Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 9:27 AM
So, who was last night tougher on anyway?
The Boston Celtics -- who dropped a 115-111 overtime loss in their Game 2 of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals in Miami -- or the Charlotte Bobcats who lost again even though they didn't even suit up.
The 'Cats - the odds-on choice (as in 25 percent chance) to land the top prize in last night's NBA Draft Lottery - instead had to grin and bear it as the New Orleans Hornets and new owner Tom Benson stole the spotlight by getting the numero uno pick in the upcoming draft.
Anthony Davis ... go ahead and say hi to the Big Easy!
The University of Kentucky super-duper freshman from last year's national championship team might as well get outfitted for his Hornets "uni"the first thing in the morning because he's the slam dunk pick when it comes to the NBA Draft on June 28th in Newark but what does the rest of the top 10 look like at this particular point in time?
Glad you asked!
Here's how the folks here at Jim Sez see picks 1-thru-10 next month (barring any crazy pre-June 28th deals) in NBA-land:
NEW ORLEANS - Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky
CHARLOTTE - Bradley Beal, G, Florida
WASHINGTON - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky
CLEVELAND - Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State
SACRAMENTO - Harrison Barnes, F, North Carolina
PORTLAND - Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
GOLDEN STATE - Perry Jones III, F/C, Baylor
TORONTO - Austin Rivers, G, Duke
DETROIT - Jeremy Lamb, G, Connecticut
NEW ORLEANS - Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas
Okay, so we know that you didn't ask, but ...Don't be surprised if another Kentucky star - that's forward Terrence Jones - zips into the top 10 picks and keep a close eye on the draft stock of both St. John's swingman Moe Harkless and Syracuse G Dion Waiters as they could be knockin' at the top 10 picks door too.
Once again, our condolences to you Charlotte Bobcats!
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
MIAMI 115, BOSTON 111 (ot)
Let's not kid ourselves about "moral victories".
Sure, the Celtics covered the 8-point price tag last night in South Beach and thus slowed down the express train that was NBA Playoff Betting Favorites (the chalk sides were 8-1 spreadwise in the last nine post-season games before this mid-week tilt) but the fact Doc Rivers' club couldn't close the deal on this Game 2 tilt will haunt the Beantowners for a long, long time.
Consider that this was a night when point guard Rajon Rondo gave hoop fans one of the top-five performances all-time in Celtics' playoff history with his 44-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound showing (and in 53 minutes of game action, no less!) but the down side is Kevin Garnett (18 points and 8 rebs) and creaky Ray Allen (a game 13 points) played 45 and 43 minutes, respectively, and fouled-out star Paul Pierce (21 points) played 43 minutes and so - you tell us - what will be in their respective gas tanks for Friday's Game 3 at home?
We'll get into that in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez as we bring you a detailed analysis of Game 3 but here was Boston's opportunity to make this series a potential stunner - keep in mind that Miami entered this best-of-seven set as a -550-to-$100 betting favorite - and let things slip away even though both Heat megastars LeBron James (34 points) and Dwyane Wade (23 points) were less than ordinary in the fourth quarter (when neither of 'em scored a single hoop!) and all those missed free throws should have come back to haunt the Heat but didn't.
Really, does James ever hit big free throws late in games and/or in overtime sessions? Geez!
In the survive-and-advance world of the NBA Playoffs, the Heat managed to win even though Boston shot 49.4 percent from the floor (that's 40-of-81 FGs) and even though the C's committed just 8 total turnovers (or one every six-and-a-half minutes of play!) - all hail Rondo and hats off to the monumental effort but lose like that and NBA teams are usually doomed in these type series.
Prove us wrong, Celtics!
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 SAN ANTONIO at #2 OKLAHOMA CITY - Spurs lead series 2-0
Let's see ...The San Antonio Spurs have won their last 20 consecutive games - that's their last 10 regular-season games in 2011-12 and their first 10 playoff games this spring - and take note that the West's top seed has won these 10 post-season games by a per-game average of 12.2 points!
Okay, so maybe media folks toss out the word "domination"too much in an era where not many teams in any league dominate all that much but Gregg Popovich's crew has been head-and-shoulders better than everyone it's played the past two months and now we'll see if San Ant can drain the life right out of the Oklahoma City Thunder right here and right now in a Game 3 tilt that will either breath new life into this best-of-seven series or prove to be SA's latest victory lap.
No doubt the desperate Thunder needs its version of the "big three"- that's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Sixth Man Award Winner James Harden -- to pump home the majority of the points (this trio combined for 88 of OKC's 111 points in that catch-me-if-you-can Game 2 loss the other night in the Alamo City) but the $64,000 question here is will Thunder head coach Scott Brooks "play small"or will he try once again with big men Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins in the lineup at the same time even though neither covered San Antonio's famed pick-n-roll play very well in the first two games of this series.
Gut feeling is you'll see Durant/Westbrook/Harden joined on the floor for much of the time by Thabo Sefolosha - he played only 15 minutes in Game 2 and was invisible (to be honest) when in action - and either G Derek Fisher or banger Nick Collison. Consider that the Spurs have feasted on the times they bring F Tim Duncan to the top of the key (or the side of the foul line) and than had guard Tony Parker run roughshod around the screens and at least the guys not named Perkins and Ibaka might have more success handling this two-man San Antonio game.
But what's the Thunder gonna do about handling Spurs' superman Manu Ginobili - the Game 1 hero who chipped in 20 points and 4 assists in Game 2?
Doesn't matter if Okie City forces him right or left as Ginobili has made it a habit here of connecting on his twisting, off-balance shots and so maybe the strategy here should be a touch of zone and/or maybe putting the longer-armed Durant smack on Ginobili for stretches of time here.
Finally, most underrated stat of Game 2:
San Antonio rookie forward Kawhi Leonard dumped in 18 points (plus he snared 10 rebounds) in 35 high-quality minutes this past Tuesday night and if he's gonna play like a steely vet on the road here, than underdog - yes, underdog - San Antonio might well be ready to make it 21 consecutive wins ... Black Jack!
Here's how the Thunder-Spurs best-of-seven NBA Western Conference Finals series has gone so far:
|5-27||SAN ANTONIO||- 5.5||Oklahoma City||SAN ANTONIO 101-98|
|5-29||SAN ANTONIO||- 4.5||Oklahoma City||SAN ANTONIO 120-111|
NOTE: Get NBA and MLB News & Notes in all of this week's Jim Sez columns plus keep an eye on NFL News/Notes in the coming days soon!