While the Lakers blew out the Hornets 106-90, the Bulls 116-89 over the Pacers and the Magic 101-76 over the Hawks in game 5 for each, only the Bulls win was a guarantee to the next round, as they eliminated the Pacers 4-1. The Lakers and Magic must now go on the road to play game 6 on their opponents' respective floors. While the Lakers lead 3-2, they have struggled with New Orleans in this series and the Magic are still facing elimination trailing 2-3 heading into Atlanta. Likewise, the Maverick have been able to outscore the Blazers in a relatively non-physical game 93-82 earlier in the week to take a 3-2 lead, but must go to Portland for game six, in what should be another physical battle, which is advantage Blazers.
The Miami Heat has its' date with Boston set for Sunday after a yet challenging victory over Philadelphia 97-91 in game five. The Nuggets needed a late surge and run to overtake the Nuggets in in game five and move on to the second round. With their backs against the wall the Spurs needed two big and improbable shots in the last 10 seconds to force overtime at home and eventually win in the extra period 110-103, to stay alive in game 5, but they must now travel back to Memphis still facing elimination against the Grizzles, who have played extremely well at home.
Finally the teams viewed as the favorites have surfaced but it may be too late for San Antonio, Orlando, while Los Angeles will have to be careful not to be forced into a game seven, "winner take all" with a very athletic and hungry New Orleans team, that has shown they can win in LA and control tempo.
The question is now, if the Magic are eliminated, the upset of the Spurs completed and if the Lakers were to slip and fall to the Hornets over the next two games, does the emphasis on the post play become a moot point, and does this playoff become the game of transition, match ups and hot shooting or do mid-range post players become dominant forces. Either way, one would have to say this scenario opens the door for a potential Oklahoma City versus Boston, Chicago or Miami, probably in that order of analytical preference. But I'm sure Dallas, Atlanta and Memphis have their own opinions about that projection.
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