Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 10:10 AM
THE NBA REPORT - IT'S SPURS-WARRIORS TONIGHT IN MONSTER MATCHUP OUT WEST
PLUS OUR JIM SEZ NFL DRAFT REPORT GETS ALL REVVED UP WITH A LOOK AT THE TOP RUNNING BACKS
Let's face it ...There's really only been one major story in the NBA this whole 2015-16 campaign and that's whether or not the defending champion Golden State Warriors are gonna tie or beat the record of the 72-10 Chicago Bulls from back in 1995-96.
Well, following Tuesday's 124-117 overtime home loss versus 14.5-point underdog Minnesota - say what! - the 69-and-9 Warriors now have very little wiggle room with the final four regular-season games at hand including a pair of tilts with the mighty San Antonio Spurs (home tonight and then at San Ant on Sunday) along with a road game at Memphis this Saturday and a home game against Memphis next Wednesday.
You gonna get "mission accomplished", Golden State, or not?
Tonight, it's ...
SAN ANTONIO (65-12) at GOLDEN STATE (69-9) - 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT
Better believe that the "pressure" trying to tie or beat that aforementioned Bulls' record from 20 years ago is wearing on this Warriors squad - heck, Golden State's chatty F Draymond Green said as much following his squad's second home loss within the past week.
Green's comments pretty much summed up what Golden State head coach Steve Kerr and this veteran team has been hinting at for weeks now and that's let get this record thing - one way or the other - outta the way so the Warriors can concentrate their complete efforts/energies on winning a second straight NBA championship.
The one thing you wonder about is whether or not G-State has gotten mentally exhausted along the way and tonight will be a good indication as to whether the Warriors are on their "A game" with this high-profile tilt against the Spurs at always-noisy Oracle Arena.
Keep in mind that the Spurs - who basically have been playing "second fiddle" to the Warriors since this season started - have really been a beneath-the-radar team despite playing .844 ball and did you realize that Gregg Popovich's crew ranks first in the league in team defense (allowing 92.5 ppg) and only sports two players averaging better than 12 points a game ... that's Kawhi Leonard (21.1 ppg) and LaMarcus Aldridge (18.1 ppg).
True, it may not be your big brother's Spurs but Tim Duncan and Tony Parker still have important roles on this team and they'll be key performers in tonight's bash in Oakland.
Meanwhile, don't expect Warriors mega-star and two-time-MVP-to-be G Stephen Curry (30 ppg) to get too many standstill open jumpers here as San Antonio's strategy is to get out on the perimeter shooters and make 'em (also Klay Thompson, 22.5 ppg) very uncomfortable as often as possible.
If San Antonio holds G-State to 35 percent or less shooting from downtown, the Spurs will win here.
Spread Notes - San Antonio has covered six of the last eight head-to-head showdowns against Golden State. Overall, the Spurs are 43-34 ATS (against the spread) this year for a .558 winning rate while Golden State's 42-34-2 versus the vig this season (that's a .553 winning percentage)
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers finally have put a capper on the College Basketball Season and so now it's time to cash in big with the NBA and Major-League Baseball each and every day. Just go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle.
Remember: The NBA Playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 16th.
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT
Here begins our NFL Draft position-by-position look at who we see as the top players for the upcoming (April 28th-30th) draft:
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, Ohio State - This 6-foot, 225-pounder figures to go somewhere inside the top 10 picks and is considered head-and-shoulder pads better than any other RB in this man's draft. Needs to sharpen his skills as a pass-catcher but he's extremely physical and willing/able to carry it 25-plus times per game. Early-bird draft forecast is that new San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly could well make him a centerpiece player for this Niners' offense with the 7th overall pick.
DERRICK HENRY, Alabama - The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner has the size (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) to withstand the week-to-week pounding in the NFL but some folks wonder if he's just a three-yards-and-cloud-of-dust runner or will he have explosiveness on this next level. Could be sitting there with NFC champion Carolina's late-first round pick at #31 ... hmmm.
KENNETH DIXON, Louisiana Tech - This multi-purpose back accounted for 72 rushing TDs and 15 receiving scores in his oft unsung career and figures to be a mid-second round selection later this month. At 5-foot-10, 215 pounds some teams might consider him best utilized as a third-down back. Might look good as a member of the Detroit Lions.
DEVONTAE BOOKER, Utah - No doubt this Pac-12 star has dropped a bit in the draft rankings after suffering a season-ending knee injury last November. At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Booker is a compact runner who is adept at breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage but there's questions regarding "breakaway" speed. Look for him to go middle-to-late Round 2 with Washington a distinct landing spot.
ALEX COLLINS, Arkansas - Borderline second-round pick who busted free for 1,577 yards and 20 TDs last year. Some scouts believe Collins "runs tall" and thus is an easier target to hit. Like 'em to go late second round with aforementioned Carolina in the mix (if they don't draft a running back in Round One) or maybe New England will dip into the running back pool with its first draft pick (remember the Pats forfeited first-round pick).
Note: More NFL Draft coverage goodies in the next few editions of Jim Sez plus lots of NBA and MLB News & Notes too.