Spurs/Suns Plus AL Notes

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

GAME TWO IN PHOENIX...AND CATCHING UP IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE

There's only one NBA Playoff game on the agenda tonight, so we're going to provide a quick preview of that one for you...then catch up a bit in the bases with one of our favorite stats.

The same schedule is in effect tomorrow, so we'll do it this way:

TODAY: Spurs/Suns plus AL Notes
THURSDAY: Hawks/Magic plus NL Notes

The baskets start doubling up again after that because the series will be in synch. That makes today and tomorrow an ideal time to get caught up in the bases.

First, let's see if the Spurs have a chance to even thing up tonight in Phoenix. It's important to remember that they dropped the first game of the Dallas series before taking four of the next five games...

GAME TWO: SAN ANTONIO AT PHOENIX
PHOENIX leads 1-0
Current Vegas Line: Phoenix by 3, total of 205½

The line has come down a point from the opener as Vegas sportsbooks defend against the traditional bounce back players. Many handicappers and longtime betters like taking the Game One loser in Game Two. That approach actually worked in both of the first round series involving these teams. San Antonio bounced back to beat Dallas outright by quite a good bit. Phoenix bounced back from a shocking Game One loss to Portland to win a blowout. Vegas knows the Spurs money is coming, so they've lowered the line.

The total is up a half a point after Game One cleared the hurdle by eight points.

PHOENIX 111, SAN ANTONIO 102
Three-Point Scoring: San Antonio 12, Phoenix 21
Two-Point Scoring: San Antonio 68, Phoenix 68
Free Throw Scoring: San Antonio 22, Phoenix 22

You can see how evenly matched these teams are. Inside scoring was a tie (two-pointers and one-pointers). Phoenix made three more treys, and won the game by that nine point differential. Treys are the most random of the categories as a general rule. The Spurs could just as easily from long range the next time out.

Phoenix has to be pleased though that they weren't defeated inside the arc. There biggest concern is that they give away more inside than they take from long range. Good game here for Amare Stoudemire...and bad games for San Antonio role players like Richard Jefferson and George Hill. The Spurs are going to need some two's and three's from the role players if they want to advance in this series.

We should also note that Phoenix won rebounds 44-38. We're always talking about the importance of defense and rebounding in the playoffs. The Spurs are a defense and rebounding dynasty. San Antonio DIDN'T win those categories in Game One, giving hope to Suns fans who are hoping to finally clear the Spurs hurdle.

With that in mind, tonight's game will probably tell us a lot about the rest of the series. If Phoenix can continue the form of Game One, they've neutralized the Spurs strength and are likely to advance to the finals. If San Antonio bounces back the way they did in Dallas, then experience and power will probably find a way to get the job done for the Texans over a seven game series.

We do have a strong opinion about tonight's game. Maybe it's on the side...maybe it's on the total! Call 1-800-323-4453 for tonight's big winner, or to sign up for the rest of basketball. We're still early in Round Two, so THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING!


Let's get caught up in the bases!

You regulars know one of our favorite indicator stats in Major League Baseball is WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED. This takes your newspaper standings then adjusts for quirks in the schedule. It's easy to for teams to get overrated if they've played a lot more home games than road games. It's easy for teams to be better than you think if they've been burdened with more road games than home games.

That REALLY matters in the first month or two of the season where the inequalities play such a big percentage role in the standings.

Were you aware that that a couple of AL playoff contenders had only played 10 home games through Monday Night, where other squads had played as many as 17 at home? You think that's going to matter when everyone's played 25-27 games?!!

This stat helps level the playing field. Let's look at the American League on a division-by-division basis today. We'll do the same thing for the National League tomorrow.

WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED (through Monday)

AL EAST
NY Yankees +7
Tampa Bay +3
Boston -2
Toronto -3
Baltimore -5

NOTEBOOK: Tampa Bay has been in first place in your newspaper standings for a few days. That's because they had a 15-10 split in favor of home games, while the Yankees were 10-15 in the other direction. Once that's evened out, we're likely to see the Bronx Bombers at the head of the pack again. In this stat, they're already at the head of the pack by a good bit. Both teams are very strong of course. They're in great shape already to take two of the four AL Playoff spots. Just be careful assuming the Rays have passed the Yankees when skimming the paper while eating your Cheerios.

AL CENTRAL
Minnesota +7
Detroit +4
Cleveland even
Chicago White Sox-2
Kansas City -2

NOTEBOOK: Minnesota is off to a great start considering they had only played nine home games through Sunday. A homestand this week will help even things out. They led the AL Central even with the unbalanced ledger. Detroit has actually out performed Tampa Bay when you make this adjustment. Would you have guessed that? A few of the favorites to win in the AL this year have started out with unfriendly schedules...helping to create the illusion of parity when it may not really exist.

AL WEST
Texas +1
Seattle -1
Oakland -2
LA Angels -5

NOTEBOOK: Well, there is some parity in this division! There aren't any super teams. Traditional power Los Angeles has fallen off the map this year. You saw that Monday Night debacle at Fenway Park. That DOESN'T count against them in this stat! There were -5 already because its wins minus HOME games played. The Halos opened with 17 of their first 26 at home, but were unable to get anything going to start the year. That's certainly been a big surprise to us. We were ready for a step back after their offseason. We didn't think they'd back off a cliff. We wouldn't be surprised if this is a tight division all season long. Though, Texas is making some early noise as the Nolan Ryan regime continues to take steps in the right direction.

We've had a great run this year in the bases. We haven't had much time to talk about MLB in the NOTEBOOK because of all the basketball. We'll be able to mix in more from the diamonds soon as the NBA schedule slows a bit. If you're a baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK so you can get the best games on the board every night. Call 1-800-323-4453 for details about our MLB or combo packages. Don't forget that you can include the upcoming Preakness and Belmont races for a slight additional charge.

Game day selections and longer term packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card.

Whatever the sport...whatever the day of the week...BIG JUICY WINNERS ARE ALWAYS JUST A FEW CLICKS AWAY!

19
Nov

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