Wednesday Night NBA Previews - NFL Schedule Notes

NBA PLAYOFFS UPDATE - THE WEDNESDAY NITE GAME #5 PREVIEWS FROM MIAMI AND OKIE CITY ...

THE JIM SEZ NFL NOTEBOOK: WE START CHECKING OUT SOME OF THE 2011 TEAM SCHEDULES

By Jim Hurley:

Hey, it's a good thing the NBA doesn't pay its players by the minute - the guys on the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder really would be rich!

The Western Conference best-of-seven series already has featured a single overtime affair back in Game #3 last Saturday - remember host Memphis snagged a 101-93 win thanks to a late-game rally - and then there was Monday's epic three-OT affair that Oklahoma City won 133-123.

Dare we call that one the best single NBA game in the past 10 years?

Now, these clubs are set to collide this evening in the Sooner State and keep in mind what the television folks always like to tell us during the playoffs and that is the winner of Game #5 in a best-of-seven set knotted at two games apiece generally go on to win approximately 73 percent or nearly three-quarters of those series. Maybe that's what the percentages say but who could ever have forecast what's happened in this series when visiting Memphis won Game #1 and an Okie City team down as many as 18 points in Game #4 showed that much grit to survive that nearly do-or-die game?

 Go figure - on a night when the Eastern Conference series between Boston and Miami could be all wrapped up in South Florida it's the"lost-in-the-shuffle" series here between the Grizz and the Thunder that's got NBA fans all in a tizzy.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Playoffs and all the Major-League Baseball winners each and every day when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you go online right here. Check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon Baseball games; after 1 p.m. ET for all the NBA and MLB weeknight games; and, of course, anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays.

THE NBA PLAYOFFS

Here's what is on tonight's hoops menu ...

EASTERN CONFERENCE
BOSTON at MIAMI - Heat lead series 3-1

Here's the real skinny when you get right down to it in this best-of-seven series:

The Miami Heat is a perfect 5-and-oh SU (straightup) in this year's playoffs and have not lost a home game since April 6th (see the 90-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks) and they have a shot to do what the Celtics did to them a year ago - finish off a post-season series in just five games.

Okay, so that 2009-10 Miami team didn't have megastar LeBron James (game-high 35 points in Monday's thrill-a-minute 98-90 overtime win in Boston) on board back then but everyone knows King James and his then-teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers also went down in flames against the C's last spring and so this represents a sort of sweet double-revenge here.

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were lauded for scoring 83 points (or nearly 85 percent of Miami's team total) in that Game #4 extra-session win but dig a little deeper there and you see that Miami registered only 10 assists on 35 field-goal makes (to go along with a daunting 17 turnovers) and so the $64,000 question here is will James botch and bumble the ball at crunch time as he did late in Game #4 or will the Heat swing the ball better in the half-court game and make hitting the open man the evening's main mantra?

Gut feeling is Boston boss-man Doc Rivers - and his ace defensive assistant Lawrence Frank - will figure out a way to make life tougher for Miami's"Big Three" and so reserves Mario Chalmers (only 3 points in 26 minutes in Game #4) and/or James Jones (two points in 30 minutes in that last game) may have to help pull Erik Spoelstra's club through its"toughest challenge to date".

No doubt that Boston's lack of execution late in regulation did indeed carry over into the OT in Game #4 but where does it say that the Celtics will be held to just five triples here (see 5-of-16 from distance in Game #4) ... and look for PG Rajon Rondo to be healed a bit more from that well-publicized nagging elbow injury.

Here's the game-by-game look of Celtics-Heat thus far with home teams in CAPS:

DATE

FAV

SPREAD

RESULT

5-1

MIAMI

- 4.5

MIAMI 99-90

5-3

MIAMI

- 5

MIAMI 102-91

5-7

BOSTON

- 3

BOSTON 97-81

5-9

Miami

- 1

Miami 98-90(ot)

WESTERN CONFERENCE -
MEMPHIS at OKLAHOMA CITY - Series tied 2-2

Have they finished up Game #4 yet?

Oh, so the Oklahoma City Thunder did show some intestinal fortitude in that 133-123 triple-overtime affair that lasted into the wee hours of Tuesday morning as the West's #4 seed missed the final shot in regulation and in each of the first two overtimes and yet still regained home-court advantage in this series as PG Russell Westbrook (game-high 40 points) and Kevin Durant combined for 75 points in the win but a slew of"little plays" like a Nick Collision steal and a Serge Ibaka jumper really made the difference as Memphis ran out of gas in the final OT while draining only one FG in nine attempts.

Naturally, the burning question now coming into Game #5 is which club will be fresher - and remember these clubs also played a single overtime game last Saturday - and so it's worth noting that Westbrook (51 minutes), Durant (57 minutes) and James Harden (19 points in 49 minutes) were the only Thunder players to exceed the"normal" 48-minute game while both of the Grizzlies' big men Zach Randolph (34 points in 56 minutes) and Marc Gasol (26 points and 21 rebounds in 57 minutes) exceeded the 48-minute mark.

Gotta believe both Randolph and Gasol will be a bit rubber-legged here and so the Memphis strategy should be to go to its bench early on and look for some major energy minutes from power forward Darrell Arthur and small forward Shane Battier (7 points in 39 minutes in Game #4). If Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins can nurse his club through the first three quarters by scaling back some minutes from Randolph and Gasol, than it's possible the Grizz can steal this one late.

One note on the Thunder: Head coach Scott Brooks reportedly is not real happy with how his club is executing the half-court game both late in the shot clock and late in the game and so he may put Durant in the ball-handling role in these important moments and then let him - and not the mercurial Westbrook - make the 11th-hour decisions here.

Now, here's the game-by-game look for Grizzlies-Thunder while heading into tonight's Game #5:

DATE

FAV

SPREAD

RESULT

5-1

OKLAHOMA CITY

- 7

Memphis 114-101

5-3

OKLAHOMA CITY

- 6.5

OKLAHOMA CITY 111-102

5-7

MEMPHIS

- 2.5

MEMPHIS 101-93(ot)

5-9

MEMPHIS

- 2

Oklahoma City 133-123(3ot)

NFL 2011 SCHEDULE NOTES: TAKING A PEEK AT WHAT'S IN STORE FOR THE BEARS, CHIEFS & GIANTS

  In today's Jim Sez we begin our look at National Football League teams and their respective 2011 schedules ... we get it started with a look at what's ahead for the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants:

CHICAGO - Let's just say that the 2011 Bears better not"need" some late-season wins to make the playoffs or Lovie Smith's guys could be in serious trouble. Note that the Chitowners play season-ending back-to-back road games at Green Bay and at Minnesota (and on Christmas Night and New Year's Day, to boot) and so the Bears better take advantage of some earlier-season games such as the home tilt against weakling Carolina in Week 4 that follows three consecutive season-opening toughies (home to Atlanta, at New Orleans and home to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers). Note that Chicago draws its bye in Week 8 - generally considered a"perfect" time for a break.

KANSAS CITY - The reward for the Chiefs after winning the AFC West last year is the league's third-toughest schedule (note that this year's opponents had a composite won/loss record of 133-123 in the 2010 NFL regular season). KayCee's playing the NFC North this year in its out-of-conference action and so that means aforementioned Green Bay visits Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15 action and the Minnesota Vikings invade KC in a Week 4 tilt - the Chiefs simply can't get swept here. Two other scheduling nuggets worth mentioning here are the Chiefs will have two weeks to prep for their Week 7 game at archrival Oakland as Kansas City's bye comes in Week 6 and KC will host back-to-back-to-back games versus San Diego, Miami and Denver in Weeks 8-through-10.
 
NEW YORK GIANTS - There's been a major hue-and-cry in/around New York City because the once-every-four-years matchup between the Giants and Jets will take place on Christmas Eve (the Giants are the road team here) and so more than a few Gotham City holiday dinners will be impacted but dig a little deeper with the G-men and you'll see Tom Coughlin's club only ventures outside the Eastern time zone once in the first nine weeks of play (that's a Week 4 game at Arizona) but notice the really rough stretch of games beginning in Week 11: It's home to archrival Philadelphia, at New Orleans, home to Green Bay and than at Dallas. Right now you'd have to think the Giants would"sign" for a split in these tilts, right?
 
Note: Catch more NBA Playoffs News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez plus don't miss out on our continuing NFL coverage with schedule tidbits throughout this spring!

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