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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 2:35 PM

THE NBA PLAYOFFS ARE (FINALLY) SET -
AND WE WHET YOUR HOOPS APPETITE WITH QUICK-HITTER GLANCES AT ALL EIGHT OF THE OPENING-ROUND SERIES

On your mark, get set ... go!
The NBA Playoffs are off-and-runnin' beginning this Saturday, April 14th and whatta way to put a capper on the 2017-18 regular season as last night the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in overtime to snag that eighth/final playoff berth in the Western Conference while everyone else in both the East and the West was busy sorting out the seeding stuff ... so catch our quick-hitter looks below at all the first-round playoff series (we'll have more in-depth/comprehensive comments in the next couple editions of Jim Sez) but first this key reminder:

The NBA Playoffs is always a real blast - and this year Jim Hurley's Network is gonna rock-n-roll with a bunch of post-season b-ball winners and so make sure you're all aboard for all the playoff goodies. And make sure you cash in big with all our Major-League Baseball winners too -- check it all out right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and keep piling up the profits this spring!

EASTERN CONFERENCE
1 - TORONTO (59-23) vs. 8 - WASHINGTON (43-39) - Plenty of in-the-know hoop folks believe this Wizards' starting five is at least the equal of the Raptors' starting unit but Toronto guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry thrived in big games this year; meanwhile, the oft-wounded Washington team staggered plenty (and went 3-7 straight-up in its last 10 games). If the John Wall / Bradley Beal backcourt for the Wizards are legit three-point threats here, then this could get juicy.

2- BOSTON (55-27) vs. 7 - MILWAUKEE (44-38) - The Celtics are considered veritable long-shots to win it all by the good folks in Las Vegas now that Brad Stevens' squad must go it without mega-star G Kyrie Irving (out for the playoffs, of course). Still, Boston's solid defense could bottle up Bucks' star Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.1 ppg) with some front-and-back help ... can Boston win here if rookie Jayson Tatum plays like a seasoned pro? Think so!

3 - PHILADELPHIA (52-30) vs. 6 - MIAMI (44-38) - Welcome back to the post-season, Philly: The Sixers - and their long-suffering fans - "Trusted the Process" and now Joel Embiid (okay, he figures to miss Game 1) and mates frolic into the post-season on a ridiculous 16-game winning streak. Miami's best shot to pull this opening-round upset is keeping 76ers' possessions to a minimum and having G Goran Dragic (17.3 ppg) score plenty off the pick-n-roll.

4- CLEVELAND (50-32) vs. 5 - INDIANA (48-34) - No surprise that the Cavaliers will be favored to win the East despite the strange-looking four-seed ... LeBron James (27.7 ppg and 9.2 assists per game) is healthier/happier now than he's been all year long. Indiana C Domantas Sabonis may be best player in these playoffs that you haven't heard about!

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
1 - HOUSTON (65-16) vs. 8 - MINNESOTA (47-35) -
All eyes are on what Rockets' superstar James Harden does this post-season (maybe it's time folks stopped yapping about his no-show Game 6 against San Antonio last year ... geez!) and truth is don't expect this 1-vs.-8 matchup to be a cakewalk 'cause Kyle-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler could make things sticky in a few games here.

2 - GOLDEN STATE (58-24) vs. 7 - SAN ANTONIO (47-35) - Now that the defending champion G-State Warriors basically have slept-walked through this '17-'18 season, you wonder if impatient head coach Steve Kerr has gotten his team's attention yet. No G Stephen Curry (knee) for at least Round One but doesn't this just feel like a five-game series and bye-bye to a Spurs club that hasn't won on the road in eons?

3 - PORTLAND (49-33) vs. 6 - NEW ORLEANS (48-34) - Last night's wire-to-wire 102-93 win/cover by the Trail Blazers over Utah cinched this all-important third seed but will Portland be banking on 30 points per game from G Damian Lillard? On the flip side, Pelicans star Anthony Davis deserves lots of second- and third-place MVP votes but non-name supporting cast must step it up in "Rip City" or else.

4 - OKLAHOMA CITY (48-34) vs. 5 - UTAH (48-34) - Now that Thunder G Russell Westbrook got his triple-double average for a second straight year (how silly all those uncontested rebounds on Wednesday night!) you wonder if the chemistry is "right" for an OKC crew that didn't mesh all that well despite winning one more game than last year's crew. The Utah strategy here is to slow down the game, count on rookie G Donovan Mitchell to win his one-on-one battles and look for seven-footer Rudy Gobert to bang the boards and collect the "garbage". Anyone want to sign up for a go-the-distance seven-game series?

 

NOTE: Catch the NBA Playoff series that start Saturday in the next Jim Sez.

 

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