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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 9:00 PM

It wasn’t that long ago that Brooklyn and Denver seemed like locks for the second round. The Nets crushed Chicago 106-89 in Game One of their Eastern Conference series, causing many pundits to assume a sweep might be at hand. Denver was a prohibitive favorite over the Warriors in the West before the series started…and then they went out and won Game One.

What a difference 10 days can make!

Thursday Night, both series favorites are staring elimination in the face on the road after dropping three of their last four games. Yet, both know that they will be strong home favorites this weekend if they can survive Thursday. Brooklyn would be a favorite of about six points over Chicago, Denver about 7-8 points over Golden State in projected seventh game finales.

So, truly a GUT CHECK situation for all four teams on the floor Thursday evening. Can the Nets and Nuggets stay alive? Can Chicago and Golden State get the job done at home to set up second round series with Miami and San Antonio respectively?

Let’s recap what’s happened so far. We’ll take the games in schedule order…

 

7 p.m. ET BROOKLYN at CHICAGO

Vegas Line: Chicago by 2, total of 184

Chicago Leads 3-2

You can see that the markets still see Brooklyn as the superior team. Home court advantage has clocked in at around four points this year in the oddsmaker numbers. Yet, Chicago is only favored by a bucket. The totals have been chasing reality since Game Two. Oddsmakers went as low as 176.5 in the fourth game after seeing 172 and 155 get posted on the actual scoreboards. Suddenly, scoring EXPLODED…with 222 and 201 going up on the scoreboard after 48 minutes the last two outings. So, we’re back close to where we started on the total. And, handicappers are aware that this game could blow up or blow down at least 25 points in either direction. Volatility is always a handicapper’s friend!

 

Average Margin: Brooklyn by 5.0 in regulation

Average Total:  189 in regulation

 

This is why the market respects Brooklyn. When they win, they win much bigger. And, frankly, they had to gag the last few minutes of Game Four or their average would even be higher. Remember that the Nets were up 14 with about three minutes to go in that game they lost in overtime. If they had finished off a 14-point win last Saturday afternoon, they would be leading this series 3-2 with the series average margin clocking in at Brooklyn by 7.8 points.

JIM HURLEY is working closely with his New York-based sources who know the team so well to get a read on Brooklyn’s mindset. Are they ready to win at all costs? Or, are they so mentally soft that a close game is guaranteed to go Chicago’s way?

 

9:30 p.m. ET DENVER at GOLDEN STATE

Vegas Line: Pick-em, total of 211

Golden State Leads 3-2

We’re not sure what Golden State has to do to earn market respect in this series. They’ve covered every game…they’ve won both home games…yet they’re still just pick-em at what is widely considered to be the loudest arena in the sport. Oddsmakers and many sharps decided up front that Denver is four points better on a neutral court…and they’re going to stick with that assessment until the bitter end. Maybe it will be justified. Golden State has enjoyed the perks of being the “no expectations” underdog through the series. Now the pressure is on for the first time. They want to take care of business here so they don’t have to try to steal a Game Seven at altitude.

 

Average Margin: Golden State by 5.0

Average Total:  216.2

 

That’s a very solid average for the Warriors too, who do own a double digit victory in Denver and one at home. To date, they have been the superior team in this series. But, there’s definitely time for that to change. Learning how to finish is an acquired skill. This is a young team with an inexperienced head coach who may not have acquired that skill just yet.

JIM HURLEY is very excited about Thursday’s ticket. You can purchase his BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about NETWORK’s basketball, baseball, or horse racing service…call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Friday to preview Game Six drama in Atlanta and Memphis as our daily playoff coverage continues. Get handicapping info here in the NOTEBOOK, and BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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