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Everything You Need To Know For Day 22 Of The NBA Playoffs

Douglas P. DeFelice. Getty Images.

Another day another massive slate of second round games on the horizon. Today is another momentum shifting day of games depending on who you root for. The Bucks are fighting for their playoff lives and can really put the pressure on the Heat with a win today, and then in the Western Conference both sides are going to be looking to swing the momentum in their favor by snagging a 2-1 lead. Both series gave us great games in their last meeting so chances are that'll happen again today. Let's get you ready for the action

Miami Heat (3-1) vs Milwaukee Bucks (1-3) 6:30pm ET

If you're a Heat fan, you shouldn't even be close to being concerned. It took an OT win without Giannis for the Bucks to avoid the sweep, and I don't think anyone truly thinks the Heat are going to blow this series. Last time I checked, no team in the history of the NBA has blown a 3-0 lead. But you also can't play with your food. When you have the opportunity to close the door on a series you have to do it because if you don't, the pressure only builds. For that to happen they really need to avoid the defensive lapses we saw them have in the second and third quarters of Game 4. The Bucks shot over 50% in both quarters for a combined 63 points. It also didn't help that the Heat offense disappeared in two quarters as well, but for them it all starts on the defensive end. The outside shooting of both Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro showed up in Game 4 (9 3PM), and hell even Jae Crowder made 6 3PM, but I wouldn't rely on that Crowder shooting moving forward.

It's pretty clear that the Bucks have no defensive answer for Bam, and as we know Jimmy Butler has been the best all around player in the series, so I'm looking at both of them to close the door today. They had just a combined 8 points in the fourth quarter and OT in the Game 4 loss, so I would expect a bounce back effort from both.

For the Bucks, the big question is obviously if Giannis plays. He was fairly dominant in his 11 minutes before getting hurt with his 19 points on 8-10 shooting, and as of me writing this Giannis is still listed as questionable. That's obviously a pretty huge deal if he isn;t going to be in the lineup simply because of all the attention he requires for opposing defenses. Yes, Khris Middleton went nuts in the third quarter without him and they got some good secondary scoring from guys like George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo, but it'll be hard for this Bucks team to overcome the Heat defense without that firepower. 

The positive spin is that if there is no Giannis, the Bucks can have lineups with more shooting threats out there. They did finish just 11-35 from three in Game 4, and this is one of the best three point shooting teams in the league so it's not as if they can't start making it rain the same way the Heat did in Games 3 and 4. If you're in the Bucks shoes all you are focused on is winning this game and keeping your season alive while putting all the pressure on the Heat. It would be a surprise to me if they rolled over and just packed it up, if that was going to happen we would have seen it in Game 4. A win today might give them just enough life to make Miami sweat.

Houston Rockets (1-1) vs Los Angeles Lakers (1-1) 9:00pm EST

What a series this is shaping up to be. The Rockets came out and shocked everyone with the huge Game 1 win. The internet got their jokes off only for LeBron and AD to come back and assert their dominance in Game 2. They even survived the 22 3PM outburst from the Rockets which most teams don't exactly do. The key to that Lakers victory was clamping down defensively in the fourth quarter, allowing just 17 Rockets points on 33/16% shooting. That's pretty much the story with the Rockets. They showed in the third quarter that no lead is safe if their threes are falling, but then in a blink of an eye they can go 2-12 in the fourth quarter and the game slips away. 

We know LeBron and AD will get theirs. They combined for 62 points in Game 2. The question will be can the second unit step up again like they did in the last game. Guys like Kyle Kuzma (6-7) and Markieff Morris (6-8) and Playoff Rondo (4-9) were all very very solid in their supporting roles. The Rockets had a little bit from Danuel House Jr and that was it. No other bench player scored a single point.

For the Rockets, they face a very tough decision when it comes to Russell Westbrook. He was a huge reason why they won Game 1, but then was also just as big a reason as to why they lost Game 2. I just don't know if Mike D'Antoni has the stones to bench Westbrook in fourth quarters if the game is close. He finished just 1-5 in his 9 fourth quarter minutes in Game 2, he turns it over, and you could argue that swapping him out and having more shooting on the floor to help space things out would actually benefit the Rockets offense. It just doesn't feel like he's willing to not force things in the fourth quarter and that takes away from guys like James Harden. We saw it in the OKC series, this is just what Westbrook does. Figuring out when to pull the plug on his minutes will basically decide things for HOU. If I were them and it was a two possession game in the fourth quarter, I feel like you have to sit him. At the very least do some offense/defense shit. 

As always, I'm just praying for some competitive games. Don't really care who wins in either of these matchups tonight, I just want the streak of awesome bubble playoff games to continue. Something tells me that's exactly what will happen.