Who Shows The Most Kick In The Playoffs?



By Jim Hurley:


Whatta weekend on tap between the "Run for the Roses" in Lexington- a/k/a The Kentucky Derby- along with a little Cinco de Mayo celebrating (if that's your style, of course) and than there's lots of goodies on tap with these here-and-now NBA Playoffs too.

Let's get some quick-hitter thoughts as we examine the so-called "X Factors" for the Friday night and Saturday afternoon games:


In the Eastern Conference, it's ...

#5 ATLANTA at #4 BOSTON- Series tied 1-1; Game 3 tonight at 7:35 p.m. ET
The X-factor here may seem obvious: How will Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo respond following his one-game suspension for bumping ref Marc Davis in Game #1 of this series but consider the real X-Factor here and that's how does Atlanta PG Jeff Teague hold up under Rondo's constant offensive pressure?

Do keep in mind the fact Teague shot a woeful 6-of-18 from the floor in that 87-80 home loss in Game #2 this past Tuesday night plus the Hawks' lead-guard did dish out only a pair of assists and so keep a close eye on the so-called other point guard here as he holds the key to whether or not an Atlanta team that may be missing F Josh Smith can win back the home-court advantage. The Vegas folks say the C's are favored by a solid 8 points.

#1 CHICAGO at #8 PHILADELPHIA- series tied 1-1; Game 3 tonight at 8:05 p.m. ET
Forget for a solitary moment that the Chicago Bulls will be without PG Derrick Rose (knee) for the remainder of this year's NBA Playoffs and keep in mind the fact Tom Thibodeau's team surrendered 62 second-half points in last Tuesday's 109-92 loss at the United Center? Ugh!

The Bulls are the hands-down best defensive team in the league these days and yet they allowed the 76ers to shoot 59 percent from the floor in Game #2 (that's 46-of-78 FG attempts) and so the X-Factor here is quite simple:

Get out and defend the Philly perimeter players (yes, even though the Sixers shot just 5-of-12 from beyond the arc in Game #2) and get some bodies on folks in the paint where Philly poured in 52 points the other night as six different players scored double digits including PF Elton Brand going 5-for-6 from the floor for a cool dozen points.
#3 INDIANA at #6 ORLANDO- Pacers lead series 2-1; Game 4 is Saturday at 2:05 p.m. ET
Think the Indy Pacers realized it was high time to take advantage of their height mismatches here in this series? Frank Vogel's crew sported a 46-to-33 rebounding edge in Wednesday's 97-74 runaway win at 3 ½-point home underdog Orlando and how about the fact the Pacers owned the points-in-the-paint category 42-22?

The X-Factor here is- and has been so far this series- what can Orlando get from three-point specialist Ryan Anderson as he continues to be the Magic player who most misses the presence of F/C Dwight Howard. Note that Anderson scored just 7 points in Game #3 while shooting 2-of-6 from the floor and so look for Stan Van Gundy's club to get more involved in screen/pick action so that Anderson gets more "clean looks" at the basket- odds are that if Anderson doesn't at least attempt 8-to-10 triples here the short-handed Magic has no real chance at all.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will prove once again to be the champions of the NBA Playoffs as they continue to shine this post-season and remember the playoffs will run straight through the end of June plus there are loads of winners this 2012 Major-League Baseball season too and so sign up today and get it all - Hoops and Baseball every day and nights! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.

In the Western Conference, it's ...

#3 LOS ANGELES LAKERS at #6 DENVER- Lakers lead series 2-0; Game 3 is tonight at 10:35 p.m. ET
Maybe the fact that this best-of-seven series is shifting to the Mile High City will have a positive effect on a Nuggets team that- if truth be told- doesn't have much margin for error here as George Karl's crew must nail those open threes (see 4-of-19 triple shooting in Tuesday's 104-100 loss-but-cover at the 5 ½-point favored Lakers).

Plus, Denver simply cannot let LA's so-called role players beat'em too: It's bad enough for Denver that Kobe Bryant is lighting'em up in this series (see38 points in Game #2 after a 31-point showing in Game #1) but the likes of PG Ramon Sessions (14 points with 4 assists and 0 turnovers) is killing any/all upset hopes.

Try this one out as an X-factor: The Nuggets must handle the ball with more care here- how many times did the likes of Aaron Afflalo toss the ball away and blow a shot at closing the gap in that Game #2 loss?

#4 MEMPHIS at #5 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS- Series tied 1-1; Game 3 is Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET
No doubt that Game #1 fourth-quarter meltdown is a thing of the past for the Memphis Grizzlies who saw four different players go for 15-or-more points in the 105-98 "get even" Game #2 with O.J. Mayo netting 20 points in 24 minutes off the pine but the X-factor as to whether Memphis can regain home court here in Game #3 has to do with efficiency:

The Grizz had a 12-assist to 12-turnover ratio in Game #2 and something must be done as Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and mates must sport better care of the "rock" while the flip side says the Clippers need a "third scorer" to rise up and join Chris Paul and Blake Griffin who combined for 51 points in Game #2 ... how about G Mo Williams getting close to 20 off the bench here to make a real difference? Stay tuned.

NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez and catch up on all the Major-League Baseball News & Notes.


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