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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 11:39 PM

HERE'S YOUR NBA PLAYOFF REPORT: SIXERS-CELTICS, CAVS-RAPTORS GET EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIS JUMP-STARTED ...

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: IT'S A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY AS BOMBERS WIN NINTH STRAIGHT

Okay, we know it's early but from the look of things the NBA Western Conference Finals might be all set faster than you can say "jump ball".

This past weekend both the West's #1 seed Houston and #2 seed Golden State spanked their overmatched opponents by a grand total of 36 points.

Heck, the Rockets' 110-96 win/cover on Sunday afternoon against 11.5-point underdog Utah was never/ever close as MVP-to-be G James Harden poured in a game-high 41 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 7 assists but ask us for the real highlight and it was Houston's five starters all sported +10-or-better plus/minus totals and that's pretty heady stuff (note Harden's plus 15 led the way).
Last Saturday night, Golden State - a 7-point betting favorite bet down from being a 9-point choice -- busted a well-rested New Orleans Pelicans' team 123-101 behind 27 points from G Klay Thompson and 26 points from F Kevin Durant ... who missed Stephen Curry, right?

The Warriors won most of the "hustle plays" as Golden State's Draymond Green (16 points / 15 rebs / 11 assists) was a do-everything man and he even snatched up some blocks/loose balls to boot.
As we stated in an earlier Jim Sez, both of these best-of-seven series out West have a "five-game feel" to 'em if you really want to know!

And one other thing you really might want to know before we drop some knowledge on y'all regarding the NBA's Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series ... NBA Playoff Betting Favorites begin the new week at an electric 30-15-1 ATS (against the spread) with one Pick 'Em game and so that means chalk-eaters are covering at a .667 winning rate and we can't remember that sort of pointspread magic at this post-season stage by playoff favs in a long, long time.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rock with NBA Playoff (on a 5-2 run) and MLB winners, so make sure you cash in big right here online or 1-800-323-4453.


NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

On Monday night, it's ...
PHILADELPHIA at BOSTON - 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Here's one of those series that the lower seed team is the big betting favorite - the Philly 76ers are - 400 / Boston Celtics are + 320 - thanks to the fact the "C's" obviously are short-handed (no PG Kyrie Irving) and could be further handicapped here in Game 1 if Jaylen Brown (hamstring) winds up being a no-go.

Still, don't be so quick to dismiss Brad Stevens' squad that went the distance and bested Milwaukee 112-96 in Game 7 this past Saturday night ... can All-Star Al Horford (26 points on 13-of-17 FGs) be a sure-fire 25 ppg guy here and will G Marcus Smart play lights-out defense versus a Philadelphia team that averaged 117 points a game in its four first-round series wins against Miami? Maybe everyone wants to talk up Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons - they already are two of the NBA's 10-best players -- but guard J.J. Redick was the Sixers' high scorer in three of those playoff wins. Betcha didn't know that, right, gang?

Here's the 2017-18 regular-season matchups between the 76ers and the Celtics (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
10-20Boston+ 3PHILADELPHIA102-92
11-30BOSTON- 8Philadelphia108-97
1-11 *Boston- 1.5Philadelphia114-103
1-18Philadelphia+ 3BOSTON89-80

* at London

On Tuesday, it's ...
CLEVELAND at TORONTO - 8 p.m. ET, TNT
The Toronto Raptors find themselves in a rather unaccustomed role here: They're a better than 2-to-1 betting favorite (- 210) in this series over the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and now you gotta wonder if being the "hunted" and not the "hunter" will make Dwane Casey's club shrink in the spotlight ... we shall see.

No doubt the Raptors have all the built-in advantages to start this best-of-seven set as Toronto's home, they've been off since Friday's wrap-up-the-series 102-92 win at 2-point pup Washington and Cleveland's got that quick turnaround here after winning Game 7 on Sunday against pesky Indiana with a 105-101 non-cover win (the cover was blown when Indy's Victor Oladipo drained a "meaningless" triple with 0.9 seconds left).

So, is Game 1 a "give-up" for an admittedly "burnt out" James (45 points / 9 rebounds / 7 assists against the Pacers on Sunday) and Company or will the Cavs carry that momentum north and stun 6-point fav Toronto?

The Raptors need a better shooting show from star G DeMar DeRozan (6-of-18 for just 16 points in that Game 6 win against the Wizards) but don't undersell this Toronto bench that registered 34 points in the clincher against the D.C. guys. Paging G Fred VanVleet!

Here's the 2017-18 regular-season matchups between the Cavaliers and the Raptors (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
1-11TORONTO+ 2.5Cleveland133-99
3-21CLEVELAND+ 1.5Toronto132-129
4-3CLEVELAND- 1.5Toronto112-106

 

BASEBALL NEWS/NOTES

If the Boston Red Sox thought that they were gonna run away and hide in the American League East this year after that fantastic 17-2 start (Boston's now 20-7), they better re-think things.
Heck, if the New York Yankees keep this up - that's now nine wins in a row following their three-game weekend sweep in Anaheim - then the Bronx Bombers might whiz past the Bosox by week's end.

Don't gag on your clam chowder, Red Sox fans!

The Yankees (18-9) just sandwiched a pair of one-run wins against the Angels with last Saturday's 11-1 laugher - a game that featured the Yanks scoring five runs in the top of the first inning and then another five innings in the visiting second inning - and so NYY's riding its longest winning streak since 2012 and now Aaron Boone's crew is heading into Houston for a monumental four-game series.
Feel like October ... again?

NOTE: More NBA Playoff Updates in the next Jim Sez.

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