With the other half of the Western Conference bracket settled for round 2 of the NBA Playoffs, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers can advance with home wins in Game 6 on Friday, April 28. The teams took different routes to get to this point with the defending champs winning three in a row after dropping the first two games to the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers, meanwhile, blew a chance to close out their series with the Memphis Grizzlies losing 116-99 on Wednesday night. The last thing LA wanted to do was give their young opponent a feeling of hope, and now the Griz have it. The Lakers won and covered Games 3 and 4 in LA and opened as a 4.5-point favorite to win the series on Friday.
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NBA Playoffs Schedule for Friday, April 28
Sacramento at Golden State, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Memphis at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
NBA Playoffs Picks for Friday, April 28, 2023
I didn’t expect the Warriors to roll over after dropping the first two games to the upstart Kings. And in fact those setbacks may have just invigorated the group that’s enjoyed so much postseason success over the years. After three consecutive victories, including a huge one on the road Wednesday night, Golden State is back in a familiar position. With road wins hard to come by during the regular season, the Warriors got one when they needed it most.
Going back to San Francisco for Game 6 has the Warriors listed as a 7-point favorite. They were superb on their own floor during the regular season going 33-8 to offset their disturbing troubles on the road. The Dubs won both games at Chase Center last week to go with two victories during the regular season. Three of those wins were by five points or less with the biggest margin in Game 3 of this series.
There is no substitute for playoff experience and the veterans took over on Wednesday. Stephen Curry led the way with 31 points, Klay Thompson had 25 and Draymond Green had his highest scoring game in a few years dropping 21. Still his annoying self on the court, Green has thrived coming off the bench in the last two games totaling 33 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
The Kings were dealt a blow when De’Aaron Fox broke the index finger on his shooting hand. He scored 24 points in Game 4 but was just 9 of 25 shooting and failed to make a field goal in six attempts in the pivotal fourth quarter. Sacto was also an abysmal 10 of 34 (29%) from three-point range in Game 4 leading to their demise. The Kings may see their season end on Friday, but they won’t go down without a fight forcing me to back them and the points.
Facing elimination on Wednesday the stars came out for Memphis guaranteeing at least one more game in the series. And if you listen to Desmond Bane there will be two more games. After dropping 33 points on the Lakers in a 116-99 Game 5 victory, Bane predicted the clubs would return to Tennessee for a deciding Game 7. That’s all good, but the Griz have to do something they haven’t done all season – beat the Lakers in LA. Memphis lost its lone visit during the regular season and dropped Games 3 and 4, though the latter went to overtime.
Playing without big men Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, the Griz went small with Bane and Ja Morant coming up big. Morant added 31 points and each had 10 rebounds to offset the size difference. To avoid a return trip to Memphis the Lakers need their best players to rise up. LeBron James had just 15 points on 5 of 17 shooting with five turnovers. The Griz have their swagger back after a decisive win and I can see them taking the series the distance with Morant, Bane and Jaren Jackson playing at a high level.
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