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NBA Playoffs Open Thread: Three teams look to close out their series tonight, including Boston

We’ll know tonight whether or not the Sixers will be playing on Saturday.

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While we power through this rest period for the Philadelphia 76ers and parse every Joel Embiid update or non-update, three teams will take the court tonight at home looking to close out their series. All of Boston, Denver, and Phoenix are at least double-digit favorites tonight as of this writing, per DraftKings.

Of course, Sixers fans are likely most interested in the Boston-Atlanta game, because if the Celtics send the Hawks fishing tonight, Game 1 between Boston and Philadelphia will be on Saturday. If the Hawks pull off the upset, Game 1 of the second round would move to Monday.

While we would love for Embiid to have a couple more days to heal his sprained knee, we’re not holding out too much hope for Atlanta. Let’s quickly set up tonight’s games.

Boston Celtics (3-1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (1-3) - 7:30pm ET - TNT

The Celtics are 13-point favorites for this contest, in part because Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray is suspended for tonight’s game for making contact with and verbally abusing an official at the end of Game 4. Not smart, Dejounte.

Sixers fans embodied the Pointing Rick Dalton meme because Jayson Tatum also made contact with an official during Game 4, but objectively, you can see the difference between what Tatum and Murray did.

We all know Boston is light years ahead of Atlanta on the court. It was very surprising the Hawks were even able to pull off a win in Game 3. Trae Young’s playoff career-high is 48 points, which came in 2021 in the Eastern Conference Finals against Milwaukee. He’ll need to be in that ballpark for Atlanta to hang tight with the Celtics in Boston tonight.

Denver Nuggets (3-1) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-3) - 9:00pm ET - NBA TV

The Wolves showed some pride by winning Game 4 and avoiding the sweep, although allowing Denver to go on a 12-0 run to end regulation and force overtime is not exactly cause for celebration. The Nuggets are 10-point favorites, helped slightly by Minnesota’s Kyle Anderson being ruled out with an eye injury suffered in Game 4. Since struggling in Game 1 of this series, Anthony Edwards has been incredible, dropping 41, 36, and 34 points, which was still only enough to barely scrape by with one win. We are all Chuck right now.

Look for Nikola Jokic to pad some stats tonight and the Nuggets to advance to the next round.

Phoenix Suns (3-1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (1-3) - 10:00pm ET - TNT

You have to feel awful for the Clippers, who have been competitive throughout this series despite getting no games from Paul George and just two games from Kawhil Leonard. Both stars are out again tonight with Phoenix sitting as 12.5-point favorites. Russell Westbrook has his stans crowing big time, as he has defied the doubters with at least 28 points in each of the last three games, shooting a more than respectable 54.4 percent from the field over that span.

Still, led by Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, timely moments from aging Point God Chris Paul, and terrific X factor play from Torrey Craig, the Suns have won three straight and look back on track to approach those lofty expectations post-Durant trade. The Clippers’ extreme small ball tactics have been fun and interesting, but I think it ends here tonight for them.

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