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NBA Game Previews for April 26, 2017
April 26, 2017 at 6:00 PM ET

Wizards Host Hawks in Pivotal Game 5 With Series Tied 2-2

By Joel Bartilotta

The Washington Wizards play host to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Verizon Center on Wednesday. The Hawks (2-2) looked lost in the first two games on this series, but two crucial home wins has evened up this first-round matchup. What makes those games all the more encouraging is the fact that they won both those fixtures by double-digit margins, with Atlanta looking like the far superior team in their home building. It remains to be seen if they can do that on the road, but they'll have to win at least one road game in this series if they want to advance to the next round. Paul Millsap has really stepped up his game recently, as he's accumulated 75 points, 33 rebounds, 16 assists, five steals and three blocks in his last three games. Dwight Howard needs to get going though, as his 16 points and 15 rebounds in the Game 4 win is the Howard they need to see going forward, rather than the guy who scored just 18 points in the first three games combined. The Wizards (2-2) have been dominant at home all season and if they can just take care of business in their home building, they'll find themselves in the second-round. What they really need is more from their role players, as John Wall and Bradley Beal have had to carry way too much of the load on their shoulders. In fact, the other three starters have combined for just 63 points and 12 assists in the last three games, as Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are all struggling. To further that point, Wall has 83 points and 26 assists alone in that same three-game span. That becomes even more concerning since this is one of the worst benches in the NBA. If they don't get more from those players, they won't last long in these playoffs. The home team has won seven of the eight meetings between these teams this season, with Washington 4-0 at Verizon Center.

Posted on April 26, 2017 at 12:11 AM ET      Updated on April 26, 2017 at 12:25 AM ET

April 26, 2017 at 8:30 PM ET

Celtics Back Home After Two Wins In Chicago

By Dan Bruno  

The Boston Celtics play host to the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs, at TD Garden on Wednesday evening. The series is tied 2-2. So far neither team has won at home in this series. It began with the Bulls stealing the first two games in Boston, and then the Celtics answered by winning the next two games in Chicago. After dropping the first two games, the Celtics made a major adjustment by replacing Amir Johnson in the starting lineup with Gerald Green. It turned out to be a good decision, as Green was solid in both games and the Celtics got the wins. Green will likely continue to start, while Johnson's minutes could be few, as he only played six in Game 3 and none in Game 4. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring in Game 1,2 and 4, with a particularly impressive 33-point showing in Game 4. In Game 3 Al Horford was the man for the Celtics, with a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds. Horford also came up big in Game 4, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Celtics will need another collective effort in Game 5. Meanwhile, the Bulls were dealt a blow after Game 2, when it was determined that Rajon Rondo, who had been huge for them, would miss time due to a thumb injury. The Bulls fell in both Game 3 and 4 without Rondo, and his status remains questionable for Wednesday. If Rondo does play, he might be able to provide the Bulls with the steadiness they need to get back on track. So far the Bulls have struggled to find a solution at the point guard position without Rondo. Isaiah Canaan got the majority of minutes in Game 4, where he logged 13 points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds, in 34 minutes. Dwyane Wade has shot about 40 percent from the field, averaging 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists so far in the series, while Jimmy Butler topped 30 points in Game 1 and 4, but was less efficient in Game 2 and 3.

Posted on April 26, 2017 at 1:25 AM ET      Updated on April 26, 2017 at 3:27 AM ET