Jim Sez NBA Conference Finals Notebook
THE NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS - WARRIORS OUT TO "GET EVEN" TONIGHT WITH THE THUNDER
PLUS WE HIT THE REWIND BUTTON ON CLEVELAND'S EASY-AS-PIE 115-84 WIN VERSUS TORONTO IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS OPENER
THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY - THE SIXERS NAB THE TOP CHOICE
Here's something that didn't escape the in-the-know NBA bettors while heading into Game 1 of this year's Western Conference Finals the other night ...
The defending champion Golden State Warriors were a spiffy 7-1 ATS (against the spread) when laying 6-or-more points in post-season games this spring and then came Monday's home tilt against Oklahoma City.
Not only did the Warriors fail to cover the haughty 7.5-point price tag but Steve Kerr's crew collapsed in the final quarter en route to a 108-102 loss that may or may not have been a sign of what's to come in this best-of-seven series.
Consider that Oklahoma City won two games outright (both as 7-point underdogs) in its six-game series win against San Antonio in that last playoff round and you could make the argument that two road wins in this here-and-now series could be enough to catapult first-year Thunder head coach Billy Donovan's team straight to a berth in the NBA Finals ... don't 'ya think?
In any event, in a playoff year when NBA Betting Favorites now are a resounding 40-26-0 with two pick 'em games tossed into the mix, here's OKC looking to strike it rich again this evening where the Las Vegas number-crunchers have pushed G-State all the way to an 8.5-point betting favorite.
Heck, Oklahoma City's won all three of its latest games as big dogs - are they worth the shot again here this evening even though it's the Warriors that have the real sense of urgency?
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
OKLAHOMA CITY at GOLDEN STATE - Thunder leads series 1-0 (Game 2 at 9:05 p.m. ET, TNT)
Maybe the best part of the Game 1 analysis came from TNT's court-side yakker Reggie Miller who - when the Warriors led by eight points with time ticking down in the third quarter - reminded folks that OKC really had not heated up and G-State still couldn't put the Thunder away.
Right you were, Reg!
The Thunder - actually down 14 points at one stage of this series opener - roared back behind that gallant one-two punch of G Russell Westbrook (27 points, 12 assists and 7 steals along with one critical non-call of a travel) and Kevin Durant (26 points and 10 rebounds) to beat a Warriors team that, for some reason, hurried up way too many of their fourth-quarter shots and played scared plus it also helped the Thunder's cause that it stopped making critical unforced turnovers after an especially sloppy first quarter.
In the end, Durant's many late-game misses - he finished a rather sickly 10-of-30 from the floor - nearly got Golden State back into the game but now the Warriors must ask themselves what's the rush in getting up off-balance, out-of-whack shots and why not lean on that deep bench a bit more (only 16 points from the GS reserves while Oklahoma City's subs kicked in 21 points)?
P.S., the "Splash Brothers" combo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson may not have to sizzle here but they'll have to produce better than 51 total points on 47 field-goal attempts. Got it, guys?
Here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Thunder and the Warriors (and note all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-16||Okla City||+ 7.5||GOLDEN ST||108-102|
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 head into the Conference Championships. We’ll continue to rock-n-roll our way through the NBA post-season – and you can purchase Jim’s NBA Post Season program right here at www.JimHurley.com or call 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CLEVELAND 115, TORONTO 84 - Cavaliers lead series 1-0
Who said that this best-of-seven set might not be a "laughing matter"?
The demolition derby that was Game 1 of this series featured - among other things - a 22-2 Cavs run that spanned the first/second quarter plus Cleveland registered 70 percent of its points from in close to the hoop (yes, only seven made triples in 20 tries, so this was not at all like some of those second-round wins in the sweep over Atlanta) and you wonder even if the Raptors get C Jonas Valanciunas (sprained ankle) back for Games 3 and 4 North of the Border, will it make any difference at all?
The league's third-place MVP finisher - a/k/a LeBron James -- scored 24 points in 28 minutes for a Cleveland club that's now 9-0 SU (straight-up) and 6-3 ATS this post-season and you start t get the sense that Cavs G Kyrie Irving (27 points and 5 assists) right now is one of the top six or seven players in all the NBA.
Here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Raptors and the Cavaliers (all home teams are in CAPS):
THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY
Here's how for a quick-hitter preview of the top half-dozen picks in June's NBA Draft? We'll have lots more to say about the NBA Draft (see June 28th) and the players involved in the coming weeks but for now this is how we see things:
- PHILADELPHIA - Ben Simmons, F, LSU: Just how many high first-round picks does it take to turn around a franchise? Good question.
- LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Brandon Ingram, F, Duke: Silky-smooth shooter could roll out of bed and score 20 points.
- BOSTON - Henry Ellenson, F/C, Marquette: Forget this talk of the Celtics nabbing a foreign-born player, this 7-footer is the perfect choice.
- PHOENIX - Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky: Pro-type body and pro-type mentality and will get to team with former Kentucky star Devin Booker.
- MINNESOTA - Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: Fully expect the Timberwolves to swing some trades this summer and that opens it up for this versatile performer.
- NEW ORLEANS - Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma: College basketball's most prolific scorer last year ready to hang with Anthony Davis ... sweet.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez.
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