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Submitted by Jim Hurley’s Network on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM

THE NFL DRAFT:
WE GO ‘ROUND THE LEAGUE
AND CHECK OUT THE HOT RUMORS …
PLUS THE NBA PLAYOFFS REPORT:
BULLS, SPURS LOOK TO CLINCH TONITE
AFTER GRIZZLIES CLINCH THEIR SERIES LAST NITE

When it comes to tonight’s NFL Draft in Chicago, the most popular question of the week has been …
“Have you heard the one (trade) about so-and-so?”

Hey, let’s face it – in the past few days we’ve heard lots of rumblings about big names getting traded here on the first night of the NFL Draft from new Philadelphia QB Sam Bradford going to Cleveland, to Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson getting shipped to either Arizona or Carolina, to New York Jets Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson getting shipped out of town (maybe to New Orleans) and what about the one that includes players/picks that would turn the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft to Cleveland so that the Brownies can tab Oregon QB Marcus Mariota?

There’s been no shortage of gossip in the league where they play and that includes last-minute chatter regarding this incoming class:
No doubt the potential legal headaches for LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins and Missouri OLB Shane Ray will negatively affect their respective draft positions (and thus cost both guys some serious coin) but – hey – there’s always a plus side to things too and so we invoke the names of Georgia RB Todd Gurley and Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson.

Note Gurley – who does come off major knee surgery last fall – generally is considered someone that will fall between #11-thru-#17 in tonight’s draft but as we forecast in our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft (see Wednesday’s column) don’t at all be surprised if Gurley hurdles his way into the top half-dozen picks while Johnson is considered a safe play right around pick #20 but instead could be borderline top 10 material after recent positive reviews.

Hey, speaking of mock, don’t mock us ‘cause last year in this very column space on the day of the 2014 NFL Draft we strongly suggested that then-LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham’s stock was rising and he could go from #20-thru-#25 to a top 15 and, boy, aren’t the New York Giants tickled pink they nabbed him with pick #12!

As far as the above-mentioned “hot rumor” that the Browns will acquire the #2 overall pick from the Titans for the #12 and #19 picks plus some blend of players to be tossed into the mix, we don’t see it happening … again, gut feel is that Tennessee will take Mariota and then in the next few days/weeks see what sort of package the Philadelphia Eagles will make for him and then either ship ‘em to the Birds or keep ‘em on its roster to compete with Zach Mettenberger.

Meanwhile, among the half-dozen or so NFL teams that we believe will make some sort of Round I trades – we have the New York Jets, Minnesota, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Seattle and Houston all either switching picks or acquiring/trading their first-round choices – this could well resemble an NBA Draft with movin’-and-shakin’ all around the first 32 picks.

And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs and nothing’s gonna change here as we approach Round II play.

We’ll continue to rock-n-roll our way through the NBA post-season – and so just go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Plus, there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!

NBA PLAYOFF UPDATE
Let’s check out tonight’s tilts following last night’s action where Atlanta topped 9-poin underdog Brooklyn 107-97 to take a three-games-to-two series lead in that Eastern Conference series while Memphis wrapped up its set in five games versus 6-point pup Portland with a 99-93   home victory. In case you’re wondering, NBA Playoff Betting Favorites now are 18-17-1 (with one pick ‘em) against the odds this year:

Tonight, in the Eastern Conference, it’s …
#3 CHICAGO at #6 MILWAUKEE – 7 p.m. ET, TNT; Bulls lead series 3-2
Memo to the Chicago Bulls:

You may really regret playing with fire and might wind up being an unfortunate part of NBA Playoff history … after all you do realize that no team ever has come back from a three-games-to-none series deficit and, conversely, only three teams actually have ever forced a Game 7 after being down three games-to-none (see the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers, the 1994 Denver Nuggets and the 1951 New York Knicks).

The fact of the matter is the Bulls – listed as a 3.5-point road favorite for tonight’s game in Milwaukee – just are not gonna close out this thing tonight if PG Derek Rose shots more blanks from beyond the arc (0-for-7 downtown) and is Jimmy Butler (just 5-for-21 FG shooting in Game 1 this past Monday) shrinks when the lights get bright.

The Bucks have loads of mojo – and credit head coach Jason Kidd’s never-say-die spirit for much of that – and they’ve forced a slew of Chitown turnovers while PG Michael Carter-Williams (22 points, 9 assists and 8 rebs in Game 5) is becoming more and more confident with each passing minute.
House money, you say?

Kidd’s not buying that notion and so a hold-your-serve game here for Milwaukee means history – one way or the other – will come your way if there’s a Game 7.

Here’s the first five games of the Bucks-Bulls series (note home teams are in CAPS):

DATE WINNER SPREADLOSERSCORE
4-18CHICAGO- 8Milwaukee103-91
4-20CHICAGO- 8Milwaukee91-82
4-23Chicago- 2.5MILWAUKEE113-106
4-25 MILWAUKEE + 4Chicago92-90
4-27Milwaukee+ 8CHICAGO94-88

In the Western Conference, it’s …
#3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS at #6 SAN ANTONIO – approximately 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT; Spurs lead series 3-2
Forget for a moment that ill-fated offensive goaltending tip-in by Clippers C DeAndre Jordan in the waning moments of Tuesday’s 111-107 win by San Antonio in Game 5 of this Western Conference first-round series and instead think about this:

The Clips – still moaning and groaning about officials’ calls during the off day – missed 16 free throws (not all of ‘em by the aforementioned Jordan, it only seemed that way!) and shot a woeful 1-of-14 from beyond the three-point arc and still really lost by just one real possession.
So, is Doc Rivers’ club gonna get anything from “deep” here from the likes of sixth man Jamaal Crawford and/or Matt Barnes who combined to miss 10-of-11 triples and can PG Chris Paul (a combined 53 points in his last two games) gonna be uber-clutch here against a Spurs bunch that’s already one both of the “up-for-grabs” games in this best-of-seven series?

Major mission for five-time champion head coach Gregg Popovich and Company here is this:
The Spurs’ bench outscored the Clippers reserves 48-17 in Game 5 and – you know the old theory by old coach/TV analyst Hubie Brown – your #6, 7 and 8 players are always better at home than they are on the road!

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan has made big shots and big blocks late in the real swing games this series – can “Old Man Riverwalk” (see 21 points and 11 rebounds in Game 5) turn on the fountain of youth once again?

Here’s the first five games of the Clippers-Spurs series (note home teams are in CAPS):

DATEWINNERSPREADLOSERSCORE
4-19CLIPPERS- 1.5San Antonio107-92
4-22San Antonio+ 2CLIPPERS(ot) 111-107
4-24SAN ANTONIO- 5Clippers 100-73
4-26Clippers+ 6 SAN ANTONIO114-105
4-28San Antonio+ 2.5CLIPPERS111-107

Note: Check out our NFL Draft Notes in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.