Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 19, 2014 at 9:56 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFFS UPDATE:
WE’VE GOT THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREVIEW AHEAD AS THE THUNDER CHALLENGES THE SPURS
PLUS A HEAT-PACERS GAME 2 LOOKAHEAD TOO AFTER INDIANA SCALDS MIAMI IN GAME 1 …
THE MLB REPORT:IS THERE MAGIC BREWING IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS?
Go ahead and scold us for singing y’all the same old song but here we are entering this mid-to-late May week and NBA Playoff Betting Favorites now are 22-48-1 ATS (against the spread) with two pick ‘em games in the mix following Sunday’s wire-to-wire 107-96 win by 2-point home underdog Indiana over mighty Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals … and yet when all the dust finally settles we still may get a pair of #1 seeds standing come this year’s NBA Finals.
Yes, the whole notion is rather crazy when you stop to consider that post-season chalk sides are winning just 31.4 percent of their games this spring, but that’s the deal-e-oo right now and it may interest you to know that most of the moolah that’s come in the last 24-to-48 hours in terms of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals have been pro-San Antonio Spurs.
Note that the defending Western Conference champs were a -160-to-$100 betting favorite early this past weekend, but the latest look shows the Spurs are now a better-than-two-to-one betting fav—they’re at—215-to-$100 right this very moment—and so at least you know which way the “wind is blowing” as we get to start this best-of-seven series in the great Alamo City.
We’ll get to our Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs preview in just a moment but first let’s bring you the up-to-date NBA Playoffs Pointspread Chart through Game 1 of the Eastern Finals:
Note that we’ve included only the four playoff teams that are still alive in these Eastern and Western Conference Finals:
Hey, we’ll continue to have all sorts of NBA Playoff Pointspread information comin’ your way, so just make sure you’re dialed in to us daily here at "Jim Sez" … okay?
NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS—
#2 OKLAHOMA CITY at SAN ANTONIO—Game 1 at 9 p.m. ET, TNT
Let’s just say it is for far greater minds than ours to explain how/why the Thunder won all four regular-season games against the Spurs this past 2013-14 campaign, but suffice to say that doesn’t mean very much now as these clubs set out to play the NBA’s Western Conference Finals for the second time in the past three years—and, yes, OKC did win the West in a six-game series back in 2012, and that was after the Spurs charged into Game 3 of that playoff series on a wild-and-crazy 20-game SU (straight-up) winning streak before Okie City won four in a row.
What you need to know regarding these teams right here and right now is that San Antonio reports PG Tony Parker (team-leading 16.7 ppg in the regular season and team-best 19.3 ppg in these playoffs) has been “cleared for takeoff” after suffering a hamstring twinge in the series-clinching win against the Portland Trail Blazers last week.
Parker remains virtually impossible to defend when he’s flying to the hoop and here his mission is to both draw fouls on Oklahoma City PG Russell Westbrook (26.6 ppg this post-season) and frustrate the high-strung Westbrook at nearly every turn—you better believe the Spurs will be having Parker run-and-hide behind screens at every turn and so let’s see if Westbrook can keep his cool here.
No doubt the Spurs—who’ve now been to the conference finals 10 times in the past 20 years—need to be dropping in the all-important three-balls in this series, and so even if Parker and veteran F Tim Duncan (15.8 ppg) are hitting on all cylinders, Gregg Popovich’s club needs to be sharp from beyond the arc, and you had to notice in that aforementioned five-game series win against Portland that swing man Danny Green started to get engines revved up after finally re-discovering his outside shooting touch in “garbage time” of a Game 4 blowout loss.
Meanwhile, let’s not “bury the lead” here and that’s OKC’s Kevin Durant (31.4 ppg these playoffs and fresh off his first-ever league MVP award) needs to score from virtually every spot on the floor, and that means if his long-range, top-of-the-key shots are being denied he must get some paint points, and that’s not always easy against a Spurs team that likes to collapse and double-up shooters down low and near the hoop.
Maybe you believe a 30-plus point game each/every night is needed from Durant, but count us among the folks who think he must be efficient—those 12-of-29 FG shooting nights likely ain’t gonna cut it here!—and it goes without saying that someone else besides Durant and Westbrook must step up in the absence of injured F Serge Ibaka (calf/out for the remainder of the playoffs), and we’re gonna go ahead and nominate G Thabo Sefolosha as someone who needs to drill corner jumpers and make San Ant pay for double-teaming Durant and/or Westbrook.
If Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks has learned anything about his team, it’s that the Thunder can look like world-beaters one minute and also-rans another—no, we haven’t forgotten that late Game 4 collapse against the Clippers in the last playoff series—and so let’s see if Brooks’ club can avoid any major swoons here because OKC probably needs to “steal” one or two games in this series if it’s gonna survive-and-advance to the NBA Finals.
Here’s the regular-season head-to-head matchups between the Thunder and the Spurs (note all home teams are in CAPS below):
|11-27||OKLA CITY||- 2½||San Antonio||94-88|
|12-21||Okla City||+ 3||SAN ANTONIO||113-100|
|1-22||Okla City||+ 6½||SAN ANTONIO||111-105|
|4-3||OKLA CITY||- 3½||San Antonio||106-94|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in the profits in this year’s NBA Playoffs and we’ll continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all week long.
Go online right here at www.vegassportsmasters.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!
On Tuesday, it’s …
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS—
MIAMI at INDIANA—Pacers lead series 1-0; Game 2 is 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
And here’s why sometimes you just have to watch the games:
If you checked out the late-night highlight shows following Indiana’s decisive Game 1 win against two-time defending champ Miami, then you got the feeling the contest was solely decided behind the three-point line:
After all, the Pacers did nail six of their first seven trifectas en route to an 8-of-19 afternoon from downtown (42.1 percent) while Miami never could get its long-range game going en route to shooting 6-of-23 from triple-ville (that’s 26.1 percent), and while that surely contributed to what was an ultra-comfy win by Indiana, the fact remained that the in-the-paint scoring was key as the Heat never could get a grip on the likes of C Roy Hibbert (19 points) and F David West (also 19 points) who either were hacked too often in the act (see Hibbert) or made easy shots against a smaller Miami front line (see West).
Throw in the energetic efforts of Paul George (24 points and 7 assists) and whirling dervish Lance Stephenson (17 points and 8 assists), and the Pacers played—without a doubt—their best game against a high-quality opponent in months.
Overall, the offensive balance of the Pacers in Game 1 was superb as six players—that’s the starting five plus reserve guard C.J. Watson (11 points) -- all scored in double figures and that’s basically what has been missing (among other things) from this Indiana team in the earlier playoff-round series wins against Atlanta (in seven games) and Washington (in six games).
Obviously, Miami’s dynamic duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 52 points (although must admit James’ 25-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist game was on the quiet side, if that’s possible) in Game 1 and they both must rise to the occasion here in Game 2, but might it be time for Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to send out a missing persons report for PG Mario Chalmers (see 6 points in 37 minutes and one cheap-shot shove on Watson while the Pacers’ guard was in mid-air)?
Plus you could tell in Spolestra’s post-game presser that he was none too pleased with his club’s defense and so expect a meaner showing here. If the Pacers hit the 100-point mark here, Spoelstra may blow his cork!
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THE MLB REPORT—ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
There was a time when blowing a two-run, ninth-inning lead would have sunk the Colorado Rockies … not this year.
The National League West squad—which exited Sunday’s thrilling 8-6, 10-inning win against the San Diego Padres—are 25-20 right now and very much in the early-season conversation for the surprise team in Major-League Baseball (remember the Rockies’ over/under wins total was just 76 ½).
The Rockies turned a potentially sour Sunday afternoon into one of its best wins in years as closer LaTroy Hawkins served up a game-knotting two-run homer to San Diego’s Everth Cabrera only to have new Rockies’ star Justin Morneau whack a straight-away two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Colorado the series win and keep Walt Weiss’ crew just three games back of the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.
The Rockies had six different .303-or-better hitters in their lineup for Sunday’s game and—better yet—it’s not just about scoring runs for this team as Colorado turned a freaky triple play in this Sunday triumph aided/abetted by a runner interference call at second base.
Morneau’s blast helped the Rockies go to 15-6 at Coors Field this year—a magic place if there ever was one these days in MLB.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez.