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NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Thursday, April 30

NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Thursday, April 30

NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Thursday

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Thursday, April 30.

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Boston Celtics Chicago Bulls, 9:35PM ET

Three overtime games, including one that needed two extra periods. Another one went down to the wire in regulation. And this series isn't over yet.

With a 3-2 lead, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics will try to wrap up their first-round thriller with the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday.

``We want to be done with this series,'' Boston's Glen Davis said after Tuesday's 106-104 overtime win.

And who could blame him?

The Bulls certainly aren't making this easy on the defending champions. The three overtime games this series are an NBA record, and although the Bulls left Boston bloodied, they're not quite beaten as it shifts back to Chicago.

They are a little frustrated, though.

After all, they led by 11 early in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, only to see Paul Pierce deliver the big shots and Brad Miller absorb one at the end of the game.

NBA Free Pick: Boston | Best Line: +3 Sports Interaction

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:05PM ET

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Dwight Howard will have plenty of elbow room wherever he watches Game 6.

Howard could stretch out in his hotel room and click on the TV. He could watch Orlando play Philadelphia from a restaurant or catch updates on a hand-held device.

What Howard won't do Thursday night is play. Orlando's ``Superman'' has been grounded.

Howard was suspended one game by the NBA on Wednesday for his elbow on Sixers center Samuel Dalembert in Orlando's Game 5 victory.

The two tangled going for a rebound in the first quarter and Howard whacked Dalembert on the left side of the face. Howard drew a technical foul for the hit.

Howard said in a statement on Wednesday he was disappointed, but respected, the league's decision.

NBA Free Pick: Orlando | Best Line: +5 Sports Interaction

Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 9:35PM ET

The strategy seems simple enough: Pass the ball to Yao Ming.

Once again, the Portland Trail Blazers shut off that option for the Houston Rockets and stayed alive in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Yao scored 15 points - but only two in the fourth quarter - in the Blazers' 88-77 win on Tuesday night to force Game 6 on Thursday night in Houston. The 7-foot-6 Yao, a seven-time All-Star and Houston's leading scorer at 19.7 points per game during the regular season, took only four shots in the last quarter and the Rockets were outscored 24-15.

The Blazers have mostly defended Yao by putting either Joel Przybilla or Greg Oden in front of him and then double-teaming whenever he touches the ball. Yao found a way to score 24 points in Game 1 and 21 in Game 4, leaving the game plan for Game 6 fairly obvious - at least to him.

NBA Free Pick: Houston – View Game Matchup | Best Line: -4.5 Sports Interaction

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