The NBA playoffs are now very much in full swing as the Los Angeles Lakers fight it out with 15 other teams to find out who will replace LeBron James, Anthony Davis et al as the 2021 NBA Champions.
The first round got going on Saturday following the brand new play-in tournament which had seen the elimination of four of the initial 20 sides, and the best-of-seven series will whittle the contenders down to eight teams in the Conference semi-finals.
But how are the various series going so far, and what can we expect from Thursday night’s games? Here’s the full run-down…
Philadelphia 76ers (No.1 seed) v Washington Wizards (No. 8) – SIXERS LEAD 2-0
Game 1: Wizards 118, Sixers 125
Game 2: Wizards 95, Sixers 120
Game 3: Saturday night @ Washington
The number-one seed Sixers are well in command after taking the first two games. They came from behind in a tight affair in Game 1, spurred on by Tobias Harris’ 37 points as well as 15 rebounds and 15 assists from Ben Simmons, but Game 2 was a much more one-sided affair as they turned a 14-point lead at half-time into a straightforward 25-point win with Simmons and Joel Embiid sharing 44 points. The Wizards have much to do to mount a comeback, starting on Saturday.
Game 4: May 31 @ Washington
Game 5: June 2 @ Philadelphia (if necessary)
Game 6: June 4 @ Washington (if necessary)
Game 7: June 6 @ Philadelphia (if necessary)
Brooklyn Nets (No.2) v Boston Celtics (No. 7) – NETS LEAD 2-0
Game 1: Celtics 93, Nets 104
Game 2: Celtics 108, Nets 130
Game 3: Friday night @ Boston
The Celtics have it all to do after finding themselves a distant second best in the opening two games of the series. Kevin Durant has been the dominant figure of the series so far, scoring 32 points on opening night then 26 more in the 22-point win in Game 2 which puts the Nets within two more wins of the Conference semis.
Game 4: May 30 @ Boston
Game 5: June 1 @ Brooklyn (if necessary)
Game 6: June 3 @ Boston (if necessary)
Game 7: June 5 @ Brooklyn (if necessary)
Milwaukee Bucks (No. 3) v Miami Heat (No. 6) – BUCKS LEAD 2-0
Game 1: Heat 107, Bucks 109 (after overtime)
Game 2: Heat 98, Bucks 132
Game 3: Thursday night 23:30BST @ Miami
The to-and-fro encounter that was Game 1 gave us all hope of a nip-and-tuck series, but the Giannis Antetokounmpo-inspired 132-98 Bucks victory of Game 2 has given the tie a one-sided look heading south to Miami. The Heat will need to call on all the experience of their escapades in reaching last year’s NBA Finals if they are to progress beyond the red-hot Bucks.
Game 4: May 29 @ Miami
Game 5: June 1 @ Milwaukee (if necessary)
Game 6: June 3 @ Miami (if necessary)
Game 7: June 5 @ Milwaukee (if necessary)
New York Knicks (No. 4) v Atlanta Hawks (No. 5) – SERIES TIED 1-1
Game 1: Hawks 107, Knicks 105
Game 2: Hawks 92, Knicks 101
Game 3: Friday night @ Atlanta
A series which always looked evenly-matched has lived up to the billing so far, with both games having been in the balance until late on. Trae Young led the Hawks to a win against home advantage on opening night but Derrick Rose inspired the Knicks to a nine-point response to send us to Atlanta with all to play for.
Game 4: May 30 @ Atlanta
Game 5: June 2 @ New York
Game 6: June 4 @ Atlanta (if necessary)
Game 7: June 6 @ New York (if necessary)
Utah Jazz (No. 1) v Memphis Grizzlies (No. 8) – SERIES TIED 1-1
Game 1: Grizzlies 112, Jazz 109
Game 2: Grizzlies 129, Jazz 141
Game 3: Saturday night @ Memphis
The Grizzlies really put the cat amongst the pigeons in Game 1 with a stunning win in Salt Lake City, but the top-seed Jazz responded on Wednesday to tie the series despite Ja Morant’s franchise-record 47 points for Memphis. Utah remain the favourites, but this one might have longer to run than some would have expected.
Game 4: May 31 @ Memphis
Game 5: June 2 @ Utah
Game 6: June 4 @ Memphis (if necessary)
Game 7: June 6 @ Utah (if necessary)
Phoenix Suns (No. 2) v Los Angeles Lakers (No. 7) – SERIES TIED 1-1
Game 1: Lakers 90, Suns 99
Game 2: Lakers 109, Suns 102
Game 3: Thursday night 03:00BST @ Los Angeles
Anthony Davis was in inspired form on Tuesday as the Lakers squared the series in Phoenix despite Devin Booker’s best efforts. That came after Booker had led the Suns to a Game 1 win, but with the Lakers heading to the Staples Center at 1-1 there will be an expectation that they will take command of the series following a disruptive 2020-21 season.
Game 4: May 30 @ Los Angeles
Game 5: June 1 @ Phoenix
Game 6: June 3 @ Los Angeles (if necessary)
Game 7: June 5 @ Phoenix (if necessary)
Denver Nuggets (No. 3) v Portland Trail Blazers (No. 6) – SERIES TIED 1-1
Game 1: Blazers 123, Nuggets 109
Game 2: Blazers 109, Nuggets 128
Game 3: Thursday night 03:30BST @ Portland
Another series which could go either way, this one heads to Portland tied after the Nuggets jumped on the back of 38-point Nikola Jokic in Game 2. Damian Lillard has been in predictably great form for the Blazers so far, and if his form continues they could overturn the home advantage to progress to the Conference semi-finals.
Game 4: May 29 @ Portland
Game 5: June 1 @ Denver
Game 6: June 3 @ Portland (if necessary)
Game 7: June 5 @ Denver (if necessary)
Los Angeles Clippers (No. 4) v Dallas Mavericks (No. 5) – MAVERICKS LEAD 2-0
Game 1: Mavericks 113, Clippers 103
Game 2: Mavericks 127, Clippers 121
Game 3: Friday night @ Dallas
The only team to have so far won two games on enemy territory, the Mavs are in a great position to become the first lower seeds to progress after a compelling first couple of match-ups. Luka Doncic racked up 70 points across Games 1 and 2 as the Clippers disappointed on home court, and Kawhi Leonard and his team-mates will have to up their game to get back in the series on the road.
Game 4: May 30 @ Dallas
Game 5: June 2 @ Los Angeles (if necessary)
Game 6: June 4 @ Dallas (if necessary)
Game 7: June 6 @ Los Angeles (if necessary)