There was sound logic to picking the Bulls in Chicago and the Clippers in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Although reason probably should have prevailed, it surely did not. The Bulls fell flat in a 21-point drubbing and L.A. suffered one of the worst NBA playoff collapses I personally have ever seen. That moves the Cleveland Cavaliers on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they wait for the winner of tonight’s Hawks/Wizards series. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has to travel back to Houston, where they hope to regroup and take down the Rockets so they can face the winner of tonight’s Warriors/Grizzlies series.

One series ended last night and another went to a game seven, and we could see either of those fates take place in both of tonight’s series. The question is, which is more likely for both sides? Let’s take a close look at both matchups and hand out our NBA picks (0-2 last night, 39-17 for the playoffs) for Friday, 5/15/2015:

Golden State Warriors (1) @ Memphis Grizzlies (5)

Golden State took full control of this series recently, as they won two in a row to push themselves one win from reaching the Western Conference Finals. The series shifting back to Memphis is a little problematic, but the Grizz have been on their heels lately and the Warriors are going to be looking for the knockout punch. I expect Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to give the Warriors hell, but the biggest key is going to be the impact (if any) that Tony Allen can give them. With Allen being a menace on the perimeter, the Grizzlies went up 2-1 in this series. With him out in game five and limited in game four (hamstring), Memphis just wasn’t the same. He’s expected to suit up tonight, but he’s an estimated “60%”.

I originally felt this would go the full seven games, but with Allen not quite himself, I’m pulling back from that. The Warriors are the favorite with a -5 line, so if you’re going ATS I think the Grizzlies are a fine pick at home, as I really can’t see them getting housed in such a huge game on their home floor. I like the Warriors straight up, though, and I’m not messing around with the Total thanks to how Memphis can be defensively.

Pick: Warriors 104, Grizz 101

Atlanta Hawks (1) @ Washington Wizards (5)

Atlanta survived a dangerous game five by the skin of their teeth, as big man Al Horford got a miracle rebound and put-back to win the game with just over a second to go. Before that happened, the Wizards looked like they had it in the bag after Paul Pierce drilled a clutch three-pointer and turned to the Hawks bench and shouted “series!”. It may have been, but now ATL has the edge going into game six. I fully expect this series to extend to seven games, simply because John Wall is back and this series has been so close. These teams continue to match up extremely well and do a great job at taking each other’s strengths away.

Marcin Gortat got his mojo back with the return of Wall, which brought the pick-and-roll back for him and the offense. The big question is whether or not the Hawks’ defense that showed up in game five will be the norm to close this series, or if their potent offense can return to form. I think it might in game seven, but Jeff Teague struggled badly last game and Dennis Schroder plays like a chicken with it’s head cut off at times. I think Atlanta’s point guards will be better at home in game seven, but I’m not sure I trust them on the road tonight. The Wiz are a solid pick straight up and against the spread (-2.5 favorites), so I like that action both ways. You can try the Total with them, but both teams can step up defensively so I’d rather not.

Pick: Wiz 101, Hawks 97

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