Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA CONFERENCE FINALS UPDATE: CAVS LOOK TO GET EVEN TONIGHT IN GAME 4 WHILE DUBS NATION WHIPS THE ROCKETS IN GAME 3 ... BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES:
Don't look now but the first three games in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals and first three games in the league's Western Conference Finals have been won by a per-game average of -- get this - 24 points! Jim Hurley is 3-1 in the Eastern Finals and 2-1 in the West after winning with the Warriors Sunday.
Geez, we've had a pair of 13-point games (see Game 1 in Houston and Game 2 in Cleveland) but otherwise this has truly been "blowout city" when it comes to this round of NBA playoff action and the "odds" are that will change sooner rather than later. But we shall see ...
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep on smashin' the books with NBA Playoffs 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.
Tonight, it's ...
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
BOSTON at CLEVELAND - Celtics lead series 2-1; Game 4 is 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's remind y'all that the Cavaliers were rated as the - 285 betting favorite in this round and so last Saturday's 116-86 easy-as-pie win/cover against the 7-point underdog Celtics probably should not have come as any major surprise but consider that Cleveland drained 17 triples in Game 3 and a stepped-up Cavs' defense held the Beantowners to just 29-of-74 shooting from the floor and now you have to wonder if Ty Lue's club can "play it again" here.
No doubt the lead-by-example ways of LeBron James (27 points / 5 rebounds / 12 assists and some hellacious defense en route to a + 31 night on the floor) was simply sensational but The King is gonna have to do pretty much the same here if Cleveland's gonna even this series at two games apiece ... the $64,000 question is will sidekicks George Hill (13 points scored and a + 24) and J.R. Smith (three made trifectas and a + 20 in Game 3) have "encore performances" in 'em here?
Boston players moaned and groaned after Game 3 that they didn't play sound defense and/or didn't play with the same ferocity they did while winning the first two games of this best-of-seven set and the biggest Game 3 culprit was F Marcus Morris (a - 28) who played 25 ineffective minutes and "backed down" from James throughout the night.
Here's the 2018 playoff head-to-head matchups between the Celtics and the Cavaliers (all home teams in CAPS):
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
HOUSTON at GOLDEN STATE - Warriors lead series 2-1; Game 4 is Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, TNT
Stephen Curry, this is your wake-up call!
Interesting how at halftime of Game 3 on Sunday night, the TNT folks starring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal were wondering aloud what's wrong with Curry who shot just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half after hitting just 1-of-8 from deep in Game 2. Curry answered his growing number of critics by drilling 7-of-7 FG tries in the third quarter while scoring 18 of his game-high 35 points in that decisive frame (he finished 5-of-12 from deep) and before you could say Hall of Fame there was Golden State snatching up a two games-to-one series lead and leaving the beleaguered Rockets to ponder their chances for Game 4.
Let's just say this: Houston had plenty of opportunities to thrive in the first half of Game 3 but missed a slew of in-close shots - layups, dunks and put-backs either rolled off the rim or clanked off the rim - both TNT game analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber were keeping count of all the "gimme" misses - and so don't think for a minute that the Rockets will alter their game plan in any way: James Harden (just 7-of-16 FG shooting in Game 3), Chris Paul (5-of-16 FG shooting) and Trevor Ariza (2-of-6 from the floor) will go hard to the rack here in Game 4 ... if they make some we'll have a game; if not, yet another conference finals blowout could be in the offing.
|5-14||Golden St||+ 1.5||HOUSTON||119-106|
|5-16||HOUSTON||- 2||Golden St||127-105|
|5-20||GOLDEN ST||- 7.5||Houston||126-85|
NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru games of Sunday, May 20)
Here's the pointspread breakdown this post-season - we've only included the four teams that are playing in these conference finals:
Note: NBA Playoff Betting Favorites are now 39-28-1 ATS (against the spread) for a .582 winning rate with two Pick 'Em games while heading into Game 4 of Celtics vs. Cavaliers tonight.
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
The MLB world may be getting all hot-and-bothered when it comes to these New York Yankees (30-13), Boston Red Sox (32-15) and Houston Astros (30-18) but how about a shout-out to a couple of American League teams that are so far outplaying expectations?
The Tampa Bay Rays (22-23) will host the aforementioned Bosox this week and there actually should be some "juice" in Tropicana Field. No doubt the Rays have been "re-inventing the wheel" lately with long-time San Francisco Giants reliever/closer Sergio Romo starting a second consecutive day and getting important start-of-game outs - note Romo threw a perfect, strike-out-the-side first inning in Saturday's 5-3 win at the Los Angeles Angels and then threw 1.1 inning to start Sunday's 5-2 loss ... will this be a trend throughout baseball? Stay tuned.
And what about the oft-nameless/oft-faceless Oakland A's who exited the weekend with a 25-22 mark following the team's brilliant four-game North of the Border sweep in Toronto. The A's outscored the Blue Jays 27-to-12 in that four-game set and Oakland's won 12-of-16 games played against AL competition ... wow? One down note is that Oakland's power bat Khris Davis suffered a groin strain during his second at-bat on Sunday and may be in line for some missed games.
NOTE: Lots more NBA & MLB in the next Jim Sez.