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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 9:33 AM



Did TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley have a point there the other night following Cleveland’s 123-98 romp win against Atlanta in Game 2 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series?

In case you missed it, Barkley advised his mates on the panel – from left to right, that’s Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith – and the viewing television audience that if he was a member of the Hawks than someone on the Cavaliers would have been decked.

The reason for Sir Charles’ angst: The Cavs wound up draining an NBA playoff-record 25 three-point goals and they chucked up approximately a dozen treys in the game’s final five minutes just to set the record. Cue to laughter on the bench, yada, yada, yada.

Okay, so the Hawks – down two games-to-none now while heading into tonight’s Game 3 in Atlanta – certainly have "bigger fish to fry" than worrying about whether or not someone is gonna throw a forearm at someone other than LeBron James (you know they won’t go after "The King") but you might see some feisty/physical play early on here as the Hawks look to "set the tone" but maybe the better advice is to blanket those three-point shooters and never let ’em get started in the first place… okay?

Now, here’s an up-to-date look at the NBA Playoffs Pointspread Standings (thru the games of Wednesday, May 4). Note we’re featuring only the "still-alive" teams here:

TEAM Win Loss Tie PCT
Golden State 6 1 0 .877
Cleveland 4 2 0 .667
San Antonio 4 2 0 .667
Miami 5 3 0 .625
Oklahoma City 4 3 0 .571
Atlanta 3 5 0 .375
Portland 3 5 0 .375
Toronto 2 6 0 .250

Tonight, it’s…
CLEVELAND at ATLANTA – Cavaliers lead series 2-0; 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Still rather hard to believe that Cleveland banged out 25 triples in just 45 attempts in that 25-point rout the other night but, believe it or not, the first order of business for the 2.5-point home underdog Hawks here is getting their three-point shooters hot… Atlanta canned 11 trifectas in the Game 2 loss and no doubt the likes of Kyle Korver (just 7 points in Game 2) and Kent Bazemore (a wobbly 5-point showing in 27 minutes of play in Game 2) had better rev it up from downtown here or else.

Memo to the Cavs: J.R. Smith (seven triples the other night) likely will keep shooting till James or someone else tells ’em to stop but if Cleveland is gonna charge out to a three games-to-none series lead here than we say reserves Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert must score the ball and give the Cavs an energy jolt.

Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Cavaliers and the Hawks (and note all home teams are in CAPS):

5-2 CLEVELAND -8 Atlanta 104-93
5-4 CLEVELAND -7 Atlanta 123-98

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we dig deeper and deeper into Round II. We’ll continue to rock-n-roll our way through the NBA post-season – and you can purchase Jim’s NBA Post Season program right here or call 1-888-777-4155 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.

Plus, there’s Winning Major-League Baseball on tap every day in either Jim''s Hit and Run Baseball Club or the Highly Rated Blue Ribbon Baseball Club… Don''t miss another opportunity to cash in big RIGHT NOW!

SAN ANTONIO at OKLAHOMA CITY – Series tied 1-1; approximately 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Now here’s hoping that the NBA "zebras" don’t miss another five or six calls in the closing moments of tonight’s game… geez, what a public relations nightmare for the hoops league that always loves to tell us that "basketball is the toughest sport to officiate" but the last time we looked it’s a foul when a guy leans out from out-of-bounds and shoves a defender in his chest and it’s a foul when you pull so hard on someone’s tank top shirt that it nearly comes off!

Okay, so that’s off our chests now and so let’s spend a moment examining what’s really key here:
The 2-point road favorite Spurs are trying to keep that "95-point" guide in mind here – keep Okie City to 95 points and or less and San Antonio will win (we said that prior to Game 1 of this series) and so far we’ve been correct on that calculation twice in as many games (see chart below). If the Spurs are gonna let Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get off 44 FG tries in a game (for 57 combined points in Game 2) then Gregg Popovich’s guys will be in trouble. San Antonio needs to keep that twosome to sub-40 shots and sub-50 points and then it’s a recipe for success for the silver-and-black.

Game note for the Spurs: Someone’s gonna have to step up and assist F LaMarcus Aldridge who has scored 38 and 41 points in the first two games of this best-of-seven series and our recommendation is G Tony Parker (just 3-of-9 shooting for 7 points in Game 2). Stay tuned.

Here’s how this playoff series has gone so far between the Spurs and the Thunder (and note all home teams are in CAPS):

4-30 SAN ANTONIO -6½ Oklahoma City 124-92
5-2 Oklahoma City +7 SAN ANTONIO 98-97

When it comes to the National League this year, surely it’s a case of the "haves" and the "have nots" – safe to say the likes of the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres (among others) won’t be part of this fall’s post-season party and so the reality of this here-and-now regular season is that "marquee matchup" series tend to be few and far between and so go ahead and soak in this weekend’s four-game set between the Washington Nationals (19-8) and the Chicago Cubs (20-6) who got their series off and rolling last night at Wrigley Field.

The Nats have been given new life – and no doubt new manager Dusty Baker deserves mucho credit plus it doesn’t hurt that RF Bryce Harper (10 HR) has been the baddest baseball man on the planet since Day One of this 2016 season – while the Cubs have exceeded the lofty expectations set for them. Hey, manager Joe Maddon is getting sensational play from his North Siders who entered last night’s game with a gaudy plus 93 in the runs differential category and the really bad news for divisional foes is that the Chitowners already are 13-2 versus the NL Central.

If the Nats can scratch out a split in this four-game set at Wrigley Field, than it’s mission accomplished for the D.C. crew but good luck holding off a Cubs team that already sports three guys with 20-plus runs scored (including dynamite leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler with 22) and seven players with double-digit runs batted in (including 1B Anthony Rizzo with 27 RBI). Good gracious… or should we say "holy cow"?

DON''T MISS OUT – Get Jim Hurley’s Network’s Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown TODAY and join in on the WINNING!

Note: Catch more NBA Playoff Previews/Recaps in the next edition of Jim Sez plus more MLB News & Notes.

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