Three teams had chances to close out their first round series on Friday night. While the two road teams were able to get the job done, the Utah Jazz were unable to close out at home and will now head to a winner-take-all Game 7 with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards both took care of business in hostile environment pretty easily and will now face-off in what should be an extremely intense second-round match-up. Both teams have exchanged plenty of words throughout this season.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz (Series Tied, 3-3)
With their season on the line, Chris Paul led the Los Angeles Clippers to a road win in Utah, 98-93. Chris Paul led the way with 29 points and eight assists while DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 18 rebounds. The Clippers also got double-figure scoring outings from Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The Jazz were led by Gordon Hayward’s 31 points while George Hill added 22. The Jazz nearly made an improbable comeback as they cut a 10-point Clippers lead with 1:29 remaining to only three thanks to seven consecutive Hayward points. Unfortunately Joe Johnson missed a last second three-pointer that sealed the Clippers win.
These teams will now square off in a do-or-die Game 7 on Sunday, the only first round series that went to seven games.
Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls (Celtics Win Series, 4-2)
All 5 Celtics starters scored in double-figures, led by Avery Bradley’s 23 points, as the Celtics easily dispatched of the Bulls 105-83. The result never looked to be in doubt as Boston jumped on the Bulls at the start of the game, building up a 12-point lead at halftime before putting things away in the third quarter.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 23 points, but got very little help from anyone else. Dwyane Wade made only 1-10 from the field and the Bulls as a team shot only 39.5 percent from the field and 21.1 percent three-point range.
The Bulls never recovered from the injury to point guard Rajon Rondo, losing four straight after winning the first two games of the seires in Boston. The Celtics now square off with the rival Wizards who also took care of business Friday night.
Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks (Wizards Win Series, 4-2)
Just when things started to get a little too close for comfort, John Wall ensured that there would be no trip back to Washington. Wall had 42 points, eight assists, and four steals while his backcourt partner Bradley Beal added 31 points as the Wizards dispatched of the Atlanta Hawks 115-99.
The Wizards saw their 19 point halftime lead slashed to only seven at the start of the fourth quarter thanks to a spectacular performance by Paul Millsap who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Dennis Schroder added 28 and 10 assists.
Down the stretch it was simply too much Wall who hit a number of big shots while engaging in some trash talk with Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones who was seated courtside. The Wizards now head to Boston for Game 1 of a highly anticipated series with the Celtics that begins Sunday. Many will recall the Wizards wearing all black to a meeting with the Celtics earlier this season, declaring it the Celtics’ “funeral.”