Texas (Rodriguez) at Los Angeles (Richards) -175 O/U 7.5
Recommendation: Los Angeles
Positive signs for Los Angeles' Garrett Richards following last year's ugly knee injury. In his first start he recorded four strikeouts, 12 ground balls, and nine swinging strikes in five innings of work vs. Houston. His velocity was also not that far removed from last year. Richards had a little bit of trouble with command (four walks) but that’s to be expected following such a long layoff. Meanwhile, due to a slew of injuries, the Rangers are carting out 36-year-old Wandy Rodriguez who was last seen getting released by Pittsburgh in 2014. Texas picked him up as a safety valve and was just called up from Triple-A for tonight's start. Perhaps a boost after given another chance but coming from the left side against the Angels isn't exactly an ideal matchup. On the flip side the Rangers are somehow hitting below .200 vs. righties and get no favors by facing a premium right-handed arm in Richards. This contest may have one of the highest price tags on the board but last year -- and likely within a few months -- you'd see north of -200. Those able to shop around should find below -175 as we back the home favorite.
San Antonio vs. Los Angeles
Adjusted Series Recommendation: Clippers +160
Now that the Spurs have eked out a Game 2 series tying victory in overtime, the time is right to jump on the LA Clippers to win this seven game set at an attractive plus price. Remember, locking in on LA now will offer significant flexibility if this series does go the distance – the Clippers will be short home favorites in Game 7, allowing the opportunity for a plus price hedge on San Antonio for bettors who choose to go that route.
That being said, I’m not convinced in the slightest that this series will go the full seven games, because there’s one key matchup that the Spurs cannot win – at point guard. Chris Paul is elite, healthy and at the top of his game, hitting 58% from the floor in the first two games of the series (60% from three point range) with 15 rebounds, 13 assists and a very reasonable six turnovers. Tony Parker, on the other hand, is a non-factor moving forward if he suits up at all. Parker is 4-17 from the floor in the series thusfar, with only six assists. With lingering injuries to his Achilles, ankle and thigh, Parker has no chance to heal and he’s only bringing a shell of his A-game right now.
The Spurs were able to steal Game 2 because Blake Griffin dribbled a ball off his foot at the end of regulation, because Tim Duncan went 44 minutes in a throwback performance AND because Patty Mills stepped up with a huge game when Parker was on the bench. I’m not convinced in the slightest that any one of those three things are likely to be repeated.
Griffin has been playing at a very high level since returning from injury; hence the Clips 15-2 SU mark in 17 games since losing his first game back. Duncan played 44 minutes on Wednesday, the most he’s played in any game since December and more minutes than he played in any playoff game last year. The two day turnaround time between Games 2, 3 and 4 aren’t going to help the 38 year old Hall of Famer regain his legs quickly. And while Mills is capable of the occasional scoring outburst, he’s no Tony Parker. LA is most assuredly a live underdog moving forward in this series; a series I expect them to win.
This is becoming rather redundant: "fantasy sports" is gambling, people. You make "picks" that have the potential to earn you money. Why is this so difficult to understand? If you want to call it a "game of skill" then by all means do so. But quite trying to con folks into thinking it's different (or "cleaner") than putting $50 down on a baseball game.
“They’ve drawn a line of demarcation between fantasy and gaming,” said Reed Bergman, CEO and president of Playbook, a sports marketing agency. What will be fascinating to see is how ESPN separates real sports from fantasy. “You’re dealing with a separation of church and state issue,” added Bergman.
Las Vegas residents have two options for sporting entertainment on Saturday, May 2. You can take in a Las Vegas 51s game for around $12 or take a small step up in class and pay as much as $7,500 to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather duke it out at the MGM Grand. Your call.
Tickets for the MGM Grand Garden Arena are priced at $7,500, $5,000, $3,500, $2,500 and $1,500, not including applicable service charges, and will go on sale at 3 p.m. ET Thursday via Ticketmaster. They are limited to four per household. There are $10,000 tickets, but they are not among the roughly 500 tickets being made available to the public out of the roughly 16,000 tickets.
Shaky first start for Homer Bailey after last year's major arm surgery. Against the Cardinals, Bailey tossed 5.2 innings, walked three, and failed to record a strikeout. The postgame quotes indicate he's a long way from returning to full strength. He's slated to toss against Milwaukee this afternoon.
"I just want to make sure he gets through this OK and his elbow is OK," Price said. "I don't think he's by any means 100 percent yet, but he is where he needs to be with his rehab, as far as coming back and being able to compete. I think his best stuff, his best days, are still a little ways ahead of him."
Minnesota (Pelfrey) at Kansas City (Guthrie) -150 O/U 8
It’s not really that difficult to look at a game involving Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey as the listed starter and immediately wanting to play the other side or “over” the total. Tonight is no exception as Pelfrey will take the hill opposing Kansas City which currently ranks as MLB’s #1 offense in batting average (.310) and on-base percentage (.373). The matchup doesn’t figure to be suited for Pelfrey who is now a pitch to contact starter (only 4 Ks in his 44 batters faced) while the Royals are the toughest team in the majors to strikeout (64; next closest are Mets and Cardinals at 82). Add in his three miserable performances against Kansas City in 2013 (the only three in his career) which saw a pair of four inning or less stints, a 9.49 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, plus a whopping 20.4 pitches per inning and the indicators are there for strong Royals run production tonight. With KC righty starter Jeremy Guthrie off to a slow start this season (5.54 ERA, 4 HRs allowed in 13 innings) the potential for Minnesota to score runs in this contest is strong as well. Guthrie has also had difficulties with the Twins allowing nine runs and 18 base runners in his 13 innings versus them last year. Ingredients are there and price is right to play this one over the total.
FiveThirtyEight.com's Nate Silver gives his take on why an NHL expansion team in Las Vegas is an awful idea.
Our 2013 analysis estimated that there are just 91,000 NHL fans in metro Las Vegas. That’s tiny even by comparison to the six smallest NHL markets that I mentioned before, which have between 146,000 (Nashville) and 279,000 (Tampa) hockey fans. And it’s well below Seattle’s 241,000 or Quebec City’s 530,000 fans.
It wouldn't be mid-April without NFL Week 1 lines. Courtesy of Las Vegas' Westgate Sportsbook. Enjoy.
Thursday, September 10 Pittsburgh at New England -6 O/U 53
Sunday, September 13 Green Bay -4 at Chicago O/U 50
Kansas City at Houston -1.5 O/U 43
Cleveland at NY Jets -1 O/U 41
Indianapolis -3 at Buffalo O/U 48
Miami -2.5 at Washington O/U 44.5
Carolina -4 at Jacksonville O/U 43.5
Seattle -3.5 at St. Louis O/U 44
New Orleans at Arizona -2.5 O/U 48
Detroit at San Diego -2 O/U 46.5
Tennessee at Tampa Bay -3 O/U 42.5
Cincinnati -3 at Oakland O/U 44.5
Baltimore at Denver -4 O/U 53
NY Giants at Dallas -5.5 O/U 50
Monday, September 14 Philadelphia -1.5 at Atlanta O/U 53.5
Minnesota at San Francisco -3.5 O/U 42
Who says there isn't any offense in MLB? Of course in order to get it you have to chuck out two of the fringe-est starters in the league. Three errors and a few homers later, and voila, 26 runs. It's the type of outcome that can really skew a team's stats. But even with the outlier performance, Milwaukee and Cincinnati won't be fooling many bettors into thinking their respective offenses are any good.
San Diego (Morrow) at Colorado (Matzek) -110 O/U 10
The San Diego Padres will try to make it two in a row over the Rockies tonight coming off a 14-3 win last night. Colorado has dropped four in a row after a hot start to their 2015 campaign. The Rockies will send 24-year-old Tyler Matzek who sports a 1.80 ERA following his first two outings. The Padres will go with a righty heavy line up, where surprisingly Matzek has thrived this year holding righties to a .226 batting average against, including a dismal .233 SLG. Another eye popping stat using a larger sample size is Matzek’s success at Coors Field. Last year Matzek posted a respectable 3.27 FIP over 52.1 innings pitched in Denver. Padres’ starter Brandon Marrow has been excellent this year as well with a 1.29 ERA through his first two starts while going seven innings in both outings. His fastball velocity has been consistently north of 93 mph and swinging strike rate at his best mark of his career -- including his opponent’s contact % down just under 5% from last year’s numbers. That suggests he’ll be good to go in this venue. Colorado’s bullpen was worked last night but came in fresh and limited their pitch counts. Mild temps and a slight wind in from left center aid in this one going under the total.
Remember around this time last year when the Milwaukee Brewers where in the midst of duping everyone into thinking they were a good baseball team? Their free swinging, low on-base percentage ways caught up with them the second half and appear that have carried over to 2015. Dating back to last year, the Brew Crew have won 11 of their last 44 games. Last night's loss to Cincinnati dropped them to 2-11 on the season. Carlos Gomez is on the DL and Jonathan Lucroy (broken toe) may join him. Kyle Lohse is regressing at a historical rate. Wily Peralta's velocity is way down. The team sports an MLB-worst .257 OBP. After hitting 150 homers a season ago, they've recorded all of four this season. And according to Baseball Prospectus, their farm system ranks 26th out of 30 teams.
Good news, baseball fans. At the ripe age of 74 years old, Pete Rose just snagged a gig analyzing baseball for FOX. The even better news is there's almost no possible way he'll be worse than Harold Reynolds.
“As a courtesy, Fox informed us that they were interviewing Pete Rose for an on-air studio position,” MLB said in a statement. “The decision to hire on-air talent for its telecasts rests solely with Fox. ”
The Sportsmemo Blog has been around for nearly a decade and during that span we can't recall a gambling movie that turned out to be even remotely watchable. Runner, Runner was brutal. Two for the Money the same. Mark Wahlberg's reboot of The Gambler was so-so at best. And Lay the Favorite is currently in the $2 DVD bin at your local Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, we spotted another one that was just released and it too looks awful. A "thriller"...about gambling...and golf. See for yourself.
Legalized sports betting's biggest booster, Adam Silver, was back in fine form this afternoon on the Boomer & Carton radio show.
“Because they have all that data, they’re able to monitor it,” Silver said. “And if there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange. If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it. And then, No. 2, if all this betting activity is going to go on anyway, make it legal.
“It’s good for business, I don’t want to hide from that,” he continued. “Putting aside whether or not we’re actually actively involved in any of the betting, it creates more engagement. We all know as fans if you have, even like a gentleman’s bet or a $5 bet with your friend on a game, all of a sudden you’re a lot more interested.”
Much of Toronto's preseason expectations were based on the handful of young, talented arms they have in their rotation. Unfortunately, said arms haven't looked all that sharp thus far. Drew Hutchison was smacked around his last two starts (9 IP, 11 ERs) thanks to a dip in velocity. Following Sunday's 2.2 IP, 4 ER effort, Daniel Norris is now complaining of "dead arm." Aaron Sanchez doesn't appear ready to be a full-time starter after limping through his first outings (9 IP, 6 ERs, 5 Ks, 5 BBs). And projected ace Marcus Stroman of course is gone for the year with a knee injury. That leaves elder statesmen RA Dickey and Mark Buehrle to carry the load. The Jays have scored the most runs in baseball (70) but there are already rumblings that changes to the starting staff are imminent.
The San Antonio Spurs opened their defense of their NBA Championship run from last year with a blowout loss on the road at the Staples Center in LA against the Clippers. That Game 1 and the series against the Clips featured some EXTREMELY unusual betting action here in Las Vegas and offshore – money coming on one team (the Clippers) for Game 1 while coming on the other team (San Antonio) for the series. I can’t recall any previous series in my 17 basketball seasons here in Las Vegas where the Game 1 favorite was not the favorite to win the series. The betting action was a clear indicator of the respect bettors have for San Antonio heading into the 2015 postseason.
But following that Game 1 debacle, the Spurs aren’t favored to win the series anymore, with the adjusted series prices popping up following Game 1 showing LA as short chalk moving forward. The question bettors and pundits need to be asking is a simple one. Was the Spurs Game 1 loss simply a bump in the road for this perennial championship contender or was it an "end of an era" indicator, telling us that the Spurs are "fade" material moving forward? End of an era or bump in the road? Read on for my take.
The latest incarnation of the Spurs dynasty probably began in 2012, the year after San Antonio was eliminated in the first round by Memphis in a rare #8 seed upset over the #1 At that point, the Spurs last title had come in their sweep against Cleveland back in 2007, and the Spurs were widely viewed as an aging team from the past, not a title contender for the future.
San Antonio’s 2012 extended playoff run was their first trip to the conference finals since they lost to the Lakers in 2008. In 2012, the Spurs won their first ten playoff games, sweeping the Jazz and the Clippers in the first two rounds before taking the first two from Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs lost their next four to the Thunder, bounced out of the playoffs , and the prevailing conventional wisdom was that Greg Popovich’s run of titles was a long way in the rear view mirror; a fading, declining franchise.
But in 2013, the Spurs proved conventional wisdom wrong. Those Spurs rolled through the Western Conference Playoffs notching a 12-2 SU record as they rolled to the Finals. Of course, that version of the Spurs let a title slip away, blowing a double digit lead in their potential clincher, Game 6 at Miami, then coming up short in Game 7. Again, the pundits were convinced that the Spurs had already accomplished what they were capable of accomplishing. The prevailing thought process was that Greg Popovich’s run of titles and championship appearances was over – the Spurs were simply too old to do it again.
That conventional wisdom was proven wrong last year, as the Spurs were tested multiple times but still worked their way back to the Finals. It took San Antonio 18 playoff games in the West to reach the Finals; an average of six games per series – their highest average during any previous title run. The Spurs faced a 2-1 series deficit to Dallas in the first round last year, and went 0-6 ATS in their first six playoff games before they notched a Game 7 blowout win over the Mavs. San Antonio was also tied 2-2 with Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals, and needed a tough OT win on the road to avoid a Game 7 in that series. Of course the Finals were a different story, as the battle tested Spurs were clicking on all cylinders by June, beating Miami in a relatively easy five game series.
So, after three consecutive extended postseason runs, two trips to the NBA Finals and finally, a fifth championship ring for Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich, the Spurs entered the 2014-15 campaign as the favorite to come out of the West and one of the favorites to win the title. A good, but not great regular season ended with San Antonio earning the #6 seed out of the West, yet the Spurs were still installed by the betting markets as the third most likely team to win the title after Golden State and Cleveland as the playoffs began.
It is worth noting here why the Spurs were the #6 seed. Remember, this team needed only a single victory on the final day of the regular season to earn the #2 seed in the West and the Southwest Division title; riding an eleven game winning streak into New Orleans. But San Antonio came out flat and trailed by as many as 23 points in the second quarter. They rallied in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to four, but never got any closer. The game was widely perceived as New Orleans stepping up to make the playoffs, not San Antonio stumbling in a very meaningful game.
Perhaps that season finale loss in New Orleans needs to be re-evaluated following the Spurs Game 1 loss against the Clippers, because that defeat on Sunday was essentially the same game! The Spurs struggled to defend the low post and struggled to defend the three point line. Throw in another very sluggish start in the first quarter and the end result was a non-competitive Game 1 defeat; a game where the Spurs trailed by double-digits throughout most of the second half.
San Antonio’s post game quotes didn’t seem too concerned, similar to their post-game quotes following their season ending loss to the Pelicans. Coach Popovich: “The game was their defense was better than our offense. That's the bottom line. Their aggressiveness, their physicality, their athleticism really hurt us offensively." Tim Duncan: “They were physical. Their shot blockers in the back, DeAndre especially, I think affected us at the basket. All in all, we were just out of rhythm. … It just wasn't our night." Manu Ginobili: “We made a bunch of mistakes, but overall they just played better. Their defense was way more solid. We could not get anything easy. Even in situations where we got something easy, we could not make shots."
Forward Danny Green: “There was a little bit of [the team missing open shots]. But there was also us not executing the way we normally did in the games we have won in the past month. We moved the ball in spurts. Overall, their defense was really good. Their defense was better than our offense, and we could not make shots on top of that... I think we were a little overly excited. We had some turnovers we normally don't have. Our turnovers led to their fast-break points, and that hurt us. That's one thing we can fix: not turning the ball over. We can't fix not making shots, but we can definitely play defense better."
The Spurs certainly are capable of playing better defense. They are certainly capable of knocking down some of the open looks they missed on Sunday. But I’m not convinced in the slightest that the Spurs are capable of making an extended playoff run once again this year. The cumulative fatigue effect from the last three seasons worth of playoff runs matters. And perhaps most importantly, that hunger to prove they can win another one dissipated following last year’s title. The Clippers certainly played like the hungrier team in Game 1.
San Antonio’s depth is extraordinary, but at this stage of the campaign, their point guard play is not. Tony Parker had the worst plus/minus numbers on the team in the season finale against the Pelicans and his -12 from that game was repeated in his ten point, one assist Game 1 effort in LA. Without Parker playing at the highest of levels – something he’s not doing right now – my take is that the Spurs are in big trouble moving forward against Chris Paul and the Clippers.
Los Angeles (Wilson) at Houston (Keuchel) -115 O/U 8
Betting MLB totals is all about matchups. Yesterday's Angels-Astros game had a total of 9ov because Jered Weaver and Roberto Hernandez are perceived to be mediocre starters --which is true to a certain extent. However, from a matchup perspective, Weaver's right-handed slop vs. free-swinging right-hand heavy Houston was favorable and the same can be said for Hernandez's sinker ball ways vs. LA. The results played out as such as the two combined for a solid 12 innings, 5 ERs, 9 Ks, and no walks. The perception on today's two starters is far different as the total opened 7.5. However, the matchup is much more favorable for the offenses. Throughout his career CJ Wilson has shown a fairly strong split but it's even more pronounced in recent years. Last season, Wilson held lefties to .198. Against righties a dismal .273/.409. Houston starter Dallas Keuchel has similar tendencies with righties hitting 32 points higher. Both lineups have the ability to stack up on right-handed bats with a handful of them capable of driving the ball out of the park. Even with the big move towards the over off the 7.5, we're still in a playable range at 8.
NY Islanders at Washington -145 O/U 5.5
The Washington Capitals will be looking to bounce back from a 4-1 Game 1 loss. The Capitals didn’t play a terrible game in the series opener as the shots were practically even but goaltender Braden Holtby had a very poor showing as he yielded a pair of “soft” goals. Washington’s vaunted power play was supposed to have an edge against a team that struggled on the penalty kill this season but the Capitals were shut down on both power play opportunities. Washington also didn’t seem to have a great sense of urgency but I expect a lot more of that tonight especially when reading this quote from Brooks Laich: "I don't think our execution was there. It starts with thinking quicker and moving quicker. I don't think we did that well in the first period. The result was that we looked like a slow team. It has to get better." We also have two distinct trends working in our favor here as the Islanders do not have a great track record following up wins this season with a 18-29 record. On the flip side, the Caps have showed the focus and intensity required to come back strong following a defeat with a 22-15 mark in games after a loss. I expect the urgency meter to rise significantly for Washington as it looks to avoid an 0-2 hole. The price is reflective of a bounceback but one that I’m willing to lay.