NBA Finals Game 5 Preview Plus MLB Notes

THE NBA FINALS REPORT: WILL COACH “POP” AND HIS SPURS GET CROWNED THE CHAMPS ON FATHER’S DAY EVENING?

PLUS OUR BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES GOES ‘ROUND THE BIG LEAGUES WITH SOME HOT TOPICS (AND HOT GOSSIP)

By Jim Hurley:

Okay, so maybe there was good reason for the San Antonio Spurs to go from a -125-to-$100 betting favorite to – 155-to-$100 in the hours leading up to this year’s NBA Finals.

Maybe the “smart money” out there knew this Spurs bunch was a team of destiny – right now there’s no reason to think otherwise, right?

In a championship series the Spurs now lead three games-to-one while heading into Sunday night’s Game 5 tilt in San Antonio, head coach Gregg Popovich’s crew has won games in this series by 15, 19 and 21 points and you almost got the sense in that 107-86 runaway triumph in Game 4 the other night that San Ant could have literally named the score against a tired-looking, old and often disinterested Miami Heat team.

Will the official crowning come here on Father’s Day evening … or is there enough fight in the Heat to push this set to a Game 6 in South Beach come Tuesday night?

NBA FINALS – Game 5
MIAMI at SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs lead series 3-1

If you listened to the post-game pressers following the Spurs’ aforementioned 21-point win in Game 4, then you know that two-time champion head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Heat simply wanted his guys to take a deep breath and “get away” from thinking about this series for a day or so.

The $64,000 question now is does LeBron James (Game 4-high 28 points) and the rest of this Miami squad have it deep inside of ‘em to play their best game of this series (keep in mind San Antonio’s listed as a 6-point betting favorite at press time) and make this ultra-uncomfortable for the Spurs here?

Suffice to say, the Heat’s gotta step it up on defense where San Antonio’s been shooting lights out for the past couple of games.

Following that Game 3 shooting clinic where San Antonio nailed 75 percent of its first-half shots (the Spurs started Game 3 hitting 19 of their first 21 field-goal tries), here was the Game 4 stats:

The Spurs drilled 40-of-70 overall FG tries for a 57.1 accuracy rate and that included a 9-of-21 stat line from beyond the three-point arc where Miami’s allowed too much “air space” for the likes of Kawhi Leonard (20 points in Game 4) and Danny Green (three triples in Game 4) and then don’t forget that San Antonio scored some 60 points in the paint in that last tilt as there was barely any resistance at all coming from the Miami front line.

Yes, we know that ABC game analyst Jeff Van Gundy offered up his opinion that Miami’s gonna start heart-and-soul guy Udonis Haslem in Game 5 but we don’t exactly think he’ll be a difference-maker – at least not in the sense that San Antonio’s Boris Diaw was when he was cleverly inserted into the starting lineup in time for Game 3.

Diaw’s been a key figure in this series – his 9 assists in Game 4 was more of a highlight in our eyes than Leonard’s aforementioned 20 points and 14 rebounds – and we’ve all seen how “Pop” has smartly played Tim Duncan (10 points and 11 boards for his record-setting 158th playoff double-double) separate and apart from fellow big man Tiago Splitter as the lane’s been opened up more and Diaw’s had more opportunities to slip in nifty paint passes to cutting teammates.

And don’t forget that the topic everyone wanted to discuss prior to the start of this series – the left ankle of Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker – has held up remarkably well and it almost slipped beneath the proverbial radar that Parker scored 19 points in Game 4 and often times allowed the Spurs’ offense to run through Diaw who surgically tore apart the Heat up front.

The Spurs have been getting major contributions from its bench which – as we’ve all seen this spring – doesn’t include only Manu Ginobili (a quiet 7 points in Game 4) as G Patty Mills has been a lightning-rod player with 14 points in just 16 minutes in that Game 4 rubout win and his energy level has been wonderful – wonder why the likes of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole of the Heat don’t learn a thing or two from Mills’ magnetic play!

So, we’ll see if the 2013-14 NBA season comes to a close here on this June weekend – betcha not many folks out there thought this series would end in five games after the first two games in San Antonio were a split – and so you do think of how things might have been different for Miami had James not had his bout with cramps in Game 1 and had San Ant just missed a few shots in the first quarter of Game 3.

Right now the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy is in the building – and the Spurs are gunning for that “one for the thumb” bit once made famous by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

Do they get it? Or will Sunday night be more about pride for the Heat? Stay tuned.

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

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 + 5.5 MIAMI  107-86

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in major profits in this year’s NBA Finals – and we really 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 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!

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
So who thought that as we headed into this mid-June weekend that it would be the American League Central that was the most bunched-up division in the bigs?

The Detroit Tigers (34-28) entered the weekend on top in the AL Central by 2.5 games over the Kansas City Royals with the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins back just 3.5, 3.5 and 4 games, respectively, from the division-leading Bengals and so you get the sense that one major hot streak by any of these teams could be key in this chase.

And if you don’t think it’s as closely contested as the standings suggest, check out the runs differential category that sees Detroit’s plus 6 the best among the five division teams while Minny’s minus 16 is the worst … in short, despite the fact it appears the Tigers are the class of this division there’s really not a whole heckuva lot separating these five squads and only Kansas City’s been a real stumblebum within divisional play as the Royals are an ouchy 8-15 against fellow AL Central foes …

Straight from the MLB gossip mill,

The so-called “chemistry problems” on this year’s Los Angeles Dodgers – as first indicated by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly – are real and there’s real cliques being developed on this Dodgers team that is in the top six in all key team categories (runs scored, home runs and team ERA) but all LA has to show for it is a 35-33 record while heading into the weekend series against Arizona. There are some folks who believe OF Matt Kemp (hitting .247 at last check) should be benched and that’s causing a bit of a rift on this Hollywood crew …

Last week we endorsed the firing of New York Mets’ fourth-year manager Terry Collins but instead GM Sandy Alderson issued a dreaded “vote of confidence”. Well, Collins is losing his team little but little as he removed LHP Jon Niese after an impressive 97-pitch performance against Milwaukee on Thursday night and the TV cameras caught Niese mouthing an expletive in regards to his removal. P.S., the Mets have lost 14 games in the last at-bat by their opponents this year and Collins – conservatively speaking – probably has been a major part of at least half of those last at-bat setbacks. Still think he’s a goner within the next two-to-three weeks … 

Finally, the Baltimore Orioles think that the righty stick of Delmon Young is bound to heat up. Young popped his second home run of the year in Thursday’s 4-2 home win against Toronto and no doubt was power was expected through his first 88 at-bats this year. In fact, the O’s only rank fourth in the AL in dingers this year with 71 and SS J.J. Hardy is still searching for his first homer of the year as he’s had 216 at-bats without a long ball. Hardy missed some time (eight games in all) in April with lower back spasms and he continues to be mystified as to his lack of punch and maybe Baltimore won’t make a run at the AL East or one of the wild card berths unless Hardy starts to power up.

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