Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 12:00 AM
IT’S TIME FOR THE NBA CONFERENCE FINALS –
BLAZERS-WARRIORS IN GAME 1 OF THE
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS TONITE
AND RAPTORS-BUCKS IN EASTERN FINALS TOMORROW …
OUR UP-TO-DATE NBA PLAYOFF POINTSREAD CHART …
AND A FEW WORDS ON TONIGHT’S NBA LOTTERY
Here’s the lowdown on these here-and-now NBA Playoffs:
There’s been 66 post-season games played so far – they started back on April 13th and figure to go another month (or more) – and the Betting Favorites sport a modest 34-31-1 ATS (against the spread) mark for a .523 winning rate. Funny thing is the four remaining teams – that’s Portland, Golden State, Toronto and Milwaukee – own a composite pointspread record of 25-20-0 (a .556 winning percentage) but only the Milwaukee Bucks enter conference finals play with a profit.
As you can see by our accompanying chart below, the Bucks have covered eight-of-nine games this post-season while Portland and Toronto are batting .500 (each is just 6-6 spreadwise) while two-time defending champ Golden State’s just 5-7 versus the vig.
Meanwhile, there’s been just two playoff series in which underdog sides have cashed – and both times it was the Portland Trail Blazers who bested Oklahoma City (- 180) first and then just stunned Denver (- 145).
The Las Vegas folks now have Portland a big pup against Golden State (- 565 and likely going higher) for the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals that begin tonight while Milwaukee (- 300) is a hefty favorite against Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals.
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Playoff Conference Finals winners (that’s the Sides & Totals, folks) plus there’s Major-League Baseball winners each/every day too right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Get your hoops week started right on Tuesday night with Game 1 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals between the Portland Trail Blazers at the Golden State Warriors and then on Wednesday it’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Toronto Raptors at the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tonight, it’s …
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
PORTLAND at GOLDEN STATE – Game 1 / 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so everyone knows that Warriors’ megastar Kevin Durant (calf strain) will miss this tilt plus – more than likely – Game 2 of this set and count us among the folks that’ll be surprised if Golden State’s super scorer gets in any “burn” prior to a Game 5. The Warriors survived Durant’s absence in the fourth quarter of Game 5 and all of Game 6 to turn back the always-disappointing Houston Rockets in that last playoff series but you could make the case the longer this series goes the more vulnerable a depth-shy Warriors’ team becomes and so – right from Game 1 here – Steve Kerr’s bench must give a helping hand to Stephen Curry / Klay Thompson / Draymond Green …or it could spell trouble. Portland’s injury woe – key reserve Rodney Hood is iffy here and he’s been great in “iso” basketball this post-season – could cause the T-Blazers problems here as the back-court duo of Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum likely needs to score 60 points between ‘em here and in fewer than 50 FG attempts.
Here’s the regular-season game-by-game results between the Trail Blazers and the Warriors. Note home teams are in CAPS below:
DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
11-23 GOLDEN ST - 1 Portland 125-97
12-27 Portland + 9.5 GOLDEN ST (ot) 110-109
12-29 Golden St - 5.5 PORTLAND 115-105
2-13 PORTLAND + 2 Golden St 129-107
On Wednesday, it’s …
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
TORONTO at MILWAUKEE – Game 1 / 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
For the first time since 2010, there in no one named LeBron James that is part of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals … and, so that means for the first time in nine years, somebody other than James’ Miami Heat (2011-14) or his once-upon-a-time Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-18) will represent the East in next month’s Finals.
Okay, so change can be good, right?
The question now is whether Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo – who averaged 28.4 points per game and 10.8 rebounds-per-game in that five-game series win against Boston – is ready to assume the mantle as the “beast of the East” after that reign by King James or whether Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (who scored 243 points or 34.7 ppg in the thrilling seven-game series win against Philadelphia) can continue his royal run this post-season.
Here’s the regular-season game-by-game results between the Raptors and the Bucks. Note home teams are in CAPS below:
DATE WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
10-29 MILWAUKEE + 2 Toronto 124-109
12-9 Milwaukee + 5 TORONTO 104-99
1-5 Toronto + 5.5 MILWAUKEE 123-116
1-31 Milwaukee + 2.5 TORONTO 105-92
2019 NBA PLAYOFFS POINTSPREAD CHART
Here’s the all-inclusive post-season chart including all 16 NBA playoff teams (thru Sunday, May 12th)
TEAM WON LOST TIE PCT
Milwaukee 8 1 0 .889
Philadelphia 8 4 0 .667
Houston 7 4 0 .636
San Antonio 4 3 0 .571
Denver 7 7 0 .500
Portland 6 6 0 .500
Toronto 6 6 0 .500
LA Clippers 3 3 0 .500
Boston 4 4 1 .500
Golden State 5 7 0 .417
Oklahoma City 2 3 0 .400
Orlando 2 3 0 .400
Utah 2 3 0 .400
Brooklyn 1 4 0 .200
Indiana 0 3 1 .000
Detroit 0 4 0 .000
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY
Okay, so where is Duke phenom Zion Williamson headed?
Tonight’s NBA Lottery – the real good stuff starts happening shortly after 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN tonight – is gonna tell us the story as the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers each have a 14 percent chance of landing with the top spot while fellow lottery teams Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte, Miami and Sacramento all have longer odds to draft at #1 … but do remember the picks made by Memphis, Dallas and Sacramento could be “conveyed” to other NBA squads.
Got all that?
In any event, Williamson’s the shiny prize in tonight’s NBA Lottery but there’s a bevy of high-quality and – just for fun – let’s forecast what teams will get top five picks here and who they’ll draft next month:
Here’s how it might play out …
CLEVELAND – Zion Williamson, PF, Duke: How’s this for a welcome-to-the-NBA gift for new Cavaliers’ head coach John Beilein?
PHOENIX – Ja Morant, PG, Murray State: The Suns could have one of the league’s best backcourts by 2021-22 (see scorer Devin Booker).
NEW YORK – R.J. Barrett, F, Duke: Never will an entire city’s hoop hopes take such a gut punch then when the Knicks don’t get Zion.
CHICAGO – Cam Reddish, F, Duke: The Bulls will grab the “best available Dookie” here.
ATLANTA – De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia: The Hawks could be really good, real soon with this NCAA champ.
NOTE: Catch all our NBA Conference Finals News/Notes all this week here at Jim Sez.