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Thursday, March 15, 2018

UFC Odds: Werdum-Volkov at Fight Night 127

Two massive Heavyweights will meet in the Octagon this Saturday when former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum faces former Bellator and M-1 Global champ Alexander Volkov at the O2 Arena in London. Werdum (23-7-1 lifetime, 11-4 UFC) is the –190 favorite at press time after opening at –225; Volkov (29-6 lifetime, 3-0 UFC) has improved from +175 to +155 in early betting.

Werdum has accomplished everything there is in mixed martial arts. Since making his official debut in 2002, the 40-year-old Brazilian veteran has beaten the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva. He took the Heavyweight strap off Cain Velasquez in 2015, but dropped it to Stipe Miocic one year later. Since then, Werdum is 3-1 in the Octagon, most recently defeating Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision last November in Sydney.

Volkov, a 29-year-old Moscow native, joined the pro ranks with M-1 Global in 2009, then fought for Bellator in 2012-15 before returning home to M-1 in 2016. Volkov is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Werdum, but despite three straight UFC victories, Volkov remains outside the Top-10 Heavyweights according to Sherdog, while Werdum checks in at No. 4.

UFC Odds: Werdum, Volkov Clash in London

Former UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 lifetime, 11-4 UFC) will take on former Bellator and M-1 Global champion Alexander Volkov (29-6 lifetime, 3-0 UFC) this Saturday at Fight Night 127 in London. Werdum is the –190 favorite at press time, down from –225 at the open.

Volkov has a number of advantages in this fight. He’s 11 years younger than Werdum at age 29 and three inches taller at 6-foot-7, and he’s undefeated since joining the UFC in 2016. Werdum is 3-1 in the Octagon since losing the Heavyweight title to Stipe Miocic, also in 2016.

NHL Odds: Columbus Heads to Philadelphia in a Clash Between Division Rivals

It’s crunch time for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers. While they both occupy a playoff spot at press time, those spots are far from secure. Thursday’s matchup will be pivotal, as only two points separate the Metropolitan Division clubs.

The Philadelphia Flyers (35-24-11) were the hottest team in the NHL for nearly a month, as they went 10-1-2 in February and tallied six straight wins during that period. Since the calendar turned to March, February’s good fortune has turned for the Flyers. They’ve won just one game in seven this month and are in jeopardy of falling to the first Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference at the hands of the Blue Jackets this Thursday (7:00 PM ET).

Columbus, meanwhile, seems to have picked up where Philly left off. They’ve won five straight contests and have reinserted themselves into the playoff picture. The team’s recent play has been supported by some fantastic offensive output from their star defenseman, Seth Jones. Jones has scored three goals and four assists in his last three games, but he left Monday’s game against the Canadiens early due to injury. The defenseman’s status is unknown for Thursday’s matchup.

NHL Odds: Giroux Looks to Right the Flyers’ Ship Against Columbus

The Philadelphia Flyers welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to town this Thursday (7:00 PM ET) in an important game that has significant playoff implications. The Flyers have won just one game in their last seven, and team captain, Claude Giroux (25 goals, 57 assists), will be relied upon heavily to turn Philadelphia’s recent skid around.

Columbus enters Philadelphia as a confident team. They’ve won five straight games and see an opportunity to leapfrog the Flyers for the final divisional spot in the Metropolitan. Seth Jones has been the team’s catalyst of late, but his status is unknown heading into Thursday’s contest after he left Monday’s game with an upper body injury. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NHL Odds: Bruins Continue Playoff March in Florida

It doesn’t look like the Boston Bruins (43-16-8) are about to slow down anytime soon. The Bruins have won six of their last seven games to take over second place in the Eastern Conference standings, but this Thursday, they’ll have to contend with an even hotter team: the Florida Panthers (34-26-7), who have re-joined the playoff hunt by winning eight of their last ten. NESN has the coverage from BB&T Center beginning at 7:30 PM ET.

The Bruins have been on a tear since mid-November, getting quality goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, who are tied with a .918 save percentage. Boston’s puck possession stats are strong, and they’re winning 50.9% of their face-offs, but they might have to do without their top skater. LW Brad Marchand (29 goals, 40 assists) is day-to-day with an undisclosed upper-body injury that he picked up over the weekend.

Florida’s renaissance can be traced to one man: goalie Roberto Luongo (.926 SV%). He came off the injured list in mid-February and has won eight of his 11 starts since then, allowing two goals or fewer on six occasions. The Panthers are now completely healthy for their Wild-Card chase in the East.

NHL Odds: Bruins-Panthers in Battle of Streaking Teams

The Boston Bruins (43-16-8) have won six of their last seven games. The Florida Panthers (34-26-7) have won eight of 10. They’ll meet this Thursday at the BB&T Center, starting at 7:30 PM ET on NESN. LW Brad Marchand (upper-body injury, day-to-day) could sit for the Bruins.

Boston has been on fire since mid-November, storming into second place in the Eastern Conference and fourth overall in the NHL standings. Florida’s success has been more recent; they’ve moved into Wild Card position in the East since top netminder Roberto Luongo (.926 save percentage) returned to active duty last month.

NBA Odds: Wizards-Celtics in Eastern Showdown

If the Boston Celtics want to grab that No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve got some work to do. Boston (46-21 SU, 40-25-2 ATS) find themselves 3.5 games back in the Eastern standings, and they’ve got a difficult matchup this Wednesday against the No. 5 Washington Wizards (38-29 SU, 32-34-1 ATS), tipping off from the TD Garden at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

The Celtics have done their best to keep up with the first-place Toronto Raptors, winning six of their last eight games straight up and against the spread, but they’re still losing ground in the East. They could also be without their best player on Wednesday; point guard Kyrie Irving missed the second half of Sunday’s 99-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers (+5 away) with a sore left knee that’s been bothering him for a while.

Washington has been without their superstar point guard for over six weeks, also because of a left knee injury. John Wall hasn’t played since January 25 after undergoing surgery, although he could return any time now; the Wizards are 12-7 SU and 12-6-1 ATS since Wall went under the knife, but only 2-4 SU and 2-3-1 ATS in their past six games.

NBA Odds: Will Irving Play for Boston Against the Wiz?

The Boston Celtics (46-21 SU, 40-25-2 ATS) have fallen 3.5 games out of first in the Eastern Conference, and they might not have Kyrie Irving in the lineup for Wednesday’s home game against the No. 5 Washington Wizards (38-29 SU, 32-34-1 ATS). ESPN has the coverage at 8 PM ET.

Irving has been bothered by a sore left knee, and he was taken out of Sunday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers during the first half. His status for Wednesday is unknown at press time; John Wall (knee) is also uncertain for Washington after missing over six weeks of action.

NBA Odds: Pacers, 76ers Prepare for Battle on Tuesday

The Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Currently, the Pacers are third, and the 76ers are sixth, so this could very well end up being a first-round playoff series preview.

After beating the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the Pacers are 39-28 SU and 38-29 ATS. The 99-97 victory was powered by Victor Oladipo, who had 27 points. With nine wins in their last 12 games, the Pacers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now.

The 76ers aren’t too far behind. Following a win in Brooklyn on Sunday, they’re 36-29 SU and 36-27-2 ATS. With 11 wins in their last 15 games, they’ve been one of the better teams in the East of late. They’ve been particularly dominant at home, where they’ve won 11 straight games.

The Pacers are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the 76ers, who have split a pair of games with Indiana this season. On November 3, the 76ers won 121-110 at home, while the Pacers returned the favor with a 100-92 victory at home on February 3.

NBA Odds: 76ers Look to Close Gap on Pacers

Following Sunday’s win over the Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers are in third place in the Eastern Conference. On Tuesday, they’ll visit the Philadelphia 76ers, a team they could end up facing in the first round of the playoffs this postseason.

These two teams have met twice this season, with the home team winning on each occasion. The 76ers won 121-110 on November 3 behind a triple-double from Ben Simmons and 31 points from JJ Redick. Meanwhile, the Pacers won 100-92 on February 3, with Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic both putting up 19 points to lead the way.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Boxing Odds: Oscar Valdez vs. Scott Quigg

Boxing’s mini-renaissance continues this Saturday (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) with yet another major title fight: WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez will put his belt on the line against Scott Quigg at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Valdez is the –450 favorite at press time; Quigg is available at +325.

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It could be a closer fight than the odds suggest. Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) has yet to lose as a pro, successfully defending his title three times since winning it in 2016. However, Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) was the WBA super-bantamweight champion for four years before dropping the strap to Carl Frampton by split decision, also in 2016 – the only loss on Quigg’s otherwise impressive resume.
As far as the rankings are concerned, The Ring has Valdez rated No. 6 in the world at 126 pounds, just two spots ahead of Quigg. BoxRec prefers the underdog at No. 6, with Valdez next in seventh place; on their pound-for-pound rankings, Quigg checks in at No. 53, 11 spots clear of Valdez at No. 63. This is an early Fight of the Year candidate, so don’t miss out – Bovada will have an updated list of boxing props as bell time approaches.
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Boxing Odds: Valdez-Quigg Could Be Fight of the Year

Expect plenty of fireworks this Saturday (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) when Scott Quigg challenges Oscar Valdez for the WBO featherweight title in Carson, California. Valdez is a –450 favorite, but Quigg (+325) is more than capable of taking the belt.

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Although Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) is undefeated as a pro, Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) was the WBA super-bantamweight champion for four years before losing to Carl Frampton via split decision in 2016. Quigg is also 2.5 inches taller than Valdez at 5-foot-8 and is easily the toughest test Valdez has ever faced inside the squared circle.

NHL Odds: Blues Take on Sharks in Critical Western Conference Matchup

With just 16 games remaining in each of their schedules, every game and every point counts for the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The playoffs are approaching, and this game will feel every bit like a playoff matchup.

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The St. Louis Blues are in a tailspin. They’ve won just two out of their last 10 games and sit two points out of a playoff spot. That recent play caused Blues’ management to send veteran Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for picks and a prospect. St. Louis is still within striking distance of a playoff spot, however, and they’ve tallied points in two of out of the last three games. The Blues will need to continue turning things around on Thursday, as they’ll be up against a team that they’re chasing in the standings.

While San Jose sits in the second spot in the Pacific Division, they only have a three-point cushion over the Colorado Avalanche, which currently sits in the ninth spot in the West. In the final stretch of the season, the Sharks will need more from their offense, which has scored just 2.91 goals per game. Look for a breakout game from the likes of Pavelski and Burns in this important matchup.

NHL Odds: Pavelski and Schenn go Head to Head in San Jose

This Thursday (10:30 PM ET), the San Jose Sharks will look to continue the St. Louis Blues’ recent struggles. Joe Pavelski and the Sharks will attempt to defend their playoff spot, which is currently a miniscule three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche. They’ll need to beat teams like St. Louis if they hope to secure a playoff berth.

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At the opposite end of the ice, the St. Louis Blues have fallen out of a playoff spot due to recent play that has resulted in them winning just two of their last 10 games. They’ll look to team-leading scorer Brayden Schenn to drive this team back to a playoff spot starting with a victory over the Sharks.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

NHL Odds: Rangers, Lightning Reunite Post-Trade

It was just over a week ago that the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-17-4) and the New York Rangers (30-30-6) pulled off the biggest blockbuster at the NHL trade deadline. They’ll do business again this Thursday at Amalie Arena, starting at 7:30 PM ET.

The deal in question saw the Lightning acquire defenseman Ryan McDonagh and LW JT Miller from New York, in exchange for forward Vladislav Namestnikov, two prospects and two draft picks. Tampa Bay is 2-0-1 since the trade, although McDonagh has yet to make his debut because of an upper-body injury; that debut will happen this Thursday if all goes according to plan.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have won three straight games since the deadline, giving them a faint glimmer of playoff hope in the weak Metropolitan Division. Namestnikov had a goal and an assist in those three games, centering New York’s top line, and he won over 55% of his face-offs. The Blueshirts have also enjoyed strong early returns from forward Ryan Spooner, who came over from the Boston Bruins in the big Rick Nash trade. Spooner has one goal and six assists in four games playing left wing on their second unit.

NHL Odds: New Look Rangers, Lightning Collide in Tampa

In their first meeting since the trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-17-4) will host the New York Rangers (30-30-6) this Thursday at 7:30 PM ET. Both teams have enjoyed success since their blockbuster trade; the Lightning are 2-0-1, while the Rangers have won three straight.

The February 26 deal saw New York send defenseman Ryan McDonagh and LW JT Miller to the Bolts in exchange for forward Vladislav Namestnikov, two prospects and two draft picks. While McDonagh (upper body injury) hopes to make his Lightning debut Thursday, Miller has a goal and two assists since landing in Tampa Bay.

NBA Odds: Cavaliers Visit Millsap, Nuggets

The Cleveland Cavaliers looked like they had things figured out at the trade deadline. But the remodeled Cavs have gone 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS since the All-Star break, and they’ve got a tough road game coming up this Wednesday (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) against the Denver Nuggets, who have just welcomed arguably their most important player back into the lineup.

The Nuggets (35-28 SU, 29-31-3 ATS) already own one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA, playing in the thin air at the Pepsi Center. Now they’ve got PF Paul Millsap in uniform after a three-month absence following surgery on his left wrist. Millsap was Denver’s key offseason acquisition in free agency; the Nuggets have won back-to-back games since he returned to the starting rotation.

That includes Saturday’s 126-117 victory over the Cavaliers (36-26 SU, 19-42-1 ATS) as 5-point road dogs on the NBA betting lines. Cleveland didn’t have nearly the same offensive flow as the Nuggets, serving up 25 assists to Denver’s 35, and while the quality of their bench has improved since the deadline, depth will be an ongoing concern until PF Kevin Love (broken hand) returns from the injured list later this month.

NBA Odds: Millsap, Nuggets Host Reeling Cavaliers

The Denver Nuggets (35-28 SU, 29-31-3 ATS) are ready for their playoff push after welcoming Paul Millsap back from a three-month absence. They’ll host the stumbling Cleveland Cavaliers (36-26 SU, 19-42-1 ATS) this Wednesday at 10:30 PM ET on ESPN.

Denver has won back-to-back games since Millsap returned from his wrist injury, including Saturday’s 126-117 victory over Cleveland (–5 at home). The Cavaliers are 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS since the All-Star break; so far, Larry Nance Jr. is their only trade-deadline acquisition who’s delivered positive results, while George Hill and Rodney Hood both struggle to fit in.

NBA Odds: Rockets, Thunder Clash on Tuesday

The Houston Rockets are trying to hold on to the top seed in the Western Conference, while the Oklahoma City Thunder are just aiming to stay in the top eight. The two teams meet in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET.

The Rockets are 49-13 SU (32-29-1 ATS) after a 123-120 win over the Boston Celtics at home Saturday night. James Harden led the way with 26 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, while Eric Gordon added 29 points off the bench for Houston. The Rockets have now won 15 games in a row as they try to stay in front of Golden State for the No. 1 seed in the West. This game kicks off a four-game road trip for Houston.

The Thunder, meanwhile, are 37-28 SU (26-39 ATS) after a 108-100 loss in Portland on Saturday. Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Paul George chipped in with 21 points and seven rebounds, although he missed all seven of his three-point attempts. The Thunder will be starting a four-game homestand here.

The Rockets are 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Thunder, who won 112-107 at home over Houston on Christmas Day. Six of those games have gone under the posted total.

NBA Odds: Harden, Westbrook Go Head-To-Head in Oklahoma City

James Harden of the Houston Rockets has been having an MVP season while the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook, has been trying to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs. The two meet on Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

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Harden has been averaging 31.2 points, 8.9 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Rockets. His recent play has propelled the team to a 15-game winning streak. Westbrook has countered with 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 9.7 rebounds for the Thunder, who have been wildly inconsistent this season. They are 7-8 in their last 15 games. The Thunder beat the Rockets 112-107 on Christmas Day, but the Rockets were without Chris Paul for that game.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Entertainment Odds: Three Billboards Favored at Oscars

The 90th Academy Awards are this Sunday (8 PM ET, ABC) at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, and at press time, it’s a close race for the Best Picture Oscar between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (–115) and The Shape of Water (+140). Get Out is a distant third-favorite at +550.

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The other major Oscar races are far less competitive. Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water) is a heavy –1000 favorite to win Best Director; Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards) are even heavier at –2500 to win Best Actor and Best Actress. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) is –800 to win Best Supporting Actor, while Allison Janney (I, Tonya) is –600 in the Best Supporting Actress category.

While The Shape of Water leads the pack with 13 Oscar nominations, it appears Three Billboards has the inside track for Best Picture, after winning at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and two weeks ago at the BAFTAs. The Shape of Water swept the guild awards for producers, directors and editors. Of the remaining seven nominees, Lady Bird is a compelling dark horse at +1400, taking down Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes.

Entertainment Odds: Will The Shape of Water Dominate the Oscars?

The Shape of Water leads Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards (8 PM ET, ABC) with 13 Oscar nominations, but when it comes to Best Picture, this highly-acclaimed film is a +140 second-favorite behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at –115.

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If The Shape of Water falls short, Guillermo Del Toro is a near-lock at –1000 to win Best Director for his work. Three Billboards is also likely to scoop the Oscars for Best Actress (Frances McDormand, –2500) and Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell, –800). Gary Oldman is –2500 to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

NHL Odds: Penguins Face Bruins in Boston this Thursday

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins have been two of the three hottest teams in the NHL since January 1. Following an eventual trade deadline, the squads face off on Thursday (7 PM ET) for a preview of a likely Eastern Conference playoff matchup.

The Boston Bruins made one of the biggest splashes this trade deadline, picking up the former 40-goal scorer, Rick Nash from the New York Rangers. With 84 points on the season and 21 games still to play, the Bruins look poised to give Tampa Bay a run for their money for top spot in the East. They’ll be without the best all-round player on their team for an indefinite period, however, as Patrice Bergeron suffered a fractured foot while blocking a shot on Saturday.

Pittsburgh, too, was active over the trade deadline, picking up Derek Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. Brassard is set to slot in as the team’s third line centre behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and will give the Penguins arguably the best top three centre combination in the NHL. The Pens also suffered injury news this this week, however, as Matt Murray was diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely.

NHL Odds: Nash and the Bruins take on Sid and the Pens

In just his third game in a Bruins uniform, Rick Nash has come as advertised. He potted a goal on Tuesday against the Hurricanes, and appears dangerous every shift he’s on the ice. He’ll look to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s backup netminder on Thursday (7 PM ET).

With the unfortunate injury to Matt Murray, the Penguins will look to rookie Casey DeSmith to carry the load. They’ll put even more pressure on the offensively-gifted Pens to find the back of the net, as the rookie can’t be expected to shut down the door every night. Look for a high-scoring affair out of this matchup.

NHL Odds: Sharks Buy, Hawks Sell Before Thursday Matchup

Have the Chicago Blackhawks (27-28-8) pulled the plug on their playoff hopes? The last-place team in the Central Division was a seller at Monday’s NHL trade deadline. The San Jose Sharks (33-21-9), on the other hand, are second in the Pacific, and they’ve bolstered their lineup ahead of Thursday’s matchup with the visiting Hawks, beginning at 10:30 PM ET on WGN and NBCSN.

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Chicago did quite well at the deadline sending RW Ryan Hartman (eight goals, 17 assists in 53 games) to the Nashville Predators and getting a first-round pick as part of the exchange. The Hawks also shipped RW Tommy Wingels (seven goals, five assists in 57 games) to the Boston Bruins for a fifth-round pick, and they waived LW Lance Bouma (three goals, six assists), so depth might be an issue this Thursday.

The Sharks, meanwhile, sent a conditional first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the deal for top-line LW Evander Kane (20 goals, 20 assists). It was a small price to pay, but Kane is in a prolonged slump, scoring just five goals and an assist since January 1. He’ll also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

NHL Odds: Kane Joins Sharks to Face Stripped-Down Hawks

The San Jose Sharks (33-21-9) will have a new top line this Thursday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks (27-28-8), starting at 10:30 PM ET on WGN and NBCSN. The Sharks acquired LW Evander Kane from Buffalo before Monday’s trade deadline; he’s expected to man the first unit alongside center Logan Couture and RW Joe Pavelski.

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With the playoffs a distant possibility, Chicago was a seller at the trade deadline, sending RW Ryan Hartman to Nashville for a package including a first-round pick. Hartman played on the third line for the Hawks, and led the team in plus-minus at plus-5.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

NBA Odds: Paul, Rockets Visit Tough Clippers Team

The Los Angeles Clippers (31-27 SU, 33-24-1 ATS) look different today than last year. They don’t have Chris Paul or Blake Griffin anymore, but the Clippers are 6-3 SU and ATS since trading Griffin to Detroit, and they’ll be reunited with Paul this Wednesday when they host his new team, the Houston Rockets (46-13 SU, 30-28-1 ATS). Tip-off is at 10:30 PM ET on ESPN.

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Los Angeles isn’t quite as potent without Paul manning the point, but the seven players they received from Houston in their offseason trade have helped the Clippers stay balanced and competitive in the Western Conference. The Rockets, meanwhile, are first in the league standings after 12 straight wins at 7-5 ATS, and they’ve addressed their depth concerns by adding veterans Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright after their contracts were bought out.

Health could be a problem for the Clippers going into Wednesday’s game. Oft-injured forward Danilo Gallinari is on the shelf again with a right hand contusion, although he could be back in action any day. SG Avery Bradley, who came over from the Pistons in the Griffin trade, is out until March with a lingering groin issue.

NBA Odds: Clippers Prepare for Paul, Rockets

Chris Paul will make his return to Staples Center this Wednesday (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) as a member of the Houston Rockets. Paul will face his former employers, the Los Angeles Clippers, who are 6-3 SU and ATS since trading Blake Griffin to Detroit before the deadline.

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While the Clippers have surprised the NBA betting market with their competitiveness, Houston has taken over first place in the league standings at 46-13 after winning 12 straight games at 7-5 ATS. Paul has played a big role in Houston’s success, although it’s a supporting role alongside leading MVP candidate James Harden.

NBA Odds: 76ers Travel to Face Heat on Tuesday

The Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers are battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The two will meet in Miami on Tuesday, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 PM ET.

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The 76ers’ seven-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday in Washington. However, they’re a young team that continues to improve with every performance. Six of those seven wins were at home, though, and they’ll have to prove they can win on the road. They’ve dropped five of their last six away games, so it won’t be easy.

The Heat are 31-29 SU and snapped a three-game losing skid with a 115-89 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. SG Tyler Johnson led the way with 23 points. He’ll need to continue producing at that level to help Miami get out of their rut. Overall, the Heat have lost eight of their last 10 games.

The Heat have won six of their last 10 meetings with the 76ers, who split those games against the spread. The 76ers won both meetings with the Heat this season, winning 103-97 on February 2 and 104-102 on February 14. Both games were played in Philadelphia, though.

NBA Odds: Red-Hot 76ers Take on Slumping Heat

The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA of late, winning seven of their last eight games. On Tuesday, they’ll visit the Miami Heat, who have dropped eight of their last 10 games overall.

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The 76ers won both games with the Heat this season, but both of those games were in Philadelphia. On February 2, the 76ers won 103-97 and on February 14, they won 104-102. The 76ers have not been very strong on the road, as they’ve lost five of their last six away games.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Soccer Odds: Arsenal vs. Man City for League Cup

The English Football League will be handing out the silverware this Sunday (11:30 AM ET, ESPN) when Manchester City and Arsenal meet in the EFL Cup final at Wembley. This is the third-most important domestic competition in England, open to anyone in the top four divisions; City are heavy –175 favorites at press time, followed by Arsenal at +425 and the draw at +335.

It’s already been a remarkable season for Manchester City. They’re bossing the Premiership with 23 wins, three draws and just one defeat; the Gunners (13W, 6D, 8L) are sixth on the table, seven points behind Tottenham Hotspur for automatic qualification into the Europa League. Winning the EFL Cup would also qualify Arsenal for European club competition. City are headed for the Champions League, so they have less incentive to win Sunday’s match.

That doesn’t mean they won’t try. City lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic (currently in League One) during their fifth-round FA Cup match last Monday, ending their hopes of completing a historic “quadruple” by sweeping all four major trophies. Sunday will be their first match since that disappointing upset, and they won’t play again until March 1 when they visit Arsenal in the Premiership.

Soccer Odds: City Looks to Rebound in League Cup Final

After getting eliminated from the FA Cup, Manchester City will get back on the horse this Sunday (11:30 AM ET, ESPN) when they face Arsenal in the EFL Cup final at Wembley. City are –175 favorites, with Arsenal at +425 and the draw pegged at +335.

Manchester City (23W, 3D, 1L in the Premiership) are in a sour mood after losing 1-0 to Wigan Athletic in Monday’s fifth-round FA Cup match. Arsenal’s motivation is different; at 13-6-8, the Gunners (13W, 6D, 8L) are sixth on the table and need a win Sunday to secure a spot in the Europa League.

NHL Odds: Islanders Take on Maple Leafs in Toronto

John Tavares and the New York Islanders head to Toronto to take on Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs in a battle between Eastern Conference foes. Don’t miss these offensive juggernauts going toe to toe.

The Toronto Maple Leafs (37-20-5) are peaking at the right time of year. Though they’ve been solid throughout the regular season, they’ve found another stride over their last 13 games, going 11-2 over the stretch. That recent run has led to the Leafs putting a stranglehold over third place in the Atlantic Division. With only 20 games left in the season, they’ll look to finish strong and set themselves up for a long playoff run this spring.

The New York Islanders (29-26-6) are currently tied for the final Wild Card spot in the East. All season long, the Islanders have benefitted from the outstanding offensive output of Captain John Tavares (30 goals, 34 assists), rookie Mathew Barzal (16 goals, 46 assists), and Josh Bailey (15 goals, 47 assists). Few teams in the NHL have three different players with at least 60 points on the season thus far, and they’ve led New York to the fourth-best offense in the NHL. Thursday will be a battle between offensively-minded teams, so don’t miss the fireworks.

NHL Odds: Tavares takes on Matthews in Toronto

This Thursday (7 PM ET), the New York Islanders touch down in Toronto to take on the offensively-gifted Maple Leafs. New York is desperate for wins with only 21 games left on their season. They’re currently tied for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, so they’ll be keen to take two points from the Leafs.

Toronto has hit another level in their game in recent weeks, going 11-2 in their last 13 games. As the playoffs approach, they’ll look to their stars to lead them down the stretch and continue secure home ice advantage in the playoffs. Puck drop is 7 PM ET.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Olympic Odds: Canadian Men Favored in Curling

Curling has become the darling sport of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The men’s semifinals begin this Thursday (7:05 AM ET); Team Sweden is in first place in the round robin standings at press time, but Team Canada leads the Olympics futures market at –140, with Sweden at +140.

With two matches remaining before the playoffs, Sweden (skip: Niklas Edin) has a 6-1 record, including a 5-2 victory over Canada (skip: Kevin Koe). Edin’s crew is almost certain to finish in the Top 4 and qualify for the semifinals. Koe and the Canadians are tied with Great Britain (skip: Kyle Smith) for the last two spots at 4-3. Switzerland (skip: Peter de Cruz) holds down second place in the round robin standings at 5-2.

Canada’s expertise in curling is widely known, winning the gold at each of the last three Winter Games, but Koe’s team has some work to do just to make the playoffs. Switzerland, the 1998 gold medallists, are a bargain on the Olympics odds board at +1400, followed by Great Britain (the silver medallists from 2014) at +1400. The gold medal game for PyeongChang is this Saturday at 2:35 AM ET.

Olympic Odds: Sweden Leads, But Canada Favored in Men’s Curling

With two matches left to go before Thursday’s semifinal round, Team Sweden is in first place in the men’s curling round robin at 6-1; however, Sweden are second-favorites on the Olympic futures market at +140, behind Team Canada at –140.

Canada won gold at each of the last three Games, but at press time, they’re tied with Great Britain (+1400) at 4-3 for the last two spots in the semifinals, behind Switzerland (+1400) at 5-2.  This year’s gold medal game starts Saturday at 2:35 AM ET, exactly 24 hours after the bronze medal is decided.

NBA Odds: NBA Resumes with Cavaliers Hosting Wizards on Thursday

The NBA All-Star break was entertaining, but now it’s back to business. On Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Washington Wizards in a matchup of Eastern Conference playoff teams.

The Wizards are 33-24 SU (27-30 ATS) after winning their final game before the break 118-113 against the Knicks in New York. SG Bradley Beal led the way with 36 points and seven assists, helping the Wizards fight back from a 27-point deficit to get the win. Even without John Wall in the lineup, they’re staying in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Wall, who’s out with a knee injury, should be back in the lineup in a month.

The Cavaliers (34-22 SU, 18-37-1 ATS) defeated Oklahoma City 120-112 on the road in their last game before the break. LeBron James had 37 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Cavaliers, who are now 2-0 since overhauling their team at the trade deadline.

The Cavaliers are 7-3 SU in their last 10 meetings with the Wizards, who are 5-5 ATS in that span. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards 130-122 on November 3 and then again by a score of 106-99 on December 17. Both games were played in Washington.

NBA Odds: Cavaliers Aim to Take Down Wizards on Thursday

The Cleveland Cavaliers have looked like a different team since making their moves at the trade deadline. The Washington Wizards are up next for the Cavaliers, who will be at home after the All-Star break.

The Cavaliers have won two in a row since making a slew of moves at the deadline and four in a row overall. The wins have come against quality teams like Boston and Oklahoma City – both on the road. Meanwhile, the Wizards are 1.5 games behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference as they await the return of John Wall from a knee injury. The Cavaliers have won both meetings with the Wizards this season, with both games taking place in Washington.

NBA Odds: Rebuilt Cavs Welcome Wiz to The Q

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 3-0 SU and ATS since clearing out the deadwood before the NBA trade deadline. They’ll try to keep that momentum going this Thursday when they host the Washington Wizards in their first game after the All-Star break. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Cavaliers (34-22 SU, 18-37-1 ATS) paid a hefty price to remodel their team, but the improvements are obvious. Cleveland got rid of their worst performers this year, including point guards Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose, and brought in some quality replacements – none better than Larry Nance Jr., who was arguably the best player on the Los Angeles Lakers this year.
Washington (33-24 SU, 27-30 SU) is still in first place in the Southeast Division despite losing point guard John Wall until mid-March, after he had surgery on his balky left knee. Wall missed the last nine games before the All-Star break; the Wizards went 7-2 SU and ATS in his absence, and decided not to make any moves at the trade deadline. But they might have some depth issues on Thursday after back-up PG Tim Frazier had surgery on his broken nose two Sundays ago.

NBA Odds: Cavs Host Wiz to Start “Second Half”

After a well-deserved week off, the NBA returns from the All-Star break this Thursday with six games, including the rebuilt Cleveland Cavaliers (34-22 SU, 18-37-1 ATS) hosting the Washington Wizards (33-24 SU, 27-30 SU) at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Cavaliers are 3-0 SU and ATS since the trade deadline, shipping out underperforming big names like Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade while getting George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson in return. The Wizards, who stood pat at the deadline, are 7-2 SU and ATS since John Wall (knee) went back on the injured list.