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NBA Playoffs 2015: Hawks and Warriors expected to win pivotal Game 3

At some point in time the #1 seeds will play like it

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I never noticed how long the NBA Playoffs can be until my team was no longer in it. ("Patience, Monty. Climb the ladder . . ." ) Well, there are another two games on tonight. The first one tips off momentarily, as the Atlanta Hawks (#1) visit the Washington Wizards (#5). This series, like all of the series so far, was tied 1-1 after two games. The Wizards have been pretty flawed during their playoff sojourn but have enough facets to win a game when it matters. The Hawks coasted into the playoffs and I don't think are quite at the level they were playing at earlier on in the regular season just yet. You could argue that the best Hawks player in this round isn't Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Al Horford, or Paul Millsap -- but DeMarre Carroll. You can hold your head up high when you have to defend Paul Pierce and end up shooting 46% from downtown while scoring 23.0 ppg. And I guess this is the macro problem for these Hawks. They don't have one, really, great player. They have a bunch of good players. That worked out okay for the Detroit Pistons back in the 2000s, but they only won one title despite making the East finals something like 7 straight times. In the NBA Playoffs stars have an advantage -- and the teams that know how best to use theirs can advance. The Wizards have The Truth, who has climbed the mountain before -- and John Wall, who was on my long-list for MVP back during parts of the season. Wall, like guys like Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins, is why teams tank. They are just, honestly, that good. The longer a series goes the more chances you give a star player an opportunity to have a break out game. There's no Wall tonight, so it's not going to be tonight where we see Superstar Wall. But I wouldn't count him out. But, I'd love to see ATL come out and stomp the WIZ, but D.C. has been perfect at home this post-season. It's not going to be easy.

The other game isn't going to be easy either, with the Golden State Warriors (#1) going up against the Memphis Grizzlies (#5). I don't know if Memphis can beat this team twice in a row during a seven game series, but at some stage they are going to have to do just that. Why not tonight? If Memphis can do it, and go up 2-1, it could be the first time the Warriors feel some heat on them since, what, January? As always, if Memphis is going to do it they're going to need to control the glass, and control the pace of play. Very few teams can fast break after getting scored on, the Dubs are one of those teams -- but I don't think they can run too fast if there's a bunch of hungry bears in their way. I think that starting Tony Allen (usually came off the bench this season), while pushing Jeff Green to the role of bench scorer, has worked so far. But the playoffs is about game-to-game adjustments. Steve Kerr is going to have some of his own to roll out for Game 3. Another thing to worry about (for both teams) is that Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green are all shooting much worse than normal. Part of that is defense, agreed. Part of that is just missing shots that usually go in. Some of these guys will break out of their slump at some point. It could be tonight.

Game 3:

  • Hawks @ Wizards -- 3:00 PM MT on ESPN
  • Warriors @ Grizzlies -- 6:00 PM MT on ABC