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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 12:00 AM



The NBA Playoffs - more than likely - will be entering new territory today:

And that's because Golden State megastar Kevin Durant (a two-time NBA Finals MVP) - more than likely - will be gone for the remainder of the post-season as that sure looked like a blown Achilles suffered with two-plus minutes remaining in the third quarter of last night's Game 5 bash between the Warriors and Houston Rockets. The Dubs hung on to win - but not cover - as 6-point home favs in that 104-99 final but Durant never did come back out of the team's locker room following the injury that was termed "a strained calf". Yeah, right.

TNT studio voice Charles Barkley doesn't think that G-State can win this best-of-seven set against Houston without Durant - even though the Warriors own a three games-to-two series lead heading into tomorrow night's Game 6 in Houston - but get ready for a major Las Vegas line move any minute now as a Durant-less Warriors team might no longer be the betting favorites to win it all next month.

Meanwhile, It's win-or-you're-done time this evening for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Portland Trail Blazers ... and both the Sixers and Blazers must stop the growing momentum built up in recent days by their opponents:

In the East, Toronto's won / covered the last two games played in this best-of-seven series and - if you go back to this past regular season - the North-of-the-Border crew now has covered six-of-nine games between these two squads.

In the West, Denver's looking to put the finishing touches on its best-of-seven set against gritty Portland and - as is the case above - the Nuggets have copped SU (straight-up) wins in the last two playoff games and Denver actually owns three consecutive pointspread covers in this post-season set and also owns a tidy 6-3 ATS (against the spread) mark in head-to-head action versus the Trail Blazers while dating back to the first regular-season game played against one another this year (see Nov. 30th).

The proverbial "bottom line" is that there's no margin for error tonight for either the 76ers or the T-Blazers ... it's step-up or shut-up time for these clubs.


TORONTO at PHILADELPHIA -- 8 p.m. ET, TNT / Raptors lead series 3-2
Okay, so if you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times ... the Toronto Raptors have never gone to an NBA Finals since coming into the NBA way back in the 1995-96 season and the Philadelphia 76ers haven't gotten to an Eastern Conference Finals since 2001 and so it's been a looong time since these clubs had a really feel-good season but musician / Toronto superfan Drake and Company could be popping the bubbly tonight providing Kawhi Leonard (21 points and 13 rebounds in that rollicking 125-89 win in Game 5 two nights ago) and sidekick Pascal Siakam (25 points / 8 rebs in Game 5) are stat-sheet stuffers once again but do take note that the Sixers are counting on C Joel Embiid to have a bounce-back game after just 13 crummy points this past Tuesday night.
Want an X-factor here? Get the Game 3 version of shooter JJ Redick (26 points) and not the Game 5 version (see 3-of-9 made triples) for the Sixers.

Here's the game-by-game playoff update between the Raptors and the 76ers. Note home teams are in CAPS below:

4-27TORONTO- 6.5Philadelphia108-95
4-29Philadelphia+ 7TORONTO94-89
5-2PHILADELPHIA + 1.5Toronto116-95
5-5Toronto + 2PHILADELPHIA101-96
5-7TORONTO- 6Philadelphia125-89


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DENVER at PORTLAND - approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT / Nuggets lead series 3-2
You want pointspread stats, ladies and gents? Then keep in mind that "over" players have copped wins in eight of the nine overall games played this year between the Nuggets and Blazers - obviously, the lone "under" was Portland's surprising 97-90 win in the Mile High City back in Game 2 of this best-of-seven playoff set - and it's worth mentioning that the teams winning these first five games of this playoff series are averaging 119.6 points per game ... okay, a four-overtime game surely boosts that average but it appears certain these clubs will be going at 78 rpm here, elimination game for the Blazers or not!

X factor to consider for this Game 6 in Rip City? Then consider more minutes off the bench for Portland's lefty Rodney Hood who will try to resurrect the game that scored 19 points in 24 minutes in that aforementioned 4-OT tilt back on May 3rd. Hood's fresh and could be quicker getting off his feet for his near-the-paint jumpers that will take some heat off slumping shooters Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum (note the former is just 7-of-32 from trey-ville this series).

Here's the game-by-game playoff update between the Nuggets and the Trail Blazers. Note home teams are in CAPS below:

4-29DENVER- 4Portland121-113
5-1Portland+ 4DENVER97-90
5-3PORTLAND- 5Denver140-137 (4ot)
5-5Denver + 3PORTLAND116-112
5-7DENVER- 5.5Portland124-98



It's true. This year's Major-League Baseball All-Star Game in Cleveland is a full two months away - circle Tuesday, July 9th, if you will - but if you're starting to think about who's gonna fill out the National League and American League rosters in terms of the pitching staffs, then you may want to include the following and all of the folks mentioned here (for now) must be considered for an All-Star Game start:

Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati - This kid's no joke as he throws hard yet already "knows how to pitch" and his 2019 numbers back that up: He's 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA in eight starts and he's allowed just 30 hits in 50.1 innings while striking out 59 batters so far.

Caleb Smith, LHP, Miami - And you thought boss Derek Jeter and friends were trying to "tank" this 2019 season (we say tongue in cheek, natch!). But check out this classy lefty who exited his latest start with a 3-0 mark, a 2.11 ERA with just 26 hits allowed in 42.2 innings and a nifty 56-to-12 K-to-BB ratio.

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Tampa Bay
- Maybe the Rays will have back-to-back Cy Young winners after all as this former Pittsburgh Pirates hurler already is 6-0 with an MLB-best 1.47 ERA plus note his 46 K-to-7 BB ratio ... maybe trading for RHP Chris Archer and sending away Glasnow was a huge mistake by the Buccos.

Marco Gonzales, LHP, Seattle - Okay, so the Mariners have sunk faster than a stone in water but don't blame it on this 27-year-old Fort Collins native. Gonzales is 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA in his nine starts this year and he owns a 39-to-13 K-to-BB ratio. 

Jim Hurley's been RED HOT in baseball, especially since the calendar turned to May! Now 16-7-1 this month after going 2-0-1 on Wednesday, winning with the Padres 3-2 over the Mets and Tigers 10-3 over the Angels. We pushed on the Royals-Astros total but we have a totals play and a very strong underdog going tonight for just $10. Call 1-800-323-4453.

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