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Derby weekend has plenty of big winners

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

May 8, 2017 12:20 AM

Time to recap a weekend of winners. Among the big names in the winner’s circle after dominating performances were Always Dreaming, Canelo Alvarez, LeBron James, and Peka Rinne. 

Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming is fifth straight favorite to win the roses

It’s odd to say that the favorite winning the Kentucky Derby was a bit of a surprise, particularly when it’s the FIFTH straight race-day favorite to do so! But, this was supposed to be the year that a longshot won. This was supposed to be the year that the favorites were overrated. Many pundits across the sport were skeptical when Always Dreaming was priced as the race favorite in the hours leading up to post. 

Then it wasn’t even all that close.

If you missed Ron Flatter’s recap from Churchill Downs, you can read it here. Ron already looks ahead to a potential classic rematch in the Preakness here

Congrats to Matt Youmans, the only man in VSiN’s panel of handicappers to have Always Dreaming as his first choice. Brent Musburger had Always Dreaming as his second choice. 

Thanks to all of you who spent the lead-in to the 2017 Run for the Roses with us last week. You can be sure coverage will be just as intense for the Preakness between now and Saturday May 21.

Boxing: Alvarez over Chavez Jr. wasn’t much of a win…but Canelo vs. Gennady could be HUGE

This past Saturday night’s boxing victory for Canelo Alvarez over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. proved to be anticlimactic. It was a one-sided affair that had pay-per-viewers regretting their investment. Bettors who took a shot on the 450 underdog regretted it more. Most observers don’t believe Chavez won a single round. Canelo (a nickname that means “cinnamon”) barely broke a sweat in what turned out to be a commercial for something bigger.

You see, the sport of boxing was the ultimate winner Saturday night. It was announced after the bout that Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin would do battle on Sept. 16. That much-anticipated showdown will generate blockbuster attention…and will come over a busy sports betting weekend highlighted by college football (including Clemson/Louisville, Texas/USC, and Tennessee/Florida) and the NFL (including Dallas/Denver and Green Bay/Atlanta). 

Matt Youmans reported that Golovkin opened as a -160 favorite, with Alvarez returning plus 140 on the underdog price.  

NBA: LeBron James and Cavs sweep Raptors, already into Eastern Finals

LeBron James considers the Eastern Conference Finals his personal playground. He wasn’t expected to get down the slide so FAST this season! The Cleveland Cavaliers closed out a 4-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors Sunday, on the heels of their 4-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers in back in the first round. 

Cleveland (-7) 109, Toronto 102

  • Two-Point Pct: Cleveland 56%, Toronto 54%
  • Three-Pointers: Cleveland 16/41, Toronto 10/29

The scary category for the rest of the NBA in this series was three-pointers. The Cavaliers have surrounded James with great long range shooters. And, he himself has saved his legs through the season so that he is also a dangerous 3-point threat at the moment. Look at these team shooting performances from behind the arc in this series.

Cleveland’s three-point shooting

  • Game 1: 14 of 34 for 41%, which is the same as 62% on two-pointers
  • Game 2: 18 of 33 for 54%, which is the same as 82% on two-pointers
  • Game 3: 13 of 23 for 57%, which is the same as 85% on two-pointers
  • Game 4: 16 of 41 for 39%, which is the same as 59% on two-pointers
  • Total: 61 of 131 for 47%, which is the same as 70% on two-pointers. 

Yes, that solid 16 of 41 mark Sunday was their WORST performance from long range in the sweep. Those middle two games were absolutely lethal. LeBron was 13 of 27 all by himself, for just a bucket under 50%. 

Now the Cavs will get plenty of rest as they wait for the winner of the Boston/Washington series which is knotted at two games apiece. 

Sunday: Washington (-5) 121, Boston 102

  • Two-Pointers: Boston 44%, Washington 56%
  • Rebounds: Boston 31, Washington 45
  • Fast Break Points: Boston 12, Washington 25

Boston looked to have blown off Game Three in a 116-89 loss so they could save themselves for Game 4. Instead they just got routed again! Not much drama here. But, an interesting conundrum for bettors. Isaiah Thomas seemed unstoppable in the first two games in Beantown. Yet he was successfully neutralized in the two games in Washington. He seems to be the linchpin player. How can you know in advance whether he’s going to dominate or disappear? 

Note that:

  • Washington has outscored Boston by 34 points in regulation through four games
  • Washington has outrebounded Boston by 29 through four games 
  • Washington has won the turnover battle by 6 through four games
  • Washington has shot 53%, 55%, 52%, and 56% on two-pointers through four games

Boston is so mediocre across most skill sets (particularly for a #1 seed), that Isaiah Thomas has to carry them on his shoulders to victory, or they have to hope they hit a bunch of bombs (which they did in the first game at 19 for 39). 

This weekend in the west…

Saturday: Golden State (-6.5) 102, Utah 91

  • Two-Point Pct: Golden State 52%, Utah 42%
  • Three Pointers: Golden State 9/30, Utah 7/22
  • Rebounds: Golden State 51, Utah 42

Big “defense and rebounding” win for the visitors…which is a big deal because Utah’s strengths are defense and rebounding. Golden State is so much better than the Jazz, it just doesn’t matter if the games are fast or slow, or if the Warriors are hitting their treys or not. Steph Curry and company will try to close out a sweep so they can get almost as much rest as the Cavs are getting.

Sunday: Houston (-5) 125, San Antonio 104

  • Two-Point Pct: San Antonio 56%, Houston 60%
  • Three Pointers: San Antonio 7/23, Houston 19/43
  • Turnovers: San Antonio 14, Houston 9

Not exactly a replay of Game 1 because that was so nasty so quickly. But, a 21-point victory here after a 27-point win in the series opener. Houston is at its best when hitting treys in up-tempo track meet. Once that starts happening, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich kind of concedes. In the two games that were played at a more manageable pace, the Spurs won by 25 and 11. Let’s make that easier to see.

  • Houston won by 27 and 21 with possession counts of 103 and 99
  • San Antonio won by 25 and 11 with possession counts of 88 and 96

For now, mid-90s and lower gets the win and the money for the Spurs. High 90s or more and Houston’s throwing a party. 

For those of you keeping track of pace counts for all series:

  • Cleveland/Toronto ended: 100-100-96-93 (with three of four totals going Over)
  • Washington/Boston is: 93-97-96-99 (with three of four totals going Over)
  • Golden State/Utah is: 92-101-93 (with the two obvious ones going Under)
  • San Antonio/Houston is: 103-88-96-99 (with three of four totals going Over)

Monday’s pointspread (Golden State leads series 3-0)

  • Golden State (-8) at Utah, with an Over/Under of 206.5; 9 p.m. ET on TNT

NHL: Peka Rinne of Nashville stuffs St. Louis to close out 4-2 series win

It’s okay if you didn’t recognize that name up at the top when we were discussing this past weekend’s winners. Rinne is Nashville’s goalkeeper….and a big reason that the Predators just reached their first ever conference finals.

Nashville (-165) 3, St. Louis 1

  • Shots: St. Louis 24, Nashville 18

Over the last four games, St. Louis scored just 1-2-1-1 goals while fighting for their playoff lives. Rinne saved 23-32-33-23 shots. That’s just 5 goals allowed on 116 total St. Louis shots!

For the postseason, Nasvhille is now 8-2 with a 4-0 series sweep of Western favorite Chicago, and a 4-2 smothering of St. Louis. 

Also this past weekend…

Saturday: Ottawa (even) 5, NY Rangers 4 (in overtime)

  • Shots: NY Rangers 33, Ottawa 37

Amazingly, the Rangers have scored four goals or more in each of the last four games, but have their backs to the wall down three games to two in the series! New York will be a prohibitive favorite back in Gotham in Game 6. The Rangers just won a pair of games on home ice 4-1, and were pre-series favorites even though they didn’t have home ice. Ottawa sneaking through to the Eastern finals didn’t even seem possible before the playoffs begain.

Saturday: Washington (-165) 4, Pittsburgh 2

  • Shots: Pittsburgh 22, Washington 32

For the series, the Caps are plus 59 in shot attempts! On a per-period basis, Washington has won shot count in 13 of the 15 periods, including the last seven (no overtimes yet). Pittsburgh won three of the first four games despite getting outshot, and will try to wrap things up at home Monday night. 

Sunday: Edmonton (-135) 7, Anaheim 1

  • Shots: Anaheim 35, Edmonton 35

Anaheim had that miraculous comeback in Game 5 (three goals in the final few minutes to force overtime). They had some room to take a game off so they could try to win Game 7 at home. Edmonton was up 10-4 on the scoreboard IN ANAHEIM before that stunning climax. The Oilers surely believe they can rally from behind themselves. Should be a great Game 7 featuring two well-rested teams Wednesday night. This Game 6 blowout was just the stage setter. 

Monday’s moneyline

Washington at Pittsburgh (-120, total of 5.5--Under -120); 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

Thanks for joining us for this weekend recap. Back with you tomorrow to review Monday’s results. Soon we’ll start our prelude to the Preakness, where Always Dreaming is the perfect name for a Triple Crown threat given how much the sporting loves a run at history. If you have any questions or comments about VSiN programming or newsletter content, please drop us a note. If you’re not already a weekday subscriber to VSiN City, you can rectify that by clicking here. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter. Talk to you again Tuesday!

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