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Jim Sez : 6/17/2013
THE NBA FINALS UPDATE IS HERE!
SPURS NOW JUST ONE WIN FROM ANOTHER TITLE WHILE HEAT'S BACK IN "SOUL-SEARCHING" MODE (SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?) ...
PLUS OUR JIM SEZ BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES TACKLES THE SINKING TEXAS RANGERS
By Jim Hurley:
Wait a second ... Did the Miami Heat's so-called "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh say they were gonna win "multiple championships" when they were announced at that over-the-top gala back in the summer of 2010 or did they say they were gonna lose multiple championships?
Right now here's the Heat - a better than 2-to-1 betting favorite at the start of these NBA Finals and an overwhelming choice to win it all way back in October when this 2012-13 swung into action - facing a win-or-else status on Tuesday night for Game 6 and ditto should there be a Game 7 come Thursday night in South Beach.
C'mon, it wasn't supposed to be this way for Erik Spoelstra's squad, was it?
In Sunday night's 114-104 loss in Game 5 in San Antonio, there were the Spurs firing away from every spot on the floor and seemingly hitting every field-goal try - okay, so San Antonio connected on only 42-of-70 FG attempts, good for 60 percent marksmanship and gotta tell you the Heat didn't exactly bust their tails to cover the perimeter jump shooters nor did the Miami defenders do much of a job fending off pick-n-rolls, off-the-ball screens and what have you.
No doubt we were a tad surprised to hear the ESPN post-game cast of Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons (that's left-tor-right on your flat screen TVs) claiming they all thought the Heat played hard here in Game 5 - we didn't see it!
Here's a game in which the Spurs turned the ball over some 18 times and only pulled down 5 offensive rebounds and yet save for the occasional scoring spree here, the Spurs never seemed truly threatened and while all the post-game chatter surrounded San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich starting G Manu Ginobili for the first time this season (Ginobili didn't seem to think it a big deal, meanwhile) as the Argentine star went for 24 points and 10 assists in 33 minutes of action, lost in the shuffle was PG Tony Parker who was brilliant - see 10-of-14 FG shooting for 26 poi9nts with 5 assists.
And let's not forget the newest NBA Finals record-breaker: Three-point gunner Danny Green chucked in another six trifectas in Game 5 en route to a sizzling 24-point game as he now has canned 25 triples in these Finals and thus broke the standing record of current Heat G Ray Allen (22) who didn't do much of a job closing out on Green whenever given the opportunity to do so.
Yes, there was super-crisp ball movement by the Spurs and the red-hot shooting helped but Miami will look back and kick itself for losing a game in which James and Wade scored 25 points apiece (not to mention Allen's 21 points off the pine) and yet the Heat never answered the bell when San Antonio went into one of its scoring blitzes.
Want to blame Spoelstra for sticking with starter Mike Miller (0 points in 25 minutes) or for not sending into one-time key reserve - and now forgotten man -- Chris "The Birdman" Andersen who received his second consecutive DNP/CD (that's Did Not Play/Coach's Decision) in this series?
Well, go right ahead but the biggest flaw the coach, his staff and this well-compensated team has shown this series has been a lack of urgency until something has to be done - and soon we'll see if this alternate win series will continue or will the Heat's bubble burst against a Spurs bunch that will play Game 6 harder than they've played any game these Finals.
We'll lay out the keys to Game 6 in just a moment in our Jim Sez Preview but first check out some of these pointspread stats/figures:
San Antonio enters Game 6 at 13-6 ATS (against the spread) overall this playoff season for a .684 winning rate and note the Spurs have covered eight of their last 11 post-season games in all while dating back to Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinal Round against Golden State.
Also, the Spurs finished the home portion of the playoffs at 6-4 against the odds while they sport a 7-2 ATS mark on the post-season road while heading into Game 6.
And know this: San Antonio is a perfect 3-and-oh spreadwise this playoff season in "closeout games" with wins/covers against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies and note all three of these games were played on the road!
On the flip side, Miami exited Sunday's Game 5 of these NBA Finals at 11-10 versus the vig this post-season (that's a .524 winning rate) and note the Heat's 5-6 against the odds at home during these playoffs and it finished 6-4 ATS away.
P.S., while much is being made of the fact the Heat are a perfect 6-0 SU (straight-up) and 6-0 ATS following a playoff loss this spring, note that Miami is 0-6 versus the vig following a win while dating back to the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.
THE NBA FINALS: SAN ANTONIO at MIAMI - Spurs lead series 3-2; Game 6 is Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET
You might have seen the numbers splashed somewhere across your television or computer screen in the past 24 hours:
NBA teams that enter Game 5 with the series tied and then win Game 5 are 20-7 SU (straight-up) in NBA Finals history - a resounding .741 winning percentage - and perhaps you've also seen the graphic that showed only three teams in Finals history have won Games 6 and 7 at home after being down three games-to-two in a Finals series.
In other words, it surely can be done and the Heat will be rather heavy-duty betting favorites but you tell us: Is it tougher to win two home games at this stage of the playoff season ... or grab one road win with two tries?
The Spurs - who don't want a Game 7 in the absolute worst way and for obvious reasons (the biggest being the momentum swing that would go in the Heat's favor following a Game 6 win) - cannot veer away from what's made 'em so good all year long and here in this Finals series:
The three-point shots must be falling - again, after drilling 9-of-22 triples in Game 5 we firmly believe that San Ant needs double-digit treys here to cop Game 6 - and the ball movement must be swift and so Parker/Ginobili are extremely important when it comes to decision-making. Could the aforementioned Green fire off another 10 triples here? He better!
Then there's the matter of Tim Duncan (17 points and 12 rebounds in Game 5) both getting involved in the low box early and finding out just how Miami is gonna cover him - will it be Udonis Haslem getting the strict one-on-one defensive call or will there be help coming from Bosh and others. Duncan - who has just one assist in Game 5 - may have to flick the ball out quickly here to his perimeter guys and keep fingers crossed that they heat up.
On the other side of the script, Miami cannot waste any possessions: You all saw James (8-of-22 FG tries in Game 5) miss two in-close shots on once sequence in the third quarter just when the Heat was making a run plus the aforementioned Wade (10-of-22 FG shooting in Game 5) has to be a better finisher as he was knocked off track more than once by sturdy Spurs' defenders who somehow avoided fouling the two-time champ.
Gut feeling is that James and Wade need 55-p-lus points between 'em here and they must continue to trust PG Mario Chalmers who was way off his game with 2-of-10 FG shooting for 7 points in 27 minutes in Game 5.
Note that the Heat lost the rebounding battle just 36-to-34 in Game 5 but why does it seem that San Antonio gets so many important second-chance opportunities than often deflate the Miami five? Hmmm.
Let's face it: If the Heat lose here as a chunky 7 ½-point betting favorite, than one title in three NBA Finals appearances here in 2011-12-13 ain't gonna cut it with the fans or the national media.
James and mates have faced put-up-or-shut-up time before ... but it's starting to look as if they are not the best team on the floor here and being on the wrong end of a pair of blowouts in this series has dented the Heat persona no matter what anyone in the Miami front office might say ... got that, Mr. Pat Riley?
Here's how the NBA Finals series between the Spurs-Heat has gone so far (note the home team in CAPS):
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Finals Side & Totals Winners when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the game-night/weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays/Sundays. Game 4 is set for Thursday night (tip time at 9:05 p.m. ET) and so pile up your hoops winnings this week! Also, bang out loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too each/every day online and on the toll-free telephone # here with weeknight games available after 1 p.m. ET and weekday games after 11 a.m. ET.
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
Just when you thought the Texas Rangers could withstand any adversity:
Well, for two-plus months in this 2013 Major-League Baseball season, the Rangers shrugged off injuries to their pitching staff, the off-season free agency loss of star OF Josh Hamilton plus lots more and yet the American League West club just kept on truckin'.
Until this past week/weekend, that is.
The Rangers exited their 7-2 home loss to the Toronto Blue Jays - the finale in a four-game sweep - having scored a grand total of four runs in the series. In case you're keeping track, the Rangers now have lost six in a row for the first time since April 15-21, 2010 and you better believe the buzzards are out to get manager Ron Washington who conducted a post-game meeting with his team to - in essence - let them know not to panic.
Still, midway through June and the Rangers (38-31) find themselves three games back of the division-leading Oakland A's and knowing that offense is very much becoming an issue with this Texas team that's without 1B Mitch Moreland (right hamstring strain) who's just now beginning a rehab stint in the minors plus how about the fact Texas collected just one extra base hit in seven innings Sunday against RHP Chien-Ming Wang (a double by CF Leonys Martin in the fifth inning) who hasn't exactly been Cy Young the past few years what with all his injury woes and shaky stuff.
Maybe the Rangers get right their sinking ship with this home series against the aforementioned A's beginning Monday night - or maybe the calls for Washington's scalp will grow and Texas may have to consider moving a top-prize pitching prospect to land a bat ... did anyone say Giancarlo Stanton will be available soon?
NOTE: More NBA Finals goodies plus NBA Draft coverage all this week in Jim Sez.
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