THE NBA PLAYOFFS STEAL CENTER STAGE

THE NBA PLAYOFFS STEAL CENTER STAGE THIS FINAL WEEKEND IN APRIL AND HERE’S THE GAME-BY-GAME LOWDOWN FROM A FEW KEY SERIES … PLUS OUR WEEKEND BASEBALL NOTEBOOK AS WE HAIL MINNY’S CHRIS COLABELLO AND VERBALLY DUNK THE D-BACKS

By Jim Hurley

Hope you’re in a real “hoops mood” this weekend ‘cause there is action coming from all eight NBA Playoff series and we’ll get to the analyses in a moment, but here’s a quickie 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 weekend and right through late June  — so just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com 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!

Note that following Thursday night’s NBA Playoff action, Betting Favorites had registered a sickly 4-14-1 mark ATS (against the spread) for a .222 winning rate.

Believe it or not, the only four chalk sides that had covered through the post-season’s first 19 games were Oklahoma City in Game 1 of its series against Memphis; Miami in its Game 1 win against Charlotte; the Los Angeles Clippers in their 40-point win against Golden State in Game 2 of that set; and Indiana in its 16-point win against Atlanta in Game 2 of that Eastern Conference series.

In all, Betting Favorites went a combined 0-for-6 in the Wednesday/Thursday night NBA Playoff games that included an outright overtime win by the Grizzlies in Game 3 versus the Thunder … wow!

On Saturday, it’s …

EASTERN CONFERENCE
INDIANA at ATLANTA — Hawks lead series 2-1; 2 p.m. ET, TNT

Now that it appears a room full of psychologists might not be able to properly analyze the many problems of the here-and-now Indiana Pacers, let us suggest a possible solution to knotting up this series at two games apiece:

Go have some fun and play the way you used to play last spring!

The Pacers—coming off Thursday’s 98-85 loss in Atlanta when Frank Vogel’s crew shot just 32-of-85 from the floor (that’s 37.6 percent) — have been playing with the weight of the world on their skinny shoulders and so the game plan here is for F Paul George (just 3-of-11 FG shooting for 12 points in Game 3) to take a front-and-center role both as a scorer and defender and can we see the Pacers do a bit more damage with all those offensive rebounds?

On the flip side, the Hawks should continue to hoist up the available three-pointers — Atlanta canned just 12-of-34 triples in Game 3 but some of the makes were back-breakers — and F Kyle Korver (4-of-7 trifectas in Game 3) must be a major factor when the Pacers are slow to find him.

Note all Home Teams are in CAPS below

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-19  Atlanta  + 8 INDIANA 101-93
4-22 INDIANA - 7.5  Atlanta 101-85
4-24 ATLANTA + 2.5  Indiana  98-85

WESTERN CONFERENCE
OKLAHOMA CITY at MEMPHIS — Grizzlies lead series 2-1; 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here’s some pertinent advice for the Oklahoma City Thunder …

Try not to go into overtime in this Game 4!

The Thunder’s lost a pair of games in this best-of-seven series — both went into a bonus session — and generally that’s not good when going up against a Memphis team that went 10-4 SU (straight-up) in regular-season action in games decided by three points or less and now you can add another “W” following that 98-95 hang-on-to-your hat win by the Grizz this past Thursday night.

Okay, so everyone knows that Memphis really could not buy a bucket in the final 7:43 of regulation play when Oklahoma City roared all the way back from a 17-point deficit — but then you had those age-old problems crop up for the Thunder in OT with G Russell Westbrook hoisting up some ill-advised shots and even mega-star Kevin Durant showing some panic by firing up a triple when a conventional two-point basket would have greatly helped matters.

Now, here comes Durant and Westbrook not-so-fresh off shooting a combined 19-of-52 from the field knowing full well that a shot here or a shot there could have changed this series to the Thunder ahead two games-to-one instead of being behind by that count.

Hey, can someone also tell the OKC bench to “show up” after Scott Brooks’ reserves shot a composite 4-of-18 from the field? We say it’s high time backup PG Reggie Jackson (just 2-of-9 FG shooting in Game 3) to step on it or else the ever-patient Grizzlies will walk out of “The Grindhouse” with a commanding series lead.

Major props to the Grizzlies for those 21 assists in Game 3 — we told you last week their big men are excellent passers — and Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (8 assists and 3 turnovers to go along with their combined 30 points) are a sound complement to star PG Mike Conley who has been amazing in this series (see 20 big points in Game 3).

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-19  Atlanta  + 8 INDIANA 101-93
4-22 INDIANA - 7.5  Atlanta 101-85
4-24 ATLANTA + 2.5  Indiana  98-85

On Sunday, it’s…

WESTERN CONFERENCE —
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS at GOLDEN STATE — Clippers lead series 2-1; 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Remember that home-court advantage that the G-State Warriors snagged right out of the starting gate this series?

Well, it’s gone thanks to back-to-back altogether different wins by the Clippers who played with fire late in that 98-96 non-cover win in Oakland in Game 3 and all the complaining in the world by Warriors G Stephen Curry (yes, he was fouled by Chris Paul on that attempt at a game-tying triple late) won’t do Mark Jackson’s club any damn good now!

The fact of the matter is Curry (just 5-of-12 FG shooting in Game 2 for a quiet 16 points) must get his act going much sooner here in Game 4 or else this series will be over faster than you can say Rick Barry!

Throw in the fact the Warriors are getting blitzed on the offensive backboards — the Clips had 14 offensive rebs but it only seemed like more in Game 3 — and without injured F/C Andrew Bogut the Golden State gang just doesn’t have the height or the bodies to handle the likes of Blake Griffin (32 points and 8 rebounds in Game 3) or board-banger C Deandre Jordan (22 rebounds including seven on the offensive end).

As TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley keeps telling the world, the Warriors can’t — and won’t — win in a half-court style game and that’s exactly what clever coach Doc Rivers of the Clippers has drawn up in this series plus GS is not getting many quality triple looks either with the Warriors a sad 6-of-31 from beyond the arc in Game 3.

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-19  Golden St.  +7½ CLIPPERS 109-105
4-21 CLIPPERS -8 Golden State 138-98
4-24 Clippers -2½ GOLDEN ST. 98-96

THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

Quick …

Did you happen to notice who is the worst team in Major-League Baseball while heading into this final weekend in April?

Maybe you thought the Houston Astros (7-16) was the easy answer but nooooo.

The Arizona Diamondbacks began their three-game weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies with an awful 7-18 mark (that’s playing .280 ball, folks) and that comes after back-to-back wins in Chicago that enabled the D-Backs to salvage/split that four-game set.

To say nothing of the fact Arizona spoiled that otherwise wonderful 100th birthday party at Wrigley Field this past Wednesday with a five-run top-of-the-ninth inning in a 7-5 victory.

The Diamondbacks entered weekend play a minus 57 in the run differential category (93 runs scored or 3.72 runs per game) against 150 runs allowed and among the other mind-numbing figures is a 1-11 home record and a crummy 5-13 mark against the National League West.

The team’s ugly 5.39 ERA ranks dead-last in the NL and note that starters Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Bronson Arroyo and Josh Collmenter are a combined 4-14 out of the starting gate and so no wonder you’re already hearing rumors that contending teams out there plan on scavenging the D-Backs as soon as possible with the likes of Arroyo (a free agent that didn’t receive many nibbles this past winter) getting mentioned as a possible puzzle piece with Atlanta while McCarthy and/or Cahill could be in the mix eventually for deals to American League East teams such as Baltimore, Toronto or even Boston.

In other MLB News…

The Minnesota Twins were supposed to be a dead item this 2014 season but 21 games into the current campaign there’s Ron Gardenhire’s crew with a winning record (okay, just 11-10) and sporting the AL’s second-most productive offense with 116 runs scored and — of course — the one guy getting so much “pub” is DH Chris Colabello who is hitting .325 with 3 HRs and a league-leading 26 RBIs with an on-base percentage of .364 and a slugging percentage of .542.

Colabello bashed Tampa Bay the other night with a homer and four ribbies in a 6-4 win in 12 innings and his at-bats are suddenly becoming “must-see” in Twins games … did someone utter the name Harmon Killebrew?

NOTE: Get more NBA Playoff News/Notes/Previews plus Baseball and NFL Draft coverage in the upcoming editions of Jim Sez.

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