NBA Playoffs Picks for Friday, May 5, 2023

NBA Friday, May 5 Playoffs Picks

The second-round of the NBA Playoffs continue on Friday, May 5 with a couple of pivotal Game 3s airing on ESPN. In the Eastern Conference the Boston Celtics look to regain homecourt advantage after a troubling Game 1 loss. Playing without league MVP Joel Embiid the Sixers stole one against the defending conference champs behind 45 points from James Harden. If Boston didn’t refocus after that setback they better do it soon since Embiid is ready to return. Many had the Phoenix Suns as a favorite to win the Western Conference following the acquisition of Kevin Durant. They may still advance but they’ll have to overcome a 2-0 series deficit to the Denver Nuggets. Since no team has ever won a series when losing the first three games, Friday’s contest can be tucked into the must-win category.

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NBA Playoffs Schedule for Friday, May 5

Boston at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Denver at Phoenix, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

NBA Playoffs Picks for Friday, May 5, 2023

It’s been a rocky season for the Celtics and nobody said the path to a return trip to the NBA Finals would be easy. Boston has shown the ability to overcome adversity with a talented roster featuring Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics boasted the best record in the NBA for most of the season until a second-half surge by Milwaukee got the Bucks the top spot. But finishing as the No. 1 seed wasn’t the main goal rather being healthy and playing good ball entering the playoffs was.

Outside of Milwaukee I think the Celtics have the deepest roster of the remaining playoff clubs. That doesn’t always mean success, just ask Giannis and his mates about that, but it does give Boston a better chance of surviving a long series. And there’s a good chance this is a long one.

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Taking Game 1 without the services of Embiid showed everyone the Sixers are a contender. Harden had a huge game hitting 7 of 14 triples and scoring 45 points. Tyrese Maxey also stepped up with 26 points and the Sixers had a masterful shooting performance making 51 percent from the floor while going 17 of 38 from distance and making all 12 free throws. The good news for Boston is that Philly was much better than their season numbers and will regress to the mean.

After having an easy time in their first round sweep of Brooklyn, the Sixers will get a workout. Doc Rivers shortened his bench in Game 1 with Embiid shelved and the team looked fresh in the latter stages. That won’t be the case in this series with Boston’s depth testing Philly’s limited rotation. And fresh legs in the fourth lead to a Boston win.

The Suns’ playoff hopes took a dent when they lost Games 1 and 2. Facing a must-win situation on Friday they may have to do it without Chris Paul, who sustained a groin injury and is questionable for Friday. Having CP3 on the floor would be nice, but what would be better is if Devin Booker and Kevin Durant made a higher percentage of their shots. The two combined for 59 points in Game 2, but they also missed 32 shots between them and the offense faltered scoring just 87 points. They hadn’t scored fewer than 107 points in 11 consecutive games dating back to the regular season.

Nikola Jokic was dominant in Game 2 with 39 points and 16 rebounds carrying the team when Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. had off nights. If the Nuggets can beat a good Phoenix team by 10 points without the usual contributions from two starters, imagine what happens when those two come to play. Having homecourt advantage is huge for the Nuggets, who posted the second-best home record during the regular season. They were just 19-22 on the road losing both regular season games in Phoenix. And in a game they must have, the Suns will rise to the occasion.

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