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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Hey, could we be headed to an "all-ABA" championship in this year's NBA Finals?

No doubt that isn't something we might have asked a few days ago but here we are on this Memorial Day Weekend and the San Antonio Spurs were busy holding a two-games-to-none lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the league's Western Conference Finals while heading into Saturday night action while another old ABA stalwart - the Indiana Pacers - have very much made this a super-competitive best-of-seven series against the defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Pacers' somewhat stunning 97-93 win at Miami in Friday night's Game 2 tilt in South Beach has stirred lots of emotions - hey, the spoiled Heat fans appeared dumb-founded and a tad angry leaving the joint following that bitter defeat that kicked off the long holiday weekend - along with an I-told-you-so refrain by a gritty Indiana team that didn't let Game 1's tough-to-stomach overtime loss to the Heat deter them from their appointed goal in Game 2.

Funny how Miami's LeBron James - absolutely brilliant for the better part of Game 2 with his stat line of 36 points and 8 rebounds and one hellacious blocked shot of 7-foot-2 C Roy Hibbert - wound up committing back-to-back turnovers in the game's final minute of play but there wasn't anyone asking Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra why he was on the court ... we're just kidding, of course!

On this night, Hibbert was on the floor to serve as a rim protector late but fellow front-court mate David West took care of all the dirty business with deflections that turned into steals against King James and so this series that most certainly has a little edge to it - there's mutual respect here from both sides but you can tell they don't much care for one another (see Dwyane Wade's dust-up with Tyler Hansbrough after that one foul call).

Let's examine what else happened in Game 2 and what to watch for in Game 3:

NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS - Game 3 is Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
#1 MIAMI at #3 INDIANA - Series tied at 1-1

It is amazing to realize that the Heat's loss in Game 2 marked only the team's fourth setback in its last 50 games this year. But, hey, nobody's perfect and one thing that should be bothering the Miami folks is the inability of James' heralded sidekicks to step up to the plate in that four-point loss.

The aforementioned Wade and F Chris Bosh each shot 6-of-14 from the floor en route to rather underwhelming 14- and 17-point games, respectively, and save for one gigantic triple by Bosh that pushed Miami's lead to four points with six-or-so minutes left in the game, neither guy really showed any all-star type characteristics plus reserve G Ray Allen generally has been MIA in this series after missing both of his triple tries in Friday's loss.

On the flip side, it's truly been an all-hands-on-deck deal for Frank Vogel's Pacers - hey, let's be serious here, Indy's been the better team over the course of the 101 game minutes that were played in Miami this past week and a quickie review of the Game 2 stat sheet shows all five Indy starters finished in double figures led by Hibbert's rollicking 29-point game that proved (once and for all) that the Heat has no answers for his size down low and you wonder here if the likes of Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Udonis Haslem must get more physical here and hope Hibbert blows his stack and commits some silly fouls.

No question that the Pacers were almost done in late by the crazy decisions made by G Lance Stephenson who really cost Indy four or five key offensive possessions in the game's last couple of minutes but even with some wacky shots taken, the Pacers held it together on a night when West nailed just a pair of field goals and the bench chipped in a mere five points - now what were the odds Indiana could even the series with the reserves barely doing anything positive on the road?

In this pivotal Game 3 at "The Fieldhouse", you can expect the Pacers to feed Hibbert early and often - Vogek wants his big man to attempt at least 15 FGs again here - and look for Miami to hit the offensive boards. How could it be in Game 2 that Bosh didn't collect a single offensive rebound or that Andersen/Haslem managed to secure just one offensive carom apiece in 29 combined minutes - not nearly good or aggressive enough and so expect the Heat to be active on the offensive glass (even if it means climbing over Hibbert a time or two).

Finally, you know that Indiana's Paul George (22 points and 6 assists in Game 2) is being asked to do a whole lot out there including cover Mr. James and something tells us here that Vogel could play his blossoming superstar 45-ot-so minutes (he had four fouls and played 39 minutes in Game 3) and so - if this occurs - let's see what is in George's tank late.

If it comes down to making one stop against James will he be more like the guy who blew the Game 1 assignment late (leading to James' lefty layup at the buzzer after taking the inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds left) or will he be more like the guy late in Game 2 who didn't give any ground to James who then committed back-to-back turnovers?

Here's how the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals Series has gone so far (note home teams are in CAPS):








- 8.5


103-102 (ot)



+ 7.5



(thru Friday, May 24 - conference final round teams only)
















San Antonio










Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the Side/Totals winners in these NBA Conference Finals plus there's lots of Major-League Baseball Winners too when you sign up today - so cash in big with Hoops and Baseball each and every day! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.


Let's simply zip around Major-League Baseball with some random thoughts as we close in on finishing the first two months of this 2013 season:

The legend of Atlanta Braves rookie Evan Gattis continues to grow - even in a suspended game.

Gattis whacked a two-run, up-the-middle pinch-hit single to temporarily put the Braves ahead in Friday's eventual 5-5 suspended game at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

Forget that Gattis - who was behind on the count 0-2 against tough side-arming Greg Burke - eventually saw a few more pitches and delivered again as a pinch-hitter and keep in mind that the former ski lift operator who was out of baseball for four-plus years now has 10 HR and 29 HR in just 122 at-bats. Okay, so he's lost his starting job back to C Brian McCann but couldn't you make the argument that - if the season ended right now - he might be the National League's MVP?

Just the other day New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi - who is having a pretty darn good year himself - mentioned to local media members that the return to the outfield for Curtis Granderson meant going with a four-outfielder look where players would rotate in and out of the daily starting lineups.

In fact, Girardi mentioned something about these things usually have a "way of working out" but who knew that the odd man out again would be Granderson who broke the knuckle on his left pinky finger in Friday's 9-4 win at Tampa Bay. Granderson - who missed the Yankees' first 38 games this year with a broken right forearm suffered in his first spring-training at-bat - doesn't know how long he'll he out this time but it's back to Vernon Wells in left field, Brett Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki in right until further notice.

Oh, yeah, the guy who hit "The Grandy Man" way back in spring training is Toronto lefty JA Happ who since was beaned in the head with a line drive in a game against - Tampa Bay ...

Finally, okay so it's only Memorial Day Weekend and thus just 30 percent or so into this current campaign but what if somebody told you back in March that 11 teams in the American League would have a better record than the high-salaried Toronto Blue Jays (20-28 following Friday's 10-6 home loss versus Baltimore) or that St. Louis would be the runaway best road team in baseball (17-8 following Friday's 7-0 win at the Los Angeles Dodgers)?

The soaring Cards weren't on too many lists of "win it all" teams in spring training after RHP Chris Carpenter declared he would miss another year but here they are at 31-16 and quite possibly headed to a 100-win season. Hmmm.

NOTE: There's plenty more Jim Sez goodies this holiday weekend with NBA and MLB News/Notes straight ahead.

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