Playing in front of your home fans proved to be the factor in all of the Game Seven’s on Saturday night. Here is how the series finished, as the Conference Semifinals are starting to finally come into shape.
Hawks 80 – Pacers 92
The Hawks were able to push the Pacers to the brink, making them pull out every effort they could in order to advance to the Eastern Conference semis. But with a playoff career-high of 30 points from Paul George, the Pacers were finally able to knock off eight-seeded Atlanta, and they’ll now move to play the Wizards. Indiana also got help from Roy Hibbert, who has been a non-factor thus far in the playoffs. Hibbert would finish with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and he also grabbed 7 rebounds. The Pacers only used three bench players on Saturday, but that didn’t matter because all of the starters, except for David West, scored in double digits. The Hawks were led by Kyle Korver, who finished with 19, and Jeff Teague who had 16. However, Teague looked noticeably less effective when going up against Paul George in this game, compared to the success he had earlier in the series. The wins for the Pacers in Game Six and Game Seven were the first back-to-back wins they had in the series, which proved how important the home court advantage that they fought all year for was. The Wizards have had almost a week off since they finished up their series with the Bulls. However, the Pacers are 2-1 against the Wizards this season, so they will hope to have less trouble with them than they did with Atlanta in the first round. The Pacers and Wizards both sit at 25/1 odds to win the NBA Championship.
Grizzlies 109 – Thunder 120
Much like the Pacers, the Thunder were also able to win back-to-back games and make the most of their home-court advantage in Game Seven against Memphis. After four straight games of going into overtime, the Thunder were able to beat the Grizz in both of the previous two games with 20 and 11-point wins. On Saturday, Kevin Durant led the way with 33 points and Russell Westbrook had 27. Westbrook also had 10 rebounds and 16 assists. And when Westbrook was on the bench, Reggie Jackson filled in well with 16 points of his own. The biggest factor in this game just might have been the missing Zach Randolph. By far one of the most important parts of the Grizzlies squad, Randolph was suspended by the league for throwing a punch in Game Six. His absence required the Grizzlies to play small, when Courtney Lee was inserted into the starting lineup. Lee finished with 16 and Memphis was led by Marc Gasol, who had 24, and Mike Conley who had 20. The Thunder were able to avoid another upset by the Grizzlies and now have a chance to regroup before the Conference Semifinals. The Thunder will play the Clippers in the next round, which likely won’t be an easy matchup. The Thunder and Clippers split their regular season matchups, 2-2. You can check in with sportspicks.com before this series kicks off, to find out handicappers picks for the series. The Thunder and Clippers have the third and fourth best odds to win the NBA Championship at 5/1 and 10/1, respectively.
Warriors 121 – Clippers 126
The Clippers made it 3-for-3 for teams winning on home-court in Game Seven’s on Saturday. Their 126-121 win wrapped up a series that was full of ups and downs for LA, but they’ll now be able to get past it and move on to the next round against Oklahoma City. On Saturday, Blake Griffin finished with 24 points, Chris Paul had 23 and Jamal Crawford had 22 off the bench. The Warriors had seven players score in double digits, being led by Steph Curry. Curry was 7-17 from the field, including 3-7 from beyond the arc. However, he was also a perfect 16-16 from the free thrown line. This game was much closer than the other two Game Seven’s on Saturday, but the end result was another home team proving that having that advantage in front of your fans when it matters most is incredibly important. However, the Clipps will now be the lower seed when they match up against Oklahoma City.