NBA Conference Final Time



By Jim Hurley:

Okay, so let's not be all-too-quick to anoint LeBron James and the Miami Heat as the next champions of the NBA:

The Heat were exposed - is that a good word for it? - en route to last night's 103-82 loss in Game #1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls as league MVP Derrick Rose bounced back from a wobbly first half to finish with 28 points and 6 assists and two of the three members of Miami's so-called " Big Three" looked quite ordinary as the aforementioned James registered a pedestrian 15 points (on 15 field goal attempts) and Dwyane Wade scored 18 points on 7-of-17 FG shooting and suddenly the "experts" that placed the Heat as bloated -185-to-$100 betting favorites for this series all of a sudden don't look so smart ...right?

Hey, if the Bulls had an abundance of anything in Game #1 on Sunday night at the United Center than it was "energy" as Chicago boasted a 45-to-33 edge in the all-important rebounding department and we didn't miss the fact that the Bulls bench produced 28 points while Miami's non-descript reserves scored 17 points ...and you couldn't put a "meter" on how Chicago's backups really helped to perk things up.

No doubt Rose woke up from his first-half slumber but the $64,000 question here is will the Heat play with more of a sense of urgency come Wednesday's Game #2?

In case you were wondering, you'll no doubt recall that last year the Eastern Conference Finals was a duel between Boston and Orlando (the Celtics won the series in six games after getting off to a 3-oh series lead) while the NBA Conference Finals were won by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games over the dogged Phoenix Suns. Hey, maybe the Game #1 winner doesn't always win this round but let's just say the Bulls needed to "hold serve" ...mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder flexed its considerable muscles with Sunday afternoon's lopsided 105-90 win against 6 ½-point pup Memphis in the only Game 7 so far we've seen in this year's NBA Playoffs and dare we say that megastar Kevin Durant answered the bell!

Okay, so Durant was MIA in his team's 95-83 loss in Memphis in Game 6 (see 3-of-14 FGs for 11 points) but he dropped 39 points on the bewildered Grizzlies in Sunday's Game 7 and his effortless stroke (note he canned four of his nine trifecta tries) was a thing of beauty and now you can only wonder if the defense-first Dallas Mavericks can get him off his game ...or is underdog Okie City ready to scale some major heights right here and right now?

Now, here's a quick-hitter reminder or two: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get you all the NBA Conference Finals Playoff Winners and all the Major-League Baseball Winners too each and every day when you either call us at 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 after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Note that all of the remaining NBA Playoff Games - right through the NBA Finals - are scheduled for prime-time viewing (please check your listings for all starting times). So go ahead and pile up your huge profits in both the NBA and MLB with America's #1 Handicapper.



Editor's Note: The NBA's Eastern Conference Finals Game #2 between the Heat and Bulls is scheduled for Wednesday night and we'll have a Preview in that day's edition of Jim Sez - so don't miss out!
On Tuesday night, it's ...
- Game #1 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

There's a whole lot of stuff to chew on here even before we ever get things tipped off in this NBA Western Conference Finals:

First off, did you already note in our Jim Sez chart below that the road teams won/covered all three of the regular-season showdowns played between these sides? Hmmm.

Secondly, there's the inevitable rest versus rust scenario to be examined:

The Dallas Mavericks haven't played a game since May 8th (or nine days ago) when Rick Carlisle's club officially dunked the sad-sack Los Angeles Lakers from this year's post-season and so you do have to wonder if the Mavs will be a tad slow right out of the starting gate here while trying to "get their legs" while the flip side wonders whether or not the visiting/underdog Thunder has its "legs" here after going the distance to beat Memphis - gut feeling here is even though Okie City's playing some 50 hours after the conclusion of its conference semifinal set against Memphis it will be better equipped to get off to a good start with Durant getting plenty of help from triple-double guy PG Russell Westbrook (14 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists versus the Grizz in Game 7) plus let's not forget the contributions made on defense by the OKC guys as there were 11 blocked shots and 7 steals in that decisive game against Memphis (we told you that the "grunt guys" were gonna have to come up big if the Thunder was going to survive-and-advance that round of play!)

Let's concentrate on three items here that will be important not only in Game 1 but right throughout this best-of-seven set:

#1 - Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki - averaging a haughty 26.5 points per game n 10 playoff tilts this spring - has to stay hot as he's shooting the ball at a dazzling 49.7 percent clip from the field. Heck, just one really rotten shooting game by Nowitzki could cost the Mavs here;

#2 - The Mavs must continue to win the three-point battles: Note that Dallas has shot it at nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc so far in these playoffs (that's 95-of-227) and so Okie City must make a major commitment to come out and challenge the long-range bombers or else pay for not doing so;

#3 - Finally, what can the "extra parts" players contribute for the Thunder? It says here that Oklahoma City can swipe four wins in this series providing the likes of C Kendrick Perkins can be a board-banger deluxe and providing reserve F Nick Collison can chip in those key boards (see 12 of 'em in the Game 7 win against Memphis) and those nifty defensive stops in the paint. Look for Dallas' point guard Jason Kidd and two-guard Jason Terry to meet some "resistance" in the land from Perkins, Collison and mates here.

Here are the regular-season showdowns between the Thunder and Mavericks (note home teams in CAPS0:

11-24 OKLAHOMA CITY - 4 Dallas 111-103
12-27 OKLAHOMA CITY - 2 Dallas 103-93
1-6 Oklahoma City - 3.5 Oklahoma City 99-95


NOTE: More NBA Playoffs ahead in the next edition of Jim Sez and don't forget there's more NFL 2011 Team-by-Team Schedule Updates straight ahead too!


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