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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Next! The Miami Heat - yes, the NBA team that won't rest easy until and unless it wins a championship (or two) - now has dunked its first two playoffs foes this spring.

The New York Knicks turned out to be mere child's play for the Heat in Round I but the Indiana Pacers - maybe a bit too brash for their own damn good (if you ask us!) - gave Miami its money's worth in Round II but last night's power-packed 105-93 win by the 2 ½-point favored Heat proved that this club is a notch above most, if not all, NBA Eastern Conference crews.

Sure, you know that guard Dwyane Wade really flicked the switch in this series and turned it on with his 41-point Game 6 outing one of the best shows you will ever see come post-season time and you cannot ignore the fact MVP LeBron James (28 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds with just one turnover in Game 6) shined on the big stage both last night and right throughout this six-game set but the big question comes now as to whether or not Miami will have "Big Three"member F Chris Bosh back in the lineup when the Eastern Conference Finals tip off early next week against either the playoff-rich Boston Celtics or the upstart Philadelphia 76ers.

Remember that we here at Jim Sez "went on record"to state that the Heat would best the Pacers even without Bosh's services (he went down in Game 1 of that series, you'll recall) but you can't be so sure that will be the case if Bosh isn't able to play through his lower abdomen injury in this next round.

Okay, so Miami had supporting cast role members Mike Miller (4-of-7 triples for 12 points in Game 6) and starting PG Mario Chalmers (15 points and zero turnovers in 32 minutes last night) deliver big performances in the clincher at Indiana but will that bit of history repeat itself the next round if Bosh is gonzo from that set?

Stay tuned.

Final word - at least for awhile -- regarding the Pacers:

They have to come up with a way not to unravel so quickly against solid teams in the future as last night Frank Vogel's crew let an 11-point first half lead slip away plus that bench must be upgraded. Here were the Pacers' reserves shooting a crummy 2-of-9 from the floor in Game 6 when a big showing from PG Darren Collison or G Leandro Barbosa was sorely needed.

Not sure the Pacers ever "went soft"in this series as stated by president Larry Bird but they sure shrunk in a few big moments when battling Mr. James and Mr. Wade.

Don't y'all agree?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are rock-n-rolling through this year's NBA Playoffs and we will continue to bang out the post-season winners right through the end of June plus get all the 2012 Major-League Baseball Winners too -- so sign up today and get it all as that's plenty of Hoops and Baseball action every day and night! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, it's ... PHILADELPHIA at BOSTON - Series tied 3-3

As you can see from the chart below, the one-and-only time this series that the Celtics had two days off prior to a game with the 76ers it proved to be a major boon for Doc Rivers' squad as it crushed Philly by 16 points in Game 5 - now the C's are counting on history repeating itself here.

No doubt that Boston was a dysfunctional team on offense in Wednesday's Game 6 loss in Philadelphia as point guard Rajon Rondo (4-of-14 FG shooting for 9 points with only 6 assists) was pretty much AWOL while G Ray Allen continued to struggle to hit the outside jumpers (see 1-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc) and that's where you have to start for Boston here:

Rondo must penetrate the lane and attack the Sixers' defense that isn't known for their shot-blocking while Allen has to free himself behind some Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass screens and nail a few trifectas here. If there is an X-factor that could work in Boston's favor here in this all-or-nothing Game 7 tilt, it's Bass who followed up his heroic 27-point performance in Game 5 with a shabby 2-of-12 FG shooting mark for just 8 points in Game 6. Something tells us Bass must score in the neighborhood of 15 points in this clash and must play better in-the-paint defense (Philly outscored Boston 42-16 in the all-important points in the paint category in Game 6).

Conversely, check out the fact that Philadelphia sported a 22-to-12 assist-to-turnovers ratio in Game 6 led by guards Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams - each of whom dished out 6 assists while each committed just two turnovers - and that's key here as both must "make it happen"for wide-open teammates and keep mistakes to a bare minimum inside what figures to be a raucous TD Garden in Beantown. If there is an X-factor that Philly head coach Doug Collins likely is counting on here, than circle the name of backup C Lavoy Allen who has given the Sixers big minutes this post-season but how he handles Garnett is their head-to-head battles will be vitally important.

Here's how the 76ers-Celtics Eastern Conference Semifinal Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):

DATE FAV SPREAD DOG RESULT
5-12 BOSTON - 5.5 Philadelphia BOSTON 92-91
5-14 BOSTON - 4.5 Philadelphia Philadelphia 82-81
5-16 PHILADELPHIA - 2 Boston Boston 107-91
5-18 PHILADELPHIA - 2 Boston PHILADELPHIA 92-83
5-21 BOSTON - 5.5 Philadelphia BOSTON 101-85
5-23 PHILADELPHIA - 1 Boston PHILADELPHIA 82-75

NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
(thru Thursday, May 24)

TEAM W L P PCT
San Antonio 6 2 0 .750
Miami 7 3 1 .700
Oklahoma City 5 3 1 .625
Philadelphia 7 5 0 .583
Boston 5 7 0 .417

Here's the still-alive NBA Playoff teams and note that NBA Playoff Betting Favorites exited last night's Miami-Indiana Game 6 with a 35-27-3 ATS (against the spread) mark - that's good for a .565 winning rate through the post-season's first 65 games.

 

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

WHO'S HOT STUFF HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND?

Some folks - and you know who you are - believe that the Baseball Season really gets into full swing mode right around Memorial Day Weekend and we must admit it's the first real point in time we check out the standings in a serious tone:

So, naturally folks who have been eyeballing the MLB Standings right from the very start are not surprised to see the Baltimore Orioles (28-17), the Cleveland Indians (26-18) and the Texas Rangers (27-18) leading their respective divisions in the American League while the National League division leaders at this late stage of May include the Washington Nationals (26-18), the Cincinnati Reds (25-19) and the best team in the "bigs"right now in the Los Angeles Dodgers (30-14) - and is anybody hotter right now than those two teams in the great state of Ohio.

The aforementioned Indians just completed a three-game home sweep of the sluggish Detroit Tigers and so the Tribe enters this weekend's three-game set at the Chicago White Sox having won eight of its last 10 games and riding the right arm of closer Chris Perez who earned his 16th save in yesterday's hang-on-for-dear-life 2-1 win against Justin Verlander and the Motowners. Don't look now but OF Shin-Soo Choo - who homered off Verlander to lead off Thursday's matinee tilt - is starting to heat up and SS Asdrubal Cabrera is back to hitting .300 - maybe you counted out the Indians at the start of this 2012 season but underrated manager Manny Acta has this club roaring even if the fans are not showing up!

The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, have won an MLB-best six in a row while heading into this weekend's three-game home series against erratic Colorado and did you know that RHP Johnny Cueto is 5-1 with a tidy 1.97 ERA while flame-throwing lefty reliever (and now part-time closer) Aroldis Chapman is 4-0 with two saves and an 0.00 ERA?

Dusty Baker's club hasn't hit the way it was hoping to so far this season but even scoring just 16 total runs in their four-game sweep against Atlanta this week the Reds proved that was more than enough with this brilliant pitching - might another live arm in the picture by late July (did someone invoke the name of Chicago Cubs RHP Matt Garza, perhaps?) put Cincinnati in prime position to win the senior circuit this year?

Hey, that's a long way off - after all, we're just rollin' into Memorial Day. Happy summer!

NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage right throughout this Memorial Day Weekend as tomorrow we'll break down the Western Conference Finals Series between the #1 seed San Antonio Spurs versus the #2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder - so don't miss out!

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