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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Here’s some really good news, folks …
At this time next week we’ll be gearing up for the NBA Playoffs but let’s not “fast-forward” our way past this here-and-now 2014-15 regular season just yet … a look at tonight’s key games:

INDIANA (35-43) at DETROIT (30-48) – 7:35 p.m. ET
The Indy Pacers enter play this evening a full game back of Boston and Brooklyn in the chase for either the 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and Indiana will continue to play short-handed following the stabbing incident in New York City involving F Chris Copeland (nothing good happens at 4 a.m., you know!).

In Wednesday’s 102-86 win/cover at the 11-point Knicks, it was George Hill (20 points) who came to the rescue and make a note the Pacers enter this clash on a healthy three-game winning streak and with still-rehabbing G Paul George (10 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes against New York) getting more acclimated to action after missing almost all this year with that gruesome broken leg suffered last summer with Team USA.

If you happen to be schedule-checking, note the Pacers host Oklahoma City this Sunday, then it’s home to Washington (Tuesday) and at Memphis (Wednesday) – so there’s no real “gimmes” in the bunch.

BOSTON (36-42) at CLEVELAND (51-27) – 7:35 p.m. ET
Okay, so we’ve already dished on the playoff battle that’s been brewing at the bottom of the East’s post-season chase with the Boston Celtics (a decent 24-24 in conference play this year) contending for the #7 and/or #8 seed but how about the Cavaliers who have won four in a row and eight of their last 10?

True, megastar LeBron James likely will sit out here and thus aid the Celtics’ playoff cause – remember Cleveland’s already locked up the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference – but Boston still figures to have its hands full with PG Kyrie Irving who posted a 27-point, 9-assist game in Wednesday’s 104-99 non-cover triumph against 6.5-point underdog Milwaukee.

Again, if you want to know, the Celtics host these Cavs come Sunday, then it’s home to Toronto and at Milwaukee on Tuesday/Wednesday, respectively and maybe Brad Stevens’ crew will catch a break if any of their playoff seeds are already cemented.

WASHINGTON (45-33) at BROOKLYN (36-42) – 7:35 p.m. ET
The Nets stubbed their collective toes Wednesday night with that 114-111 home loss versus 4-point underdog Atlanta – and don’t blame it on red-hot C Brook Lopez who poured in 26 points and snagged 10 rebounds in the tough-to-digest setback at Barclays Center. Note that the Nets rallied from a 12-point deficit to take the lead but Al

Horford’s dunk with 19 seconds left doomed Lionel Hollins’ crew that saw a five-game home winning streak snapped. Hey, keep in mind that Brooklyn lost the tie-breaker with Boston should they finish knotted up at the #8 seed this year. Got it?

And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are hitting their stride these days in pro hoops and we’ll be cashing in big with the NBA and with Major-League Baseball too each and every day this month.

Just go online right here at or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Remember: The NBA Playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 19th.

PHOENIX (39-40) at NEW ORLEANS (42-36) – 8:05 p.m. ET
The down-the-stretch sked for the N’Orleans Pelicans includes this home game, a road tilt in Houston come Sunday, a Tuesday road game in Minnesota and a season-ending home game versus San Antonio come Wednesday night and so there’s no room for error here for Anthony Davis and mates. True, the Pelicans get a round of applause for being 26-22 in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference but Monty Williams’ gang only has split its last 10 games and can’t afford any slip-up tonight against a Suns bunch that’s dropped seven of its last 10 games. Too bad Phoenix plays in the West; the Suns would’ve already locked down a post-season berth in the beleaguered Eastern Conference.

SACRAMENTO (27-51) at OKLAHOMA CITY (42-36) – 8:05 p.m. ET
Gotta hand it to the Okie City Thunder for just hanging in there this year with Kevin Durant (foot) limited to a mere 27 games played – hey, we didn’t even think he had played that many games, friends! -- while MVP candidate PG Russell Westbrook (averaging a haughty 27.5 ppg) continues to be a one-man wrecking crew although it must be pointed out that OKC’s arrow is pointed down right now with four straight losses.

If the Thunder doesn’t make the cut with this #8 seed, then it would be “excused” because of all the injury matters but we’re wondering aloud whether or not management and a vocal fan base will cut head coach Scott Brooks any slack … doubt it!

SAN ANTONIO (53-26) at HOUSTON (53-25) – 8:05 p.m. ET, NBA Network
It’s the back half of a home-and-home set here – note that 6.5-point favored San Antonio squashed the Rockets 110-98 this past Wednesday night behind PG Tony Parker’s game-best 27 points (he drained 13-of-18 field-goal tries) and as we’ve been pointing out lately the five-time champion Spurs could zoom all the way to the #2 seed in the West as heading into last night’s action a mere half-game separated four teams.
The really delicious part of tonight’s game is the Rockets – who quietly have won seven of their last 10 games – figure star James Harden can’t shoot it as bad as he did in Wednesday’s game when the bearded one connected on only just 6-of-15 FG tries en route to a stunningly quiet 22-point game.

MEMPHIS (53-25) at UTAH (36-42) – 9:05 p.m.
Now hear this: Memphis is an amazing 34-15 SU (straight-up) in Western Conference play this year but the Grizzlies are playing three of their final four regular-season games on the road including this dangerous tilt in Salt Lake City – maybe veteran F Zach Randolph can post another double-double here as was the case in Wednesday’s 110-74 whitewash win against 5-point pup New Orleans.

Folks, there is some question as to whether or not lefty PG Mike Conley (foot) will play here and so be prepared to watch Beno Udrih play 30-plus minutes in this clash should Conley (15.8 ppg and 5.4 apg) miss this one.

Think the ravenous New York tabloid media didn’t eat up yesterday’s return to the mound by New York Mets’ RHP Matt Harvey?
The lead-up to Harvey’s first start in some 593 days was bonkers – probably more words were written about the Mets’ ace who missed last year with Tommy John surgery than all the other Mets/Yankees combined this past spring and at least the “Dark Knight” didn’t disappoint:

Harvey’s six-inning showing against an albeit beat-up Washington Nationals’ lineup – the final stat line read 0 runs, 4 hits, 9 Ks and 1 BB in a scary-at-the-end 6-3 win – was every bit as brilliant as advertised and Harvey did it all while throwing just 91 total pitches or one more than his “soft pitch count” was gonna be.

The significance of Harvey’s return wasn’t lost on a Mets team that has suffered through six consecutive losing seasons – there’s already folks clamoring for ducats for Harvey’s expected start next week against Philadelphia – and the fact Harvey walked the Nats’ second hitter and then didn’t walk another soul while generally throwing above 90 mph was sweet news for Mets manager Terry Collins who simply put doesn’t survive this 2015 campaign without a 17-to-20-win season from Mr. Harvey …

In other MLB News & Notes …
Maybe it’s too early to start calling series a “marquee matchup” but Kansas City’s three-game set at the Los Angeles Angels this weekend has all the prerequisites for a thrilling weekend – there’s revenge after the Royals shocked the Halos in last year’s American League Division Series and there’s a KayCee club coming in here to Anaheim with a major chip on its shoulder despite getting all the way to Game 7 of last year’s World Series against San Francisco.

The Royals just come off a three-game season-opening sweep against the Chicago White Sox – there was some beanball wars and more than a little bad blood there – and when Ned Yost’s club copped Thursday afternoon’s 4-1 win against the Pale Hose there was yet another reason to smile after RHP Edinson Volquez threw eight innings of one-run/one-BB ball and hope you caught those terrific plays by CF Lorenzo Cain who is already hitting a robust .417 with power!

Maybe this isn’t a great time for 521-home run guy Albert Pujols and friends to be looking for “payback”.

NOTE: More NBA goodies plus MLB and NFL Draft News in the coming editions of Jim Sez.


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