Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM
IT’S NBA CONFERENCE FINALS TIME!
HOUSTON AT GOLDEN STATE
HITS THE HARDWOOD FIRST ON TUESDAY
NITE PLUS WE HAVE SOME “FORECAST FUN”
WITH THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY …
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Gee, wonder how many times the famous Rudy Tomjanovich line – “Don’t ever – ever – underestimate the heart of a champion” has been played and replayed on Houston-area TV and radio the past 24 hours?
No doubt the Houston Rockets – now the ninth NBA team to overcome a three games-to-one series deficit in a playoff round – earned all the kudos following their 113-100 win in Sunday’s Game 7 bash against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers but you better believe this NBA Western Conference semifinal round will long be remembered for the gag job done by the Clippers who infamously blew a 19-point third-quarter deficit in Game 6 (see chart below) … think Clips head coach Doc Rivers is gonna have a sound night’s sleep anytime soon?
The bottom line in Game 7 is the Rockets roared to an 88-68 lead over the Clips moments into the fourth quarter and really never were threatened as James Harden shook off a nasty cold to score 31 points and C Dwight Howard kicked in 16 points and 15 rebounds and the big man even connected on half of his free-throw attempts … hip-hip-hooray.
Better luck next time, LA Clippers!
Now, here’s a look back at how the playoff series went between the Clippers and the Rockets (home teams in CAPS):
So, we turn the page in these NBA Playoffs on second-round action -- #1 Atlanta and #2 Cleveland survived six-game series, respectively, in the East while aforementioned #2 Houston will battle #1 Golden State (winners in six games against Memphis) beginning Tuesday night in the league’s Western Conference Finals.
And we’ll get to the Western Finals Preview in just a moment but first let’s catch you up-to-date with some key NBA Playoff Pointspread Facts & Figures and we’ll start with the breakdown of the first two rounds of post-season action through the eyes of the Betting Favorites:
Take note …
NBA Playoffs First Round – Betting Favs go 20-19-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick ‘em game
NBA Playoffs Second Round – Betting Favs go 10-15-0 ATS with no pick ‘em games.
Overall, NBA Playoff Betting Favorites enter these Conference Finals a collective 30-34-1 ATS with that one pick ‘em game (a slumbering .469 winning rate).
Now, let’s get you the NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown chart with all 16 teams that have participated in this year’s post-season:
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 HOUSTON at #1 GOLDEN STATE – Game 1; 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let’s put things into perspective here when it comes to the Rockets and Warriors …
Golden State won 67 regular-season games plus Steve Kerr’s club is a dandy 8-2 SU (straight-up) this post-season;
Houston won 56 regular-season games plus Kevin McHale’s crew is 8-4 SU in these playoffs.
Now consider the Warriors swept the season’s series against the Rockets four-games-to-love but – even if G-State had been swept by Houston – the Bay Area gang still would have beaten out the Rockets by three full games in the standings.
No wonder the Warriors are a 10-point betting favorite for Game 1 of these Western Conference Finals (and a heavy-duty series fav, to boot!) but keep in mind that in our game-by-game chart below of 2014-15 showdowns between Houston and Golden State the Rockets did not have the services of Howard for two of the games – but it’s hard to ignore the fact the Warriors brought out the regular-season brooms by winning by 11, 12, 25 and 13 points or a per-game scoring margin of 15.25 points per game.
Here’s the regular-season head-to-head meetings between the Rockets and the Warriors (note all home teams are in CAPS below):
|1-17||Golden St.||+ 1||HOUSTON||131-106|
|1-21||GOLDEN ST.||- 8||Houston||126-113|
Suffice to say, these Rockets are a born-again bunch following that monstrous comeback against the Clippers but they do only get one day between the end of that seven-game set and the beginning of this one while Golden State’s been idle since besting the Grizzlies last Friday night in a 108-95 triumph in Game 6.
Throw into the mix the fact that the Warriors are fairly healthy even though underrated board-banger and better-than-you-think scorer Marreese Speights (calf injury) will not suit up in this series opener while league MVP Stephen Curry comes off a 32-point game last Friday that included draining 8-of-13 trifecta attempts.
If Curry answers the bell here right from the get-go (remember he struggled in a couple of games against the Grizzlies after being handed the hardware for MVP) then the Warriors could breeze in five games here but keep in mind MVP runner-up Harden has balanced out his incredible game lately with 8 assists and 7 rebounds in that clincher versus the Clippers and beware a Rockets’ team that has received major efforts from Josh Smith and Corey Brewer who combined for 26 big points in Game 7 after putting daggers through the Clipper hearts in Game 6.
Two quickie X factor to watch beginning right here with Game 1:
The Rockets must pound the offensive glass against the size-challenged Warriors here – in Sunday’s Game 7 note Houston collected only four offensive boards and McHale is looking for more than 14 or 15 O-rebounds per night;
Finally, we could see here and rattle off all the names and pertinent stats for these two sides that have not met since the third week in January but note Golden State ranked first in the league in scoring this year (averaged 110 points per game) and we believe the guys not named Curry and G Klay Thompson need to score 55 points or more in order for the Warriors to survive and advance to their first NBA Finals since 1975.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rake in the profits in this year’s NBA Playoffs and we’ll continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all week long.
Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY
The league’s 31st annual Draft Lottery will take place Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and there’s much speculation as to whether teams that “tanked” much of their late-year games (see Philadelphia, Minnesota, New York and the Los Angeles Lakers) are gonna get rich quick with the talent atop this draft field … or is someone with an acutely small shot at getting the ping-pong balls to bounce in their favor going to snag one of the first two picks (that’s, in either order, Duke C Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns).
What the heck, let’s have some fun forecasting how this NBA Draft Lottery is gonna go down and who gets picked where – call it our “Mock Draft Lottery” with the top six picks forecasted here:
- LA LAKERS – Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke – The Lakers only have a 12 percent chance to hit the jackpot at #1 but we say the Hollywood fans get rewarded here.
- MINNESOTA – Karl-Anthony Towns, F, Kentucky – The T-Wolves have an NBA-best (worst?) 25 percent chance to get the #1 picks but they’ll be quite happy to land the second pick.
- PHILADELPHIA – Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China … The Sixers have tanked a few years in a row and still won’t get #1 or #2.
- NEW YORK – D’Angelo Russell, SG, Ohio State … So much for the Phil Jackson “master plan”!
- SACRAMENTO – Justise Winslow, F, Duke … Versatile frosh will be a major missing piece for Kings club that has just a 6 percent chance of getting the top pick.
- ORLANDO – Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona … Magic has a 9 percent shot to land the top pick and so they won’t be all that deflated here.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Here’s some miscellaneous goodies from Sunday’s MLB action …
The Kansas City Royals snagged the weekend series against the visiting New York Yankees and Sunday’s rocking-chair 6-0 win was a masterpiece by RHP Edinson Volquez who did not allow a leadoff batter to reach base in seven shutout innings that included zero walks …
The other 6-0 game on the day was Atlanta’s shutout win at Miami and this one left the Marlins “fishin’” for a new manager as Mike Redmond was canned immediately after this NL East tilt. Atlanta RHP Shelby Miller fired a no-hitter through 8.2 innings and – don’t look now – the former St. Louis Cardinal is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA and he’d be our guy to start the All-Star Game for the senior circuit if the game was this week.
NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez.