Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Know something funny about this year's NBA Playoffs?
Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize that you don't!
This past Monday night when the Eastern Conference Semifinal Playoff Series between the Chicago Bulls versus the Miami Heat got started and when the Western Conference set between the Golden State Warriors at the San Antonio Spurs got underway, we basically dismissed 'em as blowout Game 1's and thought about alternative TV viewing for the night.
Hey, the Bulls' gutsy 93-86 win in Miami was rub-your-eyes stuff but it had nothing on the Spurs' scintillating 129-127 double-overtime win against gritty (but mistake-prone) Golden State.
Simply put, it was the best night of these NBA Playoffs -no doubt about it!
Now we'll see what Game 2 of both Bulls-Heat and Warriors-Spurs brings to the table this evening.
Here's our quick-hitter previews of the Wednesday night games:
#5 CHICAGO at #1 MIAMI -Bulls lead series 1-0
"No excuses" is how Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra put it bluntly following Monday's game when the Bulls scored the final 10 points and left league MVP LeBron James and Company in a state of stunned disbelief.
But back up a second or two and consider that Miami did the unthinkable here:
The Heat surrendered a whopping 35 points in the fourth quarter in Game 1 plus the defending NBA champs blew a 7-point lead midway through the final frame and so for all the pre-game and pre-series chatter about "rust" the fact of the matter is the Heat had it all going for 'em late and still couldn't finish the job!
Should that be a warning signal here and throughout the remainder of these NBA Playoffs? Hmmm.
No doubt the Heat was haunted by an overall lack of fight -the Bulls easily won the rebounding battle 46-to-32 -and the bench that was supposed to be a strength wound up finishing off Game 1 shooting an ugly 10-of-25 from the floor with key reserve Ray Allen hitting two field goals (and scoring only 9 points) in 29 minutes of action.
Pass the blame all around for the Heat but consider this was only the second game these playoffs that Miami did not cover the Las Vegas pointspread (the Heat covered three-of-four against Milwaukee in Round I) and it's not often that an opposing player will outscore King James who finished with a rather silent 24 points while Chicago's minister of grit -that's G Nate Robinson -wound up with 27 points and 10 stitches in his mouth ...
Hey, and so much for the Bulls being gassed after completing their seven-game series win at Brooklyn just two nights earlier!
If Miami -a 12-point betting choice at the moment here for Game 2 -is gonna "get even" in this series than forcing Robinson to play defense (and thus getting him to commit fouls) is key here plus someone's gonna have to knock ever-active C Joakim Noah (13 points and 11 boards in Game 1) off his pegs ... or else!
Here's how the Bulls-Heat series has gone so far (note home teams are in CAPS):
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#6 GOLDEN STATE at #2 SAN ANTONIO -Spurs lead series 1-0
Perhaps you stuck around for the TNT post-game report after Warriors-Spurs Game 1 when Ernie Johnson alerted viewers the last time Golden State won in the Alamo City was when San Ant's Tim Duncan was still at Wake Forest.
Folks, that's now 30 straight G-State losses in San Antonio dating back to Valentine's Day in 1997 and following this gut-busting loss for head coach Mark Jackson and Company you do have to wonder aloud what the Warriors have to do in order to snag a "W" in this city.
Golden State did plenty right in Game 1 -as G Stephen Curry registered a mind-blowing 44 points and canned a team-best six triples -but the Warriors missed eight of their final nine shots from the floor in regulation and watched helplessly as Manu Ginobili drilled that wing trifecta with 1.2 seconds remaining in the second overtime period.
The video replays showed that two Golden State defenders were drawn to G Tony Parker (28 points, 8 rebs and 8 assists in Game 1) while leaving Ginobili wide open and all that tells you is one momentary lapse can cost you ... now can the Warriors rebound from that "L" and finally win in San Antonio?
The truth is Curry may need another 40-plus point game and hope the flu-bitten Duncan is still far from 100 percent after he played just 34 of a possible 58 game minutes the other night (P.S., keep in mind Curry played all 58 minutes in that affair).
Here's how the Warriors-Spurs series has gone so far (note home teams are in CAPS):
|5-6||SAN ANTONIO||- 9||Golden State||129-127 (2ot)|
THE BASEBALL REPORT
What in the name of Tommy Lasorda is happening with these 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers?
The team with the $200-plus million payroll this year entered Tuesday night's home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a rotten 13-18 won/loss record -or, in other words, the third-to-worst record in the National League and have you noticed that the Dodgers are 5-14 against fellow NL West squads?
Okay, so injuries have taken their toll with the likes of 2B Mark Ellis (strained right quad), LHP Chris Capuano (strained left calf), SS Hanley Ramirez (right thumb and now strained left hamstring), RHP Chad Billingsley (right elbow surgery -out for the year) and RHP Zack Greinke (broken left collarbone suffered in an on-field fight) all part of the walking wounded but with what's left the Dodgers right now rank 13th in the NL in runs scored (106 runs scored or just 3.4 runs per game) and 11th in the league in team ERA (at 4.25) and it all leads to speculation that changes will be in the offing and that well could include manager Don Mattingly.
The rumor mill is starting to spin and there's talk that Mattingly could be a goner by Memorial Day if LA can't get its act straightened away and that basement spot the Dodgers currently reside in (behind weakling San Diego) may force the management folks headed up by Magic Johnson to pull the trigger on Mattingly ... stay tuned.
No question that the Dodgers -who have not won a World Series since 1988 (yes, that's now a quarter-century ago) -must get healthy and must get vibrant everyday play from the likes of LF Carl Crawford (showing some power lately but still shaky in the field) and 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.343 batting average with an on-base percentage of .402 with 22 RBI).
And, let's face it, LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 1,66 ERA) just about has to win every start he makes or else the Dodgers at least have to win his starts because the combo of RHP Josh Beckett, Capuano and Ted Lilly are 0-7 this year ... ugh!
Check out the upcoming sked and you see the Dodgers this week are finishing out a three-game home set against Arizona before hosting Miami for a three-game set this weekend.
It's time right here and right now for the Dodgers to fatten up that crummy won/loss mark -or Mattingly might not be the only guy shipped out of Hollywood come Memorial Day Weekend.
NOTE: More NBA Playoffs goodies all week long here at Jim Sez!