The only thing more exciting than a game seven in sports is three of them on one day. Fortunately for fans, the NBA is providing exactly that and making American sports history in the process. We have previews of each game.
Super Saturday will feature the seventh and final first round games for the #6 Golden State Warriors and #3 LA Clippers, the #7 Memphis Grizzlies and #2 Oklahoma City Thunder and the #8 Atlanta Hawks and #1 Indiana Pacers.
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Preview (5:30 PM EST)
- Play Like You Want it: There is no reason this series should have gone seven games. The Pacers finished with the best record in the NBA and the Hawks had the worst record of the 16 playoff games. This should have been a sweep or a five-game series at most. It hasn’t been though because the Hawks didn’t surrender and the Pacers continued to suffer from their late season slump. Indiana isn’t dead yet as they have a remarkable record at home, but if they don’t come out and play like they want it, this could be one of the more shocking defeats in recent memory.
- Behind the Arc: Three-point shooting has been a huge story for both of these teams. For the Hawks, it has been their ability to take over 30 threes a game, by far more than other team, and to make almost 40% that has kept this team fighting. For the Pacers, their inability to defend the perimeter is sinking them. Game seven’s winner could come down to this. Can the Hawks continue to take advantage of matchups? Can the Pacers limit the damage? Whichever team has the answer will likely have the win as well.
FINAL PICK: Its simple or at least it should have been. The Pacers are the better team but they haven’t played like it. The Hawks had nothing to lose and they’ve given Indiana all they can handle. At home, it would be advantage Pacers but after how Atlanta made a mockery of the team in Indiana last game, it is anyone’s guess what happens next. The money is probably going to be on Indiana but if ever there was a time for an upset, this Hawks’ team seems to have the formula. So I am betting on the Hawks +5.5pts on the spread at odds of -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder (8 PM EST)
- 12 Minutes Left to Play: The Thunder haven’t played well this series and as a result have allowed the Grizzlies to make this close and competitive. And while these games have gone that way literally with four of the six resulting in overtime, it has been Memphis letdowns in the fourth quarter that have led to OKC being able to stay alive. If the Grizzlies are to pull off the upset in Oklahoma, they are going to have to find a way to play a full 48 minutes of basketball.
- Kevin Durant: When it comes to the Thunder there is only one name you need to know and it is Kevin Durant. For better or for worse, he is the star and when he shines he does so at MVP quality. The problem however is that Durant was quiet in game three and hasn’t come up as big as he could have all series long. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been a factor though as he is still averaging 29.3 points this postseason. It should be kept in mind though that in the two blowout wins of this series, both for OKC, Durant has put up 36 and 33 points respectively. He is the team and if he has a big night, it could be a long night for the Grizzlies.
- Offense Beats Defense: Memphis’ best quality is their ability to make teams play down to their level. That means low-scoring, gritty and physical games where defensive stops are often the storyline. However, Memphis’ offense has gone toe-to-toe with OKC’s and so far it has come down to that. I don’t expect this game to go into another OT but it will be close and it might even come down to which team has the ball last.
FINAL PICK: The Thunder are returning home after their largest win of the series. The momentum has officially shifted their way and the talk of the failed season seems to be a motivator. Take the Thunder to win another one and keep their chase for the NBA Championship alive. Thunder are at odds of -365 on the moneyline which is very short though I am tempted by the spread where Thunder are -7.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline.
Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers (TBD)
- Live AND Die by the Three: This all-California series has been between two teams that really excelled offensively, especially behind the arc this season. Both teams have continued to post great numbers in the playoffs too. In each of LA’s wins, they have shot over 40% from three and have outshot Golden State as well. The Clippers have lived by the three. Golden State on the other hand was actually undershot by the Clippers in two of their three wins, the notable exception being Steph Curry’s 7-of-14 shooting in game four. The Warriors have died by the three. What it seems to come down to is not the team with the better three point shooting but the team with the more clutch and timely three point shooting that will emerge on top. Curry’s seven three pointers came in Golden State’s biggest win of the series and his inability to make shots late in game three cost the Warriors a close one.
- The Blake Griffin Show: Blake Griffin (pictured above) is a top notch player in the NBA and this postseason, he is really breaking out. In two of LA’s wins, he led the team in scoring with 35 and 32 points respectively. In two of the three losses, he scored 16 and 17 points respectively. His line reads 21 REB/ 6 STL/ 85 PTS in wins and 18 REB/ 2 STL/ 55 PTS in losses. Moral of the story, if the Warriors can stop Griffin from stealing the show, Golden State will move on. If not, the Clippers will move on. It is that simple.
- Turnovers: How do you win a basketball game? Make free throws and don’t turn the ball over. In two of the three wins for Golden State, they had fewer turnovers and a better free throw percentage and in all of LA’s wins they had fewer turnovers and a better free throw percentage.
FINAL PICK: LA is probably going to be favored at home and overall they have played well there this year. Considering the games have gone like a pendulum, I wouldn’t give too much credence to Golden State’s one-point game six victory. Plus, the Clippers have battled through adversity and with the opportunity to close it out at home, in front of their fans, I don’t even expect this game to be close. Take the Clippers -7pts on the spread @ -110 with BetOnline to get it done and advance to the next round.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.