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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM





Forget all that mass media rubbish that the NBA Playoffs "don't really begin till Round II" - the pro round-ballers surely swung open the gates on what's gonna be a great post-season with eight games this past Saturday/Sunday and - for starters - we'll say this:

If the established NBA co-favorites Golden State and Cleveland - both slightly more than 2-to-1 betting favorites to "win it all" this year - wind up knocking heads this June in the NBA Finals than you'll know it all got jump-started with matinee wins against frisky-if-overmatched foes. Here's the lowdown from a pair of Game #1's:

GOLDEN STATE 106, NEW ORLEANS 99 - Okay, so the mighty Warriors didn't "cash" here as bloated 12.5-point betting favorites but even elite teams tend to let their foot off the pedal with 25-point fourth-quarter leads and so let's just say lesson learned for rookie head coach Steve Kerr and Company.

We know, anyone with pro-Warriors plays in their series opener were scorched badly thanks to the Pelicans' 33-point fourth quarter but the reality of the situation was the Bay Area gang had this one in hand from start to finish - thanks mainly to G Stephen Curry's team-high 34 points - and a defense that bottled up N'Orleans down low until rather late in this never-in-doubt affair.

Game 2 is tonight (Monday) and let's just say Golden State will attempt at least 29 trifectas here (made 11 of 'em in Game 1 with Curry's four triples leading the way) as one feeling we got post-game here is that the Warriors want Curry and backcourt playmate Klay Thompson (21 points but just 6-of-17 from the field) to fire away and preferably to do so before the Pelicans' defense can get set.

The Las Vegas odds guys/gals have posted the Warriors as 11-point favorites for this tilt - remember the "zig-zag theory" folks who believe at NBA Playoff time you wager against the team coming off a win in the prior meeting and thus prices such as these get a bit "shortened" as compared to Game 1 - and all we'll say is New Orleans needs its bench to shoot better than 10-of-29 from the floor if Anthony Davis (game-high 35 points in the opener) and friends are gonna get even here.

CLEVELAND 113, BOSTON 100 - Okay, so Jim Hurley's Network winner on the 12-point favorite Cavaliers got quite dicey at the end of Sunday's double-digit win as a Celtics' in-close shout rolled 'round the rim and came out to help secure the Cleveland cover but, hey, y'all deserved it based on a 20-point second-half lead and a monster performance by PG Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 30 points and that included a nifty 5-of-9 stat line from beyond the three-point stripe.

What ... a Cavs' highlight led off by someone other than the great LeBron James!

You got it as Irving was the major domo in this tilt at a noisy arena but a major theme in this Cleveland win/cover was the board work as the Cavaliers collected 15 offensive rebounds and won the stat war on the glass 46-to-34 with the aforementioned James - sans headband once again - kicking in 20 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds before being pulled in the game's final minute of play.

Okay, so Cleveland entered this best-of-seven set as a 35-to-1 betting favorite that it would win this series and so nobody should be shocked at the results but let's say this before these teams clash in Game 2 on Tuesday night (the Cavs are listed as an 11-point favorite, so zig-zag to you!) that Boston must get more aggressive in dealing with both Irving and James and simply take its chances that the Kevin Love's of the world won't beat 'em.
Here's some notes as we look ahead to some Monday/Tuesday Game 2's:

On Monday, it's ...

MILWAUKEE at CHICAGO - Bulls lead series 1-0
Memo to the Buckaroos: You ain't gonna be around for long in this "neighborhood rivalry" shooting 39.3 percent from the floor as mid-season trade pick-up Michael Carter-Williams (4-of-13 FGs and just 9 points) was awful ... but can the Bulls fans cool it with the "MVP" chants for PG Derrick Rose (23 points and 7 assists in 27 minutes)!

On Tuesday, it's ...

DALLAS at HOUSTON - Rockets lead series 1-0
Our original premise regarding this best-of-seven Lone Star State series was that the underdog Mavericks (a near 3-to-1 pup for the series) had to force tempo and score loads of points but when 108 points isn't enough to deliver a road win, well, then there could be major trouble for "Shark Tank" owner Mark Cuban and friends! The fact of the matter is the Rockets - who covered the 5.5-point price in Game 1 - were often left unintended from beyond the arc where Kevin McHale's crew drained 10-of-20 triple tries and Houston's not gonna lose any games in this series in which it is parading to the free-throw line 45 times (with 32 makes). Gotta believe Houston needs a better shooting "eye" here from lefty James Harden (24 points but just 4-of-11 FGs in Game 1) so maybe things are gonna get worse before they get better for Dallas!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are all geared up for the NBA Playoffs that continue to roll on this week/this month - just go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day during these NBA Playoffs and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle or sign up now for the entire NBA Playoffs. Plus, remember there's Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring as the NBA Playoffs and Baseball pounds out major profits!

Was there any big-leaguer more closely analyzed and scrutinized this past April weekend than Mr. Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs?

We think not!

Heck, the weekend really began with the announcement that the Cubbies had elevated the 23-year-old from the minors because of some injuries with the big club and there was GM Theo Epstein politely informing MLB Network "High Heat" host Chris "Mad Dog" Russo that the Cubbies were not expecting instant miracles from their very much-ballyhooed third baseman.
Good, 'cause Bryant struck out three times in four plate appearances in last Friday's 5-4 home loss to the San Diego Padres and you could almost sense the instant panic sweeping through the bleacher-less Wrigley Field.

But Bryant - who did make a brilliant defensive play in that debut game - silenced some knee-jerk critics by getting two singles with three BB and a run batted in during Saturday's 7-6 Cubs win in 11 innings versus the Padres and then in Sunday's meek 5-2 home loss to the Pods there was the sweet-swinging Bryant delivering his first extra-base hit (a double) to make him 3-for-10 with one ribby in his "opening weekend" performance.

Folks, the home runs will come - both Russo and his MLB sidekick Bruce Schein agreed he would hit more than 33 dingers in the bigs (we'll see about that) but the general consensus is the kid handled all the monumental media requests with great aplomb and he has the swing that will fit Wrigley Field (and most other parks) to a "T" and so Bryant's best days lie ahead.
We just wish all the TV talk shows and newspaper articles didn't make it seem as if he's the second coming of Mike Schmidt just yet - and if you're too young to have seen Schmidt then "Google" away, why don't you!

In other MLB News & Notes ...

Hey, nobody's hotter in the bigs than the eight-wins-in-a-row New York Mets but key injuries suffered Sunday by C Travis d'Arnaud (fractured right hand) and key lefty reliever Jerry Blevins (fractured left forearm) could well put a major crimp into the Mets' pennant plans and too bad 'cause d'Arnaud (the team's RBI leader) was showing major pop with the bat this year and Blevins was quickly proving to be one of the best pick-ups by GM Sandy Alderson who "stole" Blevins from Washington on the eve of this 2015 season ...

Finally, is it too early to start handing out MVP awards?

The Baltimore Orioles would like to nominate CF Adam Jones who knocked in five runs in Sunday's 8-3 win in Boston - Jones whacked a two-run home run and a bases-clearing double while extending his current hitting streak to nine in a row while entering Monday morning's Patriot Day game against the Red Sox.

In a year in which the O's are attempting to plug the holes left by the likes of Nick Markakis and slugger Nelson Cruz (among others) the veteran centerfield Jones has been Ruth-like with his 5 home runs, 16 runs batted in and jaw-dropping .457 batting average - and lest we don't forget his .490 on-base percentage and .848 slugging percentage. Wow-ie is right!

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