5-30 NBA Playoffs Update + Baseball Report

SPURS (-5) BOP THE THUNDER 117-89 TO TAKE A 3-2 SERIES LEAD IN THE NBA’S WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS AND CASH IN FOR NETWORK CLIENTS… PLUS WE PREVIEW TONIGHT’S PACERS-HEAT GAME 6 BASH IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS IN MIAMI …

THE BASEBALL UPDATE—THIS BRAVES NEW WORLD IS A MESS AS ATLANTA HEADS INTO MIAMI OFF
FOUR-GAME LOSING STREAK

Just don’t ask …

Don’t ask us why all five games in this year’s NBA Western Conference Finals have been absolute blowouts— the closest game was Oklahoma City’s nine-point win in Game 3— as last night the latest Home Betting Favorite to lay down the law was San Antonio in the Spurs’ resounding 117-89 win (which we had here on the site, making us 10-4 in the Conference Finals) in the Alamo City, and so that makes Home Favorites a perfect 5-and-oh in this particular series and it makes all NBA Betting Favorites 8-2 ATS (against the spread) in these on-going Eastern/Western Conference Finals.

The fact is neither Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich nor Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks could explain why we’ve seen home teams win by 17, 35, 13 and 28 points in the tilts other than the aforementioned Game 3, but the reality is last night San Antonio moved the ball brilliantly— one major reason why the defending Western Conference champs shot a sizzling 51.3 percent from the field (that’s 39-of-76 field-goal makes, folks)— but you had to wonder if San Ant’s acceptance of matching Okie City’s athletes with more cerebral play will carry over into Saturday’s Game 6 at “The Peake” and we’ll provide our "Jim Sez" preview of that tilt in tomorrow’s column.

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS—
SAN ANTONIO 117, OKLAHOMA CITY 89— Spurs lead series 3-2

Here’s our quickie summation of this latest slaughter in this best-of-seven set:

The Spurs took all of OKC’s best punches in a first quarter that finished up all tied at 32 points apiece and— in retrospect— that was the ball game ‘cause San Antonio flexed its muscles with a 33-23 second quarter and never looked back all the while “ancient” F Tim Duncan was filling up the stat sheet with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and did we mention that the Spurs canned half of their 26 three-ball attempts as the likes of Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and never-shy G Patty Mills combined for 10-of-17 trifecta makes.

On the flip side, the Thunder just didn’t get much from the supporting cast ‘round Kevin Durant (25 points) and Russell Westbrook (21 points) and— dare we say— the likes of OKC’s bench players were a major detriment in attempting a comeback as OKC’s backups combined to shoot 10-of-27 from the floor and not one of the bench brigade “starring” Jeremy Lamb, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler gave the roadsters any sort of an energy boost.

The end result was the Spurs took a few shots to the jaw in the game’s first nine or 10 minutes and then dug a line in the proverbial sand and smoked an Oklahoma City club that now knows an exact repeat of the 2012 Western Finals (when OKC dropped Games 1 and 2 and then won four in a row) isn’t in the cards.

Meanwhile, we agree with the TNT post-game lads— that’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal— and tell you the overhyped starting lineup change that inserted Matt Bonner and exiled Tiago Splitter for San Antonio (in an apparent effort to get rim protector Serge Ibaka away from the basket) was much ado about nothing as Bonner missed all four of his FG tries and Ibaka picked the wrong time to deliver a dud effort— yes, two meaningless blocks in 27 minutes and a yucky 3-of-10 shooting game from the floor.

Pointspread Notes— Straight from the nothing-from-nothing category comes the factoids that San Antonio is now 7-7 ATS as betting favorites in this year’s NBA Playoffs while Oklahoma City is now 3-3 spreadwise as underdogs in this post-season.

Here’s the Thunder-Spurs series in game-by-game chart form (note all home teams in CAPS below):

DATE  WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
5-19  SAN ANTONIO - 6  Okla City  122-105
5-21 SAN ANTONIO - 5 Okla City 112-77
5-25 OKLA CITY   - 2½   San Antonio  106-97
5-27  OKLA CITY - 2  San Antonio 105-92
5-29 SAN ANTONIO   - 5  Okla City 117-89

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Tonight, it’s …

NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
INDIANA at MIAMI— Heat leads series 3-2; 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

So, is this the night the confetti comes pouring down on the Miami Heat with a fourth consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Finals … or are the Indiana Pacers in the mood to spoil the biggest/noisiest party in South Beach?

Okay, so that’s the $64,000 question even though we’re well aware of the fact the Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Heat listed as a haughty 7 ½-point betting favorite for this Game 6 tilt (note that would represent the largest pointspread yet in this best-of-seven series).

The Heat’s mantra here must be the following:

Take better care of the basketball — see 17 Miami turnovers in Game 5 when LeBron James was limited to just 24 game minutes thanks to foul woes— and don’t necessarily fall in love with the three-point shot here even though Miami did drill 15-of-31 triples in that 93-90 loss this past Wednesday night.

Secondly, the Heat— who are a stellar 5-2 ATS (against the spread) as home favorites in this year’s playoffs— must get back to hounding the Pacers’ ball-handlers at every turn and not allowing Paul George to get heated up.

George’s Game 5-high 37 points might have been the single-best showing of any Pacers player this whole year, but consider that Miami allowed him to get going with steals, easy hoops and some lay-ups that seemingly buoyed his confidence and got ‘em going with those key late-game made trifectas.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path key for the underdog Pacers, it’s this:

Stay on the attack at all times— as head coach Frank Vogel told the media folks following the three-point home win in Game 5, make sure “the light needs to be on green for all of us” and one way of knowing that this could be Indiana’s night is if there’s a real balance to the scoring.

Okay, so George’s 37 points— every single one of ‘em— was needed to extend this series to a Game 6, but anybody that’s closely followed the Pacers this year knows that double-digit scoring across the board for the starters and maybe even a reserve or two generally means a successful outing for top-seeded Indiana.

Gotta believe that Miami will come out breathing fire here and so James, Dwyane Wade and mates will be putting major pressure on the Pacers early in an attempt to make ‘em crack and so the score at the end of the first quarter is key — if Indy finds itself down a handful-or-more points while heading into the second quarter, it may never see the light of day.

Then we’ll cue the confetti, okay?

Now here’s the first five games of this NBA Eastern Conference Finals (note all home teams in CAPS below):

DATE  WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
5-18 INDIANA + 2 Miami 107-96
5-20 Miami  - 2½ INDIANA 87-83
5-24   MIAMI - 6  Indiana 99-87
5-26 MIAMI -6½ Indiana 102-90
5-28 INDIANA +1 Miami 93-90

Note …

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all through the weekend and right into the middle of June too!

Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!

THE BASEBALL UPDATE
You can mark it down— the Atlanta Braves would have been all too happy to skip its home-and-home Interleague series with the Boston Red Sox.

The Braves lost all four games— 8-6 and 6-3 setbacks at Turner Field to start the week and 4-0 and 4-3 at Fenway Park the past two nights— and one thing we learned about Freddi Gonzalez’s suddenly slumping squad is even star closer Craig Kimbrel can’t always be counted on as he walked back-to-back batters in a haunting ninth inning that included Atlanta’s third error in two innings and thus the National League East club wakes up this morning in a flat-footed tie with the Miami Marlins with identical 28-25 records.

No doubt the Braves could still carve out yet another division title but shoddy defense, rotten recent bullpen work and a team that’s now 14th in the NL in runs scored (175 runs) has to make this an uncomfortable time for a franchise that’s putting three of its greatest ever— that’s RHP Greg Maddux, LHP Tom Glavine and manager Bobby Cox— into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

This group sure ain’t playing like Hall of Famers and how about the fact SS Andrelton Simmons is hobbling around these days with a gimpy ankle— let’s see if the weekend is any better with the Braves in Miami for a three-game set.

Hey, first place is on the line and there’s some Braves who could be in danger of losing their jobs if they aren’t careful.

Note: More NBA Playoff Reports/Previews plus Baseball too in the next edition of Jim Sez!

21
Nov

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