NBA playoffs: Game 3 a jumpball for momentum

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Miami regained control of its Eastern Conference semifinals series on Wednesday, tying things up with the Chicago Bulls as the proceedings shift to Chicago.
Thursday was largely a travel day for all four playoff series, all of which are 1-1 for the first time in the history of the NBA playoffs under the current 16-team format established in 1984.
Resetting the scene for all four series, could upsets rule the second round?

New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers
Game 1: IND 102, NYK 95
Game 2: NYK 105, IND 79
Game 3: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Plot points: Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points in Game 2, when the Pacers were buried by a 30-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters, but Indiana landed back on friendly soil having accomplished their mission of getting one victory at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers have been a different team in Indianapolis, where they aren't as prone to turnovers and have played maniacal defense in the postseason. Anthony and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith haven't gotten the hot hand in the same game this postseason. If that happens and the Knicks can maintain balance on the floor in their half-court sets, they are capable of puncturing the Pacers on-ball defense.
Brass tacks: For all the focus on forwards Paul George, Indiana's best offensive weapon and the NBA's most improved player, and scoring champion Anthony, the tipping points in this series will be settled in the paint. Roy Hibbert, David West and George are a formidable rebounding trio when avoiding foul trouble. The Pacers' defensive success was fed by not allowing second-chance buckets. In this series that means sealing off Knicks' center Tyson Chandler.
Key number: Indiana is 5-1 in the playoffs when holding opponents to less than 100 points.
Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls
Game 1: CHI 93, MIA 86
Game 2: MIA 115, CHI 78
Game 3: Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Plot points: Are the Bulls healthy enough to keep throwing punches? Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Luol Deng (illness) might be able to return over the weekend, but neither player maintained conditioning during their respective absences and big minutes at playoff intensity are implausible. Reinforcements would be welcome, but even an appearance by Derrick Rose would leave the Bulls undermanned against the NBA's top team. LeBron James is playing table-setter but he and Dwayne Wade are well rested after the beatdown delivered Wednesday in Miami.
Brass tacks: Endgame execution crippled Miami in Game 1. James and Wade had chances to turn the finish in the Heat's favor and came up wide, short and left Nate Robinson to author the most improbable upset. The Bulls lost their cool and got buried in Game 2. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah were tossed, putting coach Tom Thibodeau in the unenviable position of reaching deep into the shortest bench in the playoffs.
Key number: Point guard Nate Robinson is averaging 17.4 points, 4.0 assists and 31.4 minutes per game in the postseason.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors
Game 1: SA 129, GSW 127, 2OT
Game 2: GSW 100, SA 91
Game 3: Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Plot points: The upstart Warriors thrive in a wide-open offensive game, led by guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, averaging 113.5 points in the first two games of the series. Thompson had 34 points in Game 2, including shooting 7 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half. Curry has a 43.9 3-point percentage in the playoffs. San Antonio will make adjustments to its pick-and-roll defense. Can the Warriors continue singeing the nets from long distance?
Brass tacks: San Antonio entered the series as the overwhelming favorite, but matchups have worked against them on both ends of the court. The Warriors have used their role players -- Draymond Green, Carl Landry -- effectively but the reason the sixth seed is a threat is Curry and Thompson are getting wide-open looks and San Antonio hasn't come up with an answer.
Key number: The Warriors are averaging only 15.5 points in the fourth quarter of the series.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors
Game 1: OKC
Game 2: MEM 99, OKC 93
Game 3: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
Plot points: Without point guard Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder is searching for consistent secondary production to support Kevin Durant. The Grizzlies run their offense through big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, but dribble-penetration and dead-eye perimeter shooting by point guard Mike Conley has been Memphis' greatest equalizer. Memphis has almost entirely erased the Thunder's big men, and shooting guard Kevin Martin failed to impact the first two games of the series as he did the late stages of the opening-round win over Houston.
Brass tacks: Pace is a friend of the Grizzlies, especially at the "Grindhouse" in Memphis, where Lionel Hollins' team was 32-9 in the regular season. They're built for the postseason with an offense that waits for big men to post and re-post on the low block. What's more, no defense was better than the Grizzlies with 89.3 points allowed this season. The snuggly defense led to 29 points off turnovers in Game 2.
Key number: Durant is averaging 35.5 points, 13 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the series. ... According to Elias, the Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 44-16 in the paint in Game 2.

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