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Thursday, April 27, 2017

NHL : Pacific Division Rivals Face Off in Semifinal Round

After sweeping the Calgary Flames in Round One, the Anaheim Ducks welcome the Edmonton Oilers to the Honda Center for the second game of a best-of-seven series on Friday at 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN. The Ducks benefitted from a balanced offensive attack throughout the first round, with eight players scoring at least one goal, and team captain Ryan Getzlaf leading the way with 3 goals and 2 assists. Goaltender John Gibson was solid in Round One, as he posted a 2.60 goals against average with a .926 save percentage. The Ducks will need a similar team performance as they face the high-octane Oilers.

In their first playoff appearance since 2005-06, the Edmonton Oilers looked like a veteran team who had been there before. They finished only two points out of first place in the Pacific Division behind the Ducks, and continued their strong play from first puck drop of Round One. They eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games, a team that many had repeating as the West’s representative at the Stanley Cup Final. Led by phenom Connor McDavid (2 goals, 2 assists), the Oilers will attempt to knock off another veteran squad in the Ducks.

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NHL Odds: Young Oilers Face Veteran Ducks in Round Two

For a team of unproven playoff performers, the Edmonton Oilers handled the San Jose Sharks and sent them packing after six games. Aside from a 7-0 Game Four loss, the Oilers managed to hold the Sharks off the scoresheet; they gave up more than one goal only twice in the series and will look for a similarly stingy defensive showing against the Ducks in Round Two.

By comparison, the Anaheim Ducks will ice a roster full of playoff veterans. With the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Kevin Bieksa, the Ducks have the experience necessary to frustrate a youthful Oilers team.

Politics : Day 100 for Donald Trump

On April 29, Donald Trump will mark his 100th day in office as President of the United States. Trump has been downplaying the importance of this milestone, which is typically used to evaluate how the presidency has fared thus far. Will he be more reserved than usual on Twitter? Or will he unleash an epic tweetstorm? At press time, the over/under for April 29 tweets sent from @RealDonaldTrump is pegged at 6.5, with OVER the favorite at –150.

You can also bet on what Trump’s approval rating will be on April 29 – specifically, how his numbers will look on the Gallup Daily Job Approval Poll at 2 PM ET. The total is a historically low 38.5% for Day 100, although the OVER is once again favored at –200. Gallup had Trump at 40% approval Tuesday afternoon.

Odds are still available on how long Trump will last in office, but instead of betting on whether he’ll complete his first term, you now have a choice of four possible exit dates: 2017 (+350), 2018 (+400), 2019 (+450), or anytime thereafter (–120). Backlash against his incumbency has also bumped the Democratic Party up to –155 for the 2020 US presidential election.

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Politics Odds: 100 Days of Donald Trump

Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating of any US president during his first 100 days in office. How will his numbers look on Day 100? The total for Trump’s Gallup Daily Job Approval ratings on April 29 (2 PM ET) is set at 38.5%, although the OVER is favored at –200.

Gallup had the POTUS polling at 40% approval Tuesday afternoon. Trump’s low mark thus far was on March 28, when he came in at 35%; the closest Trump’s been to breaking even was two days into his term at 46% approval.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NBA : Bulls, Celtics Return to Boston

The Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics on the road in the first two games of their Eastern Conference playoff series, but the Celtics returned the favor in Chicago. Now, the two teams head back to Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday, with the series tied 2-2.

The Bulls had a great chance to go 3-0 in the series in Game 3, but they were thumped 104-87. The Bulls missed the injured Rajon Rondo, who was great in Games 1 and 2. His freak injury has turned the series around, as the Celtics won the two games that he missed.

The Celtics were dominated 52-37 on the glass in Game 3 and 44-41 in Game 4, which has been a trend for them. However, the rest of the team stepped up to help Isaiah Thomas. Al Horford has averaged 16.5 points per game over the last two, while Gerald Green had a career playoff high 18 points in Game 4.
The home team has yet to win in this series, but we’ll see if that changes in Game 5.

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NBA : Bulls, Celtics Return to Boston

NBA Odds: Celtics Host Bulls for Critical Game 5

The Boston Celtics showed a lot of heart in Games 3 and 4 after losing the first two games of their first-round Eastern Conference series to the Chicago Bulls. Now, the teams return to Boston on Wednesday night with the series tied 2-2.

In the regular season, the Celtics were 30-11 at home, while the Bulls were 16-25 on the road. They had lost their last four trips to Boston. But now the Bulls are without guard Rajon Rondo, who has averaged 11.5 points, 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds in Games 1 and 2.

NBA Odds: Celtics Look to Get Back on Track at Home Against Bulls
The Boston Celtics were one of the best home teams in the regular season, going 30-11. However, they lost their first two home games to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference series. On Wednesday, they get a chance to redeem themselves when the two meet in Boston for Game 5, with the series tied 2-2.

NBA : Celtics Host Bulls, All Tied at 2-2

Are the Chicago Bulls toast without Rajon Rondo? Just when it looked like Chicago was ready to bounce the Boston Celtics from the first round, Rondo broke his thumb, and the Celtics won twice in Chicago to knot their series at two games apiece. Game 5 is back at the Garden this Wednesday on TNT, tip-off time to be determined.

The Bulls have rarely been at full strength this season, but they were in good health going into the playoffs, and they stunned the Celtics on their own parquet with a pair of upset victories. Games 3 and 4 without Rondo were quite the opposite – Boston won both by comfortable margins to cash in as small road favourites.

Only one Chicago player finished in plus territory during Game 4, and he might be their last shot at winning this series. Fourth-string point guard Isaiah Cannan got to play 34 minutes after Jerian Grant was given the quick hook and Michael Carter-Williams proved ineffective. Cannan was a plus-11 on the day, sinking three of his seven trey attempts and picking up a pair of steals. The rest of the Bulls shot 2-of-14 from downtown.

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NBA Odds: No Rondo, No Hope for Bulls in Boston?

The Chicago Bulls looked like they had the jump on the Boston Celtics, but when Rajon Rondo broke his thumb, everything changed. The Celtics are coming back to the Garden tied 2-2 after a pair of easy wins in Chicago. Game 5 is Wednesday night on TNT.
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It might be up to fourth-string point guard Isaiah Cannan to save Chicago’s bacon. With Rondo injured and both Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams proving ineffective, Cannan played 34 minutes in Game 4 on Sunday and finished at plus-11, making him the only Bulls player in positive territory.

MLB : Houston Has No Problems Heading Into Cleveland

The Houston Astros were a fashionable pick to win the AL West, and compelling +1400 third-tier contenders for the World Series. So far, so good: The Astros are off to a 13-6 start (+4.41 betting units), and they’ve lowered their World Series odds to +800 at press time. We could see a preview of the ALCS when Houston visits Cleveland for a three-game set. Game 3 is Thursday at 6:10 PM ET on the MLB Network.

The Tribe (10-8, –4.02 units) have also seen their championship odds narrow from +900 to +650, but they’ve done all their damage against weak competition in the AL Central. That’s one reason why Cleveland leads the majors in pitching at 3.02 FIP. However, Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (4.18 FIP) has been up-and-down in his four starts thus far. He’s scheduled to take the mound for Thursday’s game opposite Charlie Morton (3.14 FIP).

Houston has one of the best pitching staffs in the big leagues, but Morton has been snakebitten somewhat; he’s allowed a .353 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) since coming over from the National League in the offseason. Kluber has allowed a career-low .261 BABIP thus far.

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MLB Odds: Houston-Cleveland in ALCS Preview?

Two of the best teams in the American League will meet this Thursday (6:10 PM ET, MLBN) when Cleveland hosts Houston in the finale of a three-game set at The Jake. Corey Kluber (4.18 FIP) is scheduled to pitch for the Tribe against Charlie Morton (3.14 FIP).

The Astros are off to a hot start this year, leading the AL West at 13-6 and generating 4.41 betting units in profit. Things aren’t quite as smooth for Cleveland; they’re 10-8 in the AL Central for a loss of 4.02 units, although they have won three of Kluber’s four starts thus far.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

E-Sports : SKT-KT in LoL Champions Korea Final

SK Telecom T1 is already the best League of Legends team in the universe. The three-time and reigning champions are testing their mettle at the LoL Champions Korea. They’ll face KT Rolster in the tournament final, scheduled for Saturday morning at 4 AM ET, and it’s SK Telecom T1 leading the way at –200 on the moneyline.

These two South Korean stalwarts will be playing a best-of-five series for the title. SKT are the No. 1 seeds, and they’ve already enjoyed success in 2017, winning the LCK Spring Split in a cakewalk. The No. 3 seeds from KT has been something of an enigma, but a recent shift toward “carry champions” has them in Saturday’s final after sweeping aside No. 4 MVP and No. 2 Samsung Galaxy.

Aside from the moneyline, you can bet on who will win each of the five maps in this contest, with SKT favored in all five. The defending champs are also available at –1.5 (+130) against the spread. When they met at the Spring Split, it was SKT taking down both their matches against KT, winning 2-0 and 2-1. SKT would go on to win 16 of their 18 matches in that tournament.

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E-Sports : SKT-KT in LoL Champions Korea Final

E-Sports Odds: SK Telecom T1 Favored in LCK Final

The Spring Playoffs for the League of Legends Champions Korea wrap up this Saturday (4 AM ET) with the final between KT Rolster and the reigning world champions from SK Telecom T1. At press time, it’s SKT leading the way at –200 on the moneyline, and –1.5 (+130) against the spread.

SKT have already tasted success in 2017, winning the LCK Spring Split and sweeping their two matches with KT in the process. But the underdogs hope their recent emphasis on “carry champions” will lead them to the title, after putting away MVP and Samsung Galaxy to reach the final. - mobile bitcoin casino

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NHL : Leafs Look to Keep Pressure on Caps in Game 5

Round One between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals was touted as the most lopsided head-to-head matchup leading into the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs, however, have proven that despite their inexperience, they have the desire to push the Caps to the brink. Each of the first three games of the series went to overtime, with the Leafs winning two of three. Heroes for the Leafs have been unlikely in 20-year-old Kasperi Kapanen, who scored his second and third career NHL goals in Game 2, including the OT winner, and Tyler Bozak, who’s known more for his passing abilities than scoring, but managed to net the winner in Game 3.

The Washington Capitals were the best team in the NHL in 2016-17. They were a defensive and offensive juggernaut through the regular season, ranking 6th in team offense and 8th in team defense. Despite that dominance, the Caps carry a reputation for not being able to perform in the playoffs, and that history seems to be following them in a series that most projected wouldn’t go past five games. The Capitals will be looking for more offence from their stars and better goaltending from Braden Holtby. Game time is 7:00 PM ET on CBC.

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NHL Odds: Young Leafs Give Veteran Caps All They Can Handle in Round One

The Washington Capitals’ reputation precedes them: Once again, they had a dominant regular season, only to struggle in the playoffs. The Caps have qualified for the postseason in eight of the last nine seasons, but have not made it past the second round in any of those appearances.

The Leafs, on the other hand, only qualified for the playoffs once in the previous 12 seasons. Due to outstanding performances from rookies Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Leafs punched their postseason ticket, surprising even the most hopeful of fans. Now, this battle of David versus Goliath has the Leafs looking to do the unthinkable.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NBA : Chalk-Heavy Warriors Host Portland for Game 2

The Golden State Warriors took Game 1 of their first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers, but it wasn’t easy. They were all tied at the half and after three quarters, before Golden State hit the gas and won 121-109 – still not enough to cover as 15-point home favorites. Game 2 is Wednesday at the Oracle; TNT has the coverage starting at 10:30 PM ET.

Portland (41-41 SU, 40-42 ATS) barely made it into the postseason, and their minus-0.5 point differential shows they were lucky to reach .500. However, the Blazers do have one of the better offenses in the league, and they rode the hot hands of CJ McCollum (41 points) and Damian Lillard (34 points) in Game 1.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, they don’t have much depth without center Jusuf Nurkic, who’s still recovering from a broken leg and may or may not be ready for Game 2. The Warriors (67-15 SU, 40-39-3 ATS), on the other hand, were comfortable going 10-deep into their lineup during Sunday’s opener. Five different Dubs scored in double figures, and all 10 men finished in plus territory. Until Nurkic returns, this advantage should become even more pronounced as the series rolls on.

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Trail Blazers vs Warriors Game 2

NBA Odds: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors, Game 2

The Golden State Warriors needed a strong fourth quarter to put away the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. But they still didn’t cover as 15-point home favourites in a 121-109 victory. Can they do better this Wednesday (10:30 PM ET, TNT) in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series?

It’ll be hard for the Blazers to play much better. CJ McCollum (41 points) and Damian Lillard (34 points) gave all they had, but injury-plagued Portland doesn’t have much depth beyond that dynamic duo. Key trade-deadline acquisition Jusuf Nurkic (leg) missed Game 1 and remains iffy for Wednesday as well.

NBA : Can Trail Blazers Push Warriors on Wednesday?

In Game 1, the Portland Trail Blazers played an even match against the Golden State Warriors for the first three quarters, but unraveled in the fourth quarter, losing by 12 points. They’ll need a better effort in the fourth quarter on Wednesday if they’re to tie the series.

After scoring at least 27 points in each of the first three quarters, the Trail Blazers managed just 21 in the fourth. The final score was 121-109 for Golden State. Portland will need more from their supporting cast, as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 75 points, while the rest of the team contributed 34.

Golden State had a far more balanced team effort. Four of their five starters scored at least 15 points. Kevin Durant led the way with 32 points, and Draymond Green had an incredibly productive game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals.

The Warriors have now won nine straight times as the host in this series and 15 of the last 17 matchups overall. Game 2 is Wednesday at 10:30 PM ET in Oracle Arena, Oakland.

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NBA Odds: Warriors Looking to Turn Back Blazers in Game 2

The Golden State Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-109 in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal. The Trail Blazers had no answers for the Warriors’ offense, as Golden State made 53.1% of their field goals, 40.7% of their threes while also collecting 24 free throws.
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The Warriors have now won all five meetings with the Trail Blazers this season while averaging 124.2 points per game. The Trail Blazers will have to find a way to slow them down defensively, or they’ll be facing an 0-2 series deficit after Wednesday’s affair.

MLB : Red Sox Get Crack at Reeling Blue Jays

The Boston Red Sox are off to a pretty good start in 2017. They’ll get a chance to pad their 8-5 record (+2.35 betting units) during a three-game set against what’s left of the Toronto Blue Jays. Thursday’s finale at Rogers Centre begins at 12:37 PM ET, with NESN and MLB Network providing the coverage. Chris Sale (1.55 FIP) gets the nod for the Red Sox, while Toronto will respond with Marco Estrada (4.54 FIP).

That’s assuming the Jays don’t shuffle their rotation. Already missing former MVP Josh Donaldson (calf), Toronto saw two of their starting pitchers hit the DL on Sunday: Aaron Sanchez (finger) and JA Happ (elbow). The hobbled Jays have lost 10 of their first dozen games going into their series in Boston, dropping 10.58 units along the way.

The Red Sox have to be pleased with Sale’s performance thus far. Their key offseason acquisition has provided three straight quality starts, allowing just three earned runs in 21.2 innings of work. Now it’s up to Boston’s bats to hold up their end of the bargain. They scored just six runs combined in those three games, going 2-1 for 0.96 units in profit.

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MLB Odds: Jays in Deep Trouble Versus Red Sox

The Toronto Blue Jays (2-10, –10.58 betting units) are a shell of their former selves. And that shell is about to play a three-game series against the visiting Boston Red Sox (8-5, +2.35 units). Thursday’s finale begins at 12:37 PM on NESN and the MLB Network.

Chris Sale (1.55 FIP) is expected to start for the Red Sox against Marco Estrada (4.54 FIP). Sale allowed just three earned runs combined in his first three games for Boston, and he won’t have to face former MVP Josh Donaldson (.953 OPS last year), who’s on the 10-day DL with a strained calf.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Soccer : Can Sounders Shake Off Vancouver?

This hasn’t been an ideal start to the season for the defending champs. The Seattle Sounders have just one victory after five MLS matches, but at least they’re outperforming the Vancouver Whitecaps. These Cascadian neighbors will face off Friday (10 PM ET) at BC Place. At press time, the Whitecaps are slim +140 home favorites, with Seattle priced at +195 and the draw very much in play at +235.

Vancouver also have just one win after five matches, but they’ve lost three times, while the Sounders have three draws to show for their efforts. Seattle got off to a slow start last year, too, but stormed their way to MLS Cup glory after firing head coach Sigi Schmid. They’ll almost certainly take a step back this year now that Brian Schmetzer is on full-time; however, that has more to do with the extreme roster turnover MLS teams experience than any fault of Schmetzer’s.

That turnover should benefit the Whitecaps after they missed the playoffs last year. There are considerable flaws on this team, most notably on defense, but they’ve got a proven goal-scorer in former Sounders forward Fredy Montero, who’s on loan from Tianjin TEDA of the Chinese Super League.

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Soccer Odds: ‘Caps-Sounders at BC Place

The defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders try to shake off their early-season rust this Friday (10 PM ET) when they visit their Cascadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle have one win and three draws after five matches, while Vancouver are near the bottom of the Western Conference at 1-1-3.

At press time, the Sounders are available at +195 on the MLS odds board, with the home side at +140 and the draw pegged at +235. Seattle took two of their three matches last year before winning the title. Vancouver ended up missing the playoffs after a promising 2015 campaign.

NHL : First Round Tilt in Edmonton

In the second game of a best-of-seven series, the San Jose Sharks (46-29-7) will face the Edmonton Oilers (47-26-9) at the Rogers Centre. After finishing second in the Pacific Division, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Oilers have the offensive power and dependable goaltending that they’ve sorely missed over the last decade. Edmonton was a symbol of consistency in 2016-17, ranking 8th in team offence (2.96 goals scored per game) and 8th in team defence (2.52 goals against per game). After pacing the NHL in points this regular season with 30 goals and 70 assists, the hockey world is eagerly anticipating Connor McDavid’s first career playoff appearance.

After coming two wins away from winning their first ever Stanley Cup last season, the San Jose Sharks have an edge in experience compared to the youth-infused Oilers. Martin Jones is one of those returning players; he won 35 games this season, but struggled with a .912 save percentage. Despite that, the Sharks managed to rank 5th in team defence during the regular season, surrendering a minuscule 2.44 goals per game. Game 2 will determine who carries momentum into San Jose.

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NHL Odds: Pacific Division Foes Face Off in Edmonton

The Edmonton Oilers will attempt to defend their home ice advantage this Friday (10:30 PM ET on Sportsnet) against the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers (47-26-9) finished second in the Pacific, while the Sharks (46-29-7) finished third, but only four points behind their First Round foes.

Edmonton led the season series over the Sharks, winning three games, losing one in regular time and losing another in overtime. In the last 10 games of the season, Edmonton and San Jose seemed to be going in opposite directions: the Oilers had a record 8-2-0, while the Sharks went 4-6-0.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MLB : Dodgers-Cubs in NL Pennant Rematch

The last time the Chicago Cubs faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was for the National League pennant. The stakes aren’t quite as high for Thursday’s matchup (2:20 PM ET, MLBN) at Wrigley Field, but once October rolls around, don’t be surprised if the same two teams wind up in the NL Championship Series once again.

The Cubs are expected to give southpaw Brett Anderson (3.94 FIP in 2015) the nod for Thursday’s game, the finale of a three-game set. Anderson was with the Dodgers in 2016, but he missed most of the season with assorted injuries and signed a one-year deal with Chicago in late January. Very few of his former LA teammates have ever faced Anderson at the major-league level.

It hasn’t been made official yet at press time, but it’s believed Los Angeles will respond with another lefty, Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.62 FIP in 2014). Ryu, a former seven-time All-Star in the Korean League, missed the entire 2015 campaign after surgery on his left shoulder labrum, then was shut down in 2016 with elbow problems. He gave up two runs over 4.2 innings in his season debut, Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies (+124 away).

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MLB Odds: Lefties on Tap as Cubs Host Dodgers

Two southpaws – and former teammates – will take the mound this Thursday when the Chicago Cubs welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to Wrigley Field. MLB Network has the coverage beginning at 2:20 PM ET.

Former Dodger Brett Anderson (3.94 FIP in 2015) is projected to start for the Cubs, while Los Angeles will probably give Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.62 FIP in 2014) the nod, although that has yet to be confirmed at press time. Both pitchers missed most of the 2016 campaign with assorted injuries and didn’t play in last year’s NLCS, which the Cubs won 4-2.

NBA : Possible Playoff Series Preview with Cavaliers-Raptors Showdown

Wednesday is the last day in the NBA’s regular season. At 8 PM ET, the Toronto Raptors will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in what could be a playoff series preview.

The Raptors are known for their offense, which is led by SG DeMar DeRozan and PG Kyle Lowry, but it’s their defense that might take them deep into the playoffs. Toronto is seventh in points allowed and tied for fifth in opposing field-goal percentage.

The Cavaliers are fourth in points scored. SF LeBron James is having another massive season. PG Kyrie Irving is suffering from a sore knee but looks ready to return when he’s needed, and PF Kevin Love and SG JR Smith are coming back from injuries. But Cleveland’s defense has struggled at times this season. The Cavaliers are 20th in points allowed, and tied for 14th in opposing field-goal percentage. That was evident on Sunday, when the Cavaliers blew a 26-point fourth-quarter lead to the Atlanta Hawks.

Cleveland has had the upper hand in their rivalry against the Raptors as of late. They’re 7-3 SU, with five straight wins, and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 meetings with Toronto.

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NBA Odds: Cavaliers Go for Season Sweep Over Raptors on Wednesday

In last season’s Eastern Conference finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors in six games. Since then, they’ve won all three regular season meetings going into Wednesday’s finale in Cleveland.

SG DeMar DeRozan and PG Kyle Lowry have combined for almost 53 points per game in the last three meetings with the Cavaliers, but no other current Raptor has averaged double digits.
Meanwhile, LeBron James continues to dominate for the Cavaliers, averaging over 27 points in three wins, along with 9.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds. Kyrie Irving has averaged almost 25 a game in these three wins as well.

NBA : Hawks-Pacers in Regular-Season Finale

NBA : Wednesday’s matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers will be the last game of the regular season for both clubs – and possibly the last game of the whole year for Indiana. They’re in seventh place in the Eastern Conference at press time, one game ahead of the pack with two remaining. The Hawks are safely in, but they could fall from fifth to seventh if Indiana beats them Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

Indiana’s playoff future looked much dimmer last week, but the return of prodigal son Lance Stephenson has given the Pacers new life. Since signing with his former team on March 30, Stephenson has played a meaningful role in each of his four games, putting up 13.5 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Indiana went 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS during those games to vault back into playoff position.

The Hawks are also on a roll, winning four of their last six games straight up and against the spread to punch their ticket to the postseason. That includes back-to-back upsets over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Atlanta and Indiana split their other two regular-season games, so whoever wins Wednesday will have the tie-breaker if necessary.

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NBA Odds: Last Chance for Pacers Versus Atlanta?

Depending on the results of Game No. 81, Wednesday’s regular-season finale (8 PM ET, ESPN) between the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers could decide whether Indiana reaches the postseason. It could also give the Pacers a higher seed than Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

While the Hawks are already in the postseason after back-to-back upset wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they could fall to seventh if they drop both their remaining games and Indiana goes 2-0. That would leave each team at 42-40, but the Pacers would own the tie-breaker after splitting their other two games with Atlanta.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

MLB : Nationals Host Miami to Start 2017 Campaign

Is the window of opportunity closing on the Washington Nationals? They’ve been to the MLB playoffs three times in the last five years, but the Nats have yet to win a series, let alone the World Series. Washington (95-67, +0.27 betting units last year) begins the 2017 campaign at home with a three-game set versus the Miami Marlins. MLB Network has Thursday’s finale starting at 4:05 PM ET.

The Marlins (79-82, 0 –6.11 units) have lower expectations than Washington for 2017. They lost ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident last September, but the Marlins do have a collection of serviceable starters – including Tom Koehler (4.60 FIP), who’s scheduled to take the mound on Thursday. However, current Washington batters have a combined .870 career OPS off Koehler, and OF Bryce Harper (.814 OPS) is 11-of-32 lifetime with six homeruns and a 1.385 OPS.

Gio Gonzalez (3.76 FIP) is projected to start for the Nationals. He’s fallen to third in the rotation after a sketchy 2016 season that saw Washington go 14-18 in his 32 starts for a loss of 10.52 units. However, current Marlins hitters have managed only a .696 lifetime OPS versus the veteran southpaw.

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MLB Odds: Marlins-Nats Open 2017 in DC

The Washington Nationals begin their 2017 season at home with a three-game series against the Florida Marlins. Game 3 is Thursday at 4:05 PM ET, with MLB Network providing the coverage.

Gio Gonzalez (3.76 FIP last year) is projected to start for Washington against Tom Koehler (4.60 FIP). This is a very important season for Gonzalez, whose fastball doesn’t have the same 93-mph pop that it did five years ago when he led the National League with 21 wins. Koehler is a generic workhorse for Miami, but a valuable one with 30+ starts in each of the last three seasons.

Golf : Dustin Johnson Favored to Win Masters

Dustin Johnson did just about everything on the PGA Tour last year. But the reigning Player of the Year has yet to win the Big One: the Masters Tournament at Augusta National. Johnson enters this year’s event as the +550 favorite, followed by Rory McIlroy at +700 and Jordan Spieth at +800.

Johnson finished in a fourth-place tie at Augusta last year before taking down his first major at the US Open. His 2017 campaign is already off to a rolling start. Johnson claimed the No. 1 spot in the World Rankings with a win at the Genesis Open, then he won back-to-back World Golf Championships events – first in Mexico, then the match play tournament in Austin, Texas.

McIlroy has yet to wear the Green Jacket, either, but the former World’s No. 1 has won all the other majors. His best result at Augusta was fourth place in 2015. That’s the year Spieth burst upon the scene and won both the Masters and the US Open. Spieth was also in control of last year’s Masters until falling apart on the back nine and losing to little-known Danny Willett by three strokes. Willett is a +12500 outsider to defend his title.

Golf : Dustin Johnson Favored to Win Masters

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Golf Odds: Johnson, McIlroy and Spieth at 2017 Masters

The best of the best will be at the Masters Tournament in Augusta this week, and right now, nobody’s better than Dustin Johnson. The World’s No. 1-ranked golfer is +550 to win his first Masters, followed by Rory McIlroy (+700) and Jordan Spieth (+800).

Johnson is coming off three straight victories on the PGA Tour, including last week’s match play tournament in Austin, Texas. McIlroy is still seeking his first Green Jacket. Spieth, the 2015 champion, is looking for redemption after falling apart last year and losing by three strokes to little-known Danny Willett, who’s +12500 to defend his title.

NHL : Lightning Fight for Playoff Lives Against Atlantic-Leading Canadiens

It’s must-win territory for the Tampa Bay Lightning (39-30-10 SU, 40-39 ATS). They sit five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference and have only three games left to play in the regular season. Not only will they need to win their remaining three games, they’ll also need some help from the Leafs, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators if they hope to make the postseason. Tampa Bay has been on a roll of late, going 5-1-1 over their last seven games, but they were shut out 4-0 on Tuesday night in a critical matchup against the Bruins, effectively taking them to the brink of elimination.

The Lightning will be in tough against the Montreal Canadiens (46-24-9 SU, 42-37 ATS), the league’s second-top money-earners with 18.22 units on the puckline. They’ll meet Friday at 7:30 PM ET. The Habs hold an 11-3-1 record over their last 15 games and have solidified home ice advantage through the first round of the playoffs. For the first time this season, the Habs have received offensive support from players other than Max Pacioretty; Canadiens forwards Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen have combined for 5 goals and 4 assists over the past five games. Look for a continued balanced attack as Montreal gears up for the playoffs.

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NHL Odds: Montreal Looks to End Tampa’s Season on Friday

With their backs against the wall, the Tampa Bay Lightning (39-30-10) will attempt to bounce back after being shut out in a must-win game against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. The Bolts will need to reverse their fortunes against a Canadiens team that beat them 2-1 in overtime less than a week ago.

The Montreal Canadiens (46-24-9), meanwhile, have been cruising. They collected the most points in a month this past March (19), which resulted in their securing the Atlantic Division crown. Led by goaltender Carey Price (2.20 goals against average, .924 save percentage), the Canadiens have their eyes set on a long playoff run this spring.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NBA : Cavaliers, Celtics Set for Wednesday Showdown

With the top spot in the Eastern Conference on the line, The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will square off on Wednesday at the TD Garden in Boston. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET.

The Cavaliers have struggled on the road as of late, going 4-8 away from home since March 1. Their defense has been the culprit. Cleveland has slipped to 20th in points allowed (107 per game average), six positions behind Boston (105.1).
The Celtics are eighth in points scored (107.8), which is four spots behind Cleveland in the rankings. Boston has been red-hot at home lately, going 5-1 on a recent homestand. That has launched them to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 50-27 SU record.
Cleveland has had the upper hand in this rivalry as of late, going 8-2 SU and 6-3-1 ATS in their last 10 games. The Cavaliers have won two of three games against the Celtics this season, and both were in Cleveland. The Cavs won 128-122 on November 3 and then 124-118 on December 29. The Celtics responded with a 103-99 home victory of their own on March 1.

NBA : Cavaliers, Celtics

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NBA Odds: Cavaliers, Celtics Conclude Regular Season Series on Wednesday

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will fight for first place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. The Celtics have won six of their last seven games, whereas the Cavaliers have been mired in a month-long funk.

The stars have shined for these two teams in their prior three meetings this season. Cleveland’s SF LeBron James put up an average of 27 points, 11 assists and 9.3 rebounds in Cleveland’s three games against Boston. Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas responded with an average of 30.7 points and 6.7 assists for the Celtics, who won the last meeting 103-99 at home despite a triple-double from James.

NBA : Cavs, Celtics Battle for First in the East

Could the Boston Celtics steal the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference? They’ve got a leg up on the Cleveland Cavaliers with just a handful of games left in the regular season – including Wednesday’s matchup at the Garden with the defending champions. ESPN has the coverage beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.

After spending most of the year chasing down Cleveland, the Celtics finally caught up to them last week as the Cavs continued their late-season slide, which saw the champs go 7-10 SU and 6-11-1 ATS in March. And it all began with a 103-99 loss at the Garden; Cleveland coughed up the cash as 1-point road dogs, as Celtics PG Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 31 points.

At least the Cavs are in better shape for the rematch. Kevin Love is back at power forward for Cleveland, and the Celtics could be without SF Jae Crowder, who’s listed as questionable for Wednesday after having his sore left elbow X-rayed on Sunday. Avery Bradley might also have to sit out for Boston at shooting guard after missing back-to-back games with the flu. Crowder and Bradley combined for 28 points and 12 rebounds in their last game against Cleveland.

NBA : Cavs, Celtics Battle for First in the East

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NBA Odds: Cavs-Celtics Could Decide the East

With the regular season drawing to a close, the Boston Celtics find themselves on top of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings. They could do some serious damage to the champs this Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) when they welcome the Cavs to the Garden.
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Cleveland fell out of first place in the East during their disappointing 7-10 SU and 6-11-1 ATS performance in the month of March. The C’s went 11-5 SU and 7-9 ATS during the same span, starting with a 103-99 victory over the Cavs (minus Kevin Love) as 1-point home faves.