Friday's NBA Playoff Previews

3-0 In Thursday's Playoffs with the Hawks, Grizzlies and Warriors, now won 10 of 12 in the Playoffs! Baseball 2-0 Thursday to close out a perfect day.

THE NBA PLAYOFFS UPDATE – HERE’S THE FRIDAY NITE “DANCE CARD”

Just when you thought you had the NBA all figured out, along came the Washington Wizards and the Portland Trail Blazers to set y’all straight!

Hey, maybe it shouldn’t come as any real big surprise that the Wizards and T-Blazers both jumped out of the playoff starting gate with two games-to-none leads in their playoff series versus Chicago and Houston, respectively, but the fact these were road wins pretty much shocked the hoops world and for those folks right now holding series win “tickets” with the Wizards at + 165-to-$100 and the Blazers at + 175-to-a-buck, we know you want to cash out ASAP but just hang on for a bit because you each still need two more wins in this opening round.

We’ll get to the NBA Playoff games on this final Friday night in April in just a moment in today’s Jim Sez but first this key reminder …

Extra, extra …

And one more reminder while we’re at it …Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers continue to be all geared up for the NBA Playoffs that roll on this week winning 10 of our last 12 – so just go online right here online or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day during these NBA Playoffs and we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle. Remember that it’s not too late to sign up now for the entire NBA Playoffs. Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring as the NBA Playoffs and Baseball pounds out major profits!

NBA FRIDAY PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

TORONTO at BROOKLYN
– Series tied 1-1; 7 p.m. ET, espn2

There’s been major “bad blood” between these teams right from the get-go in this best-of-seven series set as we had Raptors GM Masai Ujiri blurt out an expletive towards Brooklyn in the pre-series pep rally (okay, he apologized but whatta dope!) plus this whole Raptors vs. Dinosaurs bit definitely got the older Nets a little edgy too but when you come right down to it this could well be a Brooklyn series lead of two games-to-none had Paul Pierce just canned a couple of late-game shots in that 100-95 loss/push in Game 2.

Pierce – who managed to hit just 2-of-11 field-goal tries in that Tuesday tilt North of the Border – just couldn’t square up on some perimeter jumpers and wound up an ugly 0-for-6 from beyond the three-point stripe to boot – and be aware that we’ve seen “The Truth” make his fair share of triple tries this season and so maybe fate swung in Toronto’s favor on that night.

The flip side, of course, is that Raptors G DeMar DeRozan shook off his Game 1 jitters to finish with a Game 2-high 30 points as he made all his big fourth-quarter shots plus it didn’t hurt matters that big man Jonas Valanciunas filled up the stat sheet with his 15 points and 14 points while doing his bit to intimidate Nets’ big man Mason Plumlee who wasn’t his usual dynamic self in Game 2.

Still, even if Pierce gets out of his mini-shooting funk and the likes PG Deron Williams and G Joe Johnson (a combined 33 points in Game 2) heat it up a bit more here in Game 3, the Nets ain’t gonna win if they don’t rebound as Toronto killed ‘em on the board battle 52-to-30 in that last tilt and lack of board work has been a major bugaboo for Jason Kidd’s crew all year long.

Here’s the games in this playoff series so far and note all Home Teams are in CAPS:

DATE    WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-19     Brooklyn + 3.5 TORONTO 94-87
4-22    TORONTO - 5 Brooklyn 100-95

CHICAGO at WASHINGTON – Wizards lead series 2-0; 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

In case you hadn’t caught the news, only three NBA teams have ever fallen behind two-games-to-none at home and then come back to win a playoff series – that’s the 1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers, the 1993-94 Houston Rockets and the 2004-05 Milwaukee Bucks and so “history” ain’t exactly on the side of these Chicago Bulls.

Then again, it’s not as if the Bulls have deserved to win a game thus far in this Eastern Conference series as Tom Thibodeau’s club blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead en route to a 101-99 overtime loss in Game 2 and whether it was failed communications when switching defenses or the simple lack of a scorer once guard D.J. Augustin (team-high 25 points off the bench) cooled down late in the fourth quarter and right into the overtime session the fact of the matter is Chicago’s been a day short and a dollar light in the first two games against a more talented Washington team.

The aforementioned Thibodeau isn’t about ready to send up the proverbial white flag now but here’s a couple of things that must happen for his veteran Bulls bunch should they seek to get back into this playoff series:

First off, the Bulls must do something to sidetrack the likes of Wizards’ guards John Wall (16 points and 7 assists in Game 2) and ace shooter Bradley Beal (game-high 26 points including lots of key hoops late in Game 2) as both have been allowed too much court freedom by Chicago defenders.

And, secondly, the Bulls need a big stat game from big men Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer as that tandem teamed up for 25 points (okay, Boozer accounted for just five points) and here we’ll affix a stat line of 35 points and 25 boards for Noah/Boozer if this Bulls club (a 3-point dog at press time) gets a “W” in this series here.

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-20 Washington + 4 CHICAGO 102-93
4-22         Washington + 5 CHICAGO  101-99 OT

WESTERN CONFERENCE

HOUSTON at PORTLAND – Trail Blazers lead series 2-0; 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

 Can it be a case that’s this simple:

The Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar player F LaMarcus Aldridge has raised his personal game to a brand-new level while Houston Rockets’ All-Star G James Harden has sunk to a new low … are we being too tough on a guy who shot 6-of-19 from the floor in Wednesday night’s 112-105 home loss in Game 2 (after going just 8-of-28 on FG tries in Game 1)?

No doubt the Blazers have figured out ways to defend, dissect and generally bother Harden but it’s the emergence of Aldridge that’s been the real story of this series so far as he followed up his Portland playoff-high 46 points in Game 1 with a magnificent 43-point showing in Game 2 while bagging an incredible 18-of-28 FG tries and let’s not forget the fact that second-year pro PG Damian Lillard (10-of-12 free throws made) canned all six of his OT foul shots in Game 2 and he’s been merely brilliant at the tail-end of these two games.

Gut feeling here is the Rockets – a 3-point dog this evening at the Rose Garden – will play with a nothing-to-lose attitude and so C Dwight Howard (32 points and 14 boards in Game 2) will look to be a one-man wrecking crew right from the start and expect more minutes and shots for G Jeremy Lin (just 1-of-5 FG shooting and that includes 0-for-3 beyond the arc in Game 2) as someone needs to give Kevin McHale’s club a little spark.

Hmm, funny how nobody’s callin’ the Rockets a “sleeper team” anymore … we told you at the start of these playoffs that Portland deserved more attention and now the Blazers are getting’ it.

Hats off, Mr. Aldridge.

DATE    WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-20 Portland + 5.5 HOUSTON   122-120 OT
4-23 Portland + 7 HOUSTON 112-105

NOTE: Catch more NBA Playoff action right here in the next edition of Jim Sez and stay tuned for all our NFL Draft Notes – the NFL Draft begins May 8th.

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