Saturday NBA Playoff Previews
THE NBA PLAYOFF REPORT
THE POST-SEASON'S FINALLY HERE AND WE GET GROOVIN' WITH SATURDAY'S FOUR (4) SERIES OPENERS ...
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: ROCKIES-DODGERS IS WEEKEND'S BEST SET
Are you all buckled up and strapped in? Good, 'cause this year's NBA Playoffs are bound to take us for a wild ride these next two-plus months - we know there'll be no Miami Heat in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 but will the defending champion (and five-time champ) San Antonio Spurs gonna be there still playing ball right 'round Fathers' Day? Do stay tuned.
Now, here's the up-to-the-minute NBA Odds to Win it All this year:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are all geared up for the NBA Playoffs that tip off Saturday afternoon - just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day during these NBA Playoffs and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle or sign up now for the entire NBA Playoffs. You'll be glad you did! Plus, remember there's Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring as the NBA Playoffs and Baseball pounds out major moo-la-dee profits!
THE NBA PLAYOFFS
Now let's take a peek at the Four (4) NBA Playoff first-round series that begin Saturday and note below we've included in chart form all regular-season meetings:
#5 WASHINGTON (46-36) vs. #4 TORONTO (49-33) - 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Don't make too much of the fact that the Toronto Raptors swept the season's series this year three games-to-none 'cause one of those tilts went overtime (see chart below) and one other game was a two-point decision - the bottom line here is the North-of-the-Border gang claims its terrific backcourt of PG Kyle Lowry (6.8 assists per game) and DeMar DeRozan (20.1 points per game) is healthy and the Wizards are gonna have to silence one (or both) of these guys here if Randy Wittman's rather enigmatic team is gonna survive and advance. Expect Washington PG John Wall (17.6 ppg and 10 apg) to be given carte blanche to take 20-plus shots per tilt here but the real X-factor is what can the Wizards expect points-wise from aging vets Paul Pierce and Nene?
Series Price: Toronto - 190; Washington + 160
(Note all home teams below in charts are in CAPS):
|1-31||Toronto||+ 5||WASHINGTON||120-116 (ot)|
#6 MILWAUKEE (41-41) vs. #3 CHICAGO (50-32) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
When you're handing out grades to the NBA coaches for their 2014-15 work, make sure both Chicago's Tom Thibodeau and Milwaukee's first-year boss Jason Kidd both get something beginning with an "A" - we'd tend to say Kidd's coming off an "A+" job as he guided the rather no-name Bucks from the NBA's worst team to a .500 squad while "Coach Tibs" somehow mended and patched his oft-injured team into a 50-win squad but all eyes here are on Chicago PG Derrick Rose who averaged 17.7 ppg and 4.9 apg while playing in just 51 games. If Rose can give the Bulls 30-ro-so minutes per outing here and if front-court star Pau Gasol - who had 46 points and 18 rebounds in that January 10th meeting against the Bucks in Chitown - can get his points in/around the paint then this could be a rather short-and-sweet series. Milwaukee's mid-season pick-up - second-year G Michael Carter-Williams (14.6 ppg and 6.7 apg) - is the type of energy guy that could give Rose and Company fits here but gotta believe they'll bottle him up and force the Bucks to win from the perimeter where Khris Middleton (40.7 percent) is the Bucks' best option.
Series Price: Chicago - 750; Milwaukee + 500
#8 NEW ORLEANS (45-37) vs. #1 GOLDEN STATE (67-15) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Sorry, we're not about to rain on New Orleans' parade here after the gritty/gutty Pelicans snatched the West's final playoff berth on the last night of regular-season play but consider this a "growing pains" series for the heavy-duty underdogs who - with the right bounce of the ball - might manage to win two games in this best-of-seven series. Obviously, New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis was magical in late-year wins but the real story here is Golden State - installed (as you saw above) as the co-favorites to win it all this year and thus a major key to this series is getting it "glazed" sometime in four or five games so that the likes of MVP-to-be G Stephen Curry (23.8 ppg) and sharp-shooter co-hort Klay Thompson (21.7 ppg) can get their proper rest for the next series against the Portland versus Memphis survivor. We'll see how Defensive Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green handles Davis and pay strict attention to what type of point production Steve Kerr's club gets from F Marreese Speights who's fond of being the "garbage man" for this top-seeded team.
Series Price: Golden State - 6000; New Orleans + 2000
|12-4||GOLDEN ST.||- 9.5||New Orleans||112-85|
|12-14||Golden St.||- 6||NEW ORLEANS||128-122 (ot)|
|3-20||GOLDEN ST.||- 13||New Orleans||112-96|
|4-7||NEW ORLEANS||+ 4.5||Golden St.||103-100|
#7 DALLAS (50-32) vs. #2 HOUSTON (56-26) - 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nothing like getting the Western Conference's #2 seed and then having to battle a 50-win team in the opening round of the playoffs! Okay, so maybe nobody is playing the violin for the uber-talented Houston Rockets but gotta admit that's some "reward" for beating out everyone but Golden State in the West this year and now MVP candidate James Harden (27.4 ppg) and mates have major pressure to hold serve these first two games after going a spiffy 30-11 SU (straight-up) at home this year. The Rockets believe C Dwight Howard (surgically-repaired knee) has eased himself back into the flow and so coach Kevin McHale is shooting for 30-to-35 minutes in these games from Howard but we say the Rockets will rise-or-fall based on those "supplemental players" and that means Trevor Ariza (12.8 ppg) and/or lefty F Josh Smith (12.4 ppg) must be true factors and must score with an economy of field-goal attempts. Best way the Mavs can make this a rough-and-tumble series? Hope this becomes a real up-and-down, ABA-style series where it takes 115-to-120 to bang out a win and so Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki need help too - can you hear us, ex-Rockets star Chandler Parsons (15.7 ppg)?
Series Price: Houston - 290; Dallas + 245
THE BASEBALL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
Lots of early-season, high-quality series on tap this weekend but we'll turn our attention out West where a key three-game series between the red-hot Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers gets our "marquee matchup" attention:
COLORADO (7-2) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (6-3) - Fri, Sat & Sun
Go ahead and raise your hand if you thought the Rockies would own the National League's best winning percentage while heading into this April weekend of action!
Colorado - fresh off a three-game sweep at battered/bruised San Francisco by the scores of 2-0, 4-1 and 4-2 - already own a nifty + 20 in the runs differential category and take a sneak at the standings and you'll see Walt Weiss' team is a perfect 6-and-oh on the road.
The Rockies have been getting neat pick-me-ups from folks such as C Nick Hundley who is hitting a robust .321 after his first 28 at-bats and 3B Nolan Arenado - known more for his dazzling glove - helped to dump the Giants in that series finale the other day with a three-run home run and now he gets a crack at Cy Young/MVP winner Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 5.84 ERA) in tonight's series-opening tilt.
The Dodgers just came off their own series sweep with a pair of walk-off wins against Seattle highlighting that three-game sweep and - while everyone's talking up 1B Adrian Gonzalez and his 5 home runs and electrifying .528 batting average, how about newcomer 2B Howie Kendricks who owns an on-base percentage of .410?
The Giants are coming off three titles in the past five years; the San Diego Padres won the "off-season" with all those name-player moves but it's Rockies and Dodgers that rank 1-2 in the NL West standings right now.
NOTE: Catch more NBA Playoff Series Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.
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