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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 12:00 AM



Folks, there are three major questions being asked when it comes to this NBA Western Conference Finals best-of-seven series between the wanna-be champion Houston Rockets and the defending champion Golden State Warriors:

Number one ... Did Houston's resounding 127-105 win/cover in Game 2 versus the 2-point road underdog Warriors restore the Rockets' own confidence and maybe even erode some of G-State's overall confidence?

Number two ... Has Golden State's superstar guard Stephen Curry actually become a "liability" between his poor shooting (see 7-of-19 field-goal shooting in Game 2) and his defensive deficiencies that may indeed be tied into his recent knee injury? Note that Curry was a -20 on the floor in Game 2 but that wasn't the worst on the team as Kevin Durant actually finished a -28.

Number three ... Did the greatly improved ball movement by Houston in that Game 2 win the other night now lead to the belief that Houston has "discovered" the right way to beat the Warriors?
Okay, so we'll try to tackle those questions within our Jim Sez Game 3 Preview just ahead but first this key reminder .

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to smash the books with NBA Playoffs Side & Totals winners, and we're banging out a bunch of daily MLB winners too, so make sure you cash in big every day right here online or 1-800-323-4453. Get all the NBA Conference Finals winners Just $65 gets the rest of the playoffs, and FREE Baseball during that time. Get all the NBA Western Conference Finals winners with Golden State at Houston in a Game 3 Sunday ..


HOUSTON at GOLDEN STATE -- Series tied 1-1; Game 3, Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, TNT
First things first and that's don't make a big deal regarding some "family fighting" within Warriors Nation (Draymond Green's mom allegedly says Durant cost Golden State in Game 2 but that was shrugged off in a heartbeat) and don't think for a minute that the more physical play brought to the table in Game 2 by the Rockets is gonna "scare" the Warriors here.

The fact of the matter -- to answer that first query above - is G-State hasn't lost an iota of confidence despite the blowout loss in Game 2 but if the 7-point home favorites are gonna snag the ATS (against the spread) win here than Curry must get better looks from beyond the arc (see 1-of-8 in Game 2) and his perimeter/paint defense must improve.

In terms of Houston's improved ball movement - the Rockets registered 23 assists to 13 turnovers in Game 2 - than swinging the ball quickly from one spot on the court to the other remains key and so James Harden (27 points but just 3 assists in Game 2) needs to share it a bit better here while supporting cast members P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza and reserve Eric Gordon (68 combined points in Game 2) have to sport a semblance of a 20 ppg per-man scoring average here ... or else.

Now, here's the 2018 head-to-head playoff matchups between the Rockets and the Warriors (all home teams in CAPS):

5-14Golden St+ 1.5HOUSTON119-106
5-16HOUSTON- 2Golden St127-105

The New York City tabloids on Friday were filled with "rumors" that the Mets were thinking of trading away one of their ace pitchers Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard to the crosstown/rival Yankees in a package deal but we never bought it and then - as if on cue - deGrom fired seven innings of one-run, 13-K ball in a series-opening 3-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Odds are the Yanks are gonna have to eventually shop elsewhere for a starting pitcher and it ain't gonna come from the Mets. Most live names out there included Detroit RHP Michael Fulmer or perhaps Texas LHP Cole Hamels ...

Finally, stat that caught our eye from Friday night's action?
Colorado OF Charlie Blackmon already has whacked a dozen home runs this season from the leadoff spot. Blackmon "went yard" in a 6-1 win at San Francisco in the second game of that four-game weekend set (both Rockies win, so far) and you could make the case he's the best all-around leadoff hitter in the sport ... and has been for the past year-and-change.

NOTE: Lots more NBA & MLB in the next Jim Sez.

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