Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
HERE ARE TONIGHT’S
NBA PLAYOFF PREVIEWS
AS CAVS-BULLS, ROCKETS-CLIPS COLLIDE …
THE BASEBALL REPORT:
WE CHECK OUT THE TIGERS-ROYALS
MARQUEE MATCHUP (AND MORE!)
Round One of this year’s NBA Playoffs brought us just one seven-game series (see Los Angeles Clippers over the San Antonio Spurs in a real beauty!) – but are we possibly headed to a few “go-the-distance” series here in this conference semifinal round?
The NBA took a rare night off Thursday but you can’t help but to see the symmetry here as we “daydream” about seven-game sets all around as all four on-going series currently are knotted at a game apiece while heading into weekend play here – we’ll preview the Cleveland at Chicago and then the Houston at Los Angeles Clippers showdowns in those particular Game 3’s this evening in just a second but first …
Here’s an up-to-date look at the NBA Playoffs Pointspread Standings (thru the games of Wednesday, May 6). Note we’re featuring only the “still-alive” teams here:
Tonight, it’s …
#2 CLEVELAND at #3 CHICAGO – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN; Series tied 1-1
Lots of changes in store for this tilt:
Not only has the venue changed from “The Q” to the always-rowdy United Center in Chitown but remember the visiting Cavaliers – a 2-point underdog at press time (and thus the first time this post-season that Cleveland will be taking points) -- will welcome back bad boy J.R. Smith who was suspended for the first two games of this series after his cheap-shot backhanded punch at Boston’s Jae Crowder way back on April 26th.
No doubt the Cavaliers could use a reliable third scorer – LeBron James (33 points in that never-in-doubt 106-91 win in Game 2) and Kyrie Irving (21 points in Game 2) were rock-solid that last game – but we believe the real key to Cleveland regaining its home-court advantage here will be how well it silences the Bulls from beyond the three-point arc as Chicago drained only 7-of-22 triples (that’s 31 percent) in Game 2 and that included the duo of Derrick Rose and NBA Most Improved Player Jimmy Butler netting just 4-of-12 trifectas between ‘em … and whatever happened to sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy who attempted just one trey (which he missed) in 29 minutes of action in Game 2?
Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Cavaliers and the Bulls (and note all home teams are in CAPS):
WESTERN CONFERENCE –
#2 HOUSTON at #3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN; Series tied 1-1
Raise your hand if you’ve been less-than-impressed with the Houston Rockets thus far this series … okay, we see ‘ya!
Kevin McHale’s club – to be fair – has only played about 10 or 11 solid minutes thus far through the first two games and that come-from-13-points-down 115-109 non-cover win against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 was desperation time for the Rockets but they didn’t always play with a real sense of urgency.
Now, word is Clippers’ do-it-all point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) will be back after missing those two playoff games in Houston and, while Paul figures to be far from 100 percent healthy here, his presence will help plus no question the depth-shy Clips really sagged late the other night when Blake Griffin (34 points and 15 rebounds) proved he couldn’t move the earth-and-moon at crunch time after playing some highly stressful minutes as both substitute point guard and part-time center!
Want an X-factor for the Clippers tonight?
Try the coach’s kid as Austin Rivers – despite that ill-timed late-game turnover in Game 2 – really played some good ball with 10 points and just that one miscue in 25 action-packed minutes. If Doc’s son can give the Clippers 18-to-20 strong minutes here and he can harass the likes of Jason Terry, than Billy Crystal’s favorite hoops team could be in business!
Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Rockets and the Clippers (and note all home teams are in CAPS):
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we dig deeper and deeper into Round II.
We’ll continue to rock-n-roll our way through the NBA post-season – and so just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Here’s a rather strange-but-true factoid:
There’s only one Major-League Baseball series this Mother’s Day weekend that pits two winning teams against one another … and it’s a real doozy!
KANSAS CITY (18-10) at DETROIT (18-11) – Fri, Sat & Sun
Wait a second …
Weren’t the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals supposed to have “returned to earth” this year and – while we’re at it – weren’t the Detroit Tigers supposed to show some major slippage too while the likes of the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox rose to prominence in the AL Central?
Well, that’s what the so-called experts forecast prior to the start of this here-and-now 2015 MLB season but a funny thing happened between April 6th and May 7th:
The Royals – playing with a boulder-sized chip on their shoulders this year – decided they were not gonna roll over and play dead for anyone and so Ned Yost’s club rides into this weekend set playing .643 ball while the Tigers (minus injured veteran RHP Justin Verlander and also, of course, without current Washington RHP Max Scherzer who flew the Motown coop via free agency) figured there was still plenty of life in their bodies and thus a .621 winning rate heading in here.
Not bad for two teams that were supposed to moonwalk backwards in the AL Central standings, eh?
Now they collide for a second consecutive weekend – last week they split a four-game set in KayCee with the Royals winning 8-1 and 4-1 before the Tigers growled 2-1 and 6-4 in the Saturday/Sunday games – and the amazing thing is Kansas City’s scored more runs and allowed fewer runs even though Royals’ closer Greg Holland has just returned from a long stint on the DL (since April 18th) with a pectoral injury and even though expected RF Alex Rios had just 28 at-bats before a hand injury kayoed ‘em and he probably won’t be back for another two-to-three weeks.
The Tigers – minus the aforementioned Verlander and Scherzer – have “made due” in the starting rotation with tonight’s scheduled starter LHP David Price (3-1, 2.93 ERA) and a cast of relative no-names as the likes of RHP Anibal Sanchez, RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Shane Greene and LHP Kyle Lobstein are a combined 11-8 in 22 total starts.
Throw in the fact that original closer Joe Nathan is gone for the year (Tommy John surgery) and it’s a little bit mesmerizing that the Tigers could be in first place by their lonesome following play on Mother’s Day – okay, so new closer and ex-Royals hurler Joakim Soria is 11-for-11 in save opportunities following Thursday afternoon’s 4-1 win at the Chicago White Sox.
Yes, 1B Miguel Cabrera’s hitting .350 with 6 HR and 20 RBI and LF Yoenis Cespedes has 15 extra-base hits – now the Tigers try to sink their teeth into the Royals in a “show-me series” in Detroit City.
Note: Catch more NBA Playoff Previews/Recaps in the next edition of Jim Sez plus more MLB News & Notes.