Them’s fighting words coming from the mouth of second-year Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson who proclaimed the Denver Nuggets had “some dirty plays early” in Tuesday’s hang-on-for-dear-life 107-100 win in Game 5 of that now rough-and-tumble NBA Western Conference First-Round Series.

     The Nuggets?

     Gee, they claim that Golden State started the over-the-top physical play in this series that now stands three games-to-two in the Warriors’ favor with Game #6 on tap this evening in Oakland:

     Denver’s frisky forward Kenneth Faried said after Game 5, “They (the Warriors) were purposefully trying to hurt me every play I went for a rebound – the hits, the grab to the throat.”

      Whoa, Nellie!

     What …

     Has this best-of-seven series all of a sudden turned into roller derby or should we expect things to get back to normal on the floor here in Game 6?

     Lots more to say about Nuggets-Warriors in just a moment – and also regarding tonight’s gigantic Game 6 hoedown in the Eastern Conference between the Brooklyn Nets at the Chicago Bulls – right here in today’s hoops-filled version of Jim Sez and so let’s get to it already


     In the Western Conference, it’s …

     #3 DENVER at #6 GOLDEN STATE – Warriors lead series 3-2

     Let’s throw the post-game talk out the proverbial window here and concentrate on what’s really gonna decide the Game 6 winner in what’s your basic pick ‘em game:

     The host Warriors – who artfully chewed into a 22-point deficit to scare the daylights out of the Nuggets this past Tuesday night – know where their bread is buttered and that means getting guard Stephen Curry plenty of three-point looks whether they come off screens or on pull-ups or when Curry is able to dribble around some and shake off a defender.

     In Game 5, Curry bagged just one triple in seven attempts – keep in mind that he had set an NBA record by draining 18 trifectas in his first four playoff games – and it was clear the former Davidson star never could get comfortable as Denver jabbed and poked at him every time it could  (Curry says the Nuggets threw their fair share of elbows and kicked at his feet/ankles too!) and it undoubtedly had its effect.

     Now, Curry probably has to change up his offensive game plan a bit here:

     Take the running jumper, drive to the hoop and pick up some fouls even if it means taking the occasional body blow.

     If Curry can just get this frenetic G-State crowd going, than Denver might not be able to slow down the scoring avalanche. Take note that the Warriors have averaged 114 points per game ever since that 97-95 loss in Denver way back in Game 1 and you might be noticing that Warriors F Harrison Barnes is becoming a star before your very eyes with his 23-point, 9-rebound performance in Game 5 a real eye-opener.

     Forget the physical part here, the Nuggets can only win on the road tonight if they contain Curry’s triples and get the backcourt tandem of Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala to combine for – give or take – 45 points and 15 assists – plus George Karl’s bench must show up here in O-town or there will be no tomorrow – again – for the Nuggets.

     Now, here’s the game-by-game look of this Nuggets-Warriors series with home teams in CAPS:

DATE              WINNER                    SPREAD                     LOSER                        SCORE

4-20                 DENVER                     -  7.5                             Golden State                   97-95

4-23                 Golden State                + 8                              DENVER                       131-117

4-26                 GOLDEN STATE            + 1.5                            Denver                         110-108

4-28                 GOLDEN STATE            + 2                               Denver                         115-101

4-30                 DENVER                      - 8                                Golden State                 107-100

     In the Eastern Conference, it’s …

     #4 BROOKLYN at #5 CHICAGO – Bulls lead series 3-2

     This showdown series may long be remembered for that epic Nets collapse in Game 4 last Saturday afternoon – a 14-point Brooklyn lead with three-plus minutes left in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough – and so now here’s P.J. Carlesimo’s squad looking to stave off elimination one mo’ time following Mondya’s 110-91 win/cover against the 6-point underdog (and short-handed) Bulls.

     And that’s where we start here as Chicago needs veteran G Kirk Hinrich back on the floor after a bruised calf last weekend forced him to sit out Game 5 at the Barclays Center. True, Hinrich may not be marquee material for the Chitowners but he is essential in the team’s defensive strategies as Hinrich already proved to be a major pain in the neck for Nets’ PG Deron Williams (see 23 points and 10 assists in Game 5) and so Bulls boss-man Tom Thibodeau wants/needs his veteran guard back on the floor here and it appears he will indeed be a “go” although the Bulls insist it’s your basic “game-time decision”.

     Note that Chicago has been superior in this series when it comes to overall hustle plays and those famed “50-50 balls” but in the Nets’ win the other night there was Brooklyn dominating the boards 44-to-33 and that including a whopping 17 offensive caroms with star C Brook Lopez hauling down six offensive boards that made a major difference in the game.

     The Bulls must get Lopez moved out of the paint – by hook or by crook – or else those put-backs and second-chance opportunities (note the Nets had 24 second-chance points to Chicago’s 12 in that last game in New York City) will come back to haunt the home folks here.

     One last thing: Can Chicago trust G Nate Robinson (a team-high 20 points in Game 5) to take – and make – big shots here? The little man can get out of control in a hurry and Chicago knows he can either shoot ‘em in or out of a game and a series.


 DATE             WINNER                    SPREAD                     LOSER                        SCORE


4-20                 BROOKLYN                - 4                               Chicago                        106-89

4-22                 Chicago                    + 5                               BROOKLYN                     90-82

4-25                 CHICAGO                  - 3.5                             Brooklyn                        79-76

4-27                 CHICAGO                  - 2.5                             Brooklyn  (3ot)             142-134

4-29                 BROOKLYN               - 6                                Chicago                         110-91

     And now hear this …

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     In Wednesday night’s NBA Playoffs action …

     BOSTON 92, NEW YORK 86 – Knicks lead series 3-2

     So much for the so-called “funeral” that the mouthy Knicks were gonna stage for the rival Celtics here!

     Some members of the Knicks dressed in all black to the game and proclaimed the end was near for an old, tired and short-handed Boston bunch but instead New York charged out to an 11-0 lead and then showed no heart at all – and wasn’t it a wee bit ironic that the Knicks’ J.R. Smith – he of the Game 4 suspension following a Game 3 elbow to Jason Terry’s mug – wound up missing his first 10 field-goal tries en route to a rotten 3-of-14 game from the floor and how about the fact that the NBA’s regular-season scoring champ Carmelo Anthony (8-of-24 FG shooting last night) now is a putrid 18-of-59 from the field in his last two games … gulp!

      The Celtics made all 17 of their free throws and – in head coach Doc Rivers’ stated intentions – “attacked” all night long with veteran Kevin Garnett banging out a 16-point, 18-rebound game while overall Boston played superior defense while limiting the three-point crazy Knicks to just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc.

     Game 6 is slated for Boston tomorrow night and – dare we say – the Knicks are starting to hear all that talk about the 2004 New York Yankees who blew a three games-to-none series lead against the Boston Red Sox and Mike Woodson’s club is worried.

     Better hold off on the funeral procession for now!

     HOUSTON 107, OKLAHOMA CITY 100 – Thunder leads series 3-2

     Here’s the good news for the Okie City crew: They still lead the series and still sport the game’s most dynamic offensive player in Kevin Durant who finished last night’s tilt with a game-high 36 points.

     Now for the bad news: The Thunder – more than anyone could have thought – miss point guard Russell Westbrook in a terrible way as all the other parts in this OKC lineup are suffering in his absence with shooter Kevin Martin exposed badly last night en route to his 1-of-10 FG performance worth all of three points.

     The Thunder don’t have any real offensive direction if it’s not Durant taking it to the hoop while Houston – even without a still-injured PG Jeremy Lin and having to play Game 5 without shooting guard Carlos Delfino save for a 10-minute appearance (sore left foot kept him out after halftime) – are playing with immense confidence and Kevin McHale’s club didn’t miss a beat when Okie City sadly opted for a hack-a-Omer Asik strategy beginning with five-plus minutes left in the game.

     Note that the never-flustered Osik drained 8-of-12 from the foul line to stop the silliness and the Thunder exited the floor knowing it has no answer to former mate James Harden (31 points including his first seven consecutive three-point attempts) or Houston’s speedy guards who whisked their way past a sluggish Oklahoma City backcourt at nearly every turn.

     The fact of the matter is both the Celtics and the Rockets left the floor following their stunning Game 5 road wins – Boston was a 9 ½-point underdog while Houston was a 9-point pup in last night’s action – filled to the brim with confidence and knowing that momentum has swung wildly in their favor.

     Can Okie City come up with the answer to slow down Harden who plays to his own beat and still finds a way to confound enemy defenders … and will someone on the Thunder not named Durant come up big in Game 6 and hit a few triples one game after OKC shot a weak 8-of-33 from beyond the arc?

      All of a sudden these two left-for-dead series have a serious pulse … good!

     NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez!


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