The 2015 NBA Playoffs kicked it up a notch Thursday night as the Chicago Bulls put up huge numbers to finish off Milwaukee Bucks and the L.A. Clippers, facing elimination on the road, beat the defending champion Spurs in San Antonio to stretch their series to seven games.
In the highlight of the night, Chicago, led by Mike Dunleavy and Pau Gasol, scored a whopping 65 first half points on their way to a crushing 120-66 road win at Milwaukee — almost setting a new NBA Playoff record for winning margin — to take their first round series 4-2 and set up a Eastern Conference second round clash with Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland booked their place early, sweeping Boston 4-0 in the first round, but they will have to take on the Bulls without power forward Kevin Love, who injured a shoulder in Game 4 of the Celtic series and is out for the rest of the season.
On the other half of the Eastern Conference draw, the Washington Wizards also got their NBA Playoffs off to a flying start, beating Toronto Raptors in four straight games, and now await their second round opponents. That will be either the Atlanta Hawks or the Brooklyn Nets, who face off in game six of their first round series in New York on Friday night. Atlanta won the last game 107-97 to take a 3-2 lead, and will be looking to seal the series with a road win.
The second round match ups aren’t all set in the Western Conference NBA Playoffs either. Top seeded Golden State Warriors made easy work of the New Orleans Pelicans in the round’s only sweep, and will start their second round series with the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Sunday afternoon. Memphis beat the Portland Trailblazers over five games to book their place.
In Thursday night’s other NBA Playoff game, the L.A. Clippers staved off elimination in San Antonio to force a Game seven after beating the Spurs 102-96. In an keenly contested game with another dramatic finish, the Clippers overcame a 10-point 2nd quarter deficit and, on the back of Blake Griffin’s hot streak, took a four point lead into the 4th quarter. All-Star guard Chris Paul then found his shooting range late on to lead the Clippers to victory.
The two teams will finish the series in what should be another exciting NBA Playoff match up in Los Angeles on Saturday.
(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images Sports)