Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFFS UPDATE:
CAVS COP THE GAME 1 WIN IN
EASTERN FINALS OVER THE HAWKS PLUS WE
PREVIEW TONIGHT’S GAME 2 OF
ROCKETS-WARRIORS IN WESTERN FINALS …
POST-LOTTERY NEWS/NOTES/RUMORS …
THE BASEBALL REPORT:
QUICK-HITTER NOTES FROM WEDNESDAY’S GAMES
Remember way back when in TV-land when the question was this …
“Who shot J.R.?”
Hey, we’ve got a new take when it comes to the here-and-now NBA Playoffs – and this J.R. has nothing to do with Dallas or actor Larry Hagman or any of those 1980s television folks.
J.R. Smith – the former goofball guard of the New York Knicks (the same guy that untied opponent shoelaces at the free-throw line) – put his stamp on the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals with last night’s silly 28-point showing that featured eight – count ‘em, eight – trifectas that helped the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers best the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 in Game 1 in Hot-lanta.
Smith canned five treys in a seven-minute span bridging the third and fourth quarters as Cleveland busted open a game that had been tied 63-all and even with LeBron James’ usual 31-point/8-rebound/6-assist game it was Smith that really/truly was the major newsmaker as the Cavs broke serve right from the very start … so are we looking at a short-and-sweet series. Hmmm.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CLEVELAND 97, ATLANTA 89 – Cavaliers leads series 1-0
Just in case you didn’t think the Hawks’ Game 1 loss was bad enough – on a night when the smooth-shooting Kyle Korver managed only 9 points and the Atlanta point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder combined to go 13-of-34 (thus attempting 44 percent of Atlanta’s field-goal tries!) – there was that injury to versatile small forward DeMarre Carroll (knee) with five minutes left in the game and if there’s anything we all know about this year’s Atlanta hoops teams it’s that the sum is greater than the parts and Carroll’s injury sent shock waves through a team that wasn’t gonna be able to make up some large late-game deficit.
True, Teague finished with a team-best 27 points for the Hawks and generally was a “wash” against the aforementioned James but as we pointed out in our previous Jim Sez column, Atlanta needed a monster game from a benchwarmer and Kent Bazemore (10 points including a rollicking dunk) was good but nobody off the pine was great – and the Cavs got what was expected from James plus plenty of blue-collar board work with a 49-to-37 rebounds advantage and how about the fact Cleveland received big-time showings from “sporting role” folks such as Smith and board-banger Tristan Thomas (14 points and 10 rebs) who may well wind up being the Hack-A-Guy target the rest of the series based on a little bit we saw here in Game 1.
So, the Cavs exited Game 1 with a road win and with the knowledge that Smith could be the assassin shooter in this series that might not meet his match on the other side.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference Finals look so far between the Cavaliers and the Hawks (note home teams in CAPS below):
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 and right through the NBA Finals next month.
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!
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 HOUSTON at #1 GOLDEN STATE – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN; Warriors lead series 1-0
Can a best-of-seven series be lost in a Game #1?
Okay, the reason we’re asking that is because the Houston Rockets – a 10.5-point underdog this past Tuesday night – boasted a 49-33 lead midway through the second quarter but allowed a half-ending 21-4 run in that 110-106 loss and now you’re talking about the heavy-duty underdog Rockets having to win four of the next six games (including at least one win in Oakland still) and maybe having to do so with a sub-par/injured C Dwight Howard (knee) who played just 26 minutes in Game 1.
The Warriors – who scratched first in this series behind MVP Stephen Curry (game-high 34 points in Game 1) and key reserve G Shaun Livingstone (18 points and 7 boards) – gotta feel that they dodged a bullet in the series opener and if Howards’ not on the floor here or else limited in his side-to-side movement than you might see plenty more backdoor plays, pick-and-rolls and in-the-paint hoops from a Golden State squad that “went small” and thrived while spacing the floor and allowing Curry and Company freedom to penetrate with great effectiveness in Game 1.
Now, here’s a look at how this series has gone between the Rockets and the Warriors (home teams in CAPS):
Now, let’s get you the up-to-date NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown chart with the still-alive teams listed below:
NBA POST-LOTTERY LOWDOWN
Lots of commentary in the hours after this past Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery in which the Minnesota Timberwolves became the first team in 11 years that copped the numero uno pick after finishing the regular season with the worst record (kind of makes you think the whole lottery idea is more than a bit flawed then, right?) while the Los Angeles Lakers were the other big winner while landing the #2 draft pick despite entering the proceedings with a mere 11 percent chance to get in at #1.
The Lakers will take the “leftover” here between Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns but if you believe some of the rumors/rumblings, than both Philadelphia at #3 and the New York Knicks at #4 might well be trading down although the Knicks are said to be hot for Ohio State lefty G D’Angelo Russell whom GM Phil Jackson personally scouted in one game this past winter. Put it this way: If the 76ers grab Russell at #3, than the Knicks will look to trade down – simple as that.
One major X-factor – where do this year’s foreign-born players fit and will they go before the likes of Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and/or Duke’s Justise Winslow?
One radio voice that weighed in the day after the Draft Lottery said Latvia’s 6-foot-11 Kristaps Porzingis (a/k/a “Zinger) could be a top five candidate and so that might shove everyone else down one spot or more come the June 27th Draft.
Finally, if you’re looking for someone’s stock to rise into the Lottery portion of the draft (that’s picks 1-thru-14) then consider Notre Dame PG Jerian Grant who played a bunch of future pros this past season. Grant could be a real nice get for the Indiana Pacers at #11.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Here’s some of the news/notes from Wednesday’s action …
It’s been a tough week for Milwaukee Brewers CF Carlos Gomez who was beaned by New York Mets’ rookie RHP Noah Syndergaard last Sunday at Citi Field and then last night was plunked on the right arm in that 5-3 loss in Detroit. Note that Gomez has hit safely in 19 of his last 22 games but if this hot-tempered leadoff hitter gets drilled any time soon, it could be brawl city …
The Texas Rangers have been scrambling for starting pitchers this year and last night rookie Phil Klein – who pitched out of the pen in his last 23 minor-league appearances – threw 5.1 innings of one-run, one-walk ball in a 2-1 victory over the host Boston Red Sox. Note Klein and the Rangers’ bullpen held #2-3-4 hitters Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez to a combined 0-for-10 with three walks …
Finally, fun stat line of the night:
San Francisco 1B Buster Posey (a triple shy of the cycle) and SS Brandon Crawford (the grand slam hero of last year’s National League Wild Card Game win in Pittsburgh) combined to get six of the Giants’ seven hits in last night’s 4-0 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Don’t look now but Posey has 21 RBI and Crawford has a team-leading 26 ribbies while normally batting out of the eighth spot in the lineup.