The NBA Playoffs are reaching the midway point and are still rolling strong. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers are putting on a classic series while the Indiana Pacers look like they've begun to find their defensive identity against the Washington Wizards. The first game of the day tips off early in Los Angeles.
Oklahoma City vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Game 4
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The second round of the playoffs have been underwhelming in comparison to an action-packed first round, but the Thunder and Clippers are doing their part to put on one memorable series. The Thunder took a 2-1 lead after Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook proved to be too much to handle in the fourth quarter of Game 3, and now Oklahoma City has a chance to land a haymaker on the reeling Clippers.
It wasn't the Clippers offense that let the team down, either. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin performed at peak levels but the team struggled corralling the NBA's Most Valuable Player. Durant seemingly floated through Los Angeles' "perimeter defenders" and then dropped the hammer with a turnaround jumper in the final two minutes to seal the game for Oklahoma City:
It'll be a long afternoon at Staples Center if Durant is locked in. Again.
Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards, Game 4
8 p.m. ET, TNT
The Pacers and Wizards would likely both rather forget about Game 3, which was an ugly, grind out game. On the plus side for Indiana, their defense looked top notch, performing at systematic levels as they lulled Washington into their game plan. Indiana gave up the mid-range area in favor of protecting the rim, and the Wizards were unable to make them pay.
Bradley Beal, who has had an excellent postseason in his sophomore season, struggled the most. He went 6-for-19 from the field and couldn't find his shooting stroke despite multiple open shots. The Wizards frontcourt duo also couldn't get into rhythm, combining for 12 points on 23 percent shooting.
The Pacers offense was stagnant, slow and unimaginative but this game played into their hands. It came down to a defensive standoff, and Indiana tapped into their league-best ways once again. Now it's a matter of stringing a few of these defensive gems together to get back on track.