Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Lakers; series tied, 2-2
The ratings for this one will be huge, and they should be huge. Everyone loves a Goliath on the ropes, and that's what we'll be looking at tonight. And when Ron Harper is sneering at you from half a world away, figuratively speaking, it's time to worry.
A good part of me reckons that this is just a prelude to a Game 7. Just another step. A blowout tonight, a blowout back in Oklahoma City, and a massively-hyped Game 7 that might ultimately turn disappointing and a little ugly (think of the Bulls/Celtics last year, or the Pistons/Cavaliers back in 2006).
Then again, the Thunder have outscored the Lakers by 15 points over the four games in this series, and had a chance to win both Games 1 and 2 in Los Angeles. So it's hard to sit here and tell you that the Thunder won't show up. Part of me thinks that they don't know any better.
Either way, pay attention.
Chicago at Cleveland; Cleveland leads series 3-1
Same story for the Bulls. If they run that flex offense and knock in all those long jumpers, while keeping the appropriate defensive pressure and keeping the turnovers low, they'll have a chance to win. They won't win as a guarantee, but they'll have a chance.
The Cavs are that good. Chicago can play the perfect game, and still come out with a loss. It's already happened once in this series.
Miami at Boston; Boston leads series, 3-1
It's the typical caveat with Boston. Should they demolish the Heat tonight? Sure. Miami is full of expiring contracts, most on the team have no real incentive to go at it on the road, and they needed Dwyane Wade to shoot an uncharacteristically-high percentage from behind the three-point line just to pull out the Game 4 win. At home.
But these are the Celtics, and even with everything going right, we've learned not to trust. That's just what three and a half months of mediocre and uninspired basketball will do to you.
Make me trust again, C's.
San Antonio at Dallas; San Antonio leads series, 3-1
As you've probably guessed, I truly hope this series doesn't end tonight.
Though the Mavs were likely overrated by a whole lot of media as the season drew to an end (Caron Butler, people, seriously, get over it; there's nothing there), the team is running the risk of being underrated if it goes out tonight in five games. Though it could happen, and I wouldn't be surprised if it did happen, the Mavericks would not ably represented by the "First Round, loss to San Antonio 4-1" tagger.
But the coin could flip the wrong way four times in five games for these guys, and it'll just be up to us to tell the tale the right way. Or, the Mavs could win a few games. Their call. I prefer to tell no tales.