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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 12:00 AM

NBA POST-SEASON UPDATES: CELTICS (+ 320 SERIES UNDERDOG) CLOSE OUT THE SIXERS IN FIVE, PLUS, IT'S TIME TO GEAR UP FOR WARRIORS-ROCKETS

THE BASEBALL REPORT: IT'S STAT CENTRAL

The good folks at TNT didn't say a thing about the Boston Celtics cashing as a better-than-3-to-1 underdog for their just-completed five-game series win against the Philadelphia 76ers but now hear this: Last night's rousing 114-112 win/cover by the 1.5-point favored Celtics over the Sixers was the single-biggest series upset we've had in this year's NBA Playoffs – note that prior to the start of the series Philadelphia was priced at – 400 and the take-back on Boston was + 320 – and so dilly-dilly to anyone who went anti-Philly in that Eastern Conference semifinal series. Suffice to say, Boston kept its cool late in the game when Philly moved out to a four-point lead but a triple miss by the 76ers' J.J. Redick (see, we mentioned that big miss, Sir Charles Barkley!) and then some monstrous makes by the C's (including Jayson Tatum's layup with :23 left) propelled Boston to its second consecutive appearance in the Eastern Finals for a rematch against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We'll dig deeper into that best-of-seven series in the next edition of Jim Sez but there's lots to ramble about here when it comes to the here-and-now NBA Playoffs and let's dish on some current inactivity … as is why are the Western Conference Finals between the #2 seed Golden State Warriors and the #1 seed Houston Rockets not getting started till Monday? P.S., we know the answer 'cause TNT will televise this series and it was pre-determined to start on May 14th but why not get things jump-started this Saturday instead … ahh, that's for greater minds to ponder.
Sure, we know the other "answer" from league office types that they need to wait for the Eastern Conference series to be completed but six full days between the conclusion of the West's second-round games and the start of the much-anticipated Western Finals is way too long (anyone that thinks we'll get top-shelf basketball in the first half of Game 1 is just kidding themselves, okay?).

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PHILADELPHIA vs. BOSTON – Celtics win series 4-1
Laughable that Celtics head coach Brad Stevens didn't receive a single Coach of the Year vote 'cause he's the numero uno reason why Boston copped Game 5 with great end-game strategies to double Philly big man Joel Embiid (27 points / 12 rebounds) and spread the floor so that Tatum and Terry Rozier (a combined 42 points in Game 5) could operate freely against an undisciplined Sixers' defense … and it helped Boston's cause that Embiid and Ben Simmons committed some ill-time turnovers.

Here's the 2018 playoff head-to-head matchups between the 76ers and the Celtics (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-30BOSTON+ 5Philadelphia117-101
5-3BOSTON+ 3.5Philadelphia108-103
5-5 Boston+ 9.5PHILADELPHIA101-98 (ot)
5-7PHILAD'PHIA- 7Boston103-92
5-9BOSTON- 1.5 Philadelphia114-112

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

UTAH vs. HOUSTON – Rockets win series 4-1
Gotta say that veteran point guard Chris Paul made it to his first-ever NBA Conference Finals in style with Tuesday's 41-point / 7-rebound / 10-assista performance in that non-cover close-out win against the hurtin' Utah Jazz. Paul drained eight trifectas in all and the Rockets too advantage of a banged-up G Donovan Mitchell along with the already missing Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum (the former missed the whole series and the latter suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter of Game 5).

Here's how the 2018 playoff head-to-head matchups between the Jazz and the Rockets went down (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREADLOSER SCORE
4-29HOUSTON- 11.5Utah110-96
5-2Utah+ 11HOUSTON116-108
5-4Houston- 4.5UTAH113-92
5-6Houston- 6UTAH 100-87
5-8HOUSTON - 11.5Utah 112-102


NEW ORLEANS vs. GOLDEN STATE – Warriors win series 4-1
No surprise that the defending champion G-State Warriors extinguished the pesky N'Orleans Pelicans in five games – we will give the Pels credit for covering three-of-five – as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and friends averaged a cool 115 points per game in that series and New Orleans decided to play speedball way too much there. Hey, if Houston puts pedal to the floor from start to finish in this next series – and note Golden State's the early – 190 betting favorite (take back + 165 with the Rockets) – than Golden State will average 125 ppg … got it?
Here's how the 2018 playoff head-to-head matchups between the Pelicans and the Warriors went down (all home teams in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
4-28GOLDEN ST- 7New Orleans123-101
5-1GOLDEN ST- 11New Orleans121-116
5-4NEW ORLEANS+ 4.5Golden St119-100
5-6Golden St- 5.5NEW ORLEANS118-92
5-8GOLDEN ST- 12New Orleans113-104

 

NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru Wednesday, May 9) Here's the pointspread breakdown this post-season – note we've only included the eight teams that played in the second-round series:

TEAM WON LOSSTIE PCT
New Orleans720.778
Boston930.750
Houston640 .600
Golden St.550.500
Toronto550.500
Utah560.454
Philadelphia451.444
Cleveland470.364


THE BASEBALL REPORT
Here's some of the strange-but-true teams stats in Major-League Baseball this year (through games of May 9)…

The Baltimore Orioles are an MLB-worst -78 in the runs differential category through the season's first 36 games (that means the O's are losing games by 2.17 runs per outing so far!) …
The Los Angeles Angels have won 12 of 16 games against fellow American League West squads …
The red-hot Washington Nationals have won all seven of their games played against the NL Central …
The New York Yankees have scored an MLB-high 209 runs while the Miami Marlins have scored a big-league low 122 runs.

NOTE: Catch more NBA Playoff and MLB action in the next edition of Jim Sez.

 

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