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Cavs up, Blackhawks down (and out) as playoffs head into weekend

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

April 20, 2017 11:06 PM

LeBron lays waste…les Rangers gagnent…lay points in the NFL! Time to lay back and relax as we go through the NBA, NHL, and pro football Friday in VSiN City.

NBA: Wow! LeBron makes history in Cavs' comeback

It may have sounded like an incredible game, but the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-114 win over the Indiana Pacers was actually two horrible 24-minute mismatches.

Indiana won the first half 74-49. All the bad things you could say about Cleveland’s tendency to coast when comfortable and blow off defense were true in the extreme. How can you allow 74 points to the Pacers in a half?! 

Cleveland won the second half 70-40 to pull off the biggest comeback in playoff history. All the good things that have been said about the storied career of LeBron James didn’t seem good enough to describe THIS. The Cavs erased the full 25-point halftime deficit by five minutes into the fourth quarter. LeBron carried the Cavs' offense on his shoulders because Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the whole fourth quarter. (Psst…notice how much better the defense looks when Irving and Love aren’t playing!). James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists…and reminded everyone that triple doubles should be a side effect of finding a way to win. 

Cleveland (-2) 119, Indiana 114

  • Three-Pointers: Cleveland 21/44, Indiana 16/41

Both teams were content to work for open looks from long range. Both did a good job of hitting them. Indiana’s 39% is solid because that’s the equivalent of 59% on deuces. Cleveland’s 48% was the equivalent of 72% on deuces! Nobody in the East is going to stop Cleveland if they can keep getting open looks for Kyle Korver (4 of 5), JR Smith (4 of 8), and even LeBron (6 of 12).

Cleveland gets its first cover of the series. All three games have coasted Over the total, landing on 217, 228, and 233 against market prices of 208, 210.5, and 210. The possession counts have been 89, 97, and 96…which averages out to below league average. Great shooting from both squads. This Cavs' roster has been built to “outscore” the East if not necessarily crush the East. 

Speaking of crushing…

Milwaukee (-1.5) 104, Toronto 77

  • Two-Point Pct: Toronto 37%, Milwaukee 53%
  • Three-Pointers: Toronto 6/22, Milwaukee 12/23

As we move to other Thursday action, you see another one-sided first half that was followed this time by the home team taking care of business. Toronto was up 57-30 at the break and never looked back (it was 50-19 at one point!). The Bucks now own a 2-1 series lead, but must maintain their focus in their next home game if they don’t want to give back their Game 1 service break. 

Totals have landed on 180, 206, and 181, with possession counts of 88, 92, and 90. It took lights out shooting on treys (25/52 combined) to get the middle example into the 200’s. Market totals of 198, 194, and 197 may be a couple of buckets too high for these teams' “norms” head-to-head in playoff mode. The “Fear the Deer” defense inside the arc has held the cowering Raptors to just 42% on two-pointers (63/149) through three games. 

Memphis (plus 4) 105, San Antonio 94

  • Two-Point Pct: San Antonio 50%, Memphis 55%
  • Turnovers: San Antonio 12, Memphis 5

Garbage time made the final score closer than the game. Memphis clearly showed up to play. But the Spurs didn’t fall by the wayside until losing the third quarter 31-17. Memphis avoids a series sweep.Totals have landed on 192, 178, and 199, with possession counts of 86, 85, and 83. The market correctly anticipated the "slowness" of the matchup, but two of the three have gone Over anyway because of quality shooting. (Note that the Spurs still "won" free throw attempts 28-20 even with the controversy about a 32-15 edge in Game Two.)

A quick look at what’s up next in the NBA Playoffs…

Friday’s Lines

  • Boston at Chicago (-1.5, 207); 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Houston at Oklahoma City (-2.5, 224.5); 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • LA Clippers (-1, 197) at Utah; 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Game 4 of Toronto/Milwaukee: (Milwaukee leads 2-1)
  • Game 3 of Washington/Atlanta (Washington leads 2-0)
  • Game 4 of San Antonio/Memphis (San Antonio leads 2-1)
  • Game 3 of Golden State/Portland (Golden State leads 2-0) 

NBA: Updated power ratings

We promised to keep these as fresh as possible for you throughout the postseason. Now we’ve seen early numbers after the “site switches,” which helps pin things down. Of course, it’s still a bit tricky because betting markets do respond to “must-win” situations for home dogs down 2-0 in a series, as well as the possibly outdated zig-zag theory. And, we also have key injuries in play with Kevin Durant missing Game Two of Golden State’s series, and Rudy Gobert missing significant time for Utah.

With all THAT, here’s our best guess at how “the market” is currently rating the 16 playoff teams. 

East: Cleveland 85, Toronto 83, Boston 82, Washington 81, Atlanta 80, Milwaukee 80, Indiana 80. Chicago 80. 

West: Golden State 91 (90 without Durant), San Antonio 87, Houston 86, LA Clippers 85, Utah 81, Oklahoma City 81, Memphis 80, Portland 80.

If you’re projecting future point spreads, add in 3 points for home-court advantage (more if altitude or long travel are in play), and season-to-taste with 1-2 points if you believe that a “must-win” scenario will motivate a series trailer, or at least lead to complacency for an opponent with a comfortable lead. 

NHL: Rangers back in front, Penguins and Predators into second round

Every night’s a busy night in the NHL Playoffs. Let’s take the games in rotation order…

NY Rangers (plus 130) 3, Montreal 2 (in overtime)

  • Shots: NY Rangers 36, Montreal 36

An emotional rollercoaster now has Rangers fans smiling after their second road win of the series. Montreal came out strong tonight, winning the first period 2-1 with a shot advantage of 16-9. The Rangers tied it early in the second…and gradually wore down the hosts. NYR won the shot count in overtime by an astounding 10-3. The Rangers take a 3-2 lead back to Gotham. If you subtract out power play goals, NYR is up 10-8 on the scoreboard despite playing three of five games on the road. 

Pittsburgh (-200) 5, Columbus 2

  • Shots: Columbus 51, Pittsburgh 31

Columbus obviously didn’t go down without a fight. But, only two of their 51 shots found the net. A disappointing series considering the build-up. A late season slide from the Blue Jackets never righted itself. Pittsburgh scored 21 goals in five games, which feels like a pinball machine in this year’s low scoring environment. Pittsburgh wins the series 4-1, and is clearly the sharpest looking “regular season power” at the moment. Particularly with a Stanley Cup co-favorite being knocked out just below…

Nashville (-120) 4, Chicago 1

  • Shots: Chicago 31, Nashville 26

That’s a 4-0 sweep for a pre-series plus 170 underdog. Nashville won scoreboard 13-3, which was an even more astonishing 12-1 if you take out power play goals. The Blackhawks were absolutely steamrollered when they didn’t have a man advantage. Impossible to believe for a team that was a 3-1 favorite to lift the Cup before the playoffs began, and -200 to get past Nashville.

Edmonton (-130) 4, San Jose 3 (in overtime)

  • Shots: San Jose 30, Edmonton 48

The Oilers looked to be in serious trouble, trailing 3-1 deep into the second period on home ice. You can see the frantic comeback effort in the shot count. Plus, the Sharks may have lost their will to fight in OT after having blown the lead. Edmonton outshot San Jose 14-2 in extra time. 

On tap on ice…

Friday’s NHL Lines

  • Toronto at Washington (-210, 5.5—Over -115); 7:05 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
  • Boston (-115, 5--Under -130) at Ottawa; 7:35 p.m. ET on USA Network

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Game 5 of St. Louis/Minnesota (Blues lead 3-1)
  • Game 6 of Montreal/NY Rangers (Rangers lead 3-2)
  • Game 6 of Edmonton/San Jose (Oilers lead 3-2)

MLB: "Extreme" hurlers continue to regress

Six starting pitchers from Michael Lambourne’s regression lists were on the mound this evening. As we’ve discussed the past few nights, we’re looking for pitchers whose ERA’s are way out of whack with their xFIP (fielding independent pitching using normalized home run estimates) to pitch more toward their xFIP in the immediate future. 

There were four pitchers due to take steps backward…

Disasters Waiting to Happen

  • Ervin Santana (Twins): 0.41 ERA, 3.74 xFIP; difference of -3.33
  • James Paxton (Mariners): 0.00 ERA, 2.89 xFIP; difference of -2.89
  • Daniel Norris (Tigers): 2.19 ERA, 5.02 xFIP; difference of -2.83
  • Patrick Corbin (D-backs): 2.81 ERA, 5.61 xFIP; difference of -2.80

How did they fare?

  • Santana allowed 1 earned run in 6 innings vs. Cleveland
  • Paxton allowed 5 earned runs in 4.1 innings at Oakland
  • Norris allowed 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings vs. Tampa Bay
  • Corbin allowed 3 earned runs in 6 innings at San Diego 

Paxton lost his clean sheet in explosive fashion, which helped turn four very attractive looking ERA’s entering the night into a composite Thursday ERA of 5.57. Fading the four pitchers would have yielded a 3-1 record in 5-inning props. Santana won 2-1. Paxton lost 5-3. Norris lost 5-1. Corbin lost 3-1. 

On the other end of the spectrum…

Better Than ERA Would Suggest

  • Trevor Bauer (Indians): 8.44 ERA, 2.52 xFIP; difference of 5.92
  • Zack Davies (Brewers): 8.79 ERA, 5.26 xFIP; difference of 3.53
  • Bauer allowed 2 earned runs in 6.1 innings at Minnesota
  • Davies allowed 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings vs. St. Louis

Both hurlers posted numbers much more line with their xFIP obviously. The composite ERA was 4.63, about four runs below what had been happening earlier with these pitchers. Ironically, Bauer lost his five-inning decision 2-1 while Davies won his 5-4. 

We’ll continue to monitor this analytics-based handicapping approach when the schedule permits. Be sure you watch Michael and host Gill Alexander look at the betting potential for every baseball game on the board weekdays on “A Numbers Game from 4-6 p.m. ET, 1-3 p.m. here in Las Vegas. 

(Updating the Astros’ home Under trend, because once a trend is presented in parenthesis it has to stay in parenthesis until it loses. Houston’s 2-1 win over the LA Angels Thursday brought the count to 2-9 to the Under vs. opening totals in the Astros’ home games, compared to 4-1 to the Over in Astros’ road games. The home average fell to 5.8 combined runs per game. The road average is 11.6.)

NFL Week One Lines from the Westgate and South Point

There was quite a buzz in sports books across Las Vegas Thursday as the NFL officially announced its schedule for the 2017 season. The Westgate promised early that they would have Week One point spreads posted within an hour of the NFL’s release time. Turned out to be closer to 30 minutes! The South Point was right on their heels with a handful of slight differences. (Matt Youmans reported that for you on the fly right here at the VSiN website.)

Yesterday we posted our “summer” estimate of “market” Power Ratings to get you ready for all the fun. Let’s run through the schedule to see how those first numbers on the board compared to VSiN’s ratings. Remember that home field advantage is generally worth 3 points in the NFL. Some teams are so mediocre (or worse) at home that the market won’t give them the full three. Also, the market may award slightly less than three points for divisional rivals. 


  • Kansas City (81) at New England (86): Westgate opened Pats -7, South Point is -8


  • NY Jets (74) at Buffalo (77): Westgate opened Bills -6.5, South Point is -6
  • Atlanta (83) at Chicago (75): Westgate opened Falcons -5.5, South Point is -6
  • Jacksonville (77) at Houston (78): Westgate opened Texans -4.5, South Point is -5.5
  • Philadelphia (79) at Washington (78): Westgate opened Wash -2.5, South Point is -2.5
  • Arizona (79) at Detroit (78): Westgate opened Lions -2.5, South Point is -2.5
  • Oakland (82) at Tennessee (78): Westgate opened pick-em, South Point is pick-em
  • Tampa Bay (78) at Miami (78): Westgate opened Miami -2, South Point is Dolphins -1
  • Baltimore (79) at Cincinnati (79): Westgate opened Bengals -1, South Point is -1.5
  • Pittsburgh (83) at Cleveland (73): Westgate opened Steelers -9.5, South Point is -10
  • Indianapolis (79) at LA Rams (74): Westgate opened Colts -3.5, South Point is -3.5
  • Seattle (82) at Green Bay (82): Westgate opened Packers -2.5, South Point is -2.5
  • Carolina (79) at San Francisco (73): Westgate opened Panthers -4, South Point is -5
  • NY Giants (80) at Dallas (83): Westgate opened Cowboys -6, South Point is -6

Monday Night

  • New Orleans (80) at Minnesota (80): Westgate opened Vikings -4, South Point is -3
  • LA Chargers (77) at Denver (81): Westgate opened Broncos -3.5, South Point is -4.5

Things are pretty much in line until the last game on the card. Our estimate had Denver four clear of the LA Chargers on a neutral field based on last year’s late season pricing and current futures prices showing Denver at 15 to 1 to win the super Bowl, LAC at 60 to1. And, the Broncos usually get respect at that home field! It’s likely we’ll see a gradual convergence between now and September…with either the Broncos drifting toward 20 to 1 or worse, or the Chargers rising to 50 to 1 or better. Or, the Broncos will get bet heavily driving the Week One point spread closer to what the futures are suggesting.

Plenty of time to prepare for the 2017 season. And that preparation begins with the NFL Draft in SIX DAYS! Don’t forget that you can now bet on special draft props in Las Vegas. This year’s event will be held from April 27-29 in Philadelphia. 

Another week flew by in VSiN City. Have a great weekend! Enjoy all the stellar VSiN sports betting programming online or on Sirius Channel 215 Saturday and Sunday. We’ll see you again Monday morning. 

If you have any feedback or suggestions for future editions, the weekend is a great time to let us know. Drop us an email.

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Follow us on Twitter: @VSiNLive.

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