Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 30, 2018 at 11:22 PM
THE NBA PLAYOFF REPORT - A SERIES-BY-SERIES LOOK AT WHAT'S STRAIGHT AHEAD ...
PLUS, IT'S OUR UP-TO-DATE NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART AND THE THE MLB UPDATE
Just so happened to check in with one off-shore source at the very start of this week and we learned the Golden State Warriors were priced at "even money" to repeat as NBA champions while the Houston Rockets were listed at + 150 to win it all ... in case you were wondering, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers were + 1100. Hmmm.In fact, the shortest-priced squad from the Eastern Conference is the Toronto Raptors (+ 750) followed by the Philadelphia 76ers (+ 900).
As you can see by our NBA Playoff Pointspread Chart below, the recently-eliminated Indiana Pacers covered six of their seven games against the aforementioned Cavaliers - so a "hats off" to Nate McMillan's club for sitting atop the pointspread chart even if the Pacers are gonzo from the post-season. Hey, betcha didn't think Boston would be this good spreadwise without the gone-for-the-year Kyrie Irving and so a round of applause for Celtics' boss Brad Stevens ... so there!
NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru Monday, April 30)
Now, here's some quick-hitter comments regarding all four of the NBA's on-going playoff series with eyes on the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday games:
On Tuesday, it's ...
CLEVELAND at TORONTO - 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Just a quickie word here: We hear a whole lot about the dynamic guard duo of DeMar DeRozan/Kyle Lowry but C Jonas Valanciunas (13.5 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game this playoff season) could be the real diff-maker here in Game 1 and throughout this best-of-seven set especially if he can keep Tristan Thompson off the boards ... hey, a few lines about Cavs-Raptors and not a single word about LeBron James. Wow!
On Thursday, it's ...
PHILADELPHIA at BOSTON - Celtics lead 1-0; 8:35 p.m. ET, TNT
If the Game 1 result - that's Celtics 117, Sixers 101 - told us anything at all it's that Boston's gonna play loosey-goosey and make Philly pop out on every possible three-point shot from this point forward: Hey, the Celtics nailed 17 triples in Monday's run-away-and-hide win with G Terry Rozier writing the headlines with his team-high 29 points including 7-of-9 makes from downtown ... and we absolutely dig his Drew Bledsoe pre-game jersey too!
The 76ers' strategy for Game 2 must feature plenty of defensive help for key reserve Marco Belinelli who was a minus 23 in his 28 on-the-floor minutes while getting eaten alive in the post and on switches plus Philly's gotta allow "second-year rookie" Ben Simmons more room to maneuver in the open floor as his Game 1 stat line of 18 points / 7 rebounds / 6 assists was pretty hollow stuff.
On Tuesday, it's ...
NEW ORLEANS at GOLDEN STATE - Warriors lead series 1-0; 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Guess the G-State Warriors were slightly pumped to open up this second-round playoff series considering Steve Kerr's crew scored 76 points by halftime - the question now is did they deliver an early KO blow with that performance? The hoops world awaits word on G Stephen Curry - will he or won't he play here remains a mystery although the TNT crew was claiming he'd give it a go here - while Pelicans' G Jrue Holiday must do better than 4-of-14 from the floor (and note Holiday was a minus 23 points in his 30 minutes on the floor ... ugh!). The Warriors will look to play this at warped speed again and that ain't good news for N'Orleans even if Anthony Davis goes off for 35-or-so points with his open-floor magic.
On Wednesday, it's ...
UTAH at HOUSTON - Rockets lead series 1-0; 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Here's something straight from the common sense department: The Utah Jazz - with or without injured PG Ricky Rubio (gone for another week with hamstring woes) - simply can't allow the Rockets to hurl up 17 successful triples plus if double-digit dog Utah doesn't double-team James Harden on those perimeter jumpers than this series will be over super-quick. Naturally, all the heat's on Mike D'Antoni's crew (yes, the Rockets are an 11-point betting favorite at last glance) but if Harden goes for 30-plus points and PG Chris Paul can knock out 18-to-20 points and another 10 assists, then this one will be heading back to Salt Lake City in lopsided fashion. Donovan Mitchell to the rescue?
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Are you starting to get that queasy feeling that this isn't gonna be "the year" for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Just one day after LA skipper Dave Roberts benched 1B Cody Bellinger for not hustling an in-the-gap double into a triple in San Francisco, the defending National League champs announced SS Corey Seager would miss the remainder of this 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. Seager - who has hit just two home runs this year - had been ailing with right elbow soreness for a while and so the 12-15 Dodgers face another crisis and just as the calendar turns to May, some folks 'round baseball say the season may be over before it even warms up. The Dodgers claim OF Chris Taylor will play shortstop; ditto for utility man Enrique Hernandez and prospect Breyvic Valera but better believe the team's front office will be speed-dialing the Baltimore Orioles - Rent-A-Manny Machado? - by week's end.
NOTE: Catch more NBA Playoff and MLB action in the next edition of Jim Sez.