Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THERE’S MORE NBA PLAYOFF GOODIES!
WARRIORS GO UP TWO-ZIP IN THE WEST BUT THEY SURE
ARE COSTING THEIR BACKERS LOTS OF $$$ …
PLUS A CAVS-HAWKS GAME 2 PREVIEW …
THE BASEBALL REPORT:
WHAT-TO-WATCH ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND
INCLUDING A KEY CARDS-ROYALS SHOWDOWN
A not-so-funny thing is happening to the Golden State Warriors seemingly now on their way to the NBA Finals … they’re costing their “financial backers” lots of cool, hard cash!
Last night’s thrill-a-minute Game 2 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals – a 99-98 non-cover win by the 10-point favorite Warriors over the Houston Rockets – wound up being the fifth time in seven home playoff games this spring that G-State failed to cover the Las Vegas number (the second straight time it’s happened this series – see accompanying chart below) and so you might be asking yourself at this late stage of the post-season whether or not the Warriors have been “overrated” or “overpriced” by the smart guys/gals in the desert or maybe it’s simply a case of the West’s top seed having that proverbial bulls-eye on its back night-in and night-out.
The Warriors are indeed the “hunted” these days and – at times – they are prone to making some colossal mistakes such as registering 17 turnovers in Game 2 but the bottom line is the Vegas folks keep posting some rich numbers in Oakland and Steve Kerr’s club just can’t cash. Now wouldn’t it be something if Golden State wound up winning its first NBA championship since 1975 and didn’t bang out a .500-or-better spread mark along the way?
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 GOLDEN STATE 99, #2 HOUSTON 98 – Warriors lead series 2-0
Okay, so let’s not “bury the lead” any longer and that’s the game’s final possession when the Rockets’ James Harden stormed down the center of the court off a Warriors missed shot with just 7 seconds left in the game. Harden dribbled into a double-team of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, quickly flipped a pass at the top of the key to an unsuspecting Dwight Howard and then received the ball right back only to stumble and bumble a dribble without getting off a final shot.
Following the game, ESPN analysts Doug Collins and Jalen Rose agreed Harden/the Rockets should have called a time out there with approximately 3.8 seconds left but Houston head coach Kevin McHale later said in the presser he liked the fact Harden (38 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists) was heading “downhill” and didn’t second-guess the non-time out move. The problem with the play is both Thompson and Curry were wise-as-owls to stay on Harden throughout and they sealed his path from both ends – we’re not sure he even could have driven to the “cup” and so simply chalk it up to sound defensive play and some butterfingers by Harden who has become absolutely impossible to guard with his step-back jumpers, Euro-steps to the hoops and various other moves.
No doubt the Rockets – buoyed by the return of C Dwight Howard (19 points and 17 rebounds) – needed something from a “third wheel” but mid-season acquisition Josh Smith was awful while canning just 5-of-17 field-goal attempts.
On the flip side, Curry (33 points including five triples) was amazing but “Splash Brother” Thompson not so much with just 13 points on 15 FG tries but just as reserve G Shaun Livingstone was the Game 1 X-factor, here in Game 2 a flu-ridden Andrew Bogut (14 points, 8 boards and 5 big blocks) had his share of magical moments … just not enough of ‘em to cover that hefty price tag.
See ‘ya for Game 3 in Houston come Saturday night!
Now, here’s a look at how this series has gone between the Rockets and the Warriors (home teams in CAPS):
Tonight, it’s …
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 CLEVELAND at #1 ATLANTA – 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT; Cavaliers lead series 1-0
Maybe the Atlanta Hawks have a been-there, done-that mentality.
After all, the East’s top-seeded team did lose Game 1 of its last series against Washington (see 104-98 as 5.5-point favorites) and still bounced back to win that best-of-seven set in six games and so losing Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers might not shake the Hawks’ foundation.
But what about the fact – at face value – that the Hawks really don’t have anyone that can guard LeBron James who drained 12-of-26 field-goal attempts for 31 points in the series opener the other night and without DeMarre Carroll (knee) the challenge just got a whole lot bigger in how to handle “The King”.
Secondly, the Hawks need an X-factor type on their side just as J.R. Smith was for Cleveland in Game 1 as he rattled off 28 points (24 of ‘em on trifectas) here and something tells us that even Atlanta’s four All-Stars (that’s PG Jeff Teague, PF Paul Millsap, C Al Horford and SG Kyle Korver who combined for 65 points on 52 FG attempts in Game 1) are gonna need some off-the-bench help and so our crystal ball says backup point guard Dennis Schroder (2-of-10 FGs in Game 1) better inject some major energy into this tilt or else the Cavs are gonna waltz out of Philips Arena with a commanding two games-to-love lead and even a team hobbled by the season-ending shoulder injury to Kevin Love and a hurtin’ PG Kyrie Irving.
Look for the Cavs – who won the board war in Game 1 by a resounding 49-37 advantage – to send the extra man to the glass and try to wear down the Hawks with both Timofey Mozgov (11 rebounds in Game 1) and sidekick Tristan Thomas (10 boards in this series opener)
Here’s how the Eastern Conference Finals look so far between the Cavaliers and the Hawks (note home teams in CAPS below):
Extra, extra …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to pile up 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 and we’ll have plenty of winners this Memorial Day Weekend!
Now, let’s get you the up-to-date NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown chart with the still-alive teams listed below (thru games of May 21st):
THE BASEBALL REPORT
It’s true … Memorial Day Weekend is often the first time Baseball fans really take a long/hard look at the standings and here’s some things to munch on as we head into this holiday weekend …
Believe it or not, there are eight teams that are 8 games (or more) back of first place in their respective divisions and the MLB Network folks had a stat the other day claiming only eight teams out of the last 200+ that were 8-or-more games back of first place wound up winning their division and so the odds most certainly are not with the likes of Cleveland, Seattle, Texas, Oakland, Miami, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Colorado – maybe all of the above should simply hope to make a run at a wild card …
Great interleague and intrastate battle on this weekend’s docket as the St. Louis Cardinals (baseball’s best record at 27-14) trek over to play the Kansas City Royals (26-14) and two players to watch this weekend include St. Loo 3B Matt Carpenter who went just 3-for-18 in the just-completed four-game split with the New York Mets at Citi Field (with some really awful-looking hacks) while check out KC’s third sacker Mike Moustakas who went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles in the Royals 7-1 win against Cincinnati this past Wednesday. Moustakas – who also went 3-for-4 in Tuesday’s 3-0 win against the Reds – is hitting .333 and Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters his third baseman has improved more from last year to this year more than any player he’s ever seen …
Finally, fun pitching matchup to eyeball on this Friday night:
The Mets are in Pittsburgh and RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18 ERA) gets his third career start in this tile against Pirates ace righty Gerrit Cole (5-2, 2.40 ERA). Syndergaard has 11 Ks in 11.1 innings so far but must prove here he can/will pitch inside after beaning Milwaukee CF Carlos Gomez last Sunday afternoon in Queens; Cole has 53 Ks in 48.2 innings and the Pirates have won five of his last seven starts.
NOTE: Next up it’s our Memorial Day Weekend edition of Jim Sez … so don’t miss out!