Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 12:54 PM
IT'S GAME 4 TONIGHT IN NBA FINALS - WILL THE CAVS EVEN UP THE SERIES OR ARE THE WARRIORS GONNA HEAD BACK WEST WITH A SHOT TO WRAP IT ALL UP?
THE BASEBALL REPORT: DRAFT TALK
Contrary to what you may be hearing/reading, the biggest story heading into tonight's NBA Finals Game 4 tilt between the visiting Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers isn't whether or not Cavs' F Kevin Love starts here after sitting out Game 3 with a concussion - by late last night it seemed pretty certain Love was gonna get cleared and play here but we imagine he'll come off the bench - but instead whether the Eastern Conference champs have enough in their tank to knot up this best-of-seven series after handing the reigning champs their biggest setback of this post-season.
True, the 120-90 runaway win by Cleveland this past Wednesday night featured sticky-fingered defense and mega-monster outings by the likes of LeBron James (32 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists), Kyrie Irving (see 30 points and 8 assists) and Tristan Thomas' 13 boards and, of course, no Love in the lineup.
But in case this had not been brought to your attention, note that the Warriors have followed up their post-season setbacks this spring by going 4-1 SU (straight-up) and 4-1 ATS (against the spread) and so we'd call those "healthy responses" to playoff losses, eh?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep banging out winners in this year's NBA Finals like in game 3 Wednesday Night! Go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day of these NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (Game 4 is Friday night at 9 p.m. ET) and cash in once again. Plus get all the Major-League Baseball winners every day when you check with us ... America's #1 Handicapper is gonna stay hot all month long!
NBA FINALS - Game 4
GOLDEN STATE at CLEVELAND - Warriors lead series 2-1; 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Let's cut right to the proverbial chase here and expect something better than a 19-4 first-quarter deficit/hole for the G-State Warriors. Remember that Cleveland truly rattled the defending champs the other night en route to a 9-0 start that had Warriors' coach Steve Kerr calling a quickie timeout and looking very much puzzled ... whether Richard Jefferson starts here or not (again, we say he does over Love) the real question is whether the "Splash Brothers" decide to show up early on.
Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry scored a grand total of two points in the first half of that Game 3 loss - Curry finished with a very quiet 19 points - plus he was beaten badly on a couple of back-door plays while Klay Thompson was MIA with just 10 points in 31 minutes of play.
Prediction here: Curry and Thompson will attempt at least 25 shots between 'em in the first half of this Game 4 as Golden State's expected strategy is to drag Draymond Green and/or Andrew Bogut to the top of the key and force the Cavs to play pick-and-roll defense way out there. If James and mates can't get in the vicinity of Curry and Thompson, then those fellas will be hoisting up some long balls and then it's just a matter of whether those "3's" go down or not.
One other key strategy to check out here - from beginning of the game to end - and that's what will Golden State's reserves contribute here?
They were dynamite in the opening two games of these NBA Finals - when the Warriors won by a combined 48 points - but G Shaun Livingston (5 points in 20 minutes in Game 3) was a major no-show in that last game and we keep waiting for F Marreese Speights to be a diff-maker with his long-range shooting skills ... if the Golden State bench is average or below-average here, well, then you're probably eye-balling a Game 4 win/cover for the 2-point favorite Cavs. Got it?
Now, here's the Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals series in game chart form (all home teams are in CAPS below):
|6-2||GOLDEN ST.||- 6||Cleveland||104-89|
|6-5||GOLDEN ST||- 6||Cleveland||110-77|
|6-8||CLEVELAND||- 2||Golden St||120-90|
THE BASEBALL REPORT
The annual MLB Player Draft - or whatever they are calling it these days - was a major newsmaker on Thursday with the Philadelphia Phillies spending the first overall pick on OF Mickey Moniak who insiders claim was no better than the fifth overall talent in this draft. Moniak is just 18 years old and a long way from being a star in the "bigs" but we'll warn you Jim Sez readers there were two players snapped up in the top 10 picks worth watching in the immediate days ahead:
The Oakland A's selected LHP A.J. Puk from the University of Florida with the sixth overall choice and this kid could bloom quickly despite a shaky spring and some reports of back spasms. Hey, isn't it time for the A's to catch a break one of these days?;
We'll also be interested in what happens with RHP Matt Manning of Sheldon H.S. in California. Manning's 6-foot-6 and throws consistently in the mid-90s and could be on the big team by 2017 (and he's the son of former NBAer Rich Manning). If this Manning blooms quickly to go along with current kid star RHP Michael Fulmer (6-1, 2.83 ERA and 1.17 WHIP) and RHP Matt Boyd (17 Ks in 21 IP), the Motowners may have the makings of a rotation that could rock the American League Central for years to come.
NOTE: There's more NBA Finals coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez!