Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA FINALS REPORT:
WARRIORS CLIP CAVS 104-91
TO MOVE ONE WIN AWAY FROM THE TITLE …
THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
SCHERZER SHINES WITH 16 Ks
You have to turn the clock back to May 25, 1975 to find the last time the Golden State Warriors won an NBA championship – this here-and-now Warriors squad could be within mere hours of winning it all some 40 years later but nobody better be in a rush to engrave the team name on the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy just yet.
Okay, so Golden State's somewhat deceiving 104-91 win/cover against the 9.5-point underdog Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday evening in Game 5 of these NBA Finals did show off plenty of positive traits as regular-season MVP Stephen Curry scored 17 of his team-best 37 points in the final quarter plus the guy who should be the Finals MVP – that's Andre Iguodala – canned five big points in a matter of seconds in a storm-the-castle 31-point final frame for the Warriors.
Throw in the fact that G-State had a handful of ultra-important offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter (three of 'em by Harrison Barnes) and that Cleveland committed a slew of early-game turnovers and then missed all-too-many three-point tries after a hot start from beyond the arc and it all added up to a Warriors win … but what's gonna happen in Game 6 in Cleveland?
Here's some thoughts …
On Tuesday, it's …
GOLDEN STATE at CLEVELAND – Warriors lead series 3-2; 9:10 p.m. ET, ABC
Let's cut right to the chase and that's the overblown criticism of Cleveland head coach David Blatt for only playing C Timofey Mosgov for nine minutes in that Game 4 loss – okay, so the all-knowing ESPN analysts Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilpon (and we say that sarcastically, folks) verbally crucified the Cavaliers' boss man for shortening his rotation and "playing into Golden State's hands" but consider that Cleveland led this game by a single point with seven-plus minutes remaining following a LeBron James triple and trailed by only one point with 4:52 left.
So where exactly did the playing "small" strategy fail to work?
The reality of the situation is that Iguodala's triple made it 89-84 with 4:15 remaining and his "trick shot" hoop extended the lead to seven points moments later and then the likes of James (40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in Game 5), board-banger Tristan Thomas (19 points and 10 rebs) and others failed to grab any key defensive rebounds late but we say the "small ball" style worked well and note many of Mosgov's 28 points in Game 4 came after that Warriors' win was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered.
Gotta believe Blatt will "cave" from the criticism and play Mosgov 30-plus minutes in Game 6 here at "The Q" but then consider that takes away James' driving lanes at times and you can expect ball movement to be a bit more stagnant after there were times the Cavs really whipped the ball 'round the perimeter … who told J.R. Smith (14 points on 5-of-15 FG shooting) to shut it down after a hot start?
On the flip side, the Warriors finally received a three-ball feast from Curry – he nailed seven trifectas in all including a couple from the proverbial parking lot! – and so it should be priority #1 for the Cavs to get more physical with Curry and not allow as many downtown looks here plus Golden State must get Curry's backcourt mate Klay Thompson (12 points on 5-of-14 FG shooting in Game 5) heated up as he's been MIA since a 34-point showing in Game 2 (see 35 total points for Thompson in the last three games, in fact) and someone off the bench is gonna have to be a spark whether it's born-again flash G Leandro Barbosa (13 points in 17 minutes on Sunday night) or C David Lee who was a major plus-factor in Games 2-through-4 before playing a very quiet nine minutes the other night.
It's been a real chess match between the coaches with Golden State's Steve Kerr – under heavy criticism following Game 3 – electing to get Iguodala into the starting lineup beginning in Game 4 and sit stiff Andrew Bogut and then Blatt's counter-move to sit Mosgov for the most part and employ James as a defensive center and offensive point guard worked out better than the "experts" led you to believe.
In this elimination game, the Cavs can't allow any of those 19-to-7 scoring runs (see the end of Game 5) and must not allow that many second-chance points and/or fast-break points here – the home crowd should be an energizer factor for King James and mates but this is all-hands-on-deck time and that means a tired G Matthew Dellavedova must show up (see 5 points and 2 assists in 42 minutes of Game 5) and Cleveland must win most of those so-called 50-50 balls … or else.
We feel for 'ya, LeBron. We really do.
Now, here's the Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals series in game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):
Take note …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rake in major profits in this year's NBA Finals in Tuesday's Game 6 from Cleveland – hope you've been with us right from the very start of these pro hoop playoffs, folks, because we've absolutely cashed in big-time!
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 Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers and remember to cash in too with all the Major-League Baseball winners as Jim stays red-hot heading into summer!
THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
In case you had lost count, there were nine shutouts thrown in Major-League Baseball this past weekend but it's safe to say nobody was more dominant in a shutout win than was Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (7-5, 1.93 ERA) – it wasn't just the 16 strikeouts and the oft-times blazing 96 mph fastball against the overmatched host Milwaukee Brewers in that 4-0 Nats' triumph but the lone hit was a broken-bat bloop single in seventh inning that just barely escaped the reach of a diving 2B Anthony Rendon.
The post-game chocolate syrup bath was "awesome", said Scherzer, but wouldn't this $210 million free-agent pick-up from the Detroit Tigers have a more "awesome" record if he both received some offensive support and had better defense on his side this year?
Check out the fact that Scherzer – who has stuck out 125 batters and walked only 14 so far this year – lost 3-1 on Opening Day when Washington SS Ian Desmond betrayed him with a couple of errors in a loss to the visiting New York Mets, than there was the 4-1 home loss versus St. Louis back on April 23rd when Scherzer retired 16-of-17 Cardinals at one stretch and didn't walk a single batter in his seven-inning stint and let's not forget the handful-plus times the Nats have supplied Scherzer with fewer than three runs in a game.
The dude might be the most important pitcher in the National League this year – really, where would Washington (33-30 and one-half game back of the Mets in the National League East) – and he still could have sights set on a 20-win campaign despite all the pratfalls and pitfalls along the way.
In other MLB News & Notes …
Speaking of shutouts, how does one exactly lose a pair of 1-0 extra-inning games in the very same weekend?
Well, go ask the Philadelphia Phillies that particular question 'cause Ryne Sandberg's bunch fell 1-0 in 13 innings at Pittsburgh last Friday night and, following a painful 4-3 loss on Saturday, the Phils were 1-0 losers in 11 innings on Sunday and condolences to Philadelphia LHP Cole Hamels who sported the following stat line in that latest extra-innings, shutout loss:
No runs allowed on 4 hits with 12 K and 1 BB over seven brilliant innings and now his season ERA has been lowered to 2.96.
Please don't ask whether or not he'll still be on the Phillies come his next start – slated to be Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals – because we thought the Phils were gonna trade 'em a month ago!
Right now we'd say the teams with the "inside track" to landing Hamels are a pair of native California clubs (that's the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres) plus the aforementioned Cardinals and maybe even the now-surging Toronto Blue Jays …
Interleague play consumes MLB through Thursday night and we're really looking forward to the home-and-home two-game sets between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers – and did you realize the Rangers now rank second (to Toronto) in runs scored in the AL with 286 and some of the great stats on this Texas side include 1B Prince Fielder with a .407 on-base percentage and a team-leading 43 RBI and how about new-kid-on-the-block 3B Joey Gallo who has a .405 on-base percentage with 11 hits and 6 BB since stepping in for an injured Adrian Beltre?
It'll be fun watching Fielder and Gallo – both lefty hackers – against LHP Clayton Kershaw plus let's see if there's lots of Dodgers' long balls in the two games in Arlington.
NOTE: Remember we'll recap Game 6 of the NBA Finals in the next edition of Jim Sez plus the NBA Draft is set for Thursday, June 25th and we'll have previews/coverages all through these next two weeks plus (of course) there's more Baseball News/Notes comin' soon!