Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM
Did anyone say something about "crunch time"?
Hey, everyone out there (including us here at Jim Sez) was wondering aloud how Miami Heat megastars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were gonna play at crunch time come Game 6 of this NBA Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics but the problem was James -who scored 45 points in 45 minutes -never let there be crunch time at all last night.
Ohh, it was a night for the two-point home underdog Celtics to send up a white flag or two en route to this 98-79 beat-down that was never close but Miami never did have to answer any queries regarding the play of their stars in the final moments of a tight game because this one was KO city from the proverbial get-go.
James' 30 first-half points -think about it, 30 points on the road in an elimination game for his side! -was the best half of hoops played by anyone this post-season and we almost thought NBA Commish David Stern should come back on the floor in Boston last night just to hand 'em the MVP award again and no doubt it was a case of "message delivered" by The King who took in all the post-Game 5 criticism and put his scowl look on and then demolished a Celtics team that again looked old and tired and, dare we say, at times a tad disinterested.
Maybe NBA insiders know Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has squeezed everything he possible can from his club this playoff season but where was the fight on Thursday night and what did happen to the likes of Boston swingman Paul Pierce (an embarrassing 4-of-18 field-goal shooting and just 9 points in 31 minutes) and Ray Allen who scored the most invisible 10 points you'll ever see?
No doubt the night belonged to James whose final stat line of 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists had the ESPN studio team invoking the name of Wilt Chamberlain after this game had been put to bed but the Celtics must be very concerned now with what's left (or not left) in their collective tank while heading into tomorrow night's Game 7 clash in South Beach.
The preview for that win-or-go-home tilt will be posted right here in our next edition of Jim Sez and looking ahead there are so many questions to ask such as will James string together back-to-back epic performances, will Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra get his guys to easily win the rebound war again (see 44-to-34 advantage in Game 6, thanks in large part to James' board work) and what Celtics veteran can/will take it upon himself to deliver the goods?
P.S., it would be nice if Boston's Kevin Garnett (a quiet 12 points and 5 boards in 31 minutes in Game 6) just played ball and stopped getting silly T's (hey, he deserved it for throwing the ball at Shane Battier and we don't know what ESPN cry-baby announcer Mike Breen was howling about after that rather uncivil play). Garnett was an "old 36" in this latest tilt and now we'll see what he, Pierce and Allen can do after a plane ride to the Sunshine State and a few hours of pre-Game 7 R&R.
Here's how the Heat-Celtics playoff series has gone so far while heading into tomorrow's Game 7 (note that all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-28||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 93-79|
|5-30||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 115-111(ot)|
|6-1||BOSTON||- 2.5||MIAMI||BOSTON 101-91|
|6-3||Miami||- 2||BOSTON||BOSTON 93-91|
|6-5||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||Boston 94-90|
|6-7||Miami||- 2||BOSTON||Miami 98-79|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to crush the folks in Las Vegas with this year's NBA Conference Finals action and there's lots more Side & Totals Hoop Winners straight ahead -note the NBA Finals will begin Tuesday night in Oklahoma City -- plus get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too.
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: KEY INTERLEAGUE PREVIEWS
Lots of good MLB Interleague action this second weekend in June and so let's get to it:
NEW YORK METS (32-26) at NEW YORK YANKEES (31-25) -The Subway Series gets renewed in The Bronx this weekend and there's instant storyline stuff here with Mets LHP Johan Santana on the hill this evening for the first time since his no-hitter against St. Louis last Friday night. The first no-no in Mets history (only 8,019 regular-season games were played before the NL East squad produced that bit of history) had Gotham City buzzing all last weekend but how about the fact Santana is actually coming off back-to-back shutouts?
TAMPA BAY (32-25) at MIAMI (31-26) -Lots of problems with the T-Bay Rays offense ever since 3B Evan Longoria went down on May 1st but last night Joe Maddon's team clubbed four doubles in its series-salvaging 7-3 win at Yankee Stadium and here we'll keep an eye on the lower part of Tampa Bay's attack after the 7-8-9 hitters scored four runs and had five hits against the Yanks. If the Rays plan on winning this Sunshine State series, than slowing down SS Jose Reyes is a must as he's had at least one hit in 16 of Miami's last 17 games and the switch-hitter bashed a home run last night en route to getting swept by Atlanta.
TEXAS (33-25) at SAN FRANCISCO (33-25) -Strange but true that these 2010 World Series combatants have the same exact record through more than one-third of this 2012 campaign but the real head-scratcher is what's happened to the Rangers' offense lately as Ron Washington's crew scored just eight runs while losing three-of-four in Oakland this week ... and did you know that Texas is 0-11 all-time in games played in San Fran?
PHILADELPHIA (28-31) at BALTIMORE (32-25) -The Phillies' losing skid is at six games (and counting?) following that four-game home sweep at the hands of the born-again Los Angeles Dodgers and now keep in mind ace Cole Hamels (8-3) won't be pitching against the Orioles this weekend after getting tagged with yesterday's 8-3 loss. How about the fact that besides the still-sidelined 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley, now Phils' 3B Placido Polanco is banged up and RF Hunter Pence hurt his hand/fingers following a collision with that dopey chain-link fence the other night at Citizens Bank Park. Ugh!
NOTE: We'll tackle some NFL Week 1 pointspread goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez plus -of course -there's more NBA Playoff coverage to report too!