The Golden State Warriors’ trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green don’t have many more playoff runs in them – at least as teammates. Lakers forward LeBron James has fewer runs with Father Time paying a visit. So, fittingly I suppose, the Warriors and Lakers meet in the second round of the NBA Playoffs with Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series set for Tuesday, May 2. In a do-or-die Game 7 against Sacramento, Curry went off for 50 points to set up yet another postseason date with James. The two played against each other in four consecutive Finals when James was a Cleveland Cavalier. The Dubs also have homecourt advantage, which they certainly used during the season going 33-8 SU while covering in 65 percent of their outings. After bouncing top seed Milwaukee in five games in the opening round the Miami Heat look to go up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal with the Knickerbockers.
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NBA Playoffs Schedule for Tuesday, May 2
Miami at New York, 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
LA Lakers at Golden State, 10 p.m. ET (TNT)
NBA Playoffs Picks for Tuesday, May 2, 2023
The Lakers remade their roster mid-season after a horrendous start and the moves paid off. They won 15 of their final 22 regular season games to finish as the top seed in the play-in tournament where they dispatched Minnesota to earn the No. 7 playoff seed. With some help from the brash Grizzlies, LA stunned the second-seed in the opening round winning the series clinching Game 6 by 40 points. DeAngelo Russell dropped 31 in that game with James adding 22 on 9 of 13 shooting.
It was quite the turnaround for James, who struggled with only 15 points in the Game 5 loss that escalated a war of words between him and Dillon Brooks. I don’t know if James used the trash talk as added motivation, but he sure looked like a different player. And the Lakers surely didn’t look like the underdog in the series.
The next round has bigger obstacles for LA to avoid. Sure, Memphis was the No. 2 seed in the West, but the Griz had a troubled star in Ja Morant, who missed time near the end of the season, and they were without their two big men in Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, who offered resistance to anyone crashing the paint. Anthony Davis and James took over underneath with each averaging more than 11 rebounds in the series.
The Warriors are healthy and dangerous after winning twice on the road to claim their first round series. The defending champs proved they aren’t ready to give up the throne just yet. But losing the first two games of their series with the Kings and dropping a potential closeout contest at home, this isn’t the same club that rolled through past playoff series. The Lakers won the final three of the four-game season series earning a payout each time, but the stakes are much higher and the Dubs will do what they do best: win at home.
Miami struggled to reach the play-in tournament but claimed the No. 8 seed beating Chicago in the second game. The Heat were huge dogs against the Bucks in the opening round but they looked a lot like the team that earned the top seed last year taking down Giannis and Co. in four games.
With Jimmy Butler leading the way, the offense was clicking averaging 124 points to beat the Bucks. The Heat got back to playing defense stifling New York in Game 1 on Sunday. The Knicks were without Julius Randle and his status is unclear, though he went through pregame drills ahead of Game 1 proving he’s getting closer.
The Knicks can win without Randle, but it would help having a star that averaged a double-double during the regular season contributing. And I don’t think New York will struggle as badly as it did from the 3-point line. Jalen Brunson missed all seven of his attempts and New York was just 7 of 34 from behind the arc. A few more makes and the outcome is entirely different, which we’ll see on Tuesday.
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