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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM

When the curtain closed on the Sunday night action in the NBA - a day in which both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers copped key wins inside the Staples Center - the standings still had a very much muddled look to 'em with San Antonio holding both a half-game lead and the all-important tie-breaker against Oklahoma City in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference plus there were the Lakers a half-game ahead of the Clips for that third seed but what about that three-way fight for the eighth and final playoff berth out West?

For anyone out there that believed in the Houston Rockets (32-31) take note that Kevin McHale's crew now has lost six in a row following Sunday's 97-88 setback at 5-point fav Miami while both Utah (33-30) and Phoenix (also 33-30) have a major head-to-head showdown on Tuesday night that very likely will be a steel-cage match of sorts to decide who gets the right to play the eventual #1 seed.

In the East, the Philadelphia 76ers can wrap up a playoff berth with a Monday night road win in New Jersey (the last home game for the Nets before moving to Brooklyn next season) and so Doug Collins' club should get "mission accomplished" here but how about Sunday's clutch 113-112 defense-optional win by the New York Knicks at 2 ½-point fav Atlanta? The only question is whether the Knicks really should have lost so that they instead might draw Chicago instead of Miami in Round One of this weekend's NBA Playoffs.

Wonder how many times Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson rolled that one around in his head?

Hey, you know how the NBA and television folks like to say that "if the season ended today the matchups would be" ...

Well, forgive us for salivating but we'll love to eyeball first-round series such as LA Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks - now that would be a blast with the winner than likely drawing Oklahoma City in Round II.

Bring it on, already, pro hoopsters. Bring it on!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock this 2012 Major-League Baseball season and remember there's still a week of NBA Regular-Season Winners too this spring and so sign up today and 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/nightly winners. Remember the NBA Playoffs begin next Saturday and you can sign up today for all the winnin' hoops action right through June.  



Our official NFL Draft coverage at Jim Sez continues here as we bring you our position-by-position analyses - now here it's the top Quarterbacks. Note that we will have our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft Preview this Wednesday. The NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City beginning Thursday night (shortly after 7 p.m.) and running through Saturday.

Now, here's the top QBs ...

ANDREW LUCK, STANFORD - Now that the Indianapolis Colts have made it public that they indeed will draft this 6-foot-4, 235-pound do-it-all slinger the question is whether or not Luck has the goods to be a big-time winner from Day One. The 2011 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year has a cannon arm and throws extremely well on the run plus his size is a major benefit - more than once in the past couple of years enemy defenders have been unable to bring him down and he's either completed a dart pass or run for big yardage and that's something Mr. Peyton Manning never could give the Colts! Luck probably reads defenses than any incoming rookie quarterback in recent memory and his sheer desire to win cannot be undersold as Stanford copped back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in school history. Heck, we still contend Luck should have won last year's Heisman Trophy but one year after throwing for 3,170 yards and 35 TDs he gets to stand up there with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as the numero uno pick in Thursday's draft and that ain't a bad honor at all!

ROBERT GRIFFIN III, BAYLOR - The Washington Redskins traded a king's ransom to acquire the second overall pick in this year's NFL Draft and they targeted this 6-foot-2, 223-pounder who snagged last year's Heisman Trophy and could be the single-most exciting player to come into this league since QB Michael Vick a decade or so ago. Note that Griffin threw for more than 6,000 yards in his three-year career in Waco and last year's stats were simply off the charts: Griffin threw for 4,293 yards with 37 TDs and just 6 INTs and he completed nearly 73 percent of his aerials in the pass-first Baylor offense. There appears to be no question that Griffin has overcome the knee injury that shortened his 2009 campaign but there is some concern that he could take too many hits while on the run with the 'Skins and so there should be a more concerted effort to keep him the pocket as much as possible even though his mobility is a major plus. P.S., has a longer arm that you might think as he can effortlessly throw it 70 yards and so don't be surprised if Washington has a bunch of tilt-the-field plays in its favor this 2012 season.

RYAN TANNEHILL, TEXAS A&M - No doubt that Luck and Griffin III will go #1-#2 in this year's NFL Draft but there's 11th-hour talk that the third signal-caller taken could land anywhere between #3 through #12 on the big board. Note that the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Tannehill surely will be that guy but whether he winds up with Cleveland at #4, Miami at #8 (that's what the smart money says) or Kansas City at #11 is the proverbial $64,000 question. Last year Tannehill - a one-time wide receiver - set school records for completions, attempts and yards passing (see 3,744 yards) en route to being a Unitas Award finalist and his accuracy and "NFL arm" makes him a potential franchise quarterback providing he continues to put polish on his game. Pro folks like 'em because he's smart and has a good feel for the game but is he ready to step right in and deliver right away?

BRANDON WEEDEN, OKLAHOMA STATE - Much is being made of the fact that the former Cowboys star slinger will be 29 years old come October but this 6-foot-4, 222-pounder insists this should not be a "red flag" come draft night. Weeden threw for 4,727 yards with 37 TDs last year in Okie State's pass-happy attack and keep in mind his club won 11 games including a Fiesta Bowl overtime affair victory against Luck and Stanford. Odds are Weeden will be picked somewhere in Round II but there is some chance that a team will trade down late in Round One and snap him up (we're thinking Miami if the Dolphins don't tab Tannehill or else possibly watch for Kansas City to trade down a dozen slots or so and make the call). Weeden's age may turn out to be less of a factor than questions of whether or not he can make the deep sideline throw.

KIRK COUSINS, MICHIGAN STATE - The four-year college player who now owns all the school record when it comes to touchdown passes and passing yards hasn't always been able to "sell himself" to critics but this brainy 6-foot-3, 215-pounder should be a late second-round pick and could wind up sitting pretty if he's tabbed by the likes of Denver (a three- or four-year backup to Peyton Manning) or maybe as the successor-in-waiting in New England for Tom Brady. No doubt that Cousins shows solid accuracy on short-to-medium routes but isn't considered a strong-armed prospect and sometimes misreads defenses badly and thus throws terrible balls. Don't count us among the folks that would draft him in the top five incoming quarterbacks but that's where he stands right now and he won't fall below the top 75 picks in all.
BROCK OSWEILER, ARIZONA STATE - Here's a real wild card player at the quarterback spot as the 6-foot-7, 242-pounder intrigues NFL teams who know his size is a major plus but keep in mind the Osweiler sports a strong and accurate arm too and isn't afraid to "challenge" teammates who might run a wrong route or dog it on a pass pattern. Odds are Osweiler - who started only 15 games in college - will last into and maybe beyond Round III but he'll probably get chosen somewhere in the top 100 picks. Good spot for him? How about as a potential challenger to Colt McCoy in Cleveland assuming the Brownies don't snag some bigger quarterback "name" in the first two rounds.

NOTE: Lots more NFL Draft coverage this week here in Jim Sez plus stay with us right through the NBA Playoffs for all the hardwood news and notes.

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