Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 10:58 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFF UPDATE - CELTICS DON'T GET MAD BUT DO GET EVEN, PLUS WESTERN CONFERENCE CHIT-CHAT ...
AND THERE'S MORE NFL DRAFT ANALYSES AS WE EXAMINE THE TOP INCOMING DEFENSIVE LINEMEN INCLUDING THE VERY LIKELY TOP PICK MYLES GARRETT
When this April sports weekend was finally put to bed - and that was following Utah's rollicking 105-98 win/cover against the 5-point road underdog Los Angeles Clippers in a series-evening Game #4 late Sunday night - the NBA Playoffs had a quartet of series knotted at two games apiece and a Cleveland sweep over Indiana (although the Cavaliers won the four games by a per-game average of only four points!).
It also had a serious problem with player injuries/illnesses as the latest "casualty" was Jazz star Gordon Hayward who played only nine minutes in all in Game 4 (food poisoning) as Hayward joined the growing ranks of key NBA names that missed important post-season game time including Chicago G Rajon Rondo, Golden State star Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Clippers F Blake Griffin ... and we didn't even mention an ill Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Hey, let's hope that's it for all the injured marquee players because the rash of hurts has cast a pall over this post-season just one full week into the gig ... you tell us the Boston Celtics would have gotten their best-of-seven series with Rondo's Chicago Bulls tied at two apiece had not Chitown's lead guard gone done with a broken right thumb.
The fact of the matter is the Celtics didn't get angry but - as our Jim Sez headline suggests - did get even with Sunday's 104-95 win against the 1.5-point home dog Bulls as Brad Stevens' gritty troops shook off Rondo's sideline trip from Game 3 and roared back to knot this series behind lefty Isaiah Thomas' 33 points (whether he was palming the ball or not much of the time!).
Game 5 in Boston comes Wednesday night - now we'll see if the post-game complaints made by Chicago's head coach Fred Hoiberg regarding Thomas' handling of the ball will be heeded by the men in stripes.
Out West, meanwhile, Oklahoma City's season is on the brink of disaster come Tuesday night with Game 5 in Houston - how the Thunder self-destructed in Sunday's 113-109 loss in Game 4 was something else as OKC's Andre Roberson missed 6-of-8 free throws in a 42-second stretch of time when the Rockets intentionally fouled 'em ... why still in the game at that point, coach Billy Donovan?
NBA PLAYOFFS POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru games of Sunday, April 23)
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers are all geared up for these NBA Playoffs that continue to roll on this last week in April - so just go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day during these NBA Playoffs and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle. Remember it's not too late to sign up for the entire NBA Playoffs plus there's Major-League Baseball on tap every day!
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT
Our extensive Jim Sez NFL Draft coverage rolls on with a look at the top incoming Defensive Linemen (DEs, DTs and NTs):
MYLES GARRETT, DE, Texas A&M - Everyone's top-rated player is close to a lead-pipe cinch pick by the Cleveland Browns to start this man's NFL Draft but we'll let you know all the buzz-talk later in the week. Truth is this 6-foot-4, 274-pounder was a three-year starter in Aggie-land and wound up with 32.5 career quarterback sacks and his ultra-quick first step and long strides makes him a likely immediate impact pass rusher in a division that features QBs Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh), Joe Flacco (Baltimore) and Andy Dalton (Cincinnati). P.S., we did witness Garrett removing himself from last year's Texas Bowl loss to Kansas State and so there was a question regarding his stamina. Just sayin'!
SOLOMON THOMAS, DE, Stanford - The key words on this 6-foot-3, 273-pounder is that his game is "pro-ready" even though some in-the-know scouts believe he lacks the overall size/heft to be an effective every-down player. The Stanford defensive schemes often allowed for him to loop around a fellow D-lineman to make a play - will he be afforded such a strategy as a pro? Good bet to fall into San Francisco's laps with the #2 overall pick but we may get trade talk with some top 10 drafting teams looking to move up (possibly #8 pick Carolina?).
DEREK BARNETT, DE, Tennessee - Three-year starter for the Vols who left after a star-studded junior season that featured 13 sacks and 19 tackles for losses. Might wind up a top five pick when all the dust settles with hometown Tennessee at #5 a possibility.
JONATHAN ALLEN, DT, Alabama - Another potential top 5 or top 10 pick, this former Tide star was utilized inside and out on that always-talented D-line but some doubters don't think he'll be a major impact player in the pros as he's sometimes slow off the snap. If Allen doesn't go #4 to Jacksonville, then he could slide to bottom part of top 10.
MALIK McDOWELL, DT, Michigan State - Monstrous interior defender (he's listed at 6-foot-, 297 pounds, give or take a cheeseburger) that did see some action in '16 as a defensive end. McDowell, truthfully, regressed a bit last year after a super sophomore season but he's still top-20 worthy ... might climb to #16 with Baltimore.
TACO CHARLETON, DE, Michigan - Another Big 10 stud, this 6-foot-6, 278-pounder sports powerful upper body and some scouts have compared favorably to former New York Giants/Oakland Raiders star Justin Tuck. Hey, might actually go to Raiders with pick #24.
NOTE: Our next - and final - NFL Draft position-by-position look is the Quarterbacks and then we'll get you our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft just in time for Thursday's big draft day.