Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
THE JIM SEZ UPDATE:
WHAT TO WATCH ON THIS FINAL WEEKEND OF NBA REGULAR SEASON ACTION …
OUR BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES FEATURES RED SOX-YANKEES CHIT-CHAT …
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT:TIME TO CHECK OUT THE BEST RBs
By Jim Hurley
Want some really great news?
A week from now we’ll be busy previewing the NBA Playoffs—that’s eight opening-round series that’ll offer up plenty of spine-tingling stuff …
Will we have any #1 or #2 seeds exiled (guess we still can’t get this year’s NCAA Tournament out of our heads, okay?) or are we headed to a chalk-laden first round of playoff action?
Do stay tuned!
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of great games on this weekend’s docket—yes, the NBA regular season comes to a close Wednesday night—and so if you’re already missing hoops after that great NCAA Tourney then kick back and check out some of these Saturday/Sunday TV tilts:
On Saturday, it’s …
MILWAUKEE (14-64) at WASHINGTON (40-38)—7:05 p.m. ET, NBA TV
The Wizards truly have undergone a renaissance season near the nation’s capital, but there’s some thought that Randy Wittman’s club is running low on gas these days.
Washington entered its Friday night game in Orlando having merely split its last 10 games overall and the Wizards managed just 88 points (in an overtime loss to Charlotte) and 78 points against Chicago in recent home setbacks and even PG John Wall’s triple-double versus the Hornets wasn’t enough to hang a “W”.
Let’s see here if Bradley Beal (16.9 ppg) can give the Wizards an energy jolt here against the lowly Bucks, who sport the NBA’s lowest win total (14) and could well be headed for an NBA Draft Lottery date with either Kansas’ Joel Embiid or his teammate Andrew Wiggins.
On Sunday, it’s …
CHICAGO (46-32) at NEW YORK (33-45)—1 p.m. ET, ABC
The Bulls really want to avoid being part of the famed #4 vs. #5 seed matchup in Round I of the upcoming Eastern Conference Playoffs—sure, they beat Brooklyn in a seven-game set a year ago, but right now Chicago’s not nearly as deep as the Nets, and so finishing with the #3 seed is of paramount importance to the Second City crew.
In this clash with the wobbly New York Knicks, look for Bulls’ big men Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to hammer the boards—we’re thinking this duo will get 20-plus caroms between ‘em here—while heaping pressure on Knicks C Tyson Chandler, who has been downright awful on the defensive end of the floor this season.
If you’re looking for a Bulls’ X-factor in this matinee tilt, then check out F Taj Gibson, who has more blocked shots than anyone on his team save for the aforementioned Noah (that’s 114 blocks to 108). If the Knicks get a bit intimidated by some Gibson rejects then NYK’s three-point-happy ways may continue here.
OKLAHOMA CITY (57-21) at INDIANA (54-25)—6:05 p.m. ET, NBA TV
The drama in this tilt is swirling around the Indiana Pacers—hey, unless something odd happens the Okie City Thunder will be the number two seed in the West but the $64,000 question is what’s the Pacers’ mindset and where will they finish at the end of this oft tumult-filled regular season?
We’ve already seen Indiana head coach Frank Vogel “rest” his five starters in this past Wednesday’s 104-102 road win in Milwaukee (note the Bucks felt quite disrespected in that tilt and so imagine how the Indiana starters were feeling!) and now we’ll see if the Pacers can snag that numero uno seed in the East and we want to know if C Roy Hibbert “comes alive” after shooting 0-for-5 in a loss last weekend against Atlanta prior to him being one of the starting five getting benched during the week.
Is there a major riff—as being reported—between Hibbert and Vogel?
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MEMPHIS (46-32) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-53)—9:35 p.m. ET, NBA TV
You can round out your pro hoops weekend with this game on the left coast as the Memphis Grizzlies attempt to stay alive for the eighth and final playoff berth:
Note that the Grizz entered Friday night’s action one game back of Dallas and Phoenix—the Grizz has copped two-of-three against the lowly Lakers this year including an 89-86 triumph at Staples Center way back on November 15th when F/C Zach Randolph went off for 28 points.
The big lefty is averaging 17.2 ppg and 10.1 rpg—he may not get much MVP mention but this has been another great year for the former Michigan State star.
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are hitting their stride these days in pro hoops and we’ll be cashing in big with the NBA and Major-League Baseball each and every day this month.
Just go online right here at www.vegassportsmasters.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 and we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Remember: The NBA Playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 19th.
THE MLB REPORT
So, what’s a little pine tar on a pitcher’s hand between old pals?
The Boston Red Sox—from all reports—were not griping after losing 4-1 to the host New York Yankees following Thursday night’s game in The Bronx even though television cameras caught Yanks RHP Michael Pineda with some sort of strange foreign substance on his hands—hey, manager Joe Girardi, why get so damn defensive with the media folks after that game when you know Pineda had something sticky on the heel part of his pitching/right hand for at least a couple of innings?
Could it be that the Red Sox have a pitcher or two that doesn’t always take the mound on the “up-and-up” and maybe they know the Yankees will use that as fodder when/if given the opportunity? One web site report seemed to claim as much regarding Sox starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz …hmmm.
All we know is that the first game of this season-long 19-game series between the defending World Series champion Red Sox and the wannabe champion Yankees had some extra intrigue and we all thought the excitement would stem from Yanks CF Jacoby Ellsbury and his meeting up with his old mates.
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT
Our extensive "Jim Sez" NFL Draft coverage rolls on with a look at the top incoming Running Backs:
TRE MASON, Auburn—By all accounts, this Heisman Trophy finalist will be the one-and-only running back chosen within the top 50 picks of this year’s NFL Draft as most boards have ‘em going in the 40-to-45 pick range. Mason—who stands just 5-feet-9, 207 pounds but still rushed for 1,816 yards a year ago—is a physical back with quick feet and a penchant for busting through the gaps in a nanosecond and many folks have compared him with an in-his-prime RB Ray Rice. Note that Mason is not considered a good pass-catcher coming out of the backfield and that’s hurting his draft status a bit. Gut feeling is he gets tabbed right at the top of Round II with Houston or St. Louis looking to snap ‘em up.
BISHOP SANKEY, Washington—Lots to like about this 5-foot-10, 210-pounder from Spokane, who sports good vision and a quick burst, and keep in mind this former Husky last year broke the school’s single-season rushing mark with 1,870 yards and 20 TDs in 13 games. Sankey probably will get picked somewhere ‘round the 55th-to-65th pick and you could see San Francisco trade up a few spots to make him a second-round choice.
CARLOS HYDE, Ohio State —Many draftniks rate this six-foot, 230-plus pounder as the second-best back behind Mason but we’ll slot him down to #3 behind Sankey mainly because he does have some past baggage and isn’t always overpowering just when you think he’ll run over a defensive back. Hyde’s likely gonna get nabbed somewhere in the draft’s top 60-to-65 picks and you might see the Cleveland Browns make a move for him. Hey, Hyde did rush for 1,527 yards last year even though he was suspended for the Buckeyes’ first three games.
JEREMY HILL, LSU—There’s a handful of running backs that will be vying to be second-round draftees including Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, Boston College’s Andre Williams and even little-known Towson RB Terrance West but expect this former Bayou Bengals’ star to land up in someone’s lap late in Round II (maybe Denver?). Hill is a real bruiser at 6-foot-1, 234 pounds and he averaged nearly 108 rushing yards per game a year ago despite being part of the “rotation” utilized by head coach Les Miles.
NOTE: More NFL Draft Reports plus there’s MLB and NBA Notes too in the next edition of Jim Sez—and don’t forget those NBA Playoff Previews late next week!