After epic performances by LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in Game 5 of their respective best-of-seven first-round series, their teams enter April 27th with different goals in mind.
LeBron James’ spectacular game-saving block and game-winning three-pointer on Wednesday gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their first lead of their first-round series at 3-2. The Cavs hope to get an encore from King James on Friday as they try to eliminate the Indiana Pacers in Indiana.
While Cleveland is trying to move on to the next round, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to equalize their own best-of-seven first-round series against the Utah Jazz. The Thunder are riding high on Russell Westbrook’s 45-point effort during their Game 5 victory where they overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit.
Here are the odds, previews, and our predictions for the NBA Playoff games on April 27, 2018.
Cavs at Pacers – Game 6
Cavs +105, Pacers -125)
LeBron James was simply breathtaking in Game 5, doing everything on the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another monster night for the King, another victory for his Cavs. Really, Cleveland’s success in this series isn’t hard to decode. It’s just two words: King James.
James has scored at least 32 points in his team’s three victories, averaging 40.67 points per game in those games. Meanwhile, he’s averaged just 26 points per game in Cleveland’s two losses to Indiana this series. Save for Game 1, James’ FG attempts have almost been the same in the last four games. The only difference is that he’s shot above 54.5% during victories but not more than 45.5%.
Victor Oladipo’s playoff average is 3 points off his regular-season scoring average. That’s not too bad. But what is worrying is that Oladipo’s point output has steadily decreased from game to game: 32 to 22 to 18 to 17 to 12. Like James in Cleveland, Indiana’s regular-season success was because of Oladipo flourishing in their offense. If they want to see a Game 7, Oladipo has to pick up the pace. It’s now or never for the Pacers.
Both teams have won once each in the other team’s home court, so that won’t be too much of a factor in Game 6, as it hasn’t been all series long. Save for the Game 1 blowout, the average winning margin in this series (Games 2-5) has only been just four points, with Games 2, 3, and 5 decided by just one possession.
The Cavs and LeBron have the momentum here, but given how close the series has been despite LeBron’s superhuman effort, the Pacers aren’t goners yet. He may be the best today, but you can’t expect LeBron to put up the same numbers in Game 6 (or else he’s Superman). Meanwhile, Oladipo is due for an explosion after three straight off nights, and yes, Cleveland is winless in Indiana in four tries dating back to the regular season.
Victor Oladipo is going to bounce back, and the Pacers are going to win Game 6 at home.
Raptors at Wizards – Game 6
(Raptors +110, Wizards -130)
Okay, so we didn’t mention this game at the top of our article. But that doesn’t mean that this one’s got a sure winner already. Not by any means. Like the Pacers, the Washington Wizards are down 2-3 and fighting for playoff survival. They nearly had the upset in Game 5, being up 87-82 in the final five minutes of play. But the Raptors pulled through with big contributions from their bench.
We know that DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are Toronto’s main gunners, but if there’s a trend in this series, it’s not both starting guards putting up big numbers. It’s Delon Wright scoring in double figures. In Toronto’s three wins, Wright has averaged 15.66 points per game. During their losses, Wright has put up just 6.5 points per outing.
John Wall and Bradley Beal have clicked together in the last three games of the series, and for Washington to have a chance here, the two must score in the 20s once again. Wall has been consistently good in this series, while Beal has been the barometer. When Beal scores more than 20 points, the Wizards win. If he doesn’t, the Raptors are victorious.
The home team has won every game in this series, so you’ve got to like Washington’s chances here. We know that Toronto is the much better team in this series, but the Washington Wizards just won’t go away.
They’re playing at home, and the Wizards are 3-1 against the Raptors in DC this season. So we’re picking the Washington Wizards to win and push the series to a Game 7.
Thunder at Jazz
(Thunder +200, Jazz -250)
The Utah Jazz was 15 minutes away from eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. But Russell Westbrook went berserk by scoring 20 points in the third quarter, and the Thunder rallied from 25 points down to push the series to a Game 6. Now, the Jazz must take away Westbrook’s swagger, because if not, he’s going to take over this series.
Westbrook and George have combined to average 54.6 points per game in this series, but aside from the two, only Carmelo Anthony is averaging in double figures at 12.4 PPG. Meanwhile, the Jazz has six players averaging at least 10 points per game, led by rookie Donovan Mitchell’s 26.6 points per game.
Obviously, Utah is the better team here, both on and off the court. They play well as a unit, while the Thunder play well as individuals. The Jazz won three games and was up 25 points with 8 minutes left in the third quarter before OKC’s historic comeback happened, so they’ve been pretty much in control of the situation before that meltdown in Game 5.
The Jazz has outplayed the Thunder wherever they have played in this series. OKC, meanwhile, has won just once in Utah in four games this season (regular season and playoffs), and the only time the Jazz lost to the Thunder at home was when Rudy Gobert didn’t play. Unless something sudden happens, Gobert is a lock to play in Game 6, so that’s going to be a problem for OKC.
We like OKC’s momentum and their star power. But the longer this series goes, the more likely the better team will be victorious. We’re picking the Jazz to win and wrap up the series.