LeBron James scored 45 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Indiana Pacers and into the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. A new week brings new thrills in the NBA and NHL as we build to the most exciting two minutes sports. Kentucky Derby week starts right now in VSiN City!
NBA Playoffs: Cleveland survives Indiana in seven, Toronto up next Tuesday
It took longer than expected…and cast serious doubts on whether this version of the Cleveland Cavaliers has that “extra playoff gear” that LeBron James is famous for. But, survival is what matters most in the NBA postseason. Let’s see how the Cavs pulled past the Pacers.
Cleveland (-5) 105, Indiana 101
2-point Pct: Indiana 53%, Cleveland 49%
3-pointers: Indiana 10/31, Cleveland 10/29
Free Throws: Indiana 19/24, Cleveland 31/40
Rebounds: Indiana 37, Cleveland 44
Turnovers: Indiana 11, Cleveland 12
Pace: 87.2 (for the series, 92.3, 91.8, 91.1, 91.5, 88.9, 92.1, 87.2)
The key stats are obviously free throws and rebounds. It’s tempting to imagine a conspiracy theory because “there’s no way the NBA would let LeBron lose in the first round.” But Cleveland was the much more aggressive side when it came to attacking the basket. And since a lot of that was LeBron (11 of 15), they were attacking with a guy Indiana had to foul! With the series at stake, Cleveland kept parking LeBron in the post and daring Indiana’s defense to stop him. They couldn’t.
You can see that free throws were a key factor in all four Cleveland wins…
Game Two: Cleveland 15 of 22, Indiana 9 of 12
Game Four: Cleveland 22 of 26, Indiana 8 of 13
Game Five: Cleveland 26 of 27, Indiana 21 of 27
Game Seven: Cleveland 31 of 41, Indiana 19 of 24
The Pacers didn’t have anybody who was a sure thing to draw fouls. Cleveland was led by a force of nature who knew he had to carry the team on his shoulders. That said, it’s a big indictment that Cleveland HAD to play that card over and over again because its deck was so depleted.
Let’s not forget to mention the slow pace here. The last two games of the series did go Over because both offenses started making more treys. This was a VERY slow series…with every single game grading out as very slow (Game 7 the slowest). Cleveland’s defense is still struggling.
Game 1: Indiana scored 98 points at a 92.3 pace
Game 2: Indiana scored 97 points at a 91.8 pace
Game 3: Indiana scored 92 points at a 92.1 pace (adequate defense)
Game 4: Indiana scored 100 points at a 91.5 pace
Game 5: Indiana scored 95 points at an 88.9 pace
Game 6: Indiana scored 121 points at a 91.2 pace
Game 7: Indiana scored 101 points at an 87.2 pace
Toronto has a lot more weaponry than Indiana, and has a good chance to push pace into the mid-90s. Cleveland’s in real trouble in the next round. We’ll preview that series Tuesday in advance of Game 1. The early line is Toronto -6. The early series price is Toronto -240, Cleveland plus 200.
NBA Playoffs: Houston crushes Utah, as Ricky Rubio sits out with a hamstring injury
Utah was going to be in trouble in this matchup at full strength. Its defense had a chance to make things interesting. But there’s a long way from “interesting” to truly dangerous. With Ricky Rubio likely to miss at least the first week because of a hamstring injury, this series might not make it past five games.
Houston (-11.5) 110, Utah 96
2-point Pct: Utah 57%, Houston 40%
3-pointers: Utah 7/22, Houston 17/32
Free Throws: Utah 13/22, Houston 19/24
Rebounds: Utah 37, Houston 43
Turnovers: Utah 18, Houston 14
Houston sprinted to a 64-37 lead in the second quarter. So, we had extended garbage time in a way that may not be helpful in terms of stat analysis. Houston’s not going to allow 57% on two-pointers in a tight game. And Houston will likely slow things down to let Harden work his magic in closer games as well.
Houston enjoys a virtual head start on any opponent because the Rockets are likely to make around 15 treys per game (17 here). Utah has to play great at everything else to make up for that. Losing the ball 18 times without Rubio running the show is a sign that this isn’t likely to happen much
Houston HAS to be flat for it to get or stay close, which was also true vs. Minnesota. Game Two isn’t until Wednesday night.
NBA Preview: Well-rested Philadelphia hopes to steal home court in Game 1 at tired Boston
Boston advanced to the second round this past Saturday night, winning Game 7 at home against Milwaukee. No reason to run the stats because it wasn’t much of a game. Boston won 112-96 thanks to a 42-32 edge in rebounds and a 62% to 53% rout in two-point shooting. Milwaukee made turnovers in waves whenever the game threatened to get interesting.
Let’s jump right to the preview numbers for Philadelphia/Boston that begins Monday night on the home court of the #2 seed.
Philadelphia at Boston (8 p.m. ET Monday on TNT)
Defensive Efficiency: Philadelphia #3, Boston #1
Rebound Rate: Philadelphia #1, Boston #13
Made Treys/Game: Philadelphia 11.0, Boston 11.5
Series Price: Philadelphia -450, Boston plus 350
Game 1 Price: Philadelphia -3, total of 208
These rankings are from the regular season, which we’ll use through all of our playoff previews because strength of schedule can skew in the postseason. We must make mental adjustments to those, though, because Philadelphia is peaking right now thanks to the availability and energy of Joel Embiid. Boston is without Kyrie Irving, though that’s not likely to hurt the stats we’re focusing on in the postseason. Boston was already a great defensive team with him, and he’s a horrible defender.
We can assume that Philadelphia is going to own the boards. Defense will either be a washout, or go to Philadelphia because the Celtics will have tired legs after that seven-game series with Milwaukee. And, Boston’s two-point defense was disappointing in that series when fresh. Three-pointers are likely to be close in overall volume. Philly has been much more erratic in the playoffs.
Made Treys by Game
Philadelphia averaged 12.4, but landed on seven three times. Boston averaged 10.1, but was really locked into that 9-11 range.
If Philly’s inconsistency holds, that suggests a couple of routs, but then some games that might get testy late as long as shorthanded Boston isn’t completely out of gas.
Since early lines have been settling for the second round, we can update our estimate of “market” Power Ratings.
90: Golden State (with Curry)
88: Golden State (without Curry)
85: Toronto, Philadelphia
84: New Orleans, Utah (with Rubio)
82: Utah (without Rubio)
Normally we use three points for home court and go from there. In these numbers, we’re going to assume that Houston, Philadelphia, and Toronto were given a one-point boost in Game 1 for a rest advantage against Utah, Boston, and Cleveland. Houston was -11.5, which would suggest eight rungs apart on our ladder once you take out home floor. Not ready to put Houston at 90, or drop Utah to 81 (without Rubio). Nor are we ready to put Philadelphia at 86, or Boston at 79 on the early line of Philadelphia -3 tonight. Toronto hit the board at -6 over Cleveland late Sunday…which would suggest Toronto 86 or Cleveland 82.
Maybe we’ll change our mind by the end of the week.
Note that Golden State was up around -9 or -9.5 in Game 1 vs. New Orleans when the market was confident Steph Curry would play. He didn’t play, and the game sunk to -7 near tip off.
More basketball through the week. Philadelphia/Boston is the only NBA game scheduled for Monday night.
NHL Sunday Recaps: Washington, Nashville even up their series with Pittsburgh and Winnipeg
If you like playing the zig-zag, or asking home teams to bounce back after a loss…then Sunday went your way. Though, you sure had to sweat the nightcap!
Washington (-140) 4, Pittsburgh 1 (series now tied 1-1)
Shots: Pittsburgh 33, Washington 32
Power Plays: Pittsburgh 0/3, Washington 1/3
Washington certainly came out like its season was on the line. Caps won shots in the first period 20-10 as they built a 2-0 lead. Pittsburgh played from behind the rest of the day, earning a 23-12 edge in shots despite only tallying once.
A good sign for Washington that it could deny Pittsburgh on the power play. Pittsburgh’s super-dangerous with a man advantage. Penguins 0/5 so far on the road in this series.
Pittsburgh is still the series favorite having swiped home ice in the opener. Game 3 will be Tuesday night in Steel City.
Nashville (-170) 5, Winnipeg 4 in overtime (series now tied 1-1)
Shots: Winnipeg 50, Nashville 41
Power Plays: Winnipeg 1/4, Nashville 1/4
Nashville didn’t come out with the same sense of urgency we saw above. Shots were only 9-9 after a period, and Winnipeg shocked the home crowd with an early 2-1 lead. Nashville would rally to tie early in the second period, and lead late in the second period. That lead held up until 1:05 to go in regulation when the Jets tied it. Took 25:37 of extra time for the Predators to knot the series.
Game 3 will be Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
NHL Monday Previews: Tampa Bay already in a must-win game, Vegas Golden Knights in first playoff bounce-back spot
Tampa Bay reminded sports bettors that a big fatigue advantage doesn’t make a league power a sure thing on home ice! With a long rest edge, Tampa Bay was rusty and flat in a blowout loss Saturday to Boston. The Bruins had just come off Game Seven drama two nights earlier in Toronto.
Boston at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET on NBC, Boston leads 1-0)
Game 1: Boston (plus 150/6) 6, Tampa Bay 2 (Shots: TB 36-24)
Boston sure made its shooting count Saturday, scoring on 6 of 24 tries, compared to 2 of 36 for the rusty hosts. Tampa Bay is -155 to even the series, with an Over/Under of 6. Note that the Bruins are now -180 to win the series after swiping home ice so quickly. Tampa Bay had been -140 before the puck dropped. Lightning will have to win at least once on the road to advance.
Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose (10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, series tied 1-1)
Game 1: VGK (-145/5.5) 7, San Jose 0 (Shots: VKG 34-33)
Game 2: San Jose (plus 160) 4, VGK 3 in double overtime (Shots: SJ 47-29)
Fans of the Vegas Golden Knights learned all about “goalie interference” after what appeared to be a winning overtime goal was nullified Saturday night. That play will be talked about all summer if VGK is unable to advance out of the second round. The Knights need to match San Jose’s intensity, after failing to do so based on shot count (and the general consensus that the Sharks got the best of flow-of-play through the evening).
San Jose is -130 at home Monday, in the first second round series to start its third game. The Over/Under is 5.5 with a steep Under vig of -135. That means 5 Over (at least -120) has a good chance of coming into play through Monday afternoon.
Vegas is still the series favorite at -120, though that might be due to exposure at sports books. Let’s update our look at the decimal dynamic.
Game 1: Vegas wins
Game 2: San Jose wins
Game 3: San Jose .55 wins, Vegas .45 wins
Game 4: San Jose .55 wins, Vegas .45 wins
Game 5: San Jose .43 wins, Vegas .57 wins
Game 6: San Jose .55 wins, Vegas .45 wins
Game 7: San Jose .43 wins, Vegas .57 wins
San Jose 3.51 wins, Vegas 3.49 wins
Pricing could adjust from now through the week in a way that’s more in line with VGK -120 to advance. Based on early game pricing, San Jose has created a virtual dead heat.
MLB: Yanks 7-0 last week (to run winning streak to nine), Cubs 5-1; but rest of the Magnificent Seven fizzles
A week of extremes for “The Magnificent Seven,” the seven teams in Major League Baseball that were projected to win more than 90 games in betting market Regular Season Win Totals. The New York Yankees (7-0) and the Chicago Cubs (5-1) are enjoying strong runs. But, the Washington Nationals (2-4) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2-5) have continued their very slow starts to the 2018 season. Boston (3-3), Houston (3-3), and Cleveland (3-4) treaded water, at prices that feel like piranha.
Here are the season-to-date performances for “The Magnificent Seven,” ranked by profit/loss.
Boston 20-7…plus about 10.5 units (-1.5 units for the week)
NY Yankees 18-9…plus about 2.5 units (plus 7 units for the week)
Houston 19-10…even (minus about 2 units for the week)
Chicago Cubs 15-10…minus about 0.5 units (plus 4 units for the week)
Cleveland 14-12…minus about 3.5 units (-3 units for the week)
Washington 12-16…minus about 10 units (-2 units for the week)
LA Dodgers 12-15…minus about 10.5 units (-4.5 units for the week)
We’ll keep running these every Monday morning to drive home the point that making money backing favorites is HARD. Boston had to go 13 games over. 500 to get past 10 units. The Dodgers are down the same amount while only three games below .500. Houston’s so expensive that its backers are about even despite the Astros winning almost two-thirds of its games.
Note that a marquee series and potential playoff preview begins Monday night when the New York Yankees visit Houston. That will be a four-game set that finishes Thursday afternoon. This coming weekend, the Yankees host Cleveland.
Also this coming weekend…one of the biggest events in all of sports…
Kentucky Derby: Enjoy comprehensive coverage all week on VSiN, including the debut of our joint venture with horse racing broadcast network TVG
The Kentucky Derby runs this Saturday! Be sure you’re with every day this week for the latest Triple Crown news on “Follow the Money, “A Numbers Game,” “The Green Zone,” and “My Guys in the Desert.”
Also lined up in the gate…
*A very special joint preview from VSiN and TVG. This comprehensive Kentucky Derby Preview will be available electronically Wednesday. Pay just $19.99 for in-depth analysis and expert selections. Or, pay just $39.99 for the full Triple Crown (33% savings!). Note that these special editions are included free for those of you who have already subscribed to Point Spread Weekly. Click here to purchase.
*Ron Flatter’s “week to go” Kentucky Derby podcast that was posted online last Friday. If you missed it, please click here.
*Ron Flatter’s informative twitter account (@ronflatter) that will provide news and notes right up until you hear “and…they’re off” live on NBC Saturday. Click here to follow Ron.
More coming up throughout the week. VSiN will do its very best to get YOU to the winner’s circle!
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