Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
OUR NBA FINALS PREVIEW IS HERE AS
FOR THE 2015 HOOPS CROWN …
PLUS BASEBALL NEWS/NOTES FEATURES
THE BEST OFFENSIVE FANTASY PLAYERS NOT
NAMED BRYCE HARPER OR NELSON CRUZ
America, your long, long, long wait is over …
The NBA Finals will tip off Thursday night in Oakland after a full seven–day hiatus and we’re here to tell you this whole shebang will be worth the wait!
The Golden State Warriors — a better–than–2–to–1 betting favorite for this best–of–seven series against the Cleveland Cavaliers (note the current price has G–State at minus 210 and Cleveland taking back plus 170 per a $100 wager) — are here after knocking out New Orleans, Memphis and Houston in a total of just 15 games while Cleveland’s searching for the city’s first championship in 51 years (see Cleveland Browns, 1964 NFL champs) after kayoing Boston, Chicago and Atlanta in just 14 total playoff games.
The $64,000 question is will this Cavs–Warriors series “go the distance” as a grand total of 18 NBA Finals have since the league began in earnest back in 1946–47 … or will hot shooting from beyond the three–point arc by one of these teams make this a short–and–sweet series?
NBA FINALS PREVIEW
#2E CLEVELAND vs. #1W GOLDEN STATE — Game 1 is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Okay, so this is the NBA Finals we were “supposed” to see when you consider the all–knowing Las Vegas folks had the Cavaliers and Warriors favored to reach this ultimate round back at the start of these NBA Playoffs — but it hasn’t always gone according to form when you consider Cleveland’s gotten this far without injured F Kevin Love (out since Game 4 of the opening–round playoff series against Boston with a shoulder injury) and Golden State’s done its part to overcome a batch of nagging injuries that’s served to shorten its bench and yet rookie head coach Steve Kerr hasn’t missed a beat.
But let’s kid ourselves …
This one is about the mega–stars as Cleveland’s LeBron James is back in a fifth consecutive NBA Finals — that really is amazing in this day–and–age, folks — while league regular–season Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry is looking to complete his dream season with a title for a franchise that hasn’t won it all in 40 years.
Roll those tapes again of Rick Barry, ladies and gents!
Suffice to say, Curry and the Warriors — the best team from season’s start to right here and right now — have been on a magical run and only once really faced any playoff heat and that’s when they trailed Memphis two games–to–one before pounding out a 101–84 win against the Grizzlies in Game 4 of that second–round series.
Now, G–State has had a week of R&R following that five–game Western Conference Finals series win against Houston and Curry (averaging a team–best 29.2 points per game this post–season) and “Splash Brother” mate Klay Thompson (Game 5 concussion and cut ear against the Rockets) likely welcomed the extra down time and ditto for the Cavaliers who needed to get James some rest and whirlpool after his body took a beating in that four–game series sweep over the top–seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
If you’re one to believe that James (averaging a team–best 27.6 ppg this post–season) and Curry are gonna be a proverbial “wash” in the scoring/assists column here — and that may well indeed be the case in this year’s NBA Finals — then it’s the supporting casts that are gonna tell the real tale and no doubt Golden State’s better/deeper with Thompson (19.7 ppg these playoffs) and F Draymond Green (14 ppg and 10.8 rebounds per game) true stars but it’s Green’s gritty/grimy defense on James and/or anyone else Kerr wants him to cover that will go a long way in determining who wins and in how many games.
No doubt the Cavaliers — who have out–boarded their opponents by 6.5 per game these playoffs — must be major forces on the glass here and that’s where the likes of C Tristan Thomas (9.9 rpg) come in as he must be a board–banger to go along with James (averaging 10.4 rpg) but someone else must help out here while going up against the likes of Green, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, a trio’s that is averaging 25 rebs per game.
Simply put, if the Cavs don’t win the battle of the glass this series and don’t get consistent 20 points–per–game performances from either/both Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith, then the Cleveland title drought likely will continue but let’s toss in two other quickie X–factors:
We trust the aforementioned Kerr who — let’s face it — already is one of the league’s premier sideline strategists but Cleveland’s first–year boss David Blatt can sabotage his own side at times (see attempted time out call earlier in these playoffs against Chicago when he didn’t have a time out to call!) and if Blatt just “costs” his club one game here, it could be curtains for the Cavs.
Finally, here’s an X–factor not getting much mention:
This is only the second year we’re back to a 2–2–1–1–1 format in the NBA Finals after we went from 1985–through–2013 with the 2–3–2 format of home/away games, so keep in mind that a Game 5 here will be played at the rowdy Oracle Arena in Oakland — so, in short, the Cavs better win one of the first two games in Golden State or else Game 5 could very well be an elimination game for the Cavs.
Spread Notes — Cleveland is 8–6 ATS (against the spread) overall in this year’s playoffs and that includes a 3–4 spread mark at home and a 5–2 ATS road mark. Golden State, meanwhile, enters these NBA Finals at 7–8 spreadwise overall this post–season while going 3–5 ATS so far at home and 4–3 ATS away.
Now, here’s the regular–season head–to–head matchups between the Cavaliers and the Warriors (note all teams are in CAPS below):
|1–9||GOLDEN ST.||– 13||Cleveland||112–94|
|2–26||CLEVELAND||– 3||Golden St.||110–99|
Here’s a little summation of the two regular–season games between the Cavaliers and the Warriors:
Jan. 9 …
GOLDEN STATE 12, CLEVELAND 94 — No LeBron James here for the visiting Cavaliers as he missed (at this point) a seventh straight game with back and knee problems and the Warriors never broke a sweat as the backcourt of Klay Thompson (24 points) and Stephen Curry (23 points) sparked Golden State which led by just six points at the half. The Warriors shot 50 percent from the floor (that’s 43–of–86) and nailed 16–of–17 free throws in the runaway home win while Cleveland’s high scorer was guard J.R. Smith who poured in a game–high 27 points while G Kyrie Irving added 23 points but on just 9–of–23 FG shooting.
Feb. 26 …
CLEVELAND 110, GOLDEN STATE 99 — The Cavs exited this tilt with 18 wins in their last 20 games as James banged home an at–the–time season–high 42 points and he chipped in 11 rebounds and 5 assists while on the flip side note that Curry shot just 5–of–17 from the floor and finished with a sub–par 18 points. Overall, the Warriors shot just 42.4 percent from the field (that’s 39–of–92) while the Cavaliers enjoyed a big night off the bench by C Tristan Thomas (12 points and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes).
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will rake in the profits in this year’s NBA Finals as we roll on big–time in this post–season — hope you’ve been with us right from the very start, folks!
Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll–free telephone # of 1–800–323–4453 each/every day of these NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors and remember to cash in too with all the Major–League Baseball winners!
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
It’s no secret that the likes of Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Seattle Mariners’ OF/DH Nelson Cruz are putting up Triple Crown–type numbers these days — but have some other key offensive stars been lost in the proverbial shuffle?
Let’s check out a few true fantasy league stars these days …
PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, Arizona Diamondbacks — All this talk about the D–Backs’ first–baseman being underrated may be true but he sure as heck is underpublicized as entering last night’s home game against the Atlanta Braves, there was “Goldy” hitting .351 (behind only Miami 2B Dee Gordon among National League batters) with 15 HRs and 43 RBI and you gotta wonder if he’s not the best right–handed hitter in the sport today that gets virtually no coast–to–coast attention. And how’s this for Goldschmidt? He sports a wild .459 on–base percentage that includes the fact he reached base seven times in Arizona’s 17–inning loss in Milwaukee last Sunday.
JASON KIPNIS, Cleveland Indians — Gotta admit that we did a real double–take when we saw the month–of–May stats for this Indians’ second baseman that featured a franchise–record 51 hits (yes, he broke “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s hit record for a month!). Throw in the fact Kipnis scored 30 runs in the month of May — he now has 70 hits and 37 runs scored for the year along with a .340 batting average and .411 on–base percentage — and note that average ranks ‘em second to a sizzling Prince Fielder (Texas Rangers) who entered Tuesday’s action batting a robust .359.
STEPHEN VOGT, Oakland A’s — Not much has gone right so far for the 2015 A’s save for winning three–of–four from the New York Yankees last weekend, but this relative no–name catch has been a major bright spot with 38 runs batted in along with a nifty .322 batting average through 149 at–bats. Vogt — who already has 11 homers and 25 walks — may not pop into your mind when you’re filling out your trusty All–Star Game ballot but believe us he’s been “killing it” for an A’s club that is dead–last in the American League West.
NOTE: Our NBA Finals Game 1 Preview — that’s Cavaliers at Warriors –– comes your way in tomorrow’s Jim Sez plus catch all our MLB News & Notes too!