NBA Wednesday Previews - NFL Draft: RBs

Blue Ribbon Baseball Goes 1-0-1 On Wednesday
Indians (-110) Royals 7-5 WON
Braves/Dodgers (Under 7) 6-1 PUSH




By Jim Hurley:

Okay, so you know that NBA Playoff Game #1 home teams failed to cover seven of the eight games - only the Dallas Mavericks' 89-81 triumph over 5 ½-point pup Portland proved the exception to the rule - but now the $64,000 question is can the Game #1 SU (straightup) losers bounce back in these other Western Conference affairs come Wednesday night?

We have quick-hitter preview of all three Wednesday evening clashes from out West as Denver, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers all attempt to "get even" but first now hear this:

And now hear this:  Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA and Major-League Baseball Winners each and every day when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here: Check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for weekday afternoon Baseball; after 1 p.m. ET for all weeknight NBA & MLB games; and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. Extra, extra: The NBA Playoffs have swung into action - please make sure you're all signed up for the whole hoops post-season with our NBA PLAYOFF PACKAGE. Just talk to Jim or one of his service representatives today!


DENVER at OKLAHOMA CITY - Thunder leads series, 1-0
No doubt the visiting Nuggets are still whining about that Kendrick Perkins tip-in basket that put Oklahoma City ahead by a point with 1:06 remaining in Sunday night's 107-103 non-cover win but the fact is George Karl's crew should be kicking itself for losing a game in which Denver shot 50.6 percent from the field (that's 39-of-77 FGs) and which saw the Nuggets' bench outscore the Thunder reserves 34-to-26 (hey, most NBA experts will tell you that home teams always have the scoring advantage from their bench players in playoff games).

If Oklahoma City's one-two punch of Kevin Durant (game-high 41 points in Game #1) and snappy point guard Russell Westbrook (31 points in 37 minutes in the playoff opener) do as they so please here, than the fourth-seeded Thunder will rock-n-roll to a two games-to-love advantage - so it's time to put aside controversial hoops, Mr. Karl!

MEMPHIS at SAN ANTONIO - Grizzlies lead series, 1-0

Will he or won't he ... that is the question and it all revolves around Spurs mega-star G Manu Ginobili who sat out Sunday's 101-98 Memphis win with a sprained right (non-shooting) elbow.

Okay, so maybe Ginobili would not have factored all that much into the front-court business in Game #1 when Grizzlies' big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol produced a combined stat line of 49 points and 23 rebounds - you might have heard San Antonio's Tim Duncan claim he didn't always focus enough attention on Gasol but you cannot ignore the fact the Spurs' starting backcourt had a horrific shooting game with Tony Parker (4-of-16 FGs) and George Hill going a combined 6-of-23 from the field. Ouch!

Want to see San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich go nuts here?

Than check out how his Spurs run their half-court offensive sets because "Pops" was really livid regarding his club's half-court execution in the final few minutes the other day.

NEW ORLEANS at LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Hornets lead series 1-0
Folks, we're still trying to figure out whether or not Lakers' superstar Kobe Bryant (a game-high 34 points in that bitter 109-100 home loss as 11-point betting favorites) was bored or angry in his little post-game presser last Sunday afternoon - Bryant genuinely appeared disgusted by his team's showing and especially when it came to seven-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum who teamed up for six field goals and a grand total of 21 points.

Maybe the Lakers also will have figured out a way to not have Gasol switch out onto Hornets' slippery PG Chris Paul who wrecked LA to the tune of 33 points, 14 assists and 7 rebounds - Paul chewed up any/all Lakers guards (especially the aging-quickly Derek Fisher) but it was getting Gasol exposed at/near the foul line area that really caused major consternation for Phil Jackson's crew.

So, will the Hollywood guys have that issue fixed here ... or not?

Hey, hidden stat from Game #1 that really should have the Lakers worried: The N'Orleans bench players scored 39 points while shooting a lights-out 16-of-22 from the field ... really!



Editor's Note: We will continue with our complete and daily Position-by-Position coverage of the NFL Draft (April 28-29-30) right here and right into next week too and it's all capped off by our annual Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft which will be posted on this website on Wednesday, April 27th: Now, here's a look at the draft's top Running Backs and Fullbacks:

MARK INGRAM, RB, Alabama - Most NFL Mock Drafts right now have this 2009 Heisman Trophy winner being the only RB getting tabbed in Round One and there's a real divergence of opinions as the 5-foot-9, 215-pounder from Flint (MI) could go anywhere from #12-to-#25. Ingram is a solid between-the-tackles runner who rushed 2,386 yards and 29 rushing TDs in his three-year college career and remember he was the first player to win the Heisman and the national championship in the same season since Pittsburgh's Tony Dorsett turned that dandy double back in the 1976 season. No doubt Ingram's numbers fell off last year - he finished the 2010 season with only 875 yards rushing and 13 TDs - after missing the first two games with a knee injury. P.S., some NFL team could trade up to a top 15 pick to get him (we're thinking the Philadelphia Eagles who own the 23rd pick in Round One).
MIKEL LeSHOURE, RB, Illinois - This six-foot, 227-pound Champaign (IL) native really made a national name for himself this past season when rushing for an NCAA season-best 330 rushing yards in the game at Wrigley Field against in-state rival Northwestern. In all, LeShoure ran for a single-season school record 1,697 yards with 17 TDs and his rock-solid pro workout days could have him sneaking into the late stages of the first round. Rugged rusher who's tough to bring down, LeShoure could be a 25-carry-per-game guy for a bad-weather pro team ... perhaps the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers at pick #32?

DeMARCO MURRAY, RB, Oklahoma - A veritable stat-sheet stuffer in his college days with the Sooners, Murray rushed for 1,214 yards and scored 15 times last year but his all-too-frequent injuries figures to bang him down into the second round of this draft. The 6-foot-0, 213-pound can get the tough yards between tackles but he prefers to break most of his runs outside and there's some debate as to whether he's fast enough to elude cat-quick OLBs and DBs. Look for him to go somewhere in the top 45-to-50 picks.

RYAN WILLIAMS, RB, Virginia Tech - One draft web site flat-out called this former Hokies star "overrated" while hinting that he was both shorter (allegedly 5-foot-9) and slower (4.64 in the 40) than originally believed but there's some insiders that believe last year's hamstring injury that sidelined him for a total of four games in 2010 still hasn't properly healed. Williams must convince an NFL team that he is durable but the fact is this ACC back can take a mean hit and keep on going and is adept at picking up chunks of yards between the guards. Last year's 473 yards rushing was a major step down from his 1,655-yard rushing season in 2009 and you can expect him to go late in Round II.

CHARLES CLAY, FB, Tulsa - Considered the top fullback coming out in this year's draft, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Clay might have been under-utilized in his college career but poses major threats as both a rusher (averaged 6.6 yards-a-carry last year) and a receiver (2,544 yards receiving in his 53 college games) and he's considered a stout blocker who figures to be used on special teams. Probably won't go till Round III but might wind up being one of the real steals and could see him as a perfect fit on a good team (see New England or Pittsburgh).

STANLEY HAVILI, FB, USC - Recent shoulder injury prevented this 6-foot-1, 230-pounder from Salt Lake City (UT) from working out at his school's pro day but here's another "gamer" who averaged 6.4 yards-a-rush in limited career carries but it's his ability to make big plays after catching the ball that makes this former Trojans star an intriguing pick for someone in the middle part of Round III. Note that Havili's 84 career receptions are the most ever by a USC fullback.

NOTE: There's complete NBA Playoff coverage and more NFL Draft News in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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