Thursday's Playoffs - Is It A Wrap?
THE NBA PLAYOFFS UPDATE: WILL THE PACERS, THUNDER WRAP THINGS UP ON THE ROAD TONIGHT? …
OUR MLB REPORT: A LOOK AT BOSTON’S BIG PAPI
By Jim Hurley:
Just when you think you’ve seen it all in these NBA Playoffs …
Whether it’s been the plethora of fouls committed on the three-point shooters or the AWOL efforts of teams looking to clinch post-season series (we’re talking to you, Indiana Pacers!), there’s no doubt that what’s happened late in both Game 4 and Game 5 of this on-going Western Conference Semifinal series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder is true “take the cake” material!
First you had the Thunder blowing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead last Sunday en route to the Clippers’ 101-99 non-cover win and then some 48 hours later the script was flipped as Okie City roared back from a 101-88 deficit in the closing moments – and remember the Thunder was down by seven points with 50 seconds left! – before an array of idiotic plays by Clips PG Chris Paul and a shaky replay review left OKC with the three games-to-two series advantage while heading back here to Hollywood for a Game 6.
Hey, who is Donald Sterling gonna blame that on … Magic Johnson?
Now, let’s check out what is on the Thursday night menu:
INDIANA at WASHINGTON – Pacers lead series 3-2; 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt that Sigmund Freud would have a field day with these here-and-now Indiana Pacers!
The Eastern Conference’s numero uno seed simply did not show up for Tuesday’s Game 5 at “The Fieldhouse” but what about the following stats:
The Pacers were out-rebounded 62-to-23 and wound up shooting an anemic 30-of-77 from the field (that’s just 39 percent) and some of the post-game answers were nonchalant as it didn’t seem to bother Indiana that it was torched 102-79 on its home floor … have some pride, fellas!
If there’s a saving grace of sorts for Frank Vogel’s club here in Game 6, it’s this:
The Wizards have not exactly been a world-beater on their home floor during this post-season with a 1-3 SU (straight-up) record overall and there would appear little chance that the John Wall-to-Marcin Gortat tag team that produced more than a few pick-and-roll points will score at will here after Indiana studies the video.
Gortat finished Game 5 with 31 points on 13-of-15 FG shooting while Wall – who has been a tad spotty in this series – collected 27 points with 5 assists and gotta believe the Pacers will put some tallish defenders on him here and make his drives to the hoop a bit tougher.
One other key for the Pacers here is obvious:
Paul George must play more like the guy who dominated Game 4 and less like the dude that showed up in Game 5 when he nailed just 5-of-15 FGs and registered just 15 points with 2 assists in 39 minutes of action.
Pointspread Notes – The Pacers are a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 ATS (against the spread) this post-season while the Wizards enter this Game 6 at 7-3 against the odds in these playoffs.
Take note …
JIm Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we start closing out the Round II action.
Just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!
OKLAHOMA CITY at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – Thunder leads series 3-2; 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
The TNT post-game show was a blast following Oklahoma City’s dramatic comeback win in Game 5 – good for Charles Barkley for letting the aforementioned Paul have it for his late-game turnovers/fouls but why let Doc Rivers get off the hook just ‘cause he was steaming over that replay review gaffe?
The fact of the matter is Rivers’ team never should have allowed Kevin Durant some late-game steam to get going – the league MVP was dreadful from the floor with a 3-of-17 FG start before hitting three of his final five shots for a 27-point night – and even if it was Paul that committed the deadly foul on Russell Westbrook (game-high 38 points) on a wild three-point shot attempt, shouldn’t Rivers have had a bit more control on his undisciplined team down the stretch?
If you’d like, it’s easy now to say that things are a “wash” having both the Thunder and then the Clippers handed away a “W” late but now there’s no more wiggle room for LA and for Billy Crystal’s favorite pro hoops team to force a Game 7 here than C Deandre Jordan (0 points, 4 rebounds and no blocked shots in Game 5 before fouling out) must fill up the stat sheet and avoid silly fouls and Paul must get his game back on track.
True, Paul did register 14 assists in Game 5 but he committed 5 turnovers and they all seemed to be grave errors late in the OKC comeback win.
If you wish to keep an eye peeled on something here, than let’s see how many times Clippers star Blake Griffin gets to the foul line.
In the Game 5 meltdown loss, Griffin – who scored a team-high 24 points – attempted only five free throws (making four of ‘em) and compare that with Westbrook who made seven first-quarter free throws en route to his 14-of-16 night at the charity stripe.
If Griffin puts head down and goes hard at the iron, he’ll get his free throws and that could be the diff-maker here … we’ll see.
Pointspread Notes – The Thunder has split its 12 pointspread verdicts thus far in these NBA Playoffs while the Clippers are a money-torching 4-8 versus the vig thus far in playoff action.
|5-5||Clippers||+ 5.5||Okla City||122-105|
|5-7||OKLA CITY||- 5.5||Clippers||112-101|
|5-9||Okla City||+ 4.5||CLIPPERS||118-112|
|5-11||CLIPPERS||- 5||Okla City||101-99|
|5-13||OKLA CITY||- 5.5||Clippers||105-104|
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Interesting little discussion on Wednesday’s “High Heat” show on the MLB Network as Chris “Mad Dog” Russo sounded off regarding exactly where Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz stands in team lore.
The man known as “Big Papi” was – according to Russo – likely to go down as the third-most significant player in team history behind Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski but consider Ortiz has won three World Series crowns with the Bosox and, apparently, he’s far from being finished.
In fact, Ortiz walloped a pair of home runs in Tuesday night’s eventual 8-6 walk-off loss at Minnesota as he went 4-for-5 with the two dingers and four RBI in that clash and so the numbers heading into last night’s game in Minny included a .287 batting average with 9 home runs and 23 runs batted in along with a .537 slugging percentage.
Ortiz – the only Red Sox player since 2004 who’s been on all three of the title teams (2004, 2007 and 2013) – may not topple the great Williams in Red Sox lore but who else possibly could really rank ahead of ‘em when you look at the championships, the clutch hits/home runs and the fact he owned last year’s World Series win against St. Louis.
Heck, Ortiz exited Tuesday’s game with 12 hits in his last 24 at-bats with three dingers in his last six games – maybe there is lots more life in this 38-year-old mega-star who still remains one of baseball’s toughest outs and most imposing figures.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez plus there’s MLB News/Notes too!
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