Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFF REPORT:
PACERS ENJOY THE “HOME COOKING”AND FEND OFF THE HEAT FOR ANOTHER NIGHT
WITH 93-90 WIN …PLUS A PREVIEW OF TONIGHT’S PIVOTAL WESTERN CONFERENCE GAME 5 AS THUNDER-SPURS COLLIDE IN SAN ANTONIO …
THE BASEBALL REPORT: WE DROP SOME KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE RED SOX AND THE SF GIANTS
Sorry, we’re not going to bite when it comes to talk about “conspiracy theories” in the NBA:
You know, here’s the Eastern Conference Finals and there’s some thought that the league (and it’s TV partner at ABC/ESPN) want a long series, and so a Miami Heat triumph in five games isn’t in everyone’s best interest, if you will.
Still, it’s hard to deny that the Indiana Pacers received more than a few favorable whistles in last night’s hang-on-to-your-seat 93-90 Game 5 win against the 1-point road favorite Heat.
For starters, there were those five fouls called on Miami megastar LeBron James that limited him to 24 minutes played.
We’re not gonna say that each of the five fouls called were bogus, but a couple of ‘em were dicey for sure — but the irony here is that for a huge part of this game the Heat actually played better without James on the floor and the fact is Miami was just a plus one point when James played as opposed to when he didn’t and so his career playoff-low 7-point outing isn’t what necessarily sunk Miami, especially when you consider Erik Spoelstra’s squad scored a whopping 45 points (or half the team’s total) on three-point buckets.
Now wouldn’t have that be something if Chris Bosh’s last-second triple from deep in the corner swished through and that’s how this series ended … that would have made Miami 16-of-32 from beyond the three-point arc and Frank Vogel’s club would have been kicking itself from here to next year’s training camp.
Whistles or not, the Pacers survived to live another day ‘cause Paul George simply wouldn’t miss when it mattered:
The star small forward — who didn’t have to guard James much at all in this tilt and thus was fresh for a stretch run — registered 37 points on 15-of-28 FG shooting and his monumental triples in the final frame (when he scored 21 points in all) was ultra-critical stuff even though the Pacers overall missed 15-of-21 trifectas.
The energy, passion and desire were back in the Pacers’ game once nutty G Lance Stephenson swiped the ball from James and was fouled in the third quarter — that single play seemed to ignite Indiana which charged into an 11-point fourth-quarter lead before suffering a mini-meltdown and we still want to know what was David West doing not covering all those corner treys by born-again Miami shooter Rashard Lewis (6-of-9 triples for 18 points)?
So, “home cooking” or not — the Heat was called for 24 fouls and the Pacers were called for 16 fouls — this Eastern Conference series ain’t done yet and we’ll bring you our Game 6 preview in tomorrow’s edition of "Jim Sez", so don’t dare miss out!
Pointspread Notes — The NBA Playoffs swayed towards the underdog bettors very early in this post-season and even though the script has been flipped in these Eastern/Conference Finals (where Betting Favorites are now 7-2 against the spread following last night’s dog win/cover) the Favs are just 29-49-1 versus the vig with two pick ‘em games this entire post-season while heading into tonight’s Game 5 bash between Oklahoma City at San Antonio.
Now here’s the first five games of this NBA Eastern Conference Finals (note all home teams in CAPS below):
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Tonight, it’s …
NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS —
OKLAHOMA CITY at SAN ANTONIO — Series tied 2-2; Game 5 at 9 p.m. ET, TNT
Yes, we’ve been down this road before where the San Antonio Spurs won the first two games of a best-of-seven NBA Western Conference Finals series and then never did win another game (see 2012) but Gregg Popovich’s club doesn’t believe that history is gonna repeat itself here in the spring of 2014.
Still, the facts are undeniable in that when Okie City has shot-blocking Serge Ibaka in the lineup it’s won both Games 3 and 4, and when Ibaka’s well-documented calf injury kept him from Game 1 and 2 the Thunder was flatter than a proverbial pancake.
Ibaka was far from the biggest star in Game 3 — sure, he finished the 105-92 triumph over 2-point underdog San Antonio with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks while playing 35 minutes, but it was MVP Kevin Durant and sidekick Russell Westbrook who stole the headlines in Tuesday’s tilt at “The ‘Peake” with a combined 71 points (or nearly 68 percent of OKC’s total points) as the highly-charged point guard poured in 40 points while Durant chipped in 31, but we still remember it being Durant’s uncanny first-half jumpers that really dispirited the Spurs.
Now, you wonder if Oklahoma City boss-man Scott Brooks can get that sort of production and that sort of energy from his MVP and MVP-II guys here or whether the Spurs will “snap out of it” after losing those two playoff road games by a combined total of 22 points.
As we pointed out in yesterday’s edition of "Jim Sez", San Antonio enters Game 5 this evening having won/covered its last six consecutive playoff games this year (after starting out the post-season having failed to cover its first three playoff home games against the dogged Dallas Mavericks), but Gregg Popovich’s crew ain’t getting out of this game alive if it can’t slow down that Durant/Westbrook combo and if SA can’t be more productive in the paint where the Spurs have been silent after that 66 points-in-the-paint showing in Game 1 of this series.
It’s true that San Antonio starters didn’t log many minutes in that Game 4 blowout loss — again, we thought “Pops” should have put Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili back into the game in the fourth quarter (they did combine for only 28 points while playing 26, 25 and 11 minutes, respectively, in that tilt) and so common sense dictates that San Antonio will have fresher legs here especially since Brooks went to the whip with his studs and played Durant 41 minutes and Wetsbrook for 45 minutes … but you never know!
Here’s the Thunder-Spurs series in game-by-game chart form (note all home teams in CAPS below):
|5-19||SAN ANTONIO||- 6||Okla City||122-105|
|5-21||SAN ANTONIO||- 5||Okla City||112-77|
|5-25||OKLA CITY||- 2½||San Antonio||106-97|
|5-27||OKLA CITY||- 2||San Antonio||105-92|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all through the end of May and right into June too! Go online right here at www.jimhurley.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!
THE BASEBALL UPDATE
Okay, so we’re just about ready to flip the calendar page forward to read “June” and here’s a couple of things you never would have thought possible when we first started this here-and-now 2014 Major-League Baseball season:
The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox (23-29) exited Wednesday night’s 4-0 win against Atlanta with more wins than just one other American League team — the Houston Astros! The Red Sox are 11-17 at beloved Fenway Park and just 9-17 against their fellow AL East compatriots and how about the fact the Bosox are rank 11th in the league in runs scored (213) and just seventh in team ERA (3.99).
Say it ain’t so but might it be possible that the Red Sox are out of the post-season hunt by the time we get to the next holiday (see 4th of July)? …
And over in the National League, what exactly would have been the odds that as of May 29th the San Francisco Giants — with RHP Matt Cain sporting just one win and with the bullpen already having blown eight saves (the Jints are 19-of-27 in save opportunities thus far)— would have the largest lead of any of the division front-runners with a 5 ½-game bulge over the gazillion dollar salaried Los Angeles Dodgers?
One major key for Bruce Bochy’s club is the boost in the power department as San Fran’s 60 home runs ranks the team second among all NL club in dingers and raise your hand if you thought OF Michael Morse (10 HRs) and 2B Brandon Hicks (8 HRs) would be among the league’s “players-to-watch” this season.
The Giants (34-19) sport a league-best plus 47 run differential and how about the fact Bochy’s gang is a perfect 6-and-oh in Interleague play this year with three wins apiece versus the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins … hey, sometimes cranking out a superb won/loss mark in this Interleague affairs can be the difference in winning a division or not!