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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 13, 2016 at 11:26 AM



Talk about a playoff series that's had a little bit of everything ... and a whole lotta drama:

The Toronto Raptors and the 4.5-point favored Miami Heat duke it out this evening in South Beach in a Game 6 of this Eastern Conference semifinal round set and - Oh, Canada - the North-of-the-Border troops could make it to a conference finals for the first time ever.

BTW, Can you believe that the Raptors are just 2-7 all-time in playoff series since they came into NBA existence back in 1995?

We'll get back to them in a moment but first it's time to salute the Oklahoma City Thunder - yes, a 2.5-to-1 betting underdog in its just-completed six-game series win against the San Antonio Spurs -- and let's just say OKC didn't let its collective foot off San Ant's throats following that 55-31 halftime lead. Maybe the Spurs indeed grew old before our eyes - and gotta admit it wasn't the greatest series for San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich who didn't get his starters back into the game quickly enough after things went haywire right there in the first quarter ... what exactly was he thinking?

As it turned out, that Okie City star power tandem of Kevin Durant (37 points) and Russell Westbrook (28 points) helped to demolish the Spurs in last night's rollicking 113-99 victory and even a 19-point "goodbye" game by Tim Duncan wasn't nearly enough to save the five-time champs.

Here's how the playoff series went between the Spurs and the Thunder (home teams are in CAPS):

4-30SAN ANTONIO- 6.5Okla City124-92
5-2Okla City+ 7SAN ANTONIO98-97
5-6San Antonio- 2.5OKLA CITY100-96
5-8OKLA CITY- 2San Antonio111-97
5-10Okla City+ 7SAN ANTONIO 95-91
5-12OKLA CITYPKSan Antonio113-99

Meanwhile, back to that lone series in the East that may or may not be completed tonight ...

If Toronto G DeMar DeRozan (who matched his playoff high with 34 points in Wednesday's 99-91 win/cover as 5-point betting favorites), fellow G Kyle Lowry (25 points in Game 5) and the rest of these Raptors are gonna make franchise history tonight, then it's likely that dynamic duo is gonna be needing a third scorer and may we nominate reserve F Terrence Ross who scored a combined 29 points in the first two games of this best-of-seven series and has been a bit silent ever since.

On the flip side, Miami legend Dwyane Wade - who's finally said "I'm sorry" for continuing to take warm-up shots during the Canadian national anthem prior to that last Heat home game - may be starting to run on empty. True, Wade poured in 20 points in Game 5 the other night but it was really G Goran Dragic who energized Miami when it cut into a 20-point first-half deficit and dragged the Heat within 10 points by halftime. Still, will Miami get anything from now-injured Luol Deng who suffered a wrist injury when he collided with some dopey cameraman that sit way too close to the floor?

Can you believe that Deng injury could be the death blow to the Heat here or possibly in Game 7 ... what the hell are those camera people doing so close to the end line?

Here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Raptors and the Heat (and note all home teams are in CAPS):

5-3Miami+ 4TORONTO102-96 (ot)
5-5TORONTO- 5Miami96-92 (ot)
5-7Toronto+ 5.5MIAMI95-91
5-9MIAMI- 4.5Toronto94-87 (ot)
5-11TORONTO- 5Miami99-91

Now, here's an up-to-date look at the NBA Playoffs Pointspread Standings (thru the games of Thursday, May 12). Note we're featuring only the teams that played in - or are playing in - second-round action here:

Golden State730.700
Oklahoma City740.636
San Antonio550.500

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 head towards the Conference Championships. 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!


Now that Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer has added his name to that short list of folks who've struck out 20 batters in a nine-inning game - to go along with Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson - it got us to wondering who might be next.

Heck, keep in mind that all five of these 20-K games have happened in the last 30 years - Clemens struck out 20 batters in a game in both 1986 and 1996 - and with the advent of more strikeout pitchers and hitters striking out at record paces, you do get the sense that sooner rather than later we'll be able to add another 20-K pitcher (or two) to this list.
Here's three names we'll toss your way for consideration:

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets - The blond flamethrower has 55 Ks in 46.1 innings this year (to say nothing of two home runs in the one game in Los Angeles the other night) and when this kid is "on" he's hell-on-wheels and quite capable of someday soon throwing a 20-K game.

Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami - You might question this Marlins' pitcher in terms of year-to-year durability as he's been hurt for chunks of his young career but no doubt that Fernandez could be a 20-K guy (right now he has 58 strikeouts in 40.2 innings) and when his wicked curve is working he's as good as any of those hyped Mets pitchers.

Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland - And you thought we'd say Los Angeles Dodgers legend LHP Clayton Kershaw after he struck out 13 batters in last night's 5-0 masterpiece, complete-game win against the New York Mets but noooooo ... let's give a nod to the oft-unrecognized Salazar who has 53 Ks in 42.2 innings this year and is capable of tying hitters up in knots. Yes, 20 Ks in one game is no easy task as we've seen over the years, but we give Salazar a shot (see 10 Ks in 5 innings in his recent start against Houston).

NOTE: Stay with us all month long for NBA Playoff Previews/News/Notes plus all the Major-League Baseball Updates too!

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