Wall-To-Wall NBA Playoff Coverage As We Preview Spurs-Suns & Hawks-Magic

THE NBA PLAYOFFS: TUESDAY PREVIEWS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTA at ORLANDO - Game #1 at 8 p.m. ET
Hey, Orlando Magic, we didn't forget you!

The defending NBA Eastern Conference champs - and the #2 seed from the East this year - will step onto the court for the first time in more than a week (see Monday, April 26) after disposing of the Charlotte Bobcats in the lone clean sweep in this year's playoffs so far and so you might see more than just a little rust here on the league's best three-point shooting team ... might this be the time/place for the visiting Atlanta Hawks to steal the home-court advantage right out of the chute?

The Hawks are buoyed by the fact they were able to win Game 6 and Game 7 to topple frisky Milwaukee with Sunday's walk-in-the-park 95-74 win against the 8 ½-point pup Bucks featuring some major-league "D" - heck, Milwaukee canned just 28-of-86 FG tries (that's 32.6 percent) and never truly threatened after halftime when Atlanta staked its way to a 53-40 intermission lead.

The NBA's Sixth Man Award winner Jamaal Crawford finished with 22 points - a long way from his hideous 4-of-18 outing in Game 5 - and finally star guard Mike Bibby awoke with 15 points, 6 rebounds and only one turnover in 41 minutes of play.

Now, the Bucks must bust out in Game 1 against the rusty Magic or else Stan Van Gundy's gang will take this series by the throat and march on. In the aforementioned Round I sweep against Charlotte, it was guard Jameer Nelson (23.8 ppg) who shined the brightest with an array of key triples and he must stoke the perimeter play of Orlando but look for the strategy to start this series to be plenty of low-box touches for center Dwight Howard (only 9.8 ppg in the opening series) who wasn't all that happy with the amount of shots he attempted in the opening round.

DATE

FAV

SPREAD

RESULT

11-26

ATLANTA

- 3.5

Orlando 93-76

1-9

ORLANDO

- 3.5

ORLANDO 113-81

1-30

ORLANDO

- 5.5

ORLANDO 104-86

3-24

ATLANTA

- 1.5

ATLANTA 86-84

 

GAME 2 MONEY MOVES

  As the games get bigger, the Jim Hurley Network keeps rising to the occassion. We've won 5 of our last 7 in the NBA playoffs and are poised to go 2-0 tonight on TNT. The first game of the doubleheader is Game 1 of the Atlanta-Orlando series. Are the Hawks as bad as they looked against Milwaukee, or did they just need to settle in to the playoffs, similar to Boston in 2008, who won a championship after a poor first-round showing. What about Orlando? They are playing tremendous basketball right now, but are they rusty after sweeping aside Charlotte and then waiting for their opponent? Thanks to our sources, we know the answers with both teams! Then Utah matches up with Los Angeles in Game 2 of their series. We picked up the cover on the Jazz in Game 1. Will they offer similar value in Game 2, or will either the linesmakers or Lakers adjust? We know! We've got Game 2 Money Moves ahead, so tune into the Network and go 2-0!

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

UTAH at LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Lakers lead series 1-0; Game #2 at 10:35 p.m.
Like the Celtics, the Utah Jazz could be ruing the day they didn't steal Game #1 in this best-of-seven series - although Jerry Sloan's gang surely had their opportunities.

In Sunday's series opener, the Jazz sported a late-game four-point lead but LA's Bryant stepped to the fore - so what else is new? - and scored 11 of his game-high 31 points in the final four minutes and so let us be the gazillionith one to tell you that the Lakers are 21-0 in playoff series when they win Game #1 under head coach Phil Jackson.

Okay, so maybe the Lakers received a favorable whistle or two down the stretch as Utah defenders flailed unsuccessfully at Bryant but the fact remained that the Jazz didn't show any real under-the-basket toughness late - we're talking to you, Carlos Boozer (18 points and 12 rebounds but some MIA defense in the final quarter) and you're not going to win many playoff road games when you can't score for nearly four consecutive minutes as was the case with Utah after gaining a 93-89 lead. Bryant's dashes to the hoop were both ballet-like and beautiful but why didn't someone on the blue-collar Jazz bang his backside to the floor?

Good question.

Now, Utah will look to even up this series here and it won't be easy as both Lakers' big men Pau Gasol (25 points and 12 boards in Game 1) and Andrew Bynum (8 points and 10 rebs in the opener) have mucho confidence that they can do as they please in the paint and there's no guarantee that Utah's so-called role players Paul Millsap (16 points, 9 rebounds) and Wesley Matthews (14 points and 7 boards) will be quite as active and/or successful in this tilt at Staples Center.

Utah point guard Deron Williams wound up with 24 points in Game 1 but this guy's all banged up with arm, shoulder and wrist foes and boss-man Sloan may have no other choice but to cut back some of his minutes here with the fear he'll be completely worn down in another few days.

NOTE: There's more NBA Playoff coverage and MLB News/Notes in the next Jim Sez.

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