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NBA

NBA Playoffs crunch time: Semifinals 3-2

In both conferences, all series matchups are currently sitting at 3-2, so the next games could be an elimination game for the teams behind.

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

It’s crunch time in the NBA playoffs, with the eight teams remaining going into their respective Game 6′s at 3-2. That means that the teams who have only won two will have to win Game 6 in order to stay in it. And the teams who’ve won three have the chance to advance already.

In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat are leading the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics are trailing the Milwaukee Bucks. In the West, the Dallas Mavericks are a game behind the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors are ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Here’s a look at what to expect as these teams fight to stay in it and to advance.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

76ers vs Heat

Heat leads 3-2

Game 6 - Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

The Heat took the lead in Game 5, after losing Games 3 and 4, with a huge 120-85 win over the Sixers in Miami. The Sixers are struggling, especially with their star player Joel Embiid injured. The Heat were unstoppable, with all five of their starters contributing to the beatdown. Jimmy Butler led with 23 points, Max Strus had 19, and Gabe Vincent had 15. They simply outplayed Philly in every area - physicality, shooting, and defense. The Sixers will now have to win possibly without their best player and the energy he brings with him. They only shot 28% from deep and will need James Harden to step it up and get down the court if Embiid stays out.

Bucks vs Celtics

Bucks lead 3-2

Game 6 - Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

The Celtics came back from a 2-0 deficit to even the series in Games 3 and 4 only to blow it in Game 5. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was beat up and still managed to dominate, putting up 40 points in 40 minutes. Now the Celtics are heading to Milwaukee. They still have a positive with big man Al Hereford, who was brilliant despite the Game 5 loss, putting up a dunk late in the fourth. But Jrue Holiday shut down the Celtic’s attempt to tie the game with seconds left. Defense like that could win championships.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Mavs vs Suns

Suns lead 3-2

Game 6 - Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

The Mavs and Suns have looked like two totally different teams depending on who’s home and who’s away. After going 0-2 in Games 1 and 2, the Mavs tied the series in Games 3 and 4. But the Suns were right back ahead again in Game 5, beating the Mavs by a whopping 30 points. For Game 6, they head to Dallas, but the Mavs have to win there and again in Phoenix to advance to the next round. When facing elimination, Mavs star Luka Doncic is 0-2. The Suns were able to maximize on Dallas’ turnovers in Game 5 in a way they couldn’t in Games 3 and 4, plus held them to just two second-chance points compared to their 15+ in the previous three games. That kind of defense could shut Dallas out before tomorrow.

Warriors vs Grizzlies

Warriors lead 3-2

Game 6 - Friday, 10 p.m. ET

The Grizzlies got back into the game, beating the Warriors 134-95 in Game 5 with significant contributions from Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyus Jones, and Desmond Bane. But now the Warriors are heading back home and that could give them the push they need. The Grizzlies are out their best player Ja Morant, but they won without both him and head coach Steve Kerr in Game 5, so they’ve proven they’re more than capable. They didn’t just win. They spanked the Warriors. Klay Thompson has been struggling to make an impact for the Warriors, shooting less than 30% from the perimeter this series and averaging just 16.2 points per game. If Golden State does manage a win, they’re on to the next round to play the winner of the Suns vs Mavs game.

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