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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 12:00 AM

 

NBA PLAYOFFS –

WE PREVIEW RAPTORS VS. BUCKS

IN TONIGHT’S GAME 2 OF EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

PLUS, THE WARRIORS GALLOP OUT TO 2-O SERIES

LEAD AGAINST THE T-BLAZERS (AND JIM HURLEY CASHES THE “OVER”!) …

THE MLB WEEKEND AHEAD –

SHOWDOWN IN FENWAY AS THE ASTROS-SOX COLLIDE

 

No ands, ifs or buts about it … this year’s Milwaukee Bucks have been a real “margin” team when it comes to this here-and-now post-season.

In Round I, the Bucks smothered the overmatched Detroit Pistons four straight while smashing out victories by 35, 21, 16 and 23 points and while carving out a perfect 4-and-oh ATS (against the spread) record. We’ll do the math and tell you that Mike Budenholzer’s squad won by a per-game margin of nearly 24 points per contest.

In Round II, Milwaukee let its foot off the gas pedal in a 112-90 home loss against the 8-point underdog Boston Celtics in that series opener but then the Bucks went back to sledgehammering a playoff opponent and thus battered the Beantowners by 21, 7, 12 and 25 points (or just over 16 ppg) in the next four games.

Okay, so fast forward to this Eastern Conference Finals and the Bucks – even though they played without any real sense of urgency for three quarters of play in Game 1 the other night – still charged back and beat 6.5-point pup Toronto 108-100. In case you’re keeping track of such things, Milwaukee’s covered nine of its first 10 playoff games this spring and they won those tilts by a per-game margin of – get this – 18.7 points!

No wonder there’s no sign of zig-zaggers out there – the Bucks are the same 6.5-point betting favorite here tonight in Game 2 against the Raptors, not anything less – and the way Toronto blew Game 1 you gotta wonder if even the North-of-the-Border crew thinks they can win four games against the Bucks these next couple of weeks.

Or could they even cover a game or two in this best-of-seven series?

 

Note …

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 all weekend long right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Stay hot with the pro hoops on this Friday night with Game 2 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals between the Toronto Raptors at the Milwaukee Bucks plus Saturday it’s Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors versus the Portland Trail Blazers.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

MILWAUKEE at TORONTO – 8:35 p.m. ET, TNT / Bucks lead series 1-0

The Raptors are looking at the glass half-full while entering this tilt …

Guard Kyle Lowry was electric in Game 1 with 7-of-9 makes from deep en route to a stellar 30-point game and star-of-stars Kawhi Leonard ran out gas in the final quarter and yet still filled up the stat sheet with a game-high 31 points / 9 rebounds / 42 minutes played. No question that Leonard will have to be a positive force in the final frame this evening if Nick Nurse’s club is gonna “get even” but don’t sleep on the following factors:

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points / 14 boards in Game 1) surely will charge out of the starting gate with more vim-and-vigor here than was the case in Game 1;

All-star Khris Middleton is more than likely gonna shoot it better than 4-of-12 from the floor (and 1-of-6 from downtown);

And that underrated Bucks’ bench – starring Malcolm Brogdon (15 points in Game 1 and a far-and-away team-best + 18) – figures to be a check mark in Milwaukee’s favor.

Now, does that all add up to yet another Milwaukee win /cover this post-season? We’ll let ‘ya know!

 

Here’s the NBA Eastern Conference Finals game-by-game results between the Raptors and the Bucks. Note home teams are in CAPS below:

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

5-15                        MILWAUKEE         - 6.5                Toronto                  108-100

 

Last night, it was …

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

GOLDEN STATE 114, PORTLAND 111 -- Warriors lead series 2-0

Simple rule of thumb in NBA playoffs: Don’t ever blow a 17-point lead on the road and then think you’re still gonna win that best-of-7 set:

Okay, so nobody should be burying the Portland Trail Blazers just yet but …

When you get 18 made triples and your bench pours in a whopping 41 points (or 37 percent of your team’s output), you simply can’t lose but the Blazers did as Golden State back-doored the roadsters big-time and big brother Stephen Curry (game-high 37 points) made all the big plays and even outdueled little brother Seth (16 points and a game-best + 13).

No Kevin Durant for the Dubs, no problem as Steve Kerr’s club shook off a lifeless first half – now they have a two-games-to-zip lead plus momentum.

We’ll get you the Game 3 preview in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.

 

Here’s the NBA Western Conference Finals game-by-game results between the Trail Blazers and the Warriors. Note home teams are in CAPS below:

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

5-14                        GOLDEN ST            - 7                   Portland                 116-94

5-16                        GOLDEN ST            - 7                   Portland                 114-111

 

 

THE BASEBALL REPORT

Let the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees battle it out for first place in the American League East standings (for a second straight weekend) but we’re gonna zoom in here on a different AL East squad this May weekend against the team with the best record in the bigs …

 

HOUSTON (29-15) at BOSTON (23-20) – Fri, Sat & Sun

How dominant have these Houston Astros been this year? Well, the AL West leader is a + 87 in runs differential – nobody else in either league is even close – and this week on the MLB Network’s High Heat show there was some serious talk comparing this team to the 1927 New York Yankees in terms of offensive firepower.

So, it’s a tall task for the host Red Sox this weekend even though Boston comes in winners of eight of its last 10 games and maybe even catching some value in the home prices … you can get Boston + 125 in tonight’s game with Houston RHP Gerrit Cole going against one-time Cy Young winner RHP Rick Porcello and there’s a good shot the Bosox will be taking a price on Saturday too.

Just a note … Houston right now ranks #1 in the majors in batting average (.282), runs scored (245) and home runs (83). Just sayin’!.

 

NOTE: Catch all the NBA Conference Finals action all month long right here at Jim Sez.

 

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