Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 1:06 PM
THE NBA IS BACK!
IT'S BULLS-CAVS, SPURS-CLIPPERS IN THURSDAY NITE TNT TWIN-BILL PLUS UP-TO-THE-MINUTE POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
THE COLLEGE ROUND-BALL UPDATE: HERE'S A COUPLE OF NON-TOP 25 POWER CONFERENCE TEAMS THAT DESERVE YOUR HOOPS ATTENTION
Quick: What NBA team(s) are gonna rise-and-shine in the unofficial second half of this 2015-16 campaign?
Well, we all know that the first half of this here-and-now NBA season belonged to the Golden State Warriors (48-4) and the San Antonio Spurs (45-8) and so forgive us for looking ahead at the three remaining meetings between these teams - that's March 19th, April 7th and April 10th after G-State copped the lone showdown between these two powerhouses 120-90 back on Jan. 25th in Oakland. Yes, the Spurs chucked in the "white towel" early in that one, folks!
Meanwhile, the Spurs are one of six NBA teams to "welcome back" pro hoops action following last week's All-Star Game in Toronto - don't forget there's a makeup game tonight between the Utah Jazz at the Washington Wizards (7 p.m. ET) following a late January snow postponement in/around D.C. - and so let's get to this evening's TNT doubleheader:
Tonight, it's ...
CHICAGO (27-25) at CLEVELAND (38-14) - 8:05 p.m. ET, TNT
When we last left these two franchises, they were heading in opposite directions - the Cavs entered the break on a three-game SU (straight-up) winning streak and the Bulls were losers of four in a row (and seven of their last 10 contests) and things could well go from bad-to-worse for the Chitowners still without injured All-Star Jimmy Butler (22.4 ppg) and so where does Fred Hoiberg's crew pick up the scoring slack?
Well, it would make sense for the Bulls to try and drain the shot clock some here and "shorten" this game against LeBron James (25 ppg and 6.5 apg) and friends but if the underdogs are gonna make things interesting here than getting in the grill of playmaker Kyrie Irving is key ... expect Hoiberg to throw several different players at Irving and look to wear 'em down in his 30-or-so minutes of play. The X-factor for the Bulls is three-point specialist Doug McDermott (42.4 percent from beyond the arc) - you'll see!
Hey, the Bulls need an absolute stat-sheet stuffing night from C Pau Gasol who could rescue the Bulls if Butler's out longer than the prescribed three weeks.
SAN ANTONIO (45-8) at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (35-18) - 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT
How about the fact the aforementioned San Ant Spurs top the league in pointspread winning percentage as we can plainly see from our Pointspread Chart below? Wow, Gregg Popovich's crew is winning nearly 65 percent of its spread verdicts and that's often while laying hefty home prices, so kudos to the Alamo City gang and do keep in mind that San Antonio enters this late-night tilt on a six-game SU winning streak!
The Spurs would love to kick-start the post-All-Star Game break with another "W" in SoCal - and don't expect "Pop" to change his ways as leading scorer Kawhi Leonard (20.2 ppg) will get plenty of opportunities to run-and-jump in this game while the old, savvy vets named Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will be happy with 25-to-30 minutes of "run" time and that means folks such as G Patty Mills (17 points, 7 assists and 6 boards in a win against Orlando last week) will look to ruin the Clippers' evening. The $64,000 question is what exactly will the Clippers' team look like after the 3 p.m. ET Trade Deadline passes ... hmmm.
THE 2015-16 NBA POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
It's interesting to note the one-two punch of San Antonio and Golden State are a combined 64-39-2 ATS (against the spread) so far in this NBA season - a sizzling .621 winning rate - and hats off to Denver, Boston and Orlando for better-than-you-would-expect pointspread records.
The biggest losers are the Bulls who have been money-burners so far but how come Houston (.418) and Cleveland (.471) are not any better than this? Just wondering!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep on piling up the huge profits all this week with lots of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today!
THE COLLEGE ROUND-BALL UPDATE
This week's Associated Press Top 25 is chock full of power conference clubs (23 of 'em, in all) but in today's Jim Sez we've got stuff to say about a couple of teams that are not part of the current Top 25 but could be big-time NCAA Tournament spoilers next month:
COLORADO (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) - The Buffaloes entered Wednesday's game at USC having won seven of their last 10 tilts and Tad Boyle's bunch has proved it can win the shootouts (see 88-81 and 81-80 last week against the Washington schools) but must show they can be forces on the road where Colorado's won just twice in six tries inside the Pac-12. If the Buffs can win a couple of conference road games and/or snag a couple of wins in the Pac-12 Tournament next month, the Boulder crew should get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament (we'd have 'em on the #8 or #9 seed line right now) and they could be an upset alert type team come the Saturday/Sunday game against a #1 seed. We can see it now ... a first-weekend duel between Colorado versus Villanova in Brooklyn that could have the now top-ranked 'Cats in a real sweat.
Current RPI ranking -- #26
Key Stat - The Buffaloes' leading three-point shooter is George King who's netted 54-of-119 three-ball tries.
MICHIGAN (19-8, 9-5 Big 10) - One-fifth of this week's AP Top 25 is comprised of Big 10 teams (that's #4 Iowa, #6 Maryland, #8 Michigan State, #17 Purdue and #22 Indiana) but the maize-and-blue guys aren't currently part of the mix ... but don't dare sleep on 'em! Michigan head coach John Beilein is well-acquainted with the month of March and his team - young and often-times prone to mistakes - has shown major moxie lately as last week's comeback win against Purdue probably was the season highlight as the Wolverines registered the game's final 11 points before getting to the finish line. There's major leadership skills shown by the likes of Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin but downtown shooting of Duncan Robinson (78-of-166 treys so far, that's 47 percent) could be a real key in how "Big Blue" finishes off this current campaign. Right now our Jim Sez folks believe that Michigan would be a #7 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament and dare we suggest there's only a couple of coaches we'd take over Beilein in an NCAA Tourney game (and their names are Krzyzewski and Izzo!).
Current RPI ranking -- #54
Key Stat - The Wolverines rank a solid 34th nationally in scoring defense while yielding just 66.3 points per game.
NOTE: Lots of key weekend b-ball goodies in the next Jim Sez.