead 3-1
When: Wednesday, May 14
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds: San Antonio -8 (via OddsShark.com)
The Spurs appeared to be stuck in Game 7 mode after a clutch victory against the Dallas Mavericks in Round 1. Over the first three games of their series against Portland, the Spurs put up 116, 114 and 118 points, respectively.
It appeared as though the sweep was on.
The Trail Blazers thought differently. The team's depth was very much on display, as five different players finished the game with double-digit points. Nicolas Batum played a huge role in the game, racking up a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
After the win, Batum spoke to reporters about the daunting task of coming back from a 3-0 deficit:
Why not us? No, it's never been done before. We know it's going to be tough. It won't be easy, especially against this team. We had nothing to lose tonight. We had no pressure. It was do or die. So we just go out there and play.
His prowess in the paint allowed the Trail Blazers to out-rebound the Spurs 53-46.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted a telling statistic regarding the Spurs' inefficiency in the paint:
No one seemed to be able to get anything going for the Spurs. Tony Parker's 14 points led the team, while Tim Duncan could manage only 12. Danny Green couldn't get a rhythm going from behind the arc, finishing the game connecting on just one of his seven attempts.
Speaking to the media afterward, Manu Ginobili summed it up nicely:
If they lost today it was a sweep, but they've got pride and they played good. They played the game more desperately than we did. We didn't bring the same emotions the first three games. The bottom line is they played better than us in every aspect of the game.
The Spurs head back home for Game 5. Expect San Antonio's drive to resurface as they put this series away in front of their home crowd.
San Antonio 108, Portland 98
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