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NBA Game Previews for April 27, 2018
April 27, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET

Wizards Play Host to Raptors in Game 6, With Toronto up 3-2

By Joel Bartilotta

The Washington Wizards play host to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Capital One Arena on Friday. The Raptors (3-2) have been impressive at home in this series, despite the fact that they've yet to win a road game. The good news with that trend is the fact that Toronto has earned homecourt advantage throughout the postseason. What's so critical about that is the fact that they don't necessarily need to win on the road, as they could advance to the Finals if they are perfect at home. That's an unlikely scenario, but it's quite the advantage for a team that went 34-7 at home this season.The home and road splits are defined by this team's defense, with Toronto allowing Washington to hit 51 percent of their shots on the road while holding them to 45 percent shooting in their home building. It's also clear in the offense as well, with the Raptors averaging 117 points per game at home in this series and just 101 points on the road. It's clear that homecourt advantage is obviously a huge factor for this team, but a win here could advance them into the second-round and quiet the doubters. The Wizards (2-3) are way too good of a team to be ranked as an eight-seed, as they maintain one of the best backcourts in the NBA. The fact that John Wall missed most of the season due to a knee injury is why they landed so low in the standings, as Washington has the unfortunate task of playing the top-seeded Raptors. The Wizards are holding their own though, as they are a home win away from forcing a Game 7. That's all Washington fans want to see, as Wall is having a majestic postseason. In fact, Wall is averaging 26.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 12.2 assists and 2,4 steals per game in this series, as he's clearly not hampered by that injury. That's the Wall that earned an all-star appearance, as he could single-handedly get this team a first-round upset. The fact that Otto Porter comes into this game questionable with a leg injury is worrisome though, as he's the most valuable wing player on this team. If he can't go, this already shortened rotation will have a hard time matching up with this deep Toronto roster. The home team has prevailed in all five games of this series thus far, with every game being decided by eight points or more.

Posted on April 27, 2018 at 1:01 AM ET      Updated on April 27, 2018 at 1:06 AM ET

April 27, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET

Pacers Host Cavaliers in Game 6, Looking to Force Game 7

By Joel Bartilotta

The Indiana Pacers play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Banker's Life Fieldhouse on Friday. The Cavaliers (3-2) have a subhuman player on their roster, as the 33-year-old LeBron James is cementing himself as one of the best players to ever step on an NBA court. Him averaging nearly a triple-double in the regular season is one thing, but the fact that he's playing hero in these playoffs just solidifies his legacy. That was on full display in the Game 5 victory on Thursday, as James made a game-saving block and followed that up by hitting a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. That capped off a 44-point, 10-rebound and eight-assist game, as he's averaging 34.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game in this series. He needs some help though, as everyone else on this roster is struggling mightily. Players like Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Kevin Love are all playing well below expectations and they simply can't go far in these playoffs unless those guys help James out a little more. The Pacers (2-3) came into this series with a 27-14 home record, as they're hopeful that this sort of form carries over in this critical Game 6. They need to figure something out too, as they've lost three of their last four games after taking down Game 1 in dominating fashion. The one guy they really need to get going is Victor Oladipo, as the all-star has been struggling mightily throughout this series. In fact, Oladipo is connecting on just 24 percent of his shots in the last three games, despite leading the team in scoring. It's not like the role players are contributing greatly either though, as Myles Turner and Darren Collison have both struggled as well. It's a simple notion that they won't advance unless these players start playing better, but it couldn't be any more true with a do-or-die scenario in this crucial Game 6. Cleveland has won eight of their last 11 games over Indiana dating back three years, as that includes a four-game sweep in last year's playoffs.

Posted on April 27, 2018 at 1:22 AM ET      Updated on April 27, 2018 at 1:24 AM ET

April 27, 2018 at 10:30 PM ET

Jazz Have Chance To Close Out Series At Home

By Dan Bruno  

The Utah Jazz play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs, at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday evening. After going down 3-1 in the series, the Thunder were able to complete a huge comeback at home in Game 5 to bring the series to 3-2. However, they still have a major task ahead of them as they fight for their season on the road in Utah. The Thunder trailed by as many as 25 points in Game 5, but Russell Westbrook turned his game up to another level to lead his team to the season-saving win. Westbrook finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the win. Paul George was the only other player to score in double digits for the Thunder in Game 5, as he tallied 34 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Carmelo Anthony finished with seven points on 2-of-6 shooting, five rebounds and two steals in the contest. The Thunder dropped both games in Utah so far in the series, but did win 1-of-2 games in Utah during the regular season. It is all on the line for OKC in Game 6 and the Thunder will need to be at the top of their game to stay alive. The Jazz went 28-13 at home during the regular season and have got the job done in Utah so far during the playoffs. They have the perfect opportunity to close out the series and head to the second round. Donovan Mitchell has kept up the solid play from the regular season, and is averaging a team-high 26.6 points in Utah's first-round series. Rudy Gobert has been an excellent defensive presence and is averaging 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game so far in the playoffs. Ricky Rubio came up big a couple of times in the series, including a triple-double in Game 3. Rubio is averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game so far in the series. Despite the loss in Game 5, Jae Crowder showed that he can be a major factor, as he poured in 27 points.

Posted on April 27, 2018 at 1:51 AM ET      Updated on April 27, 2018 at 2:02 AM ET