Injured Durant to miss Warriors' series opener

Tom Pennington  Getty Images

Tom Pennington Getty Images

The explanation for this bet is fairly straightforward: all but two games in this series have been decided by single digits. Despite the lack of parity in this year's tournament, the results do set up for some electrifying bouts in the conference semifinals.

After both the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference were dealt early scares in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors turned the tides. In the remaining four games of the series, the Bucks won by an average of 16 points as the Celtics are anxious that these were the first and last playoffs for Kyrie Irving in their uniform. He has had an awesome series against Denver.

I expect Game 4 to be the culmination of Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer's brilliance.

Cousins, who was listed as "unlikely" to return during the postseason in the immediate aftermath of his injury, did some work after practice with members of the Warriors' training staff. Cousins did light jogging and getting up some extra shots, but he wasn't moving with the force of a player coming back to the lineup soon.

Kyle Lowry had a brief injury scare during the Toronto Raptors' Game 7 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

This is why the Raptors got Kawhi Leonard. Their opponents have averaged 111.1 points on 43.7 percent shooting. Pascal Siakam has played well, for the most part. There was a balanced attack by the Sixers offense, including a much more aggressive Ben Simmons on the offensive glass. The building will be buzzing and the Raptors will be desperate for a win. Draymond Green accidentally jabbed James Harden in the eye during Game 1, causing him significant discomfort throughout the series.

Despite the third-quarter departure of Rodney Hood with a hyperextended knee, Portland booked their first trip to the conference finals since 2000.

Between the impending free agencies of Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler and the Golden State Warriors looking more vulnerable than ever, the stakes for Sunday's clincher couldn't be higher. This rematch from previous year is based on consistency vs. erratic play. A layoff served them well after the first round and every team in the league would opt for rest. Nine players are averaging at least 18.9 points per game in the postseason and seven score at least 8.0 points per game.

KEEP AN EYE ON: The first few minutes. Jokic finally answered with a basket on the other end. It means a lot; If we can pick, we're going to play Game 7 at our home. Give me the reigning champs in six.

"The school is literally two minutes away from where I live", Malone stated during his pre-game press conference.

Milwaukee was the best team in the National Basketball Association this season and I have a tough time seeing them struggle here.

Lillard was in the mood as he helped the Trail Blazers avoid elimination in the west. It's good to play hard in the playoffs, but playing smart defense wins championships.

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