NBA, MLB & NFL Goodies

THE FRIDAY EDITION OF JIM SEZ
IS JAM-PACKED WITH NBA, MLB & NFL GOODIES!

It's a rare night off for the NBA Playoffs here on this next-to-last Friday in May – the Western Conference Finals rolls on from Oklahoma City on Saturday night now with that series all knotted up following the Thunder's pulsating 106-100 win on Thursday -- and the Eastern Conference best-of-seven set changes its venue to Miami come Sunday evening – and so today it's a share-the-wealth deal here in this Jim Sez column:

The NBA gets our attention when it comes to how the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls have played on the road this post-season spreadwise – our chart is below, folks – while we dig into MLB's first foray of the year into Interleague Play plus get you the next installment of our NFL Team-by-Team Schedule Notes for this 2001 season. We'll get to all that in just a moment or two but first this important reminder:

Jim Hurley and his all-star Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Conference Finals action 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 after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.

THE NBA PLAYOFFS –
CONFERENCE FINALS ROLL ON
THIS WEEKEND BUT LET'S CHECK OUT
A COUPLE OF ROAD WARRIORS

This weekend it's time for the two higher-seeded playoff teams – the Dallas Mavericks (#3 in the West) and the Chicago Bulls (#1 in the East) to go on the playoff round for the first time in this Conference Finals round and note here's what the Mavericks and the Bulls have done on the road so far during these 2011 NBA Playoffs...

4-21 Chicago (-3.5) Indiana Chicago 88-84
  Portland (-5.5) Dallas Portland 97-92
4-23 Chicago (-4.5) Indiana Indiana 89-84
  Portland (-4) Dallas Portland 84-82
4-28 Portland (-4) Dallas Dallas 103-96
5-2 LA Lakers (-6) Dallas Dallas 96-94
5-4 LA Lakers (-7) Dallas Dallas 93-81
5-6 Chicago (-2.5) Atlanta Chicago 99-82
5-8 Chicago (-3.5) Atlanta Atlanta 100-88
5-12 Chicago (-3.5) Atlanta Chicago 93-73

Go ahead and add up the pointspread results and you'll see that Dallas and Chicago are a combined 8-2 ATS (against the spread) on the playoff road so far this year and that includes the Mavs having gone a perfect 5-and-oh versus the vig on the playoff road. Not bad at all!

Editor's Note: We'll have a Dallas vs. Oklahoma City Game #3 Preview (while also looking back at Game #2's not-so-secret weapons for the Thunder) in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

BASEBALL NEWS &NOTES:
HOORAY FOR INTERLEAGUE PLAY
AS WE CHECK OUT LAST YEAR'S 'BEST' AND 'WORST'
IN THE NL VERSUS AL TILTS PLUS WEEKEND PREVIEWS
OF CUBS-RED SOX, METS-YANKEES &A'S-GIANTS

     We'll get to a trio of key National League vs. American League weekend series in just a moment but here's a look back at the best and worst MLB teams in Interleague Play in 2010:

THE BEST –
TEAM                         RECORD                    PCT
Chicago White Sox       15-3                             .833
Texas Rangers              14-4                             .778
Boston Red Sox           13-5                             .722
New York Mets           13-5                             .722

THE WORST –
TEAM                         RECORD                    PCT
Pittsburgh Pirates          2-13                             .133
Houston Astros            3-12                             .200
Los Angeles Dodgers   4-11                             .267
Cleveland Indians         5-13                             .278
Washington Nationals   5-13                             .278

Now, here's what to watch with a few Interleague Series this weekend:

CHICAGO CUBS (19-23) at BOSTON RED SOX (23-20) – It's a strange-but-true factoid that the Cubs have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series (yes, that's 93 years ago) as MLB's schedule-makers have seen only one Interleague series between these teams since 1997. The Cubs hosted the Bosox back in the 2005 season – Chicago copped two-of-three games in that set at venerable Wrigley Field – but otherwise these sacred franchises have been nearly total strangers to one another for the better part of the past century.

Naturally, the ESPN folks will be bringing us Sunday's Cubs-Red Sox game in prime time but the $64,000 question is can Boston keep up its winning ways – the AL East crew copped a dramatic 4-3 walk-off win against Detroit last night as LF Carl Crawford hit a bases-loaded single to give the Sawx six straight wins. In case you're wondering, Crawford had two hits last night and 'upped' his batting average to .212.

NEW YORK METS (21-22) at NEW YORK YANKEES (23-19) – There's been plenty of tabloid fodder in Gotham City lately what with the whole Jorge Posada 'no mas' episode from last weekend filtering into play all throughout the past few days (did you see Posada donning the first baseman's glove in last night's easy 13-2 win in Baltimore?) but the real news here is that the battered/tattered Mets are just one game below .500 despite the fact 1B Ike Davis and 3B David Wright have been out for a spell and LF Jason Bay just hasn't hit. The big key for the Mets: Closer Frankie Rodriguez has 14 consecutive saves and has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings.

OAKLAND A's (22-22) at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (24-19) – The Bay Area rivalry has a bit more flash now that the Giants are fresh off winning last year's World Series but the fact is the visiting A's do have the pitching advantage in the series opener with RHP Trevor Cahill (6-1, 1.82 ERA) favored over San Fran righty Ryan Vogelsong (3-0, 2.36 ERA). Hey, as long as we're talking relief pitching, the update on Giants closer Brian Wilson is he now sports 13 saves in 15 save opportunities … the beard is back!

MORE NFL 2011 SCHEDULE NOTES:
TAKING A LOOK AT WHAT'S IN STORE
FOR THE RAIDERS, PACKERS & TITANS

In today's Jim Sez we continue our look at National Football League teams and their respective 2011 schedules … now here's what is straight ahead for the Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee Titans:

OAKLAND – Last year's Raiders won all six of their AFC West tilts en route to an 8-8 SU (straightup) season but the silver-and-black (obviously) flopped facemask first in non-divisional affairs and this season's sked includes two trips up north (that's Week 11 at Minnesota and Week 14 at Green Bay). Note that the Raiders open the '11 season with back-to-back road games in Denver and Buffalo but there is a four-week mid-season span where this AFC West crew doesn't have to leave its own backyard (see home games against Cleveland, Kansas City to go along with a Week 8 bye). Rookie head coach Hue Jackson and Company will have an extra prep week for that home game against the Broncos on Nov. 6th.

GREEN BAY – The now-customary season-opening home game awarded to the defending Super Bowl champs means the Packers kick off this 2011 campaign by hosting the New Orleans … dare we say that might be the best game of the year right out of the chute? The Pack also will be featured on Thanksgiving Day with a date at Detroit and note that means 10 days to prep for the Week 13 clash at the New York Giants. Overall, Green Bay has to make just one West Coast trip (at San Diego in Week 9 action) and Mike McCarthy's crew only has to play back-to-back Sundays on the road in Week 2 and Week 3 (at Carolina and at Chicago with the latter a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game). Keep in mind the Packers will host the rival Bears on Christmas Night at Lambeau Field … brrr!

TENNESSEE – Year One of the post-Jeff Fisher Era opens with an AFC South game in Jacksonville but take note that the Titans don't play another divisional road game till Week 15 in Indianapolis. New boss-man Mike Munchak and Company might be able to get a bit of stability beginning with a Week 6 bye 'cause following that open date on the sked are back-to-back-to-back home games versus Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The NFL folks claim that Tennessee is playing the 25th-hardest schedule with this year's foes compiling an overall W/L mark of 125-131 in 2010.

NOTE: There's more NBA Playoff Updates in tomorrow's weekend edition of Jim Sez.
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