Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 11:08 AM
THE NBA CONFERENCE FINALS REPORT
WARRIORS ON THE ROPES AS THUNDER GOES UP 3-1 WITH ROLLICKING 24-POINT WIN ... AND IT'S GAME 5 BETWEEN RAPTORS-CAVS TONIGHT
BASEBALL'S MID-WEEK UPDATE - TOO EARLY FOR CONTENDERS TO MAKE TRADES?
Going, going ... gone? The Golden State Warriors - once-upon-a-time the next great NBA dynasty - will be facing an elimination game come Thursday night in a home Game 5 of these Western Conference Finals and when did anyone out there in hoop-land think that would be the case when these playoffs started?
Lots to say about these Eastern and Western Finals but first, let's get you the up-to-date NBA Playoffs Pointspread Breakdown chart with the still-alive teams listed below (thru games of Tuesday, May 24th):
OKLAHOMA CITY 118, GOLDEN STATE 94 - Thunder leads series 3-1
Is the bigger story the fact that Okie City G Russell Westbrook is proving to be a modern-day reincarnation of Oscar Robertson (please google if you must!) in this series following last night's epic 36-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist game ... or the fact that Golden State has been outworked, outhustled, outcoached and outclassed some four games into this here-and-now series?
Westbrook's numbers don't even tell the whole tale - did you see 'em diving for loose balls and defending G Stephen Curry with major ferocity!! - and what about the fact that Kevin Durant's 26-point, 11-board game was "second fiddle" stuff here?
In any event, the Game 4 Warriors showed little smarts - 21 turnovers really agitated G-State head coach Steve Kerr who claimed his club "competed" (?) - and the above-mentioned Curry showed no lift and no life en route to a 6-of-20 FG game. Geez, if it wasn't for the heroic third quarter by G Klay Thompson (19 of his 26 points scored in that frame) than Golden State might have lost by 50!
Here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Warriors and the Thunder (all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-16||Okla City||+ 7.5||GOLDEN ST||108-102|
|5-18||GOLDEN ST||- 9||Okla City||118-91|
|5-22||OKLA CITY||+ 2.5||Golden St.||133-105|
|5-24||OKLA CITY||+ 2||Golden St.||118-94|
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 into 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 www.VegasSportsMasters.com 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!
Tonight, it's ...
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
TORONTO at CLEVELAND - Series tied 2-2; 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here's the good news, Raptor fans ... your team has dug itself out from a two games-to-none series hole and you're right back into the swing of things in this best-of-seven series.
The bad news ... Toronto is an ugly 2-6 SU (straight-up) and also 2-6 ATS (against the spread) away this post-season and the three losses in Cleveland this year (that's regular season and playoffs) have come by a combined 72 points.
Still, what's to lose if you're the heavy-duty underdog Toronto side here?
Note that Cleveland was a resounding 15-to-1 betting choice to win this series and now LeBron James and the Cavs are a bloated 10.5-point betting favorite for this Game 5 tilt and so just hanging in there would figure to be a major accomplishment for head coach Dwane Casey's club, right?
Well, Toronto could keep this momentum rollin' providing these three things take place:
#1 - The backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (a combined 67 points on 28-of-43 FGs) must hit on a minimum of 50 percent of their shots simply because the rest of the Raptors combined to attempt 35 field goals in that last game. These volume shooters have the green light to chuck it up once they cross half-court - but they must make sure they're on target plenty;
#2 - Toronto C Bismack Biyombo (40 rebounds in all the past two games) can't get into any sort of foul trouble because he's the main "rim protector" and we all know that James, G Kyrie Irving and friends have been a bit less anxious to go to the hole the last two outings;
#3 - There must be a true "X factor" if the underdog Raptors are gonna be in it to win it here in Game 5 and whether that means a big scoring game off the bench from someone like Terrence Ross (played just 7 minutes in Game 4) or maybe Toronto's perimeter defense will keep the Cavs' famed three-point shooting stats down (see 3-of-23 from downtown in the first half of Fame 4) it's all gonna have to stack up just right for Toronto to win - or cover - here.
Here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Raptors and the Cavaliers (home teams are in CAPS below):
THE BASEBALL MID-WEEK UPDATE
Might MLB's trade market open up sooner rather than later this year in places such as Kansas City, Texas and New York?
The fact is recent injuries to a batch of "name players" is putting a few franchises on the lookout for capable short- and/or long-term solutions:
KANSAS CITY - The loss of LF Alex Gordon (broken right hand) this past week has the defending champion Royals scurrying for help with word that the great glove man will be out at least a month. Might KayCee be interested in Cincinnati's Jay Bruce who also could play RF, 1B and a little DH too?
TEXAS - Maybe the Rangers never did think OF Josh Hamilton was gonna be an integral part of this year's team (knee surgery; out for the year) but with OF Shin-Soo Choo (hamstring) also on the DL, even with "depth" at the outfield positions you might look for this AL West squad to poke around and see if it can make a deal for Atlanta's Nick Markakis (.354 on-base percentage) or maybe the aforementioned Bruce.
NEW YORK METS - The defending NL champs will be without slugging 1B Lucas Duda for a minimum of two months (stress fracture in his back) and word is GM Sandy Alderson doesn't want to trade the farm for a solid replacement but don't be entirely shocked if NYM makes some inquiries regarding Bruce or maybe ex-Met/current Los Angeles Dodgers 3B Justin Turner.
NEW YORK YANKEES - The fading production of 1B Mark Teixeira (.193 batting average and 3 home runs while entering last night's game against Toronto) isn't making GM Brian Cashman push any panic buttons but woule he be tempted to inquire about Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto if a couple of quality minor-leaguers could be sent packing? Stay tuned.
NOTE: More NBA Playoffs News & Notes in the next Jim Sez and stay tuned for MLB, NFL and NCAA Football goodies too in the days ahead!