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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at 3:57 PM

ONLY ONE WEEK BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS BEGIN AND WE WALK YOU THRU THE FINAL DAYS OF REGULAR-SEASON PLAY

PLUS BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

The clock is tick, tick, ticking down on the final days of this here-and-now 2017-18 NBA regular season and there's still plenty of storylines and subplots on the table.
So, we're gonna spend part of today's Jim Sez column examining the biggest storylines/subplots as we approach the conclusion of this regular season on April 11th, but first this key reminder ...

Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to bash the books with basketball winners after a brilliant NCAA Tournament. So, cash in big with all our NBA winners plus there's daily/nightly Major-League Baseball winners too -- check it out right here online or 1-800-323-4453 and keep piling up the profits this spring!

 

NBA REPORT

THE EAST - First things first, and that means the battle for the conference's numero uno seed is still at stake with Toronto exiting Tuesday's 112-106 loss at Cleveland cutting the Raptors' lead to just two games against the Boston Celtics. If Toronto's gonna hang on - and you better believe the Raptors want/need that #1 seed - then winning home games against Boston, Indiana and Orlando is a must before season-ending road games at Detroit and Miami. Best guess: Toronto wins the East but it may well take a final night win in South Beach to get "mission accomplished".
There's also a spirited battle for the #3 seed with Cleveland, Philadelphia and Indiana all within two games of one another and so Friday's Cavs at Sixers showdown figures to be the most important game left in the docket for both teams - but don't sleep on the Pacers who could sneak into the top four and get home court in Round I.

THE WEST - There's no such fight for the #1 seed here as the Houston Rockets (63-15) wrapped up the conference's top spot while Golden State (57-21) is entrenched at the #2 seed and Portland - even with the recent ankle injury suffered by megastar G Damian Lilliard - is pretty well set at #3 but there's major drama between San Antonio and Utah (both teams are 45-33 while entering the Wednesday night sked) while there is a major skirmish with Oklahoma City, Minnesota, New Orleans, Denver and even the Los Angeles Clippers all in a battle royal for the remaining playoff berths ... hey, the $64,000 question is will Western Conference clubs prefer playing Houston in a second-round series or would that really rather play an oft banged-up Golden State squad?
Best head-to-head matchups these final few days of regular-season play include Thursday's Minnesota at Denver tilt to go along with Saturday's Portland at San Antonio tilt and Monday's Portland at Denver clash.

Here's some key NBA Pointspread News ...

  • Toronto is 0-9 ATS (against the spread) as it enters Wednesday's home game against Boston ...
  • New Orleans has failed to cover its last four games entering Wednesday's home bash against Memphis ...
  • Portland is 35-17-2 ATS since the early stages of this 2017-18 season ...
  • Los Angeles Clippers are 20-8-1 ATS in their last 29 road games ...
  • Minnesota is just 33-42-3 ATS this year and that includes a shoddy 5-17 spread mark away ...
  • Finally, Denver's just 2-7 spreadwise in its last nine home games


BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

Okay, so the NBA regular season only has a week to go while the 2018 Major-League Baseball season is just a week old - so is it too early to harp on a team's "run differential" category?

Perhaps but how can the Baltimore Orioles - through their first five games of this season - already be a minus 19 and that despite winning a thrilling 3-2 extra-innings affair on Opening Day? The Birds since have lost 6-2 and 7-0 to the visiting Minnesota Twins before losing 6-1 and 10-6 in the first two games of a three-game set at Houston. Ugh! That's 12 runs scored and 31 runs allowed through the first handful of games and manager Buck Showalter's squad already has jumped off the Chris Davis-batting-leadoff bit as 3B Tim Beckham assumed that role beginning with Wednesday's tilt in Houston ...

Maybe there's been no magic in the air for the Birds, but flip over to the National League West and check out these Arizona Diamondbacks: Through their first five games - that's a 4-1 start including a win against Los Angeles Dodgers' ace LHP Clayton Kershaw and a pair of one-run wins with this past Monday's 8-7 triumph over the Dodgers in 15 innings wowing the baseball world - the D-Backs are off to a rousing start while averaging 6.4 runs a game. Infielder Nick Ahmed has an on-base percentage of .526 so far (for some reason was being given back-to-back days off this week) while 'Zona has been able to rock even with superstar 1B Paul Goldschmidt hitting .071 (that's 1-for-14 at the plate) ...

Finally, it hasn't taken long for the New York fans/media to get on the case of first-year manager Aaron Boone and new DH/OF Giancarlo Stanton. The latter was booed loudly after striking out for the fifth time in Tuesday's rainy/stormy 11-4 win against Tampa Bay while Boone was roasted in the newspapers and on the internet for botching up a couple of bullpen-related moves last weekend in Toronto. Maybe "Binder" Joe Girardi wasn't so bad, right Yankee fans?

NOTE: Cash in with all the NBA winners as we head towards the playoffs and get all the NBA/MLB updates right here at Jim Sez all month long!

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