The NBA’s greatest player is headed to his eighth straight Finals. Plus previews of Game 7 from Golden State-Houston on the hardwood and Game 1 of Vegas-Washington on the NHL ice. Fire up the grill…today’s point spread picnic is about to start in VSiN City.
NBA Playoffs: LeBron James does it again, leading Cavs to another NBA Finals
After six blowouts, Sunday night’s series finale felt like a great game until the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled away in the final moments. To the degree you can have a “great” game when two teams combine to shoot 16 of 74 on treys! Great drama with so much on the line. Another chapter in the history of LeBron James carrying teams to the Eastern title. Let’s see how he did it.
Cleveland (plus 2.5) 87, Boston 79
2-point Pct: Cleveland 68%, Boston 48%
3-pointers: Cleveland 9/35, Boston 7/39
Free Throws: Cleveland 18/14, Boston 14/19
Rebounds: Cleveland 41, Boston 42
Turnovers: Cleveland 12, Boston 5
Pace: 86.0 (for the series, 93.4, 93.2, 93.6, 99.0, 94.0, 89.6, 86.0)
As we’ve talked about often in the postseason (and last postseason), when it’s time to win a game, Cleveland slows things way down and dares you to stop LeBron in the half court. You can see that above with an extremely slow pace factor of 86.0…slowest by a mile in what was already mostly a slow series…and a monstrous 68% to 48% edge on 2-point shooting.
Though, it has to be said: If Boston could have made 10 of 39 on treys instead of 7 of 39, the Celtics would have advanced to the next round. Because LeBron was getting so little help from teammates (compared to what you’d normally expect this deep in the playoffs), it was still Boston’s game to win. The youngsters weren’t quite ready yet. Poor long-range shooting of that magnitude suggests a combination of tired legs and nerves.
Cleveland is the first to break through with a road win or cover in this particular series. That means 4-3 straight up and against the spread for the Cavs. That after a 4-0 straight up (3-1 ATS) trashing of Toronto.
Another Under, as the market continues to miss projected game flow and scoring by a MILE in the championship round. Cleveland-Boston goes 2-5 to the Under, with the last two Unders getting there by 25 and 30 points. Golden State-Houston is 1-5 to the Under through six games, with the last four Unders getting there by 15.5, 40, 27.5, and 13.5 points. Adds up to 3-10 to the Under with one game left to be played in this round.
Cleveland rests until the Finals begin Thursday night on ABC. The Cavaliers would be a clear underdog to Golden State, with the outlook vs. Houston dependent on the health of Chris Paul.
NBA Playoffs: Game 7 of Golden State-Houston may come down to Chris Paul’s hamstring
Given what happened in the second half this past Saturday night, it’s very hard to see the Houston Rockets competing for four full quarters with Golden State Monday when the Western Conference championship is on the line.
Betting markets are assuming Paul won’t be able to play, or at least won’t be anywhere near 100% if he tries to play. After Houston was priced in the pick-em to -2 range in prior home games in this series, Golden State is a favorite Monday of -6. That’s the same as -9 on a neutral court, or -12 at Oracle (consistent with the “no Paul” pricing of Saturday night).
Let’s review Saturday night’s carnage.
Golden State (-12.5) 115, Houston 87
2-point Pct: Houston 42%, Golden State 55%
3-pointers: Houston 15/39, Golden State 16/38
Free Throws: Houston 9/17, Golden State 13/19
Rebounds: Houston 38, Golden State 47
Turnovers: Houston 21, Golden State 12
Pace: 94.5 (for the series, 98.4, 99.8, 95.1, 91.4, 94.0, 94.5)
Even though Houston jumped to a shocking 17-point lead in the first half, the Rockets weren’t able to stay within 25 when it was all said and done. And, that was with 15 made treys. Golden State topped the Rockets on bombs, and owned all the other stat categories. Most glaring was the turnover category. Losing Chris Paul means losing an experienced ballhandler.
You know the Houston crowd will be loud, particularly at the outset. But if Paul isn’t able to make a big contribution, the Rockets just don’t have the horses to win the game unless…
- Golden State gets VERY sloppy with the ball
- Houston makes about 15 treys again while GS falls down to around 10
- James Harden doesn’t lose his legs in the fourth quarter
- Golden State reverts to iso ball instead of passing it around
Hey, anything can happen. Houston has three wins in the series because those factors aligned. But they aligned with Paul playing at 100%.
Be sure you watch VSiN programming throughout the day for the latest on Paul’s status and big bets from the South Point and around Las Vegas. As we go to press, Paul is considered a “game time decision.”
NHL Finals: After days of anticipation, Vegas is ready for Stanley Cup thrills
It's like Christmas in Las Vegas, but better. It had always been harder to believe that this city would one day WIN a major sport championship than it was to believe in Santa Claus. Let alone winning a title in HOCKEY! But the Vegas Golden Knights are now just four wins away from doing the impossible. And, they are market favorites to lift Lord Stanley’s silver.
Here’s a recap of the key indicator stats we’ve been using to study matchups at the beginning of each series. Data is from the regular season only because strength of schedule and number of games played often vary in the postseason.
Washington Capitals vs. the Vegas Golden Knights
Goal Differential: Washington plus 20, Vegas plus 44
5x5 Goal Differential: Washington plus 16, Vegas plus 18
Goal-per-Game Ranking: Washington #9, Vegas #5
Goals-Allowed-per-Game: Washington #16, Vegas #8
Series Price: Vegas -150, Washington plus 130
Game 1 Price: Vegas -150, total of 6 (Under -115)
You can see why Vegas is the favorite. They win every stat category, though 5x5 goal differential is obviously very close. Better offense, better defense, and home ice advantage if its needed. You could argue that Las Vegas sports books have had to inflate the price a bit because of exposure to earlier futures betting from fans. Better team plus home ice is going to be the favorite no matter the matchup.
Who’s been more impressive in the playoffs? Also Vegas.
Beat LA Kings 4-0 (98 regular season points)
Beat San Jose 4-2 (100 regular season points and a sweep of Anaheim)
Beat Winnipeg 4-1 (114 regular season points)
Beat Columbus 4-2 (97 regular season points)
Beat Pittsburgh 4-2 (100 regular season points)
Beat Tampa Bay 4-3 (113 regular season points)
Turns out that strength of schedule in the postseason was almost identical, if you accept regular season point totals as indicative of quality. Lockstep round by round. Vegas won 80% of its games, Washington 63%.
Washington will be looking to steal a game with a service break in one of the first two encounters. The Caps have been a terrific road team thus far in the playoffs. Washington won all three road games at Columbus, two of three games in Pittsburgh, and three of four games at Tampa Bay. That’s 8-2 on the road! Should Washington break serve, consolidating that break might be tough given a disappointing 4-5 record on home ice.
Note that the Stanley Cup schedule is much more spread out than we’ve been experiencing the past several weeks. Games 1 through 7…
Tonight: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Vegas on NBC
Wednesday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Vegas on NBC Sports
Saturday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Washington on NBC Sports
Monday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Washington on NBC
Thursday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Vegas on NBC
Sunday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Washington on NBC
Wednesday: 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Vegas) in Vegas on NBC
One thing’s for certain. There won’t be any fatigue excuses! Both teams are very well rested entering the Finals. There are two days off for every travel scenario.
Enjoy the series! We’ll run the Game 1 numbers for you Tuesday morning.
MLB: Generic stretch for our “Magnificent Seven,” but some very interesting series on tap this week
Not much market news to report in our weekly update of the seven teams betting markets projected to win at least 90 games this season. Four of the seven went 4-2, which doesn’t earn a lot of cash at high prices. The Yankees and Cubs cooled off. Washington made a run at break even with a 5-1 stretch.
Current records entering the new week…
Boston 36-17…plus 9.5 units after a 4-2 week
NY Yankees 33-16…plus 7.5 units after a 3-3 week
Houston 34-20…plus 1 unit after a 4-2 week
Washington 29-22…minus 1 unit after a 5-1 week
Chicago Cubs 27-22…minus 6.5 units after a 3-3 week
Cleveland 26-25…minus 10 units after a 4-2 week
LA Dodgers 24-28…minus 23.5 units after a 4-2 week
The composite is still way down because of the Dodgers. Three teams currently in the black, with Washington positioned to get there too very soon. Of course, Houston could fall back in the red as its killer schedule continues with two series vs. Magnificent 7 cohorts coming up.
This week’s head-to-head series in the Magnificent Seven:
Houston (34-20) at the New York Yankees (33-16) (begins Monday)
Boston (36-17) at Houston (34-20) (begins Thursday)
Houston just played four straight Overs in Cleveland, getting out of the pitching paradise of Minute Maid Park. Scoring sums landed on 10, 13, 14, and 19 against totals of 8.5 or less. Houston’s bullpen sure seems more vulnerable in parks with better visibility. Will be fun to see the Astros battle NYY and Boston this week. Both are possible playoff previews.
Now, other matchups involving teams who currently have winning records entering the new week.
Early Week (current record in parenthesis)
Chicago Cubs (27-22) at Pittsburgh (28-24)
NY Mets (25-24) at Atlanta (30-21)
St. Louis (28-22) at Milwaukee (34-20)
Sometimes the division-heavy schedules breed too much familiarity. But all three of those feature teams in divisional races who are still dreaming the dream. Would expect boisterous home crowds at all three sites given the opponents.
Chicago Cubs (27-22) at the NY Mets (25-24) (begins Thursday)
Pittsburgh (28-24) at St. Louis (28-22) (begins Thursday)
Washington (29-22) at Atlanta (30-21) (begins Thursday)
Big test for Atlanta, as the big, bad wolf comes to visit with an eye on taking over the NL East lead. Challenge weeks, in particular, for the Mets, Pirates, and Cardinals. We’ll learn a lot about the summer races in these next few days.
MLB: Updating recent “Under” trends
Sunday wasn’t as low scoring as earlier in May. But results still snuck Under even though nine of 15 hosts would stay at home for Monday action. Lower number of get-aways might have helped scoring.
Sunday Totals Records
May 6: 4-10-1 to the Under
May 13: 5-10 to the Under
May 20: 6-9 to the Under
May 27: 7-8 one out to the Under
The “Sundays in May” record finishes 22-37-1 to the Under. Something we’ll continue to keep an eye on. If you were with us all last week, you’ll recall we talked about Unders largely taking over the daily cards. Let’s update that.
The Last Eight Days
Sunday: 6-9 to the Under
Monday: 2-7 to the Under
Tuesday: 3-11-1 to the Under
Wednesday: 3-12 to the Under
Thursday: 5-3 to the Over
Friday: 5-8-2 to the Under
Saturday: 6-9 to the Under
Sunday: 7-8 to the Under
Wow…Sunday to Sunday went a stunning 37-67-3 to the Under. That’s a 30-bet differential! Temperatures are warming up across the country. We’ll see if that matters in the coming week.
College Football: South Point posts Regular Season Win Totals
As if Sunday wasn’t busy enough, Chris Andrews tempted visitors at the South Point with College Football Regular Season Win totals. Here are the sheets from the South Point. If you’re new to betting these, the numbers reflect regular season ONLY. Conference championship games, bowls, or playoff games are NOT counted. Bettors are assessing how each team will perform against its 12-game schedule.
Let’s take a quick look at the 2018 expectations for teams who finished in the top 10 in last season’s final poll. All bets are 11/10 pick-em (-110 for a $100 win) unless otherwise noted.
Final AP Poll
1…Alabama 11 wins (Under -120)
2…Georgia 10.5 wins (Over -115)
3…Oklahoma 10 wins
4…Clemson 11 wins (Under -120)
5…Ohio State 10.5 wins (Over -120)
6…Central Florida 9 wins (Over -120)
7…Wisconsin 10 wins (Under -120)
8…Penn State 9.5 wins
9…TCU 7.5 wins
10…Auburn 9 wins
TCU is the only team expected to drop way back. Central Florida will try to maintain its excellence after a coaching change. Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects competing for the usual titles.
Good luck to all of you who made bets at the South Point this week on these, or the Game of the Year showcases, or in Week One matchups. And, thanks to Chris for making May even more fun for sports fans who love to bet!
Back Tuesday with comprehensive recaps of Capitals/Golden Knights and Warriors/Rockets.
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