Pacers-Heat Game 3 Preview and Memorial Weekend Baseball

THE NBA REPORT: WE SET THE TABLE FOR A BIG MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND  WITH PACERS-HEAT GAME 3 PREVIEW

OUR BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES COLUMN CHECKS OUT THE TOP WEEKEND SERIES AS ROCKIES-BRAVES & A’S-JAYS TAKE CENTER STAGE

By Jim Hurley:

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and – surprise, surprise – the Miami Heat is a major part of the holiday weekend as it has been for each of the past four years.

The Heat’s seemingly annual trek to the Eastern Conference Finals hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing in this round when you consider the 107-96 pounding it took in Game 1 at Indiana last Sunday afternoon followed by a gut-check 87-83 win in Game 2 but now both teams have had the extra looooong break between games and so they’ll jump it up Saturday night in South Beach and we’ll finally get to see if the extra “down time” aids Miami veteran G Dwyane Wade or whether the three days off was a bigger boon to the Pacers who have their own wounded walking in small forward Paul George (concussion/headaches) and G Lance Stephenson (ankle twinge at the end of Game 2).

Lots on this holiday weekend platter, so let’s get it started …

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
INDIANA at MIAMI – Series tied 1-1; Game 3 is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

You got the sense that save for a few minutes of Miami domination in the fourth quarter of Game 2 that the underdog Pacers (+ 290-to-$100 to win this series at the start) were more than a bit confident it could beat the Heat after losing to ‘em in each of the last two playoff campaigns but in order for Frank Vogel’s squad to get a split in these two games in South Florida (Game 4 is set for Monday night) someone is gonna have to stress that offensive balance is key and getting in the faces of LeBron James and Wade is essential.

Duh!

The Pacers had six players register double-digit scoring totals in that twin-figure Game 1 win when ball movement was swift and hitting the proverbial open man was a thing of beauty but Indiana grew more stagnant on offense in Game 2 – too often the likes of George and/or Stephenson pounded the dribble till late in the shot clock – and that’s simply not the way these Pacers are built to play.

Expect the following to happen if Indiana’s gonna stand a shot at snagging this Game 3 and remember the Heat are – at this very moment – a hearty 7-point betting favorite:

The Pacers must get C Roy Hibbert involved from the get-go and let him carve out his space in the paint against a smaller Miami front line that figures to need major minutes from both Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Udonis Haslem.

Note that in Game 2, Hibbert attempted only nine field-goal tries (he made five of ‘em for 12 points) and that’s simply not enough – we’d like to see the former Georgetown star get off a minimum 15 FG attempts here;

Secondly, the Pacers must get something positive from their bench that dearly let ‘em down in Game 2. Okay, so no need to verbally whip Luis Scola (1-of-6 shooting for 2 points with some shoddy defense to boot) any more than we need to but he must stand up and be counted and ditto for guard C.J. Watson who missed all four of his field goals in Game 2 and didn’t have a single assist in 13 minutes of game time;

Finally, doesn’t it always come back to the head coach?

We didn’t think Vogel had one of his better outings in Game 2 – why the Pacers didn’t foul late and look to extend that game was a mystery to us! – and the formula here is set with Indy needing to get hoops from down low while bodying up James on the perimeter and thus making it tougher for “The King” to bang his way to easy post points.

Note that in Game 2, James only scored 22 points on 9-of-18 FGs with just six free-throw tries – you better believe Indiana would take that stat line in a heart beat here – but the reality is James will probably get a few more favorable whistles at home, will likely attempt at least a dozen free throws here and so that means Indiana must hunker down more on Wade who really has been fabulous so far after scoring a team-best 23 points in Game 2.

If Miami is gonna go up two games-to-one here, than it’s a given the James/Wade combo must go for 50-plus points but the underlying theme here is what will Erik Spoelstra’s crew get from the likes of F Chris Bosh (just 9 points in Game 2 and only 1-of-9 shooting from three-point land this series) and reserves Andersen (the Heat was a + 25 with him on the floor in Game 2) and snazzy G Norris Cole (11 points and 0 turnovers in 27 action-packed minutes in Game 2)?

It’s possible that the Pacers could silence those supporting role guys and steal one game here in Miami but they have zero chance if Bosh gets 20 points to go along with James/Wade or if Andersen is a brute force on the boards who chips in another 14 points. Got it?

Here’s our updated game-by-game series look of these NBA Eastern Conference Finals (note all home teams are in CAPS below):

DATE

  WINNER

SPREAD

LOSER

SCORE

5-18

INDIANA

+ 2

Miami

107-96

5-20

Miami

- 2.5

INDIANA

87-83

Editor’s Note: We’ll preview the NBA’s Western Conference Finals series between Oklahoma City versus San Antonio in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez. The Spurs lead two games-to-none and keep in mind in NBA Playoff history teams with a 2-0 series lead go on to win that round 94 percent of the time.

Now, this important reminder; Make sure you cash in each and every day as Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers steer you straight into the winner’s circle with NBA Conference Finals (we're 6-0 so far!) and Major-League Baseball action.

Check in here online or else call us toll-free at 1-800-323-4453. It’s been a monster post-season on the NBA hardwood for Jim’s clients – and there’s still lots of winnin’ straight ahead!

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

So, we’ve come upon the unofficial first weekend of summer and go ahead and raise your hands if you thought the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants would be the popular choice to ply one another in this year’s World Series.

Okay, there’s obviously a lot of Major-League Baseball season left but wouldn’t it be wild if we were headed to a Bay Area World Series just like 25 years ago?

Here’s a couple of MLB series we’ll be watching closely on this Memorial Day Weekend menu …

In the National League, it’s …

COLORADO (26-21) at ATLANTA (25-20) – Fri, Sat & Sun
The Rockies don’t have that magic working quite as well away from Coors Field where this NL West squad is a tepid 10-14 overall but you can’t ignore the fact that Colorado entered yesterday’s game against the San Francisco Giants with a plus 48 runs differential – the best in the senior circuit, folks – and do keep in mind that the Rockies lead the league in home runs and runs scored although they may not be full strength here as OF Carlos Gonzalez was left out of Thursday’s lineup with inflammation in his left index finger.

Meanwhile, the Braves have lost five of their first six games against NL West teams so far this season but Atlanta packs a mean punch with OF Justin Upton (12 home runs) and star SS Andrelton Simmons just starting to heat it up.

In the American League …

OAKLAND (30-16) at TORONTO (25-22) – Fri, Sat & Sun
The A’s sport MLB’s best run differential following Wednesday’s games with a sparkling plus 99 and how about the fact Oakland headed into yesterday’s game at Tampa Bay with a spiffy 18-6 road record?

On a team that continues to not garner national respect we wish to inform you that these A’s lead the AL in runs scored (241) and rank first in team ERA (2.84) and so why wouldn’t you put Bob Melvin’s club right atop the list of early-season contenders for this year’s Fall Classic?

Note that Oakland OF Brandon Moss already has 10 home runs and last year’s All-Star Game Home Run Derby winner Yoenis Cespedes (7 HR and hitting just .248) has really yet to get started on this 2014 campaign.

The question here is when does Las Vegas wise up and note the A’s are the best team in the AL?

If the A’s are gonna win two-of-three or even sweep this series North of the Border, then a starting rotation that’s 21-7 so far must keep the home-run happy Blue Jays in the ball park. Easier said than done, naturally!

NOTE: NBA Previews plus more MLB Notes in the next Jim Sez.

24
Sep

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