Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Golden State Warriors Vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Warriors took down the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, the Grizzlies. Then the Mavericks eliminated the top-seeded Suns with a stunning Game 7 blowout on Phoenix’s home floor.

What’s left on that side of the playoff bracket is an enticing matchup featuring two of the game’s biggest stars, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.

Curry and Doncic fought off late-season injuries to lead their respective teams to this point. Golden State, with its championship pedigree, now takes over the role as the favorite to reach the Finals and capture the title. But anyone who watch Dallas’ beatdown of the Suns on Sunday knows that Jason Kidd’s club shouldn’t be underestimated.

Curry is averaging 26.9 PPG and 5.6 APG in the postseason, though his 3-point shooting has been spotty (35.9%). Splash Brother partner Klay Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG, including a 30-point outburst in the clincher against Memphis. Jordan Poole‘s breakout season has seeped into the playoffs (19.3 PPG, 4.8 APG).

Andrew Wiggins has added solid production and Draymond Green has been Golden State’s biggest play-maker (6.6 APG) while anchoring the defense, as usual. Kevon Looney delivered a huge 22-rebound, five-assist outing in Game 6 of the conference semifinals. Gary Payton and Andre Iguodala may not be able to go in the series, so Otto Porter Jr., Jonathan Kuminga and Damion Lee will need to deliver quality minutes.

The Mavericks are generating their offense from smaller lineups. Doncic (31.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 6.6 APG) solidified his superstar status by putting his team on his back and vanquishing the Suns. Soon-to-be free agent Jalen Brunson (22.9 PPG) has pumped up his price tag and midseason acquisition Spencer Dinwiddie (13.2 PPG) has resurrected his career with Dallas.

Forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock have been defensive stalwarts, while Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber have divvied up the minutes in the middle. Davis Bertans could be an X-factor off the bench.

The chess match between Kidd and Steve Kerr will be fascinating. Dallas will want to slow things down, while Golden State will look to get out in transition. There will be plenty of switching and defensive wrinkles drawn up in an effort to neutralize each other high-scoring backcourts.

So now it’s your turn to weigh in:

Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Miami Heat

The Celtics defeated the Bucks in their second-round series on Sunday, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in the last six seasons. They’ll play the Heat, who’ve made the conference finals in six of their last 12 seasons.

Boston and Miami have recent postseason history. The teams have met twice in the playoffs over the last decade, both times in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Heat winning in 2012 and 2020. Both are regarded as strong defensive teams, and either franchise could easily win the championship this season.

Boston had home court advantage against the Bucks, but will start on the road against Miami. The Celtics made an NBA record 22 three-pointers in Game 7 on Sunday, receiving strong contributions from Grant Williams (27 points), Jayson Tatum (23 points) and Jaylen Brown (18 points).

Miami is coming off a series win against Philadelphia. The team caused issues for Trae Young in round one, then proceeded to hold the Sixers to an average of 96 points in the second round. The Heat have been led by Jimmy Butler on both ends — he’s averaging 28.7 points and 2.1 steals per game in the playoffs.

Both Boston and Miami are dealing with injuries to starting players. Celtics center Robert Williams III (left knee soreness) was active for Game 7, but he didn’t see any action. Heat guard Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, is still battling a hamstring injury.

The Celtics will likely continue deploying their switch-heavy defense, while the Heat may wait to see who Boston starts before finalizing matchups. The team could assign Butler and Tucker to Brown and Tatum, for example, but would have to live with Max Strus defending one of Boston’s big men. The Celtics could assign Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to Butler.

Which team do you think will win this series? Will the Heat advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three seasons, or will the Celtics return to the Finals and compete for an 18th title? Vote in our poll, then take to the comments section below to share your predictions!

Poll: Phoenix Suns Vs. Dallas Mavericks Game 7

The Celtics and Grizzlies will be looking to pick up wins on Friday night in the hopes of sending their respective Conference Semifinals to a seventh and deciding game. But as we await the outcomes of those games, we can already look forward to one Game 7 — the Mavericks‘ home victory over the Suns on Thursday assured that the two teams will play a win-or-go-home contest in Phoenix on Sunday.

It has been an unusual series so far, with none of the first six games decided by fewer than seven points. The Suns have won their three home games by an average margin of 19 points per game, but have lost their three road games by more than 15 points per contest. Those home/road splits bode well for the NBA-best Suns, who earned home court advantage with their 64-18 regular season record and will host Game 7.

Still, they’ll be coming off their worst performance of the series, a 29-point blowout loss in Game 6. In Thursday’s Mavs victory, Luka Doncic reinforced his claim as the best player in this series, putting up 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals while the Suns’ All-Star guards – Devin Booker and Chris Paul – combined for eight turnovers and just seven assists.

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays, it was the second game this series in which Paul recorded more turnovers than assists in a game, marking the first time in his career that he has done that more than once in a single postseason.

Suns head coach Monty Williams said after Thursday’s loss that his team didn’t match Dallas’ level of desperation. Starting center Deandre Ayton said Phoenix will have to adjust its intensity level for Game 7.

“It’s got to be a together thing where everybody is on the same page,” Ayton said. “And it wasn’t like that (on Thursday). There were a lot of mistakes. It felt like a regular season game, the amount of mistakes we had today. The turnovers, terrible, unacceptable. It was that type of game where it was just unacceptable, man. Them dudes, they wanted it more.”

The Suns are currently six-point favorites in Game 7, per BetOnline.ag, but if Doncic has another huge game and Booker and Paul aren’t at their best, there’s not a ton of room for error. The Mavs were one of the NBA’s best teams down the stretch – they had a better record than the Suns during the final two months of the regular season – and have shown by forcing a Game 7 that they won’t roll over easily.

What do you think? Will the Suns hang on and advance to the Western Finals for a second consecutive year, or will the Mavs pull off the upset?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your predictions.

Poll: Who Will Win Game 4 Of Bucks Vs. Celtics?

In our poll before the No. 2 seed Celtics faced the No. 3 seed Bucks in the East’s second round, 62.87% of our respondents predicted Boston to emerge victorious in the series.

Through three games, Milwaukee holds a 2-1 lead in a hotly contested matchup. The first two games were both fairly lopsided, with the Bucks putting on a defensive clinic in Game 1’s 101-89 win, followed by the Celtics making key adjustments in a blowout 109-86 victory in Game 2, holding Milwaukee to just 3-of-18 on three-pointers.

Game 3 had some controversy, as both sides were unhappy with the officiating. The Bucks ultimately emerged victorious by a score of 103-101 after the Celtics missed three put-back attempts in the closing seconds.

Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the best player in the series to this point, averaging 31.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 1.7 blocks in 38.1 minutes per contest, although he’s struggled with shooting percentages (.439/.167/.625). In the absence of Khris Middleton, who will miss at least Game 4 (and possibly the rest of the series), Antetokounmpo is carrying a heavy load and will have to continue to play at an extremely high level to triumph over Boston’s top-ranked defense.

For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown (23 points, 9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals on .489/.417/.867 shooting) and Al Horford (15 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks on .459/.429/1.000 shooting) have both been fantastic. However, the team needs more from star Jayson Tatum, who shot just 6-of-18 from the field in Game 1 and 4-of-19 in Game 3, sporting an overall slash line of 20 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2 steals and 1.7 blocks on .351/.360/.688 shooting.

Wesley Matthews has done a great job shadowing Tatum and making him uncomfortable, but Tatum is 11 years younger (24 vs. 35) and four inches taller (6’8″ vs. 6’4″) than Matthews, so he should still be able to get his shot off. Of course, if he drives to the paint, Antetokounmpo and/or Brook Lopez will be waiting for him, so that makes things more complicated.

Who will Monday’s crucial Game 4? Will it be another nail-biter? We want to know what you think. Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on Celtics/Bucks!

Poll: Phoenix Suns Vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Suns were the NBA’s most dominant team in 2021/22. Their 64 regular season wins were eight more than any other team compiled, and their +7.5 net rating ranked first in the league.

However, with Devin Booker banged up for part of their first-round series, it took the Suns six games to beat the upstart Pelicans, and they weren’t exactly blowout victories — Phoenix outscored New Orleans by just nine points across those six games.

While the Suns may have looked more susceptible to a playoff upset in the first round than they did for most of the season, one crucial stat carried over to the postseason. After registering a ridiculous +33.4 net rating in “clutch” situations during the regular season, Phoenix improved that number to +35.0 in the first round.

The Suns’ ability to score late in close games has been crucial all year, and could be a difference-maker as they look to make a deep playoff run. Having Booker back in the lineup will provide a huge boost as well. He missed three games with a hamstring strain, but returned to action on Thursday and has had three full days of rest before Game 1 of the team’s second-round series on Monday. Assuming he’s back to something resembling 100%, Phoenix will enter the Western Conference Semifinals at full strength.

The Suns’ second-round opponent will be a Mavericks team that has advanced beyond round one for the first time since Luka Doncic arrived in Dallas in 2018, having defeated the Jazz in round one. Like Booker, Doncic was unavailable due to a leg injury (calf strain) for three games in the first round, but the Mavs didn’t miss a beat without him, as Jalen Brunson took his game to another level by putting up 32.0 PPG and 5.3 APG in Doncic’s absence.

Brunson and Doncic, both healthy and ready to go for round two, will face more resistance against Phoenix than they did against Utah’s subpar perimeter defense. Defensive Player of the Year finalist Mikal Bridges has evolved into one of the league’s top shutdown defenders, and he’s flanked by a number of solid performers on that end, including Chris Paul and Jae Crowder. Doncic and Brunson are still capable of putting up big numbers, but they’ll have to work a lot harder to do so in round two.

Although Dallas finished the season 12 games back of Phoenix in the standings, the current iteration of the team looked as dangerous as anyone during the season’s final two months. From the time newly-acquired guard Spencer Dinwiddie made his Mavs debut on February 15 through the end of the regular season, no NBA team had a better record than Dallas (19-6).

The Mavs won’t enter their series vs. the Suns as favorites, but they’re an extremely dangerous team that should make life very difficult for the reigning Western Conference champs.

What do you think? Will the Suns make it back to the Western Conference Finals this season, or will the Mavericks pull off the upset? Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts and predictions!

Poll: Philadelphia 76ers Vs. Miami Heat

The Sixers and Heat will tip off Game 1 of their second-round series on Monday in Miami. Both teams are coming off wins against talented teams, the Raptors and the Hawks, and the clubs will meet in the postseason for the third time in the last 11 years.

Miami finished as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season at 53-29. Meanwhile, Philadelphia ranked fourth in the East at 51-31 and went 14-7 in the games James Harden played. Both clubs should be considered legitimate title contenders.

However, both teams are currently dealing with injuries. The Sixers will be without Joel Embiid (mild concussion and orbital fracture), though he could return later in the series. Miami has several players who are listed as questionable for Game 1 (including Jimmy Butler) and won’t have starting point guard Kyle Lowry to open the series due to a hamstring strain.

When examining the rosters, Philadelphia has the edge with its starting lineup at full strength. Tyrese Maxey, Harden, Tobias Harris and Embiid combined to score 84.3 points per game in the team’s first-round series. The next-highest scorer was Danny Green (9.0 points), who started every game. Teams have also struggled to keep Harden and Embiid off the line. They combined to attempt 17 free throws per game in round one.

Miami’s strengths lie in its defense and depth. The team effectively took Trae Young out of its first-round series, forcing Young to average 15.4 points and 6.2 turnovers per game on 32% shooting. The Heat held Atlanta to an average of 97.4 points across five games and took advantage of its elite bench, receiving 23 points from Victor Oladipo to close the series. Oladipo played alongside Tyler Herro, the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year.

Which team will win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals? We want to know what you think. Vote in our poll, then head to the comments section and weigh in with your thoughts!

Poll: Memphis Grizzlies Vs. Golden State Warriors

The Grizzlies, who entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, eliminated the Timberwolves on Friday night in dramatic fashion. They’ll get precious little time before jumping into their conference semifinal matchup with a much more seasoned postseason participant — the third-seeded Warriors. The series begins on Sunday afternoon on Memphis’ home court.

After rolling to 56 victories in the regular season, the young Grizzlies got a jolt to the system during their first-round series. They needed to stage major, and sometimes unlikely, comebacks to take care of the Timberwolves. They rallied from a 26-point deficit in Game 3 and needed a last-second Ja Morant layup to take Game 5. They outscored Minnesota 40-22 in the fourth quarter to win Game 6.

Playing catch-up against the Splash Brothers & Co. isn’t a recipe for success. Golden State holds championship banners from 2015, 2017 and 2018 and its “big three” are playing at a high level once again.

Morant and Desmond Bane will try to prove they can hold their own, or even outplay, the storied duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Bane averaged a team-high 23.5 PPG in the opening round. Morant had ups and downs in the series, averaging a subpar (by his standards) 21.5 PPG and 4.2 turnovers per contest. He’ll need to provide steadier production in the second round.

Dillon Brooks will be a key factor at both ends in a series that will revolve around the teams’ guards and wings. Brandon Clarke played a huge role off the bench against Minnesota but the Grizzlies will need more from Jaren Jackson Jr. (11.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG). The X-factor could be center Steven Adams, who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols prior to Friday’s win.

Adams started regularly all season, then dropped out of the rotation because he was a bad matchup against the floor-stretching Karl-Anthony Towns. Assuming he exits protocols early in the series, Adams could play a much bigger role against Golden State, which doesn’t have a high-scoring frontcourt piece.

The Warriors come into the series confident and rested after dismissing Denver 4-1 in the opening round. Curry and Thompson combined to average 50.6 PPG in the opening round and vastly improved Jordan Poole (21.6 PPG) continued to add a potent third offensive option.

Draymond Green led the team in assists per game (7.4) against the Nuggets and will remain a heady and all-around defensive force. Gary Payton II could play a major role off the bench as a defender against Memphis’ guards.

So, which of these teams will advance to the 2022 Western Conference Finals? We want to know what you think. Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on Warriors/Grizzlies!

Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The first of the NBA’s four second-round matchups to be locked in is also one of the most intriguing. The Celtics, the No. 2 seed in the East, will face the No. 3 Bucks, with the series scheduled to tip off on Sunday night.

The Celtics were comfortably the NBA’s best team during the final two-and-a-half months of the 2021/22 regular season. After putting up a .500 record in their first 50 games, the C’s went 26-6 from January 29 onward — no other NBA team lost fewer than nine games during that stretch.

Boston’s advanced statistics backed up the team’s dominant record. The club led the league in both offensive rating (120.7) and defensive rating (105.9), resulting in an eye-popping 14.8 overall net rating. The next-best teams during that stretch were Memphis at +8.8 and Phoenix at +6.8.

The Celtics have carried that momentum into the postseason. With many experts forecasting the No. 7 Nets to pull off the upset, Boston became the only team to complete a first-round sweep. It was Jayson Tatum – not Kevin Durant – who looked like the best player in the series, averaging 29.5 PPG and 7.3 APG with a .456/.419/.868 shooting line, compared to Durant’s 26.3 PPG and 6.3 APG on .386/.333/.8985 shooting.

Tatum will face another serious challenge in round two, when he and the Celtics go up against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending-champion Bucks. The Bucks lost Khris Middleton to a knee injury in Game 2 of their series vs. Chicago, but somehow looked even better after that, making quick work of Chicago as Antetokounmpo led the way with 28.6 PPG, 13.4 RPG, and 6.2 APG on 56.8% shooting.

Middleton isn’t expected to be back in the second round, which is a tough blow for the Bucks. But this is a deep, dangerous team even without the All-Star forward.

The Bucks have shown they’re capable of winning while shorthanded in the postseason, having gone 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year without Antetokounmpo before dominating the Bulls in three games without Middleton this year.

It’s Milwaukee, not Boston, that has posted the best defensive rating (94.4) and net rating (+13.8) of the postseason so far. But the Celtics will have home court advantage in the series, which could be a factor — the teams split their four regular season meetings, with each club winning two games at home.

Which team will advance to the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals? We want to know what you think. Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on Celtics/Bucks!

Poll: Who Should Win 2021/22 NBA Awards?

The NBA announced the 2021/22 finalists for its six major awards on Sunday, revealing the top three vote-getters for Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player.

Our writers already shared their picks for this year’s awards (though not all of them made the cut when the finalists were announced). Now we want to know what you think.

Select your winners for this year’s major NBA awards in the six polls below, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts.

Our polls only include the three finalists in each category, but if you think someone else deserves to win one of these awards, be sure to use the comment section to “write in” that pick and explain your reasoning.

Poll: Friday’s Play-In Games

Through four games, there have been no upsets in the NBA’s 2022 play-in tournament. Both No. 7 seeds won on Tuesday and both No. 9 seeds were victorious on Wednesday, setting up a pair of No. 8 vs. No. 9 showdowns on Friday.

In the East, it’ll be the No. 9 Hawks visiting the No. 8 Cavaliers, and for the first time in this year’s play-in tournament, the road team will enter the game as the betting favorite. The Hawks are currently favored by 2.5 points on BetOnline.ag.

Although the Hawks finished the season a game behind the Cavaliers in the standings, Atlanta was clearly the better team in the second half. While the Hawks finished the season on a 26-14 run, the Cavs struggled to hold their spot in the Eastern Conference standings after a hot start and went 9-17 down the stretch. The two teams’ play-in results so far reflect that second-half momentum — Cleveland never led against Brooklyn on Tuesday, while Atlanta controlled Wednesday’s game against Charlotte for nearly the entire night.

Cleveland’s home-court advantage will be a boon. And if Jarrett Allen is able to return from his finger injury while John Collins‘ own finger and foot injuries keep him sidelined, the Cavs should have an advantage in the frontcourt. But there’s a real possibility that after holding a top-six spot for much of the season, Cleveland could miss the playoffs altogether.

[Note: The following section on the Western play-in game was written before word broke that Paul George will miss the game due to a positive COVID-19 test.]

In the West, the No. 8 Clippers will host the No. 9 Pelicans, with L.A. listed as a four-point favorite, per BetOnline.ag.

The Clippers finished the year six games ahead of the Pelicans in the standings, but those end-of-season records are somewhat misleading. Since November 17, New Orleans has actually been better (34-32) than Los Angeles (33-35), and the Pelicans have taken another step forward since acquiring CJ McCollum at the trade deadline.

Of course, that’s not to say that the Clippers were spiraling when the regular season ended — they’d just gotten Paul George and Norman Powell back in their lineup following lengthy injury absences and won their last five games of the year before losing a tight one in Minnesota on Tuesday.

Friday’s do-or-die late game would be can’t-miss TV if injured forwards Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and Zion Williamson (foot) were available, but even without those stars on the court, these are two talented, well-coached teams who each look capable of securing the No. 8 spot in the West.

We want to know what you think. Which teams will claim the final two playoff spots on Friday, and which two clubs are headed home?

Vote in our poll before Friday night, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts and predictions!