Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFF UPDATE –
CAVS & CLIPS LOOK TO WRAP
UP THINGS TONIGHT IN A PAIR OF
GAME 6 HOEDOWNS …
THE BASEBALL REPORT:
THE FIVE-BEST “UNDER THE RADAR”
STORIES IN THE BIGS SO FAR
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers – two franchises that have never/ever won an NBA Championship – both have the confetti and balloons ready this evening as they both look to close out their respective series in six games apiece.
The funny thing is Cleveland’s been tangled up with Chicago for a batch of close games this Eastern Conference semifinal round series – back-to-back buzzer-beaters in Games 3 and 4 in Chicago last weekend and only 12 total points separating these sides through the first five games – while the Clippers’ three wins against up-and-down Houston have come by a grand total of 74 points (see chart below) and now here’s LA’s “other team” looking to put the hammer down tonight on the Rockets.
Is this gonna be the night for the Cavs and/or the Clippers?
Hey, here’s what they face in a pair of Game 6 tilts:
#2 CLEVELAND at #3 CHICAGO – 8 p.m. ET, TNT; Cavaliers lead series 3-2
So, there’s no need to commend Cleveland mega-star LeBron James for his latest performance … he already patted himself on the back!
Okay, so we’re being a touch tongue-in-cheek here but consider that James shot 14-of-24 from the floor for 38 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 6 assists and – drum roll, please – zero turnovers and you’ve gotta admit that his Game 5 showing in the Cavaliers’ 106-101 win against Chicago this past Tuesday night was one of the great individual NBA Playoff games in recent memory.
Better yet, James appears to be over his recent left ankle sprain and ready to carry this banged-up Cleveland club to the finish line with a win here tonight (note the host Bulls are 1.5-point betting favorites at last check) but keep in mind the Bulls probably have a few things up their proverbial sleeve here including more “doubles” of King James and we’d fully expect that Chitown bench to play better at home after it combined for just 17 points on just 5-of-18 FG shooting the other night.
Toss into the mix the injury bug that’s now plaguing the Bulls:
Point guard Derrick Rose (stinger) missed 13-of-15 field goals following a 12-point first quarter and Pau Gasol (strained left hamstring) appears set to miss a third straight game in this series and so you can see how this has been a point/counterpoint series in terms of injuries what with Cleveland missing F Kevin Love all throughout this best-of-seven set following his separated shoulder in Game 4 of that opening-round series sweep of Boston.
Know how the Bulls force a Game 7 here?
Obviously, don’t dig yourself a big second-half hole (see Cavs 90, Bulls 73 with 6:09 remaining in Game 5) and make sure the likes of Jimmy Butler (29 points and 9 boards in Game 5) and Mike Dunleavy (19 points in Game 5) are getting off a minimum of 34 or 35 FG tries between ‘em here. Got it?
Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Cavaliers and the Bulls (home teams in CAPS):
Take note …
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 start closing out the Round II action.
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 and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!
WESTERN CONFERENCE –
#2 HOUSTON at #3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT; Clippers lead series 3-2
The Clippers’ three wins in this best-of-seven series have come by 16, 25 and 33 points – in other words, when Doc Rivers’ club has played with a real purpose in this series there’s been no stopping ‘em (note the Rockets’ win came in Game 2 after the Clips already had “broken serve” and in Game 5 when the Clippers had no real sense of urgency to their game).
Now, the $64,000 question this evening is whether or not a Rockets’ club that – we gotta say it – at times appears it doesn’t care less whether or not this conference semifinal round series comes to a close or not will play with a ferocity often lost this round.
Heck, MVP runner-up James Harden – who registered 26 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists in that 124-103 win/cover in Game 5 – sniffled, coughed and hacked his way through a Game 5-high 43 minutes played to propel the Rockets into yet another elimination game but ask us and we’ll tell you Harden probably needs to go for 30-plus points here in Hollywood and the in-the-paint stats have to be shifted in Houston’s favor as was the case this past Tuesday night when Houston outscored the Clips 64-46 down under the hoop.
The Clippers must expect more Hack-A-DeAndre Jordan here after LA shot a wobbly 18-of-31 from the charity stripe in Game 5 – now wouldn’t that be a kick in the shorts if Houston actually forced a Game 7 because this inane Hack strategy worked?
Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Rockets and the Clippers (home teams in CAPS):
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Okay, so if you tune into ESPN, Fox or the MLB Network on a daily basis than you know what major stories those folks are “running with” but how about we take a few moments to examine what we consider to be the Five Best “Under the Radar” stories in the bigs as we near the quarter pole of this here-and-now 2015 Major-League Baseball season:
1 – Has anyone noticed that the Oakland A’s (13-22) are the American League’s second-worst team at press time after all those wacky off-season deals by GM Billy Beane? Hey, the A’s were a wild card team last year that collapsed in the second half of the ’14 season but they still made it to the post-season. Unless all those imports brought into the Bay Area by Beane start to produce, this could be a 90-plus loss team. Moneyball, say what!
2 – There’s been plenty of chatter regarding the New York Mets’ young pitching staff but did you realize that entering yesterday’s game the biggest individual winner in the National League was 42-old Mets’ RHP Bartolo Colon? The much-travelled hurler is 6-1 with a 3.30 ERA upon entering Friday night’s home start against Milwaukee but the really neat thing about Colon’s numbers this year is that he’s walked one batter in 46.1 innings … that’s simply mind-boggling stuff!
3 – At this moment there are 20 MLB players with an on-base percentage of .400 or better but – even at this early stage of the current campaign – did you think the names CF Joc Pederson (.422 on-base percentage) of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland C Stephen Vogt (.420) would be on that list? P.S., St. Louis LF Matt Holliday (.462) leads the majors in this key category and note he’s got 37 hits and 23 walks while batting .346.
4 – Okay, so we “stole” this one away from the MLB Network folks who pointed out that Pittsburgh Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano (1-2, 2.79 ERA upon entering last night’s start at Philadelphia) leads the majors with a .149 batting average against (BAA) through his first six starts. In case you’re wondering, last year’s NL Cy Young/MVP winner Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 4.26 ERA) of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a BAA of .263 – not terrible but not in Liriano’s league thus far.
5 – Finally, have you noticed where this year’s rookie managers in the American League are doing pretty darn good?
Tampa Bay first-timer Kevin Cash has the Rays at 18-16 and in second place in the American League East and suddenly nobody’s quoting Joe Maddon in this part of Florida;
Minnesota’s Paul Molitor has breathed new life back into a Twins team that made it a bad habit of finishing dead-last in the AL Central in recent years. The Twins (18-15) are 12-5 at home and Molitor’s helped make Target Field a major plus;
And Houston Astros new manager A.J. Hinch was widely panned as the club’s choice to lead ‘em into a new era and so far, so good as the ‘Stros (20-13) are sitting atop the AL West.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez plus there’s MLB News/Notes too!