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NBA Weekend Specials: Celtics and Jazz set to progress

Fri, Apr 28, 11:24am by Staff Writer

Expect two sides to bow out of the first round of NBA action this weekend. The Celtics can end the Bulls’ resistance with a win at the United Center, while the Jazz and their Aussie connection are on the verge of bouncing out the Clippers out in the first round of the playoffs. Strap-in as we give you the lowdown on the hardcourt action at

Celtics @ Bulls

United Center, Chicago, Saturday April 29, 10am

Remember a week ago, when we seriously thought the Bulls might become the first eighth-seeded team in five years to upset to the top seed in the first round.

At that stage, Chicago led the series 2-0 after two wins in Boston, as the Celtics struggled to adapt, and star guard Isaiah Thomas dealt with the sudden death of his sister.

But back-to-back wins in Chicago, followed by a crucial home win, has the Celtics up 3-2 and a win in this game would send then through to the next round.

What is pleasing for Boston, is that their revival hasn’t been necessarily built around Thomas. Avery Bradley stepped up with 24 points last time out, while in Game 4, Gerald Green and Al Horford helped get the job done.

What was crucial late in Game 5 was that the Celtics’ defence stepped up, keeping the Bulls to just 16 final quarter points to turn a two-point three-quarter-time deficit into a 108-97 win.

With Jimmy Butler kept to just 14 points in two of his past three games, the Bulls are missing the experience of Rajon Rondo. The veteran point guard is set to sit out Game 6 as he continues his recovery from a thumb injury, keeping the pressure of Butler and Dwyane Wade to lead the attack.

We keep on hearing about momentum during the playoffs, and for the Bulls to arrest the Celtics’ momentum, they need all their guns to fire.

The bookies think that’s unlikely, with the Celtics at $1.83 to win their third match at the United Center for the series and the Bulls at $2.02.

It’s hard to argue a strong case that the Bulls can turn this around. We are happy to stick with the momentum and go for the Celtics to book their spot in the next round against the Washington Wizards or the Atlanta Hawks.

BEST BET: Celtics to win at $1.83

Clippers @ Jazz

Vivint Smart Home Arena, Utah- Saturday April 29, 12:40pm AEST

Aussie Joe Ingles is the flavour of the month for Jazz fans. Joe Ingles has helped the Jazz to a 3-2 series lead, and the chance to close out the series at home. For the Clippers, a season of so much potential could come crashing down in a first round exit.

The Jazz managed to surprise the Clippers in Los Angeles with a close 96-92 win, to tip the scales in their favour. Gordon Hayward top scored for the Jazz with 27 points coming off a bout of food poisoning. Shooting guard Rodney Hood came off the bench to back up with 16 points and five rebounds.

For the Clippers now is not the time to think about what might have been. Doc Rivers and his men are on the brink of elimination, and need to find a way to get out of jail in Utah and take the series to game seven. The trouble for the Clippers is the team who has won game five, go onto win the series 68% of the time.

In the loss earlier in the week the Clippers had Chris Paul hitting 28 points and JJ Redick backing up with 26 points. DeAndre Jordan had another double-double. But without the injured All-Star forward Blake Griffin, lacked an x-factor.

Having started the series underdogs, the Jazz are favourites to win this at $1.40 with the Clippers sitting as outsiders at $3.05

The Clippers have it all to do in this do or die match-up. Expect the Jazz to ride the way of home town support and edge the Clippers in a close win and take the series.

BEST BET: Jazz to win at beat the (-5.5) line – $1.95

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