Jim Sez for Friday, May 15 …

THE NBA PLAYOFFS REPORT:
CAN THE HAWKS AND/OR WARRIORS
CLINCH THEIR ROUND II SERIES ON THE ROAD
TONIGHT AFTER THE CAVS CLINCHED A BERTH
IN THE EASTERN FINALS (WHILE THE CLIPPERS
GAG BIG-TIME IN GAME 6 VERSUS THE ROCKETS) …
PLUS KEY NBA SPREAD NEWS/NOTES
ON ALL FOUR OF TONIGHT’S TEAMS …
THE MLB UPDATE:
BEST WEEKEND SERIES AHEAD

Stunning. Shocking. And downright unbelievable.
Okay, use your own English to describe what happened to the Los Angeles Clippers late last night when Doc Rivers’ still-immature team blew a 19-point second-half lead and simply blew a series clincher in that 119-107 loss to the 8.5-point underdog Houston Rockets.

We shall be having a Game 7 on Sunday in that wild Western Conference semifinal round series and wondering if the Rockets – who outscored the Clippers 40-15 in the final frame – will have cooled down by then after bagging seven triples in the fourth quarter and making the major comeback without much help at all from league MVP runner-up James Harden (see 23 points scored on the night but less than one minute of game action in the 4th quarter … go figure!).

Heck, we wouldn’t even know what to say to the Clippers – but give us till tomorrow’s weekend edition of Jim Sez and we’ll come up with something that will perk up Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and friends.

Now, let’s see what is on tonight’s hoops menu …

EASTERN CONFERENCE
#1 ATLANTA at #5 WASHINGTON – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN; Hawks lead series 3-2
So, is this the night the Atlanta Hawks finally advance into the third round of the playoffs?

Check your record books and you’ll discover that since the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta way back in 1968 this often-time forgotten franchise has never won back-to-back playoff series in the same year – we’ll try not to bring up 1988 when Atlanta had Boston down three games-to-two before Larry Bird “went off” on Dominique Wilkins and Company – and now Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer has this “team-first” squad on the precipice of beating a dogged Washington crew that has covered seven-of-nine post-season games this spring.

The still-talked about 82-81 non-cover win by the Hawks this past Wednesday night might have featured the great put-back hoop by F Al Horford (23 points and 11 rebounds) who absolutely outmuscled Nene for the ball but there were plenty of “danger alerts” in that one for Atlanta as Kyle Korver nailed just 1-of-5 FGs in all and the Wizards nearly stole that road game despite shooting a rotten 33-of-88 from the floor (that’s 37.5 percent).

Gotta assume that Washington PG John Wall – who scored 15 points with 7 assists in his return from a three-game injury absence – played a robust 37 minutes in that tilt but let us be the first to say that Washington’s cooked-and-glazed here if the Wizards bench (3-of-21 FG shooting in Game 5) doesn’t step it up and we’re talking to you, Otto Porter!    
Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Hawks and the Wizards (and note all home teams are in CAPS):

DATEWINNERSPREADLOSERSCORE
5-3Washington+ 5.5ATLANTA104-98
5-5ATLANTA-9.5Washington106-90
5-9WASHINGTON+ 4Atlanta103-101
5-11Atlanta-4.5WASHINGGTON106-101
5-13ATLANTA-7Washington82-81

WESTERN CONFERENCE
#1 GOLDEN STATE at #5 MEMPHIS – approximately 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN; Warriors lead series 3-2
We hate to bring this up, Grizzlies fans, but history says teams that lose Game 5 in a best-of-seven playoff series that’s tied at two wins apiece only go on to win 18 percent of the time … ugh.

So, Memphis has that going against ‘em plus it doesn’t know for sure that defensive stopper Tony Allen (hamstring/missed Game 5) will get greenlighted here and it sure appears league MVP Stephen Curry has regained his mojo as evidenced by Wednesday’s stat-sheet stuffing game that included 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists – to say nothing of the fact the Grizz built up a 13-point lead albeit in the first quarter of Game 5 and then wound up getting beaten by 20 points.

Okay, so whether or not Allen’s a go here is critical if the Grizzlies wish to keep their season going but it ain’t gonna matter all that much if Zach Randolph (6-of-12 FGs for 13 points) isn’t getting fed the ball more in or near the paint – we want to see what Memphis does in a game in which Randolph and sidekick Marc Gasol attempt 45 (or so) shots between ‘em!

Here’s how the playoff series has gone so far between the Warriors and the Grizzlies (home teams in CAPS):

DATEWINNERSPREADLOSERSCORE
5-3GOLDEN ST.-10.5Memphis101-86
5-5Memphis+10 GOLDEN ST.97-90
5-9MEMPHIS+4.5Golden St.99-89
5-11Golden St.-4MEMPHIS101-84
5-13GOLDEN ST.-10Memphis98-78

NBA KEY SPREAD NOTES
Here’s some playoff pointspread notes regarding the four teams in action on this Friday night:
Washington has won/covered both of its post-season games when in the favorite’s role this spring but you do have to go back to the team’s series-clinching 125-94 win against 6.5-point underdog Toronto to find the last time the Wizards were chalk-layers;

Atlanta is a money-losing 2-3 versus the vig on the NBA playoff road this year and that includes two-of-three spread setbacks in Brooklyn in opening-round action;
Golden State has split its four road favorite affairs so far in this year’s playoffs and that includes a 109-98 triumph as 6.5-point betting favorites en route to sweeping New Orleans in opening-round play;

And, finally, Memphis is 5-4-1 against the Las Vegas prices during this year’s playoffs but note (and see accompanying chart above) the Grizzlies have failed to cover back-to-back games for this first time this post-season.

Take note …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we start closing out the Round II action.

Just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!

MLB UPDATE
Here’s a couple of Major-League Baseball series this weekend that deserve your attention …

NEW YORK YANKEES (21-15) at KANSAS CITY (22-13) – Fri, Sat & Sun
It may not be late 1970s/early 1980s vintage Yankees vs. Royals but this weekend set in Kaycee should be a blast even though Yankee bats have cooled down in recent days with just five runs scored in the past three games played in Tampa Bay (NYY won the opener of that four-game set 11-5) and the key here is whether or not top-of-the-order guys CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.348 batting average) and LF Brett Gardner (.307 BA) can create a traffic jam on the bases – and especially late in games against this still dynamic Royals bullpen.

DETROIT (21-14) at ST. LOUIS (24-10) – Fri, Sat & Sun (Nite)
Don’t look now but the St. Louis Cardinals are a plus 51 in the runs differential category (only the Los Angeles Dodgers are better at plus 62) and there’s different folks heating up every day with 3B Matt Carpenter ignoring three crummy at-bats yesterday before whacking a game-winning two-run blast in a 2-1 victory at Cleveland. Speaking of whacking, Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera walloped two homers (that’s now 8 dingers on the year) in a 13-1 blowout win against Minnesota and we’ll love watching when/if Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal (12 saves) gets to go mano-a-mano with Cabrera – and you could be watching ‘em go at it come October too.

NOTE: Stay with us all month long for NBA Playoff Previews/News/Notes plus all the Major-League Baseball Updates too!

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