Jim Sez Weekend Report
IT'S MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND AND BASEBALL GRABS OUR FIRST-SEGMENT SPOTLIGHT ...PLUS CHECK OUT OUR NBA CONFERENCE FINALS REPORT
Break out the barbecues and the beach balls ... the unofficial start of summer is here and that means Major-League Baseball hovers in to snag a larger portion of the sports "pie" ... so let's start off this Memorial Day Weekend edition of Jim Sez by "Talkin' Baseball" with an array of topics at hand.
Here goes with our own little version of Q&A:
Q: Right now there are five MLB teams playing .600-or-better ball (that's Kansas City, Detroit, Houston, St. Louis and the Los Angeles Dodgers) - how many teams will end the 2015 season by playing .600-or-better?
A: Gotta believe that the only "sure thing" among this quartet of teams that will stay at or above the .600 win percentage mark will be the St. Louis Cardinals who exited their Friday night loss in Kansas City with a baseball-best 27-15 mark (.643) but count us among the folks that won't be surprised if both Washington (25-17, .595 at press time) and San Francisco (23-18, .561 at press time) also land up with .600-or-better marks. If you're wondering - and we know that you are - expect Houston to take the mightiest fall as playing .628-type ball ain't gonna happen with the back-end of this starting rotation and lots of low-average hitters in the everyday lineup.
Q: Okay, so at this so-called "quarter-pole" of this 2015 campaign, who are the league MVPs, the Cy Young winners and the Managers of the Year in both the National and American League?
A: Here's the deal: In the NL, our MVP is a slam dunk with Washington OF Bryce Harper (16 HR and 39 RBI) getting the hardware provided he doesn't have ump Marvin Hudson calling too many of his games; The NL Cy Young winner would be Atlanta RHP Shelby Miller (5-1 with a league-best 1.33 ERA);
And our NL Manager of the Year would go to San Francisco's Bruce Bochy.
In the AL, our MVP choice at this quarter-pole is yet another slam-dunk with Seattle's Nelson Cruz (his .354 average, 17 HR and 34 RBI all leading the league while heading into Saturday's action); The AL Cy Young winner would be Houston LHP Dallas Keuchel (6 wins and a league-best 1.67 ERA);
And our AL Manager of the Year would go to Houston Astros' chief A.J. Hinch in a close vote over Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash.
Q: Let's look into a crystal ball here and forecast the following: What will be three of MLB's biggest storylines at the end of this current campaign:
A: Number one, the New York Mets' three-headed young starting pitchers - that's Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard - will finish with 45-to-50 wins between 'em even though Syndegaard didn't get called up to the "bigs" till May 12th;
Number two, there will be at least two other 40+ home run hitters besides the aforementioned Harper and Cruz - look for Detroit's Miguel Cabrera to get there and ditto for Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt (but not Miami's Giancarlo Stanton nor Los Angeles' CF Mike Trout);
Finally, here's a prediction as to what "name players" will find themselves in new uniforms sometime between now and the middle of August:
Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon (11 saves) will be somewhere in the AL East with both former club Boston or Baltimore battling for his late-season/post-season services;
Also, expect the Phillies to ship out LHP Cole Hamels - we believe it will come down to St. Louis or the Los Angeles Dodgers at crunch time;
And watch for Minnesota 1B Joe Mauer to be dealt to an AL team needing a bat with Seattle and/or Toronto in the mix.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in the profits in this year's NBA Playoffs and we'll continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all holiday weekend long. Go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there's Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!
NBA PLAYOFFS - CONFERENCE FINALS PREVIEWS
On Saturday night, it's ...WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 GOLDEN STATE at #2 HOUSTON - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN; Warriors lead series 2-0
Remember when we previewed this best-of-seven series back at the start of the week? We told you then that Golden State beat Houston in all four regular-season meetings - and beat 'em soundly by a 15.25 per-game average - but this Western Conference Finals has been a whole tighter than that yet still the Rockets are without a win.
Okay, so go back and replay those last 7.8 seconds from Game 2 when Houston G James Harden botched any opportunity to get off a game-winning shot in that painful 99-98 loss-but-cover at Oakland but it's tough to get on Harden when he scored a game-high 38 points while playing a game-high 41 minutes.
Instead, Houston head coach Kevin McHale - who did show major moxie in that last-round seven-game playoff series win against the Los Angeles Clippers - knows all about digging out his team from major deficits but maybe the former Boston Celtics' great wants to get it in everyone's head that the defense must be better here in Game 3.
Note that the G-State Warriors shot 41-of-77 from the floor (that's 53.2 percent) and that's with Steve Kerr's crew nailing just 9-of-24 triple tries.
In other words, the Rockets have allowed far too many points down low where C Dwight Howard has been a step too slow to recover on pick-n-roll plays and - geez - how many times have we seen Golden State players get behind defenders and score easy baskets?
One major strategy point here is the Rockets have to improve their on-the-ball defense as Golden State clicked off 31 assists on those 41 made baskets in Game 2 plus the likes of Trevor Ariza and Josh Smith must keep track of the guys they're guarding or else the Warriors will carve 'em up with backdoor hoops from here to eternity.
Golden State G Stephen Curry (team-best 33 points in Game 2) may have to chuck up more than 21 FG tries here if that aforementioned Houston defense improves here and so whether or not the 1-point Warriors go up three games-to-none might well depend on the mid-range jumpers taken by Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes who shot a combined 12-of-32 back in Game 2.
Now, here's a look at how this series has gone between the Rockets and the Warriors (home teams in CAPS):
|5-19||GOLDEN ST||- 10.5||Houston||110-106|
|5-21||GOLDEN ST||- 10||Houston||99-98|
Now, let's get you the up-to-date NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown chart with the still-alive teams listed below (thru games of Friday, May 22nd):
On Sunday, it's ...EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 ATLANTA at #2 CLEVELAND - 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT; Cavaliers lead series 2-0
Maybe you caught TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley referring to the "fat lady" following Friday's never-in-doubt 94-82 win by 3.5-point underdog Cleveland in Atlanta's "Highlight Factory".
Sure seems as if the proverbial "fat lady" is gonna sing soon enough 'cause the Cavaliers have the two games-to-love advantage and all the numbers - and we mean all of 'em - point to the Hawks being over-and-out faster than you can say Sweet Lou Hudson!
Keep in mind that LeBron James-led teams are 14-0 all-time when going up two games-to-none in a playoff series - and wasn't "The King" just terrific with his 30 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists in the Game 2 romp? - and history says the Hawks are 0-and-16 lifetime when trailing in a series two games-to-love.
Last rites could well come Tuesday night at "The Q" but first things first and the Cavs already have been posted as a healthy 8.5-point betting favorite for this Sunday night tilt and that's without knowing whether or not star PG Kyrie Irving (missed Game 2 with an injured left knee) will get the green light but we suspect it's more R&R for Irving who was not missed on Friday night when Iman Shumpert (16 points including four made triples) and board-banger supreme Tristan Thompson (16 rebs) played second- and third-banana to Mr. James.
Meanwhile, the Hawks - who have netted just 10-of-49 trifectas so far this series - can't do anything right and their injured bodies are beginning to pile up with two-guard Kyle Korver (right ankle) seen limping to the bench to join C Al Horford (knee) as wounded players and lest we forget small forward DeMarre Carroll who scored just 6 points in 34 minutes after coming back from a Game 1 serious-looking knee injury.
If the Cavs have any killer instinct at all, then coach David Blatt's bunch might be able to name the score here in Game 3 - now let's see if Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Hawks has any tricks up his sleeve before it's just entirely too late.
One note: Underdog sides have covered all four games played so far in the Conference Finals and note NBA Playoff Betting Favorites exited Friday's action at 30-38-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick 'em game in the mix.
Here's how the Eastern Conference Finals look so far between the Cavaliers and the Hawks (note home teams in CAPS below):
NOTE: More NBA Playoff and MLB action in the very next edition of Jim Sez, so check us out Memorial Day for all the latest!
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