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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Are we gonna have any series upsets in this opening round of NBA Playoff action?

No doubt there's been life breathed into a couple of Eastern Conference series with Philadelphia snagging a game at short-handed Chicago and Boston grinding out its "get-even" Game #2 win in Atlanta two nights ago and it sure looks like the Western Conference set between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies - now tied at a game apiece following the 105-98 win/cover by 6 ½-point fav Memphis last night - is gonna be a slugfest that could go the distance but how about this evening's action?

Both the New York Knicks - who these days qualify as a modern-day hoops soap opera while down two games-to-none against mighty Miami - and the defending champion Dallas Mavericks (who have plenty excellent ball but can't catch a break while down 2-0) are in those hold-serve-or-else games tonight and so we'll preview both key Game #3 tilts in a moment in this edition of Jim Sez plus we'll bring you some Major-League Baseball goodies too and so let's get this party started!


Tonight in the Eastern Conference, it's ...
#2 MIAMI at #7 NEW YORK - Heat leads series 2-0
Here's a thought: Maybe the self-inflicted left-hand wound to Knicks F/C Amar'e Stoudemire will be that proverbial blessing-in-disguise when you consider that Mike Woodson's club has lost the first two games of this best-of-seven set by 33 and 10 points, respectively, and ball movement has not exactly been a New York strong point.

Now, the Knicks will go without Stoudemire for this game and any other tilts this series but hope that Carmelo Anthony (a game-high 30 points in Game #2 after a horrible 3-of-15 shooting performance in Game #1) can shake off those double-teams and get to the hoop for 30-plus points here.

Okay, so that doesn't solve the Knicks' other woes like how to stop the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who teamed up for 65 points in Game #2 and are playing with a world of confidence. If the Heat keep getting unchallenged shots at the hoop that this will be "broom city" (and that would mark the second straight year the Knicks were swept!) and so look for Woodson and his staff to pull back minutes for defensive liability Landry Fields while trusting J.R. Smith to be effective when guarding either James or Wade ... good luck, J.R.
Tonight in the Western Conference, it's ...
#2 OKLAHOMA CITY at #7 DALLAS - Thunder leads series 2-0
The Mavericks have "gotten the cash" in both of the games so far this series but Rick Carlisle's crew has come up a collective four points short on the scoreboard and so now it's do-or-die time for Dallas which shot a wobbly 5-of-23 from beyond the arc in that 102-99 Game #2 loss-but-cover. If the Mavs cannot drill it better from trey-land - and we're talking to you, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry (a combined 3-of-12 from downtown) - in tonight's clash than Okie City will be in that driver's seat en route to an expected run to the NBA Finals.

Note that Oklahoma City must bang the offensive glass here (only five offensive rebs in Game #2 and just six second-chance points) and not leave it all up to the perimeter jumpers of Kevin Durant and PG Kevin Westbrook (a combined 55 points in Game #2). A major key here is how the likes of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and reserve Nick Collison crash the offensive boards here - if they do at all!

Okay, let's get you a key reminder but first a note that NBA Playoff Betting Favorites enter tonight's games at 10-7 ATS (against the spread) for a .589 winning rate - we'll keep you posted and have the individual spread records in the next few days right here at Jim Sez.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will prove once again to be the champions of the NBA Playoffs as they continue to shine this post-season and remember the playoffs will run straight through the end of June plus there are loads of winners this 2012 Major-League Baseball season too and so sign up today and get it all - Hoops and Baseball every day and nights! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.


Okay, so we forgive you for not realizing that there are at least a couple of true under-the-radar star hurlers out there in both the National and American League these days and how about a "hats off" to these two fellows:

WANDY RODRIGUEZ, Houston - Did you know that the Astros may hold the key to this year's NL/AL pennant races based on the fact that Rodriguez could get shipped to a contender come July/August? So far the classy lefty is 3-2 with a tidy 1.64 ERA following Wednesday afternoon's easy-as-pie 8-1 home win against the New York Mets as Rodriguez threw 65 of his 90 pitches for strikes while allowing one run on six hits in seven brilliant innings of work.

Note that Rodriguez has won his last three starts - he bested Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Dodgers in his prior two outings - and go back to the start of 2010 and note only Philadelphia's Roy Halladay sports a better ERA among NL starters during this time ... for real!

CHRIS SALE, Chicago White Sox - Don't look now but this Pale Hose star-in-the-making is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA this year following Tuesday night's 7-2 win against Cleveland when he surrendered just one run with three hits and one walk over six innings. Sale - a righty who is slated to start Sunday in Detroit - throws strikes and isn't afraid of contact (just like the aforementioned Rodriguez) and quickly has become the ace of a White Sox staff without LHP Mark Buehrle (Miami Marlins) for the first time in a decade. Sale may be under-the-radar stuff but we've sat up and taken notice of 'em.

Los Angeles Angels RHP Jered Weaver (now 4-0) may not be under-the-radar material but he gets the salute of the night for his no-hitter in a 9-0 wipeout of the Minnesota Twins but how about the fact Weaver will face the Twins in Minny in his next start on Monday? Now, wouldn't that be something to throw back-to-back no-no's against the same team - and don't think it couldn't possibly happen with this crummy Twins lineup!

NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez!

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