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Submitted by Jim Hurley’s Network on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 12:00 AM

THE JIM SEZ REPORT –
WE TACKLE SOME HOT TOPICS AS
BULLS, CLIPPERS SWIPE GAME 1
ROAD WINS BUT HAVE NBA PLAYOFF
VISITING SIDES BEEN REAL MONEY-MAKERS
THIS SPRING? …
OUR QUICKIE GAME #2 WEDNESDAY PREVIEWS …
PLUS SCORING’S DOWN IN MLB
BUT EVEN YOU’LL BE SURPRISED
WHAT TEAMS HAVE “MINUS”
RUN DIFFERENTIALS THESE DAYS

The theory is as old as dirt – if you’re an NBA playoff team that fashions itself as a potential champion, you had better win on the road.

And cover too.
Right?

As we’ve seen in these ongoing NBA Eastern and Western Conference Semifinal Round series this week, road teams won outright as underdogs of 4.5-or-more points in three of the four Game 1 tilts … here’s the breakdown in pointspread form (with home teams in CAPS):

DATEWINNERSPREADLOSERSCORE
5-3Washington+ 5.5ATLANTA104-98
5-3GOLDEN ST.– 10.5Memphis101-86
5-4Chicago+ 4.5CLEVELAND99-92
5-4Clippers+ 7.5HOUSTON117-101

Now, note while heading into Tuesday night’s NBA Playoff action, overall NBA Playoff Betting Favorites were below .500 at 21-22-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick ‘em game tossed into the mix – a rather underwhelming .488 percent winning rate.
But how about road teams?

You saw what they accomplished in Game 1 of these second-round series and so we did a little bit of research and discovered the following:

NBA Playoff Road Teams entered the games of Cinco de Mayo (May 5th, folks) at 24-20-1 versus the vig – a .545 winning rate that may not seem so great but consider one would think the higher-seeded/better teams should have mashed out a profit against the #5-thru-#8 seeds (and then the lower seeds right here in Round II) but that’s simply not been the case.

Okay, so is a pointspread mark of four games above .500 through a sampling of 45 playoff games anything to write home about?

Maybe not but the point here is everyone plays hard all year long to get the “home-court advantage” and yet some 45 games into this year’s post-season it’s the road guys who’ve won more than they’ve lost against Mr. Vig.

Check back on those opening-round series and the early part of this group of second-round series games and here’s some interesting nuggets while heading into Tuesday night’s games:
The Washington Wizards are 3-0 ATS on the NBA Playoff road this year …

The Cleveland Cavaliers notched pointspread wins in both of their playoff road games in Boston in Round I action while covering spreads of 5.5 and 6.5 points …

The New Orleans Pelicans went 2-0 ATS in post-season road tilts at Golden State …
The San Antonio Spurs covered three of their four road games against the Los Angeles Clippers in that epic seven-game opening-round series and the still-alive Chicago Bulls also have covered three of their first four playoff road games …

And even the Brooklyn Nets – exiled in six games in that opening-round series against Atlanta -- covered two-of-three road games in that set.

Here’s what is on the Wednesday night menu:
EASTERN CONFERENCE

#3 CHICAGO at #2 CLEVELAND – 7 p.m. ET, TNT; Bulls lead series 1-0
You undoubtedly saw the stat where a LeBron James team never had the lead in a playoff game for the first time in some 89 post-season games – but that above-mentioned 99-92 loss this past Monday night to hungry Chicago Bulls team had other eerie signs to it:

The Cavaliers – playing their first playoff game this spring without injured F Kevin Love (gone for the whole post-season with that separated shoulder) and also without suspended whack job guard J.R. Smith (out again here in Game 2) – didn’t play with any real confidence and James himself came up small despite some hollow stat line that included 19 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists.

Trust us, “The King” was not himself in that Game 1 loss and he must spearhead the play of this Cavs club that needs 65-to-70 combined points from James and PG Kyrie Irving (game-high 30 points) while if the Bulls are gonna snag back-to-back wins in Cleveland than Derrick Rose (25 points on 26 FG attempts in Game 1) must be over that late-game shoulder stinger plus tempted to believe the Chicago bunch will have to step up here and be a bigger part of this effort.

WESTERN CONFERENCE –
#3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS at #2 HOUSTON – approximately 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT; Clippers lead series 1-0

No Chris Paul. No problem for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Well, at least, that was the case this past Monday night when Doc Rivers’ squad hitched up their high tops and beat 7.5-point fav Houston 117-101 even though Paul was decked out in his “civvies” following a Game 7 hamstring injury suffered against San Antonio.

Okay, so it became obvious that the Rockets – who actually opened as a 6-point betting fav in Game 1 but that kept price tag rising – had the mind-set that they could beat the Clips minus Paul without any problem but some ungodly 23 turnovers later it’s the home team in a veritable do-or-die game here before the series shifts to LA-LA land this Friday/Sunday and “insiders” believe Rivers will once again sit Paul here and trust his point guard-less squad to rally one mo’ time.

Hey, the fact that F Blake Griffin cranked out his third triple-double of this year’s playoffs – thus getting into that conversation with the likes of Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain – with a spiffy 26 points with 14 rebounds and 13 assists (that’s no typo!) leads you to believe the Rockets were asleep at the wheel considering all the other things they did wrong in Game 1 such as shoot free throws (just 14-of-24) and hit the offensive glass (just 6 in all despite some 46 missed FG attempts and that had head coach Kevin McHale quite miffed in the post-game presser).

Look for Houston’s “energy level” to be considerably higher here in Game 2 and we’ll fully expect MVP runner-up James Harden (a very quiet 20 points in Game 1) to be lots more assertive here while taking double the shots (Harden went 6-for-13 from the field in this series opener).

Note …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to pile up the profits in this year’s NBA Playoffs and we’ll continue to rock-n-roll through the post-season all week and all month long.

Go online right here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and cash in with all the NBA Playoffs and remember there’s Major-League Baseball on tap every day too!

THE BASEBALL REPORT
Make no mistake about it:
Scoring is down, down, down across the board in Major-League Baseball – believe it or not there were 56 shutouts thrown in Major-League Baseball while entering last night’s action – and one stat that we’ve grown to love in recent years is the “run differential” stat that can be found in most MLB Standings.

Don’t look now but the following “name teams” are all minus in the run differential department (through games of May 4th):

The Boston Red Sox – okay, much in part because the starting rotation has an MLB-worst ERA of 5.62 – is a minus 16 so far with 123 runs scored and 139 runs allowed;

The Chicago White Sox – who most folks believe “won” the off-season – are a minus 38 in the runs differential category with 70 runs scored and 108 runs allowed – and how about the fact the Pale Hose registered a measly 8 runs in the four-game weekend sweep at the hands of the host Minnesota Twins;

The Seattle Mariners were supposed to be the “now” team in the American League this year but instead the M’s entered this here-and-now series versus the Los Angeles Angels with a minus 25 figure in runs differential with 95 runs scored and 120 runs allowed and remember they have baseball’s biggest bopper right now in OF/DH Nelson Cruz with 14 home runs;

The Washington Nationals basically were christened the next National League champs but even with a recent hot streak the Nats are a minus 4 in the runs differential category with 111 runs scored and 115 runs allowed. True, some of that’s attributed to the rotten defense played early in the year by SS Ian Desmond but it’s a little kooky to think some 27 games into the current campaign this D.C. gang would have allowed more runs than they scored;

And the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants are a minus 19 runs at press time with just 81 runs scored in the team’s first 26 games (that’s 3.11 runs per game, folks) and 100 runs allowed. Still, someday Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy has this team at .500 (see 13-13) despite the negative runs differential and you’ll note OF Hunter Pence will be back from injury before you know it.

NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez.