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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 3:12 PM



It's (finally) true! The curtain comes down on this 2016-17 NBA regular season with this Wednesday night card - 14 games in all with the usual 8 p.m. ET and 10:35 p.m. ET game starts - and there's some juicy subplots brewing 'round the league:

The NBA Western Conference Playoff matchups are set - it's gonna be #1 Golden State vs. #8 Portland, #2 San Antonio vs. #7 Memphis and #3 Houston vs. #6 Oklahoma City - and all we'll left to discover is who gets home court advantage in the Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers series with the teams entering the final night an identical 50-31 but note the Clips own the tiebreaker after copping three-of-four games this year against the Jazz.

Utah - with or without a slightly hobbled G Gordon Hayward here - hosts San Antonio this evening; the Clippers host woe-be-gone Sacramento. Get the feeling the Jazz can't/won't beat the Clips in the post-season unless Quinn Snyder's crew owns home court? So do we!

In the East, there is some drama as Boston (52-29) needs to beat the visiting Milwaukee Bucks in order to snag the #1 seed ahead of Cleveland (the 51-30 Cavs host Toronto and all reports are that LeBron James will sit this game out) - remember Cleveland holds the tiebreaker against Boston by virtue of winning the season series three games-to-one.

Meanwhile, the battle rages for that eighth and final playoff berth with Indiana (41-40), Chicago (40-41) and Miami (40-41) scratching and clawing here at the proverbial finish line.
The evening's sked reads like this: Indiana hosts Atlanta; Chicago hosts Brooklyn; and Miami hosts Washington and keep in mind if there is a three-way tie the Pacers are the odd team out (thanks for the TNT post-game crew for clearing that up 'round 2 a.m. ET on Monday night!).

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are cashing big these days in pro hoops and we'll be rollin' with the NBA all post-season long and also with Major-League Baseball each and every day this month. 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 begin this Saturday - so make sure you sign up now for all the winning action!


Okay, so it's time to hand out our Jim Sez NBA Regular-Season Awards, so here goes …

MVP - Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
Mr. Triple Double entered Tuesday's night game in Minnesota averaging a haughty 31.9 points per game (tops in the NBA, of course) with 10.7 rebounds a game and 10.4 assists per outing and he is the one-man wrecking crew that propelled the Thunder to the #6 seed in the Western Conference playoff seedings.
2nd Place - James Harden, Houston;
3rd Place - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio

Coach of the Year - Brad Stevens, Boston
The Celtics (52-29) enter the final night of regular-season play with the inside shot at copping the Eastern Conference's numero uno seed and Stevens has his club peaking at the right time (see seven wins in last 10 games).
2nd Place - Mike D'Antoni, Houston;
3rd Place - Scott Brooks, Washington

Rookie of the Year - Dario Saric, Philadelphia
Slim pickings for this year's rookie award - we've tossed out Philly's Joel Embiid because of all the games missed with injuries -- and so must say Saric (12.8 ppg/6.3 rpg) wins by default but the kid does get high marks for steady improvement in his debut campaign.
2nd Place - Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee;
3rd Place - Marquese Chriss, Phoenix

Defensive Player of the Year - Rudy Gobert, Utah
The behemoth shot-blocker/rebounder is the major reason why the playoff-bound Jazz ranks first in the league in overall scoring defense (96.8 ppg).
2nd Place - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio;
3rd Place - Draymond Green, Golden State.

Sixth Man Award - Eric Gordon, Houston
The Rockets' guard is averaging 16.3 points per game and has ratcheted up his game after a sluggish start to the 2016-17 season.
2nd Place - Lou Williams, Houston/Los Angeles Lakers;
3rd Place - Patty Mills, San Antonio

Most Improved Player - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
The so-called "Greek Freak" is averaging 22.9 ppg and 8.8 rpg and he's canned a batch of late-game clutch shots for Jason Kidd's playoff-bound crew.
2nd Place - Myles Turner, Indiana;
3rd Place - Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Surprise Team of the Year - Houston
2nd Place - Miami;
3rd Place - Utah

NBA Disappointing Team of the Year - Minnesota
2nd Place - Charlotte;
3rd Place - New York



If you happen to be checking out the Wednesday list of "probable pitchers" than you'll note there's a couple of key names out there you may not know much about:

Take the New York Yankees' newly-named fifth-starter LHP Jordan Montgomery who beat out RHP Chad Green for the spot behind Mashahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino. No question the Yankees - now without slugging C Gary Sanchez (out for a month with a biceps injury) needs the starting rotation to pitch above/beyond expectations and Montgomery gets his first turn Wednesday afternoon at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, it's gonna be a blast seeing what Colorado Rockies' rookie LHP Kyle Freeland does for an encore following last Friday's 2-1 debut win against the Los Angeles Dodgers - note the Rockies were a major dog there at + 145. Now, Freeland - a Denver kid - goes for two in a row Wednesday afternoon against the San Diego Padres after allowing just one run on four hits with 6 Ks and 2 BBs in that jubilant win versus Dodger Blue.

Keep an eye on both young lefties today and in coming weeks - both might be wagering bargains this early part of the '17 MLB season.

NOTE: We'll have NFL Draft Reports plus there's MLB and NBA Notes too in the coming editions of Jim Sez - and don't forget the NBA Playoff Previews later this week!

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