NBA Conference Finals - Heat Advance, and The West Plays Today

Hurley Wins Friday Night With The OVER in Pacers/Heat Game 6! Now 11-4 In The Conference Finals!

THE NBA CONFERENCE FINALS REPORT:

SPURS LOOK TO LOCK DOWN THEIR WESTERN FINALS IN OKC JUST ONE NIGHT AFTER THE HEAT TORCHES THE HEARTLESS PACERS 117-92 IN A REAL SLEEPY GAME 6 CLINCHER

So, what might we all be in for on this Saturday night when the NBA’s defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs bops into Oklahoma City for this Game 6 bash against the Thunder?

Is Gregg Popovich’s club gonna finally prove that a road team can indeed break on through or are we headed for a sixth straight win/cover by a home team in this particular best-of-seven series?

P.S., our Jim Sez Preview is just moments away but first a quickie shout-out to the Miami Heat who just earned a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

Yes, Miami’s rollicking 117-92 win against 8-point underdog Indiana on the final Friday night in May was a real stink-bomb game when it came to excitement/drama – if you happened to stay with this blowout till the bitter end then we’ll give you a round of applause! – as even pain-in-the-backside G Lance Stephenson couldn’t raise the entertainment value on this one even though he spent a good portion of this game poking and prodding LeBron James … all we’ll say is when the dust finally settled on that Game 6 there was James the proud owner of a stat line that read 25 points, 6 assists and only two turnovers while Stephenson registered 11 points with one assist in 36 minutes.

Advantage: James … duh!

Tonight, it’s …

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
SAN ANTONIO at OKLAHOMA CITY
– Spurs lead series 3-2; 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
The absolute spate of one-sided wins by the home teams in this Western Conference Finals series leads one to ask the question: What could possibly be different here in a Game 6?

Well, Oklahoma City – winners by 9 and 13 points in its Game 3 and Game 4 home wins, respectively – is only 4-4 ATS (against the spread) in its first eight playoff home games this year and so Scott Brooks’ squad shouldn’t necessarily be chalking up a “W” just yet even though it’s been proven out in this series that the bench guys are much better at home while mega-stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook also sport boosted numbers at “The Peake”.

Still, Durant (25 points on 11-of-21 FG shooting in the 117-89 loss in Game 3) and Westbrook (21 points on 6-of-12 FG shooting in Game 5 after his 40-point outing in Game 4) absolutely have to take at least 50 percent of the Thunder’s shots here … that wasn’t the case in Game 5 when Durant/Westbrook teamed up for 33 of the club’s 81 FG tries (that’s 40.7 percent of the attempts) and no doubt Serge Ibaka must be a lightning rod player with double-digit points and boards to go along with a handful of blocked shots.

If Ibaka is a non-factor here and the Thunder bench doesn’t kick in 20-plus points, then we just might have a road breakthrough in this crazy West Series.
Note that San Antonio not only played team-oriented ball in that rubout Game 5 win – six different Spurs sported 2-or-more assists in that tilt – but Gregg Popovich’s club played smart and communicated well on the defensive end after allowing a whopping 32 first-quarter points.

Tim Duncan’s 22-point performance topped a Spurs squad that also featured 19 points off the bench by Manu Ginobili and 13-of-26 made triples and as coach Brooks pointed out his Thunder was way too generous in allowing the dribble drive, three-point shots and surrendered too many free throws too.
Now we’ll see if OKC corrects those Game 5 errors – and whether a road team in this best-of-seven series can finally crack this code of trying to win on enemy hardwood.

One final forecast here:

If the Spurs can get one X-factor type player – we mean Boris Diaw (13 points in Game 5) or perhaps G Patty Mills (3-of-5 trifectas in Game 5) – to really have a career-type game here, then we could well be facing an NBA Finals repeat matchup.

Here’s the Thunder-Spurs series in game-by-game chart form through Game 5 (and note that all home teams are 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

- 2.5

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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NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
MIAMI 117, INDIANA 92 – Heat wins series 4-2

No need to overanalyze this series clincher for Miami even though we must remind you that Indiana actually surged out of the starting gate en route to a 9-2 lead before Miami outscored the heartless Pacers 54-21 deep into the first half.

Okay, so we touched on James’ numbers that were good but not godly – “The King” was painfully efficient with 9-of-9 made free throws and 8-of-12 FG shooting line but we’ve seen countless such performances in his NBA past – but what really set Miami aside here was the board work and energy provided by reserve F Chris “Birdman” Andersen who snagged 10 rebounds and scored 9 points in just 13 minutes of play after sitting out both Game 4 and Game 5 with thigh bruise woes and how about the smooth stroke of lefty F Chris Bosh who canned 10-of-14 field goals in a delightful 25-point, 8-rebound game. Remember Bosh was a major bust in the first three games of this series but he settled down his shooting touch and wound up being a real key cog in the final three games of this set.

The Pacers talked plenty all series long but when push came to shove here in this elimination game, Frank Vogel’s club laid a major egg whether it was the ultra-shaky defense (note the Heat had 24 assists to 9 turnovers and the Indy bench was a bust once again) or the all-too-often shabby passing that never did get ‘em better shots from the floor.

Believe it or not, Pacers’ forward Paul George – who poured in a Game 5-high 37 points – had one measly point by halftime when Miami had this one salted away with a 60-34 lead and so don’t put a whole lotta stock in George’s 28 second-half points here ‘cause they meant nothing!

The Heat should be applauded for getting to a fourth straight NBA Finals – only the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers back in the day ever accomplished said feat – and how about the fact Miami’s now a perfect 10-0 SU (straight-up) in this era when playing a potential series-clinching game at home.

This one left no doubt and gotta say Miami’s energy, focus and desire all were “10’s” on a scale of 1-to-10 while we remain puzzled by the Pacers who were a Jekyll and Hyde bunch all year long but where was the defensive help and what did happen to C Roy Hibbert who here in Game 6 wound up scoring one field goal in some 32 minutes?

Let’s just say the Heat’s gonna be in next week’s Finals while we expect to hear the Pacers are in group therapy!

Now here’s a look back at the just-completed 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

- 2.5

INDIANA

87-83

5-24

MIAMI

- 6

Indiana

99-87

5-26

MIAMI

- 6.5

Indiana

102-90

5-28

INDIANA

+ 1

Miami

93-90

5-30

MIAMI

- 8

Indiana

117-92

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

21
Nov

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