NBA Finals Update + Yankees-A's Preview

THE NBA FINALS UPDATE:
SPURS INCH CLOSER TO THAT COVETED FIFTH TITLE THANKS TO THE 107-86
RUNAWAY GAME 4 WIN IN MIAMI…
PLUS BASEBALL’S BIG FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND FEATURES YANKEES-A’S THREE-GAME SET OUT WEST
(AND NO MASAHIRO TANAKA TO RESCUE NEW YORK!)

By Jim Hurley

Hey, Miami Heat, just let us know when you’ve had enough of those prime-time, woodshed beatings!

In a strange-but-true NBA Finals, the two-time defending champion Heat was blitzed badly on its home floor—again—last night 107-86 and so go ahead and raise your hands if you thought that the San Antonio Spurs were gonna come out of South Beach with back-to-back Game 3 and Game 4 wins by a collective total of 40 points.

No doubt that the ball movement of the Spurs was precise and nearly downright perfect in the Game 4 laugher as Gregg Popovich’s crew doled out 25 assists on the team’s 40 made field goals (we won’t even mention the fact that Miami finished the game with just 13 assists to go along with 13 turnovers!) and it’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen a team’s big men pass the ball, so well as hats off to Boris Diaw (nine assists) and a front-court legion of players that are extremely unselfish.

Still, where was the sense of urgency for the Heat?

Why did they stumble so badly out of the starting gate … again?

We’ll attempt to answers those questions and others in a moment when we re-cap the San Antonio blowout win but first this key reminder as we look ahead to Sunday’s Game 5 potential series-clincher...

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in major profits in this year’s NBA Finals—hope you’ve been with us right from the very start of these pro hoop playoffs, folks, because we’ve absolutely cashed in for some big-time balloons!

Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day of these NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs (Game 5 is Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET) and remember to cash in too with all the Major-League Baseball winners as Jim stays red-hot heading into summer!

NBA FINALS—
SAN ANTONIO 107, MIAMI 86—Spurs lead series 3-1

In the aftermath of the Spurs’ mammoth win in Miami last night, the media folks were busy wheeling out all the pertinent numbers:

No NBA Finals team that trailed three games-to-one had ever come back to win in the 31 such prior series that sported such an advantage;

This Game 4 blitzkreig snapped Miami’s streak of having won its last 13 consecutive post-season games that followed a loss;

And let’s not forget that other one regarding the Heat that said Miami has not suffered back-to-back playoff losses since losing three in a row to the Boston Celtics back in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals (the Heat won the first two games and the last two games in that series to prevail).

Let’s just say the Heat had no sense of history in losing here in a game it trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter, by 19 points at the half and by 24 points while heading into the fourth quarter, and so while the spoiled Miami hoops fans both booed and left early (not many folks remained in the building with less than five minutes remaining in Game 4) the fact is the Heat waved its own white flag right ‘round 9:25 p.m. Eastern time or some 15-or-so minutes after tipoff.

Give the Spurs credit for playing hard and smart—the Diaw assists were great but who knew born-again F Kawhi Leonard would follow up his “wake-up call” Game 3 with another stellar showing as he finished with team highs in points and rebounds at 20 and 14, respectively, but dig a bit deeper and “Pop” had a point:

The San Antonio defense meant business here one game after allowing Miami to shoot 51.6 percent from the floor (that was 32-of-62 FG makes) as this time the Spurs held the Heat to only 32-of-71 FG shooting (45.1 percent) and truth is lots of Miami’s baskets came way after this contest had long been decided, and we duly noted where the Heat had only one first-quarter assist while San Ant also crushed ‘em on the boards en route to a tone-setting 26-17 lead.

LeBron James—“bathroom breaks” and all—did what he could while pouring in 19 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter, but it was a mountain too high for the Heat to climb and gotta believe that Dwyane Wade’s shabby and tired-looking 3-of-13 FG game for 10 points sure will have Heat management (that’s Pat Riley) thinking of “recruiting” New York Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony to town come July 1st.

Wade left shots short, didn’t have any lift on his jumpers and seemed a tad intimidated when he got into the paint and—while we’re at it dissecting the Heat’s game here—can we send out “missing persons” reports for both G Mario Chalmers (four points in 31 minutes) and fossil-like Rashard Lewis (one field goal in 16 minutes)?

In our "Jim Sez" Game 4 Preview column, we wrongfully assumed that the James/Wade/Chris Bosh triumvirate would do better than the 53 points they scored in the Game 3 home loss but instead this trio scored 50 points and damn if it didn’t take ‘em 41 FG tries to get there!

We also suggested that Miami “body up” San Antonio’s finesse players but that didn’t happen as PG Tony Parker (19 points) and three-point maven Danny Green (three of San Antonio’s nine triples) pretty much did as they pleased here and about the only “fire” that the Heat showed was when Chris “Birdman” Andersen picked up a technical foul after not getting a call in the first half.

Give mucho credit to Popovich and his staff—very much a reworked unit after a couple of head coaching defections a year ago—in preaching the extra pass here and there and for making Spurs players well aware that Miami had tired legs for much of the last game and that might get exposed.

Still, don’t dump this whole mess on Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra:

True, the paint defense remained shoddy and the defensive switches were awful—again—but what’s the head coach gonna do when someone like Wade is shooting his side out of the game and the team is just showing zero energy with even James not himself for much of the first half.

Was “The King” sick as some media folks reported?

It’s possible but we’re marking down Miami with a grade of “F” for effort here in Game 4 and no wonder so many folks were declaring this series “over” right after the final buzzer sounded.

The Spurs shocked the hoops world—wonder how many folks had ‘em with the money line and never did break a sweat—and the all hands-on-deck effort was superb from Leonard to Duncan to star reserve G Patty Mills (see 14 points in 16 minutes).

Hmm, did you hear some Miami folks utter the phrase “wait till next year” upon exiting the building?

The Spurs always smile when they think about 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007… now they’ve got the “seven-year itch” and are one win away from a title here in 2014.

And ain’t nobody beating San Antonio if it plays like it did in Game 4, got it?

Here’s the Spurs-Heat NBA Finals series in game-by-game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):

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DATE WINNER SPREAD  LOSER SCORE
6-5   SAN ANTONIO - 5 Miami 110-95
6-8 Miami +4 SAN ANTONIO 98-96
6-10 San Antonio +4 MIAMI 111-92
6-12 San Antonio +5½ MIAMI 107-86

Pointspread Notes—NBA Playoff Betting Favorites now are 32-53-1 ATS (against the spread) with two pick ‘em games tossed into the mix and so that means post-season chalk sides have won at a 37.6 percent rate … ugh! Meanwhile, San Antonio’s latest lopsided win improved the Spurs’ playoff pointspread mark to 12-10 ATS (a .545 winning rate) but do keep in mind that once upon a time the Spurs were 0-6 spreadwise in this post-season, so the pure-and-simple math says they’re 12-4 ATS ever since that opening-round Game 7 blowout win against Dallas way back on May 4th.

On the flip side, Miami is now 11-8 ATS overall this post-season (a .579 percent winning rate), but are you aware the Heat’s just 4-7 versus the vig overall in all NBA Finals games against the Spurs since the start of last year’s title series?

THE BASEBALL REPORT:
YANKEES-A’s SQUARE OFF THIS WEEKEND

There’s been plenty of Major-League Baseball teams that have been griping about this year’s schedule—more than once we’ve had teams forced to play the ESPN Sunday Night Game and then have to travel for a game the next day/night and just last week the New York Mets were mumbling aloud because they played a three-city road trip in three different times zones—a rare five-game set in Philadelphia, followed by a three-game series at Wrigley Field in Chicago and capped by a three-game series in San Francisco.

Now, it’s the other guys who make New York City their home that’s none too pleased with the 2014 MLB sked-makers as the Yankees come off a getaway night game in Seattle last night—a 6-3 win over the M’s—and it’s a trip down to the Bay Area for a three-game series in Oakland.

Please note the A’s had yesterday off after returning from losing two-of-three in Anaheim this past Monday-through-Wednesday.

Still, we’ll give you the other reason why Yankees manager Joe Girardi probably is gonna be so cranky here and that’s because ace RHP Masahiro Tanaka (10-1 and a dazzling 0.94 WHIP) won’t be starting this weekend after having beaten the Mariners 4-2 this past Wednesday night.

So, the pitching-strapped and hitting-challenged Yankees must play the American League’s best team—yes, the A’s really are 40-26 overall and a far-and-away MLB-best plus 130 in the run differential category—without Tanaka and with a lineup that is averaging a mere four runs per game this year and with just one 30-RBI guy so far (that’s oft-injured 1B Mark Teixeira).

Keep in mind the A’s just took two-of-three games at Yankee Stadium back on June 3-4-5 and Tanaka earned the decision in the lone New York win that series with a 2-1 triumph after the A’s won the opening two games 5-2 (in 10 innings) and 7-4 and there were plenty of Oakland long balls that made Yankee Stadium appear a tiny bandbox once again.

Hey, another series to watch this Father’s Day weekend is the one between the Los Angeles Angels at the Atlanta Braves—Interleague play every day may not make baseball purists all that happy this year but Halos-Braves is good stuff.

NOTE: There’s much more NBA Finals coverage plus MLB News/Notes too in the next edition of Jim Sez.

26
Sep

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