Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 11:48 AM
THE NBA CONFERENCE FINALS UPDATE:
THUNDER BLITZES THE SPURS TO EVEN UP WESTERN SERIES AT TWO GAMES APIECE …PLUS WE PREVIEW TONIGHT’S POTENTIAL CLINCHER FOR THE HEAT AT INDIANA …
THE BASEBALL REPORT: BLUE JAYS KEEP ROLLIN’ ALONG NORTH OF THE BORDER
Okay, so we’ve been trying to tell you for the better part of these NBA Playoffs that – sooner or later – the law of averages would be on the side of the Playoff Betting Favorites.
And here we are some eight games into the NBA’s Eastern/Western Conference Finals and the chalk sides are a delicious 7-1 ATS (against the spread) … right, NBA Playoff Betting Favorites still are well below the .500 mark this spring as Oklahoma City’s thorough 105-92 win/cover against 2-point underdog San Antonio last night “improved” the favorites to 29-48-1 ATS with two pick ‘em games and so this is the up-to-the-moment spread results through two-plus playoff rounds:
NBA Playoffs Round I – Betting Favorites go 15-33-1 with 1 pick ‘em game …
NBA Playoff Round II – Betting Favorites go 7-14-0 with 1 pick ‘em game …
So far in NBA Playoff Round III – Betting Favorites are 7-1-0 with 0 pick ‘em games
The fact of the matter is it really should come as no great surprise that this on-going Western Conference series has been a home-court affair with Home Betting Favorites a snazzy 4-and-oh versus the vig when the Spurs and Thunder hook up and may we be the first one to tell you that San Antonio has notched pointspread wins in each of its last six post-season home games while the Thunder’s a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 ATS on the NBA Playoff road this year … got it?
NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
MIAMI at INDIANA – Heat leads series 3-1; Game 5 is 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Forgive us for “lifting” a phrase we heard yesterday regarding the Miami Heat’s best player but don’t y’all think it’s about time the Indiana Pacers “stopping pulling on Superman’s cape”?
Okay, so we realize that Pacers’ guard Lance Stephenson has more than a little history of doling out his New York City trash talk but he sure picked on the wrong guy when he claimed he was “in LeBron’s” head between Game 3 and Game 4 of this ongoing Eastern Conference Finals series.
Memo to Mr. Stephenson:
James registered 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals (and just two turnovers) in 36 ultra-dominant minutes in Monday night’s rollicking 102-90 home win/cover against 6 ½-point pup Indiana and the truth is the Heat always kept the Pacers at a long arm’s length away here as this was a 20-point plus game for much of the second half.
Suddenly, Stephenson has stopped being so darn chatty!
Now, consider the fact that in Miami’s recent playoff history it is 8-and-oh SU (straight-up) when leading a best-of-seven series three games-to-one and so your knee-jerk reaction might well be to believe this one’s game, set, match as of 11:15 p.m. ET (give or take) this evening but Miami might have to play here without star scorer G Ray Allen (just 1-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc in Game 4) who has calf woes plus it’s 50-50 the way we hear it as to whether or not F Chris “Birdman” Andersen will play this game in Indianapolis after he sat out Game 4 with a bruised left thigh.
If the Heat sit Andersen here and still can clinch this playoff round, he’ll have approximately 10 days of rest before we all get to the NBA Finals next month and so gotta believe crafty head coach Erik Spoelstra is thinking along these lines right about now, eh?
Still, what can the Pacers possibly do to slow down James and now a born-again F Chris Bosh (25 points in 36 minutes in Game 4) as the veteran lefty finally shook off his earlier-round shooting woes and he was dynamite in that Game 4 first half when Indiana kept playing catch-up after that sluggish start.
Look for James to get Bosh, G Dwyane Wade (just 4-of-12 FG shooting in Game 4) and erratic G Mario Chalmers (4 points in 25 minutes of play in Game 4) all into the flow here before he starts taking more and more shots but – as we said prior to the Pacers’ latest loss (and third in a row this series), Frank Vogel’s club is going nowhere fast if C Roy Hibbert stays silent and the 7-foot-2 center was MAI this past Monday with 0 points, 5 rebounds and 4 fouls in 22 minutes of play and no wonder Indiana never had a shot to get even in this series with that Game 4 disaster.
One other key note here: The Pacers must dominate the boards here – especially if “The Birdman” is sitting out – as Monday’s 37-to-34 board advantage was underwhelming stuff and so here’s a shout out to not only Mr. Hibbard but the likes of Indiana’s other starters including the guards who must lend a helping hand. If G George Hill (2 rebounds in 44 minutes) can’t do a bit more on the glass and maybe give the Pacers a few extra possessions, than Indy’s “goin’ fishin’” right after this tilt … understand?
Now, this important reminder; Make sure you cash in each and every day as Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers steer you straight into the winner’s circle with NBA Conference Finals (we're 7-4) and Major-League Baseball action.
Check in here online or else call us toll-free at 1-888-777-4155. It’s been a monster post-season on the NBA hardwood for Jim’s clients – and there’s still lots of winnin’ straight ahead!
NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
OKLAHOMA CITY 105, SAN ANTONIO 92 – Series tied 2-2; Game 5 is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hey, we know what you’re saying … and you’re right! This edition of the NBA Western Conference Finals may indeed be knotted at two games apiece while heading back to the Alamo City but there’s been precious little drama through the first four games of this best-of-seven set:
In last night’s Game 4 runaway-and-hide win by the OKC Thunder, there was San Ant’s sour-puss head coach Gregg Popovich yanking his starters in the early-to-mid stages of the third quarter and never putting ‘em back in again even though the deficit dropped to as few as 12 points – “Pops” was pretty ornery in the post-game presser as one might have imagined but we give ‘em a thumbs down for never putting the likes of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (a combined 23 points) back into the fray here while the flip side is Okie City head coach Scott Brooks may have stayed too long with his stars MVP Kevin Durant (31 points and some ultra-tough makes in the first half) and PG Russell Westbrook (game-high 40 points with 10 assists and 5 rebounds and note only a cat named Michael Jordan ever posted 40/10/5 numbers in an NBA Playoff game).
Naturally, much was being made in the post-game regarding the fact Westbrook played 45 minutes while Durant was on the floor for 41 minutes – folks, this was a lopsided affair for nearly three full quarters and you do have to wonder if these two mega-stars will have their legs come Game 5.
One of the biggest parts of Westbrook’s game here in Game 4 was his attack-at-all-times mentality and note he committed just three turnovers (none in the first half when the Thunder was busy building up a 15-point halftime advantage) and kudos to the likes of Serge Ibaka (8 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Steven Adams (6 rebs in 26 minutes) as they were major forces in the paint on defense and kept San Antonio forced to fire away from 15-to-20 feet and beyond.
Maybe the Spurs’ 13 turnovers was the biggest negative stat for Popovich to munch on but what about the fact San Antonio canned just 9-of-27 triples with Danny Green barely heard from out deep (one trifecta for his night)?
THE BASEBALL REPORT
The Toronto Blue Jays lead the Major Leagues with 76 home runs plus they have the first nine-game winner in the bigs now that veteran LHP Mark Buehrle (9-1) topped Tampa Bay 9-6 last night – but it’s that eight-game winning streak that has North of the Border baseball fans buzzing right now:
The Jays – who exited Tuesday’s game at 31-22 for the third-best record in the American League behind Detroit and Oakland – were supposed to be some sort of super-power a year ago after Buehrle (among others) came aboard but instead that Toronto team wound up winning only 74 games but this year the Blue Jays are the toast of the town now that the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs long ago had their respective seasons end in inglorious fashions.
Toronto is 19-7 in the month of May and they enter Wednesday’s series finale against the Rays with 13 wins in its last 15 outings – and who’s wielding a hotter power bat right now than DH Edwin Encarnacion who has whacked 14 home runs this month and his up-to-date stats include 16 HRs and 42 RBIs … maybe the Jays are gonna be the guys in the muddled AL East who take the division by storm when nobody expected ‘em to.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez plus there’s MLB, NBA Draft and NFL News/Notes too coming soon.