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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 12:00 AM

THE NBA PLAYOFF REPORT: ROCKETS STUN WARRIORS WITH 95-92 WIN ON TUESDAY NIGHT TO EVEN WESTERN SET AT 2 GAMES APIECE ...

AND IT'S GAME 5 IN BOSTON TONIGHT BETWEEN CAVS-CELTICS BUT WILL HOME COURT BE THE DIFFERENCE (AGAIN)? ...

MLB NEWS & NOTES: STAT STUFF AHEAD

Don't even dare say that you "saw this one coming"! Jim Hurley DID, taking the Rockets plus the points!

The Houston Rockets' come-from-behind 95-92 victory at 8-point favorite Golden State last night was a hoop shocker for the ages - whether it's the fact the Warriors blew a third-quarter/double-digit lead or because G-State really panicked late with a ton of missed, wild shots in the game's final few minutes the bottom line is this NBA Western Conference Finals Series is now knotted at two games apiece and everyone's headed back to Houston for Thursday's Game 5 bash.

The lack of ball movement that killed the Rockets in Game 1 of this series (see Golden State 119-106) came back to haunt the Warriors in Game 4 - how about the fact Steve Kerr's club registered just one fourth-quarter assist en route to a meek 12-point final frame ... we kid you not.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
HOUSTON 95, GOLDEN STATE 92
- Series tied 2-2; Game 5 is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, TNT

No doubt that veteran point guard Chris Paul (27 points including 5-of-9 makes from beyond the three-point arc) was a heart-and-soul player down the stretch of Game 4 for the Rockets but what really won this "get-even" game was pure, old-fashioned gritty defense ... wait, from Houston? Hey, we don't jest here as Mike D'Antoni's crew locked down the likes of Stephen Curry (28 points), Kevin Durant (27 points) and a more-than-slightly-hobbled Klay Thompson (10 points on 4-of-13 FG shooting) in the last several possessions and it really would have been a darn shame had Curry drained that last-second corner triple after Paul missed one of two free throws late. The truth is the Warriors played way too loose with the ball in the first half when the Rockets were busy building up a 53-46 halftime lead and then Curry, Durant and friends played selfishly on the offensive end where - we might add - loud-mouth Draymond Green missed a dunk of epic proportions.

Paul's points for the Rockets was special; ditto for James Harden's 30-point showing although "The Beard" was not very aggressive in the second half but the secret hero was board-banger P.J. Tucker (16 rebounds) who symbolized the Rockets' inner strength with his glass work ... finally, a close game in these conference finals but who knew (at least for this one night) that the Rockets would be the ones demonstrating the bigger hearts?

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

DATE WINNER SPREADLOSERSCORE
5-14Golden St+ 1.5HOUSTON119-106
5-16HOUSTON- 2Golden St127-105
5-20GOLDEN ST- 7.5Houston126-85
5-22Houston+ 8GOLDEN ST95-92

 

NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(thru games of Tuesday, May 22)
Here's the pointspread breakdown this post-season - we've only included the four teams that are playing in these conference finals:

TEAM WON LOSSPCT
Boston115.688
Houston86.571
Golden State77.500
Cleveland69.400

Note: NBA Playoff Betting Favorites are now 40-29-1 ATS (against the spread) for a .580 winning rate with two Pick 'Em games while heading into Game 5 of Cavaliers vs. Celtics tonight.


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
CLEVELAND at BOSTON
- Series tied 2-2; Game 5 is 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Okay, so who blinks first?

This best-of-seven game set's been an all-home court series with host teams a sweet 4-and-oh SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) and - no doubt about it - Boston head coach Brad Stevens and Company are keeping fingers crossed that the Celtics will start quicker here and then let the noisy TD Garden crowd guide 'em to the finish line. In Monday's 111-102 loss in Cleveland, the Celtics shot a woeful 7-of-26 from the floor in the opening quarter (that's 27 percent!) and quickly found themselves down by as many as 19 points in the first half and so don't be entirely surprised if Stevens shuffles his starting lineup here - we say reserve C Aron Baynes (8 points, 7 rebounds in 16 minutes in Game 4) finds his way into the starting lineup (probably for Marcus Morris).
Now, that still leaves Cleveland superhero LeBron James:

In Monday's must-win game, "The King" poured in 44 points on just 28 total field-goal attempts - okay, you might have been surprised that James was only a + 9 when on the floor - and we don't care how "slow" he was (that's a shot at you analytic geeks!). If James gets off 28 FGs here and F Kevin Love (9 points on just 3-of-12 FG shooting in Game 4) can just get on one of his little scoring sprees, then cracking the home court code could finally happen.

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

DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
5-13BOSTON+ 1Cleveland108-83
5-15BOSTONPKCleveland107-94
5-19CLEVELAND- 7Boston116-86
5-21CLEVELAND- 6.5Boston111-102

 

MLB NEWS & NOTES

Here's some quick-hitter stats that caught our eye on this late-in-May day ...

The National League's #2, #3 and #4 leading hitters in terms of batting average are Atlanta's Nick Markakis (.341), Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp (.326) and New York Mets Asdrubal Cabrera (.325) and don't they all seem like guys on the "back nine" of their careers? ...

If you're checking out the wins leaders so far among MLB starting pitchers, then one name that likely jumps out at you is St. Louis RHP Miles Mikolas who copped his sixth win of the year in Monday's 6-0 win against Kansas City. The Redbirds have been thrilled by Mikolas who threw 77 strikes among his 109 pitches versus the KC Royals and so far the near-30-year-old from Jupiter (FL) sports a 46-to-6 K-to-BB ratio while pitching to a tidy 2.24 ERA in nine starts.

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

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