Dominance of Warriors is a lesson for bettors

Jeff Fogle

May 9, 2017 07:00 AM

Kevin Durant and the Warriors can be good even when they are bad--in a few categories, at least.
© USA Today Sports Images

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After finishing their sweep, the Golden State Warriors will join the Cleveland Cavaliers for several days of rest and relaxation as both NBA juggernauts await their conference championship opponents. 

NBA: Golden State wins first and fourth quarters 67-33 to close out Utah

If you turned Monday’s game off early, after Golden State jumped to a 24-point first-quarter lead, you might be surprised to learn that the game got kind of close in the third quarter. Then the Warriors put their foot back on the gas pedal and this second round series was over. 

Golden State (-8) 121, Utah 95

  • Two-Point Pct: Golden State 55%, Utah 40%
  • Three-Pointers: Golden State 11/26, Utah 8/27
  • Rebounds: Golden State 50, Utah 42

Another “defense and rebounding” rout inside the arc. Don’t forget that Utah was one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA this season. The Jazz had to forgo crashing the glass on offense because there was no way it could get back to defend against the Warriors break. For the four games, Golden State won the battle of the boards 185-167. 

Let's take a second to expound on the versatility and relative immunity Golden State enjoys because of their varied skill set. We usually focus on key stats that help paint the picture on a game-by-game basis. It can be helpful to look through the other end of the telescope for a different perspective. What happens when the Warriors lose some key stats? 

  • In Game 1, Golden State was outrebounded 44-37, outshot on three-pointers 9-7, and let Utah make 55% of its two-point attempts, yet still won by double digits.
  • In Game 2, Golden State let Utah shoot 50% on two-point attempts and turned the ball over 17 times, yet still won by double digits.
  • In Game 3, Golden State was outshot on free-throw attempts 34-23, only managed a generic (for them) 9 of 30 on three-pointers, yet still won by double digits.
  • In Game 4, Golden State had fewer free throw attempts and more turnovers, basically took about 15 minutes off in the middle of the game, yet still pulled away to win by 26 points.

The Warriors do so many things so well that they can punt a few categories per game because they’re going to crush you in others. It’s not just that they’re “great” at one or two things that give opponents trouble. It’s that their strengths are so all-encompassing. They can beat you in a track meet. They can beat you in a grinder (which the media would have a better sense of if they studied pace counts and two-point defense). They can take you out of your comfort zone but you can’t do that to them. They force bad shots and grab the rebound. They can pick and choose which of their shooting stars is going to carry the load on a given night. 

Longtime NBA fans reminisce about watching Bird and Magic on TV, or the Jordan years. Golden State is accomplishing a high level of TEAM performance that we’ve never seen before in terms of this combination of power and “invulnerability.” There is no Achilles heel except for injury…and it might take losing TWO starters for any of the other championship caliber teams in the 2017 brackets to even have a shot. If you think about how “wide” their skill set is rather than how high they might climb in Power Ratings (more on those in a moment), you get a fuller sense of the strength of this force. This is important for those of you who like betting futures prices in basketball or any other sport. Don’t just think about a high level of potential achievement. Think about what makes a team fragile or vulnerable. Are you betting on a team that’s a porcelain vase? Or are you betting on a team that’s a boulder? 

Just one NBA game on tap Tuesday…

Tuesday’s point spread (series tied 2-2)

  • Houston at San Antonio (-5, total of 215.5); 8 p.m. ET on TNT

NBA: Updated Power Ratings

These have been a bit tricky to evaluate because the market has shown a lot of home-court respect to series underdogs Washington and Houston. During the regular season, home-court advantage is usually worth about three points. Yet, look at the prices through four games in those particular series...

  • San Antonio was -6 and -5.5 at home vs. Houston
  • Houston was -5.5 and -5 at home vs. San Antonio

If you assume the Spurs are about a point better on a neutral court (in the eyes of the market), that’s a home court advantage of about 5 points in both spots!

  • Boston was -4.5 and -5 at home vs. Washington
  • Washington -5.5 and -5 at home vs. Boston

Judging only by those numbers, Washington is seen as the better neutral-court team. Now, there was definitely a “must-win” boost for the Wiz in Game 3, and then respect for the ease with which they were scoring in Games 2 and 3. But again, we’re showing home court advantage at around 5 points. And, clearly, the market is not impressed with Boston, which is being priced at equality with a #4 seed that wasn’t particularly awesome in the first round vs. Atlanta. 

In our weekly estimate of how “the market” is currently rating the remaining NBA Playoff teams, VSiN City sees it this way:

  • East: Cleveland 86, Boston 81, Washington 81
  • West: Golden State 92, SA 87, Houston 86

Once Cleveland has a dance partner in the Eastern finals, it will be easier to determine if its Power Rating has climbed to 87 or better. LeBron James and company are obviously playing at a high level…much higher than they showed during the day-to-day grind of the regular season. For now, we’d estimate the Cavs would be around -8 in a home opener vs. whoever survives that fast and physical Celtics/Wizards war. 

Golden State is still well clear of the field. They would also be around -8-ish in Game 1 vs. their opponent in the West. Does that strike you as high? Maybe. The Warriors were -13 at home against Utah, though. And, they’ll get respect from the market for a rest advantage, particularly if Spurs/Rockets goes the full seven. 

NHL: Caps force Game 7 by pulverizing Penguins

Things were looking bleak for the Washington Capitals a few days ago. They trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins three games to one in the Eastern Conference second round series. And, that was after not playing impressive hockey in the first round against Toronto.

Washington (even) 5, Pittsburgh 2 

  • Shots: Washington 26, Pittsburgh 18

That shot count is amazing…in a series that’s been full of amazing shot counts the whole way. Washington never trailed Monday night…yet Pittsburgh could only manage 18 shots in what should have been a frantic effort to win the series at home. It was only 1-0 after a period, and 2-0 after two periods. Then it was FIVE-TO-NOTHING in the third period before the Penguins got a couple of late meaningless goals. 

Imagine shot counts being football scores, and look how consistently Washington has owned the category:

  • Game 1: Washington 35, Pittsburgh 21
  • Game 2: Washington 36, Pittsburgh 24
  • Game 3: Washington 33, Pittsburgh 30 (in overtime)
  • Game 4: Washington 38, Pittsburgh 18
  • Game 5: Washington 32, Pittsburgh 22
  • Game 6: Washington 24, Pittsburgh 18

The Penguins managed to make the most of their fewer shots in the first four games. It’s going to be tough for them to pull off the road upset in Game 7 if they can’t do something to equalize opportunities. 

Now…the Caps are back in the Stanley Cup driver’s seat. They will be likely be home favorites of at least -160 in Wednesday’s Game 7…and would be favored over either Ottawa or the NY Rangers in the Eastern Finals, and then over the eventual Western Conference representative.

One big game Tuesday on ice…

Tuesday’s money line (Ottawa leads 3-2)

  • Ottawa at the NY Rangers (-170, total of 5--Over -115); 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

MLB: Checking in on moneymakers, cash burners

It’s been a bit over a week since we last checked in on the best and worst market performances in the 2017 MLB season. Let’s update those from the standings page at

Most profitable MLB betting teams

  • New York Yankees plus 11 units
  • Baltimore plus 11 units
  • Colorado plus 10 units
  • Washington plus 6 units
  • Houston plus 6 units

The Yankees jumped into the national consciousness with that weekend sweep of the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. Doing something on national TV tends to wake people up! Their stellar form of late has led them well into the black for the 2017 campaign. Baltimore and Colorado have been more quiet with their profits because that success didn’t go viral on all the TV discussion shows. 

A lot to like about Washington and Houston because they’ve been cashing against higher expectations than many others. Both were favored to win their respective divisions. Both are playing like they won’t have much trouble doing that. 

Biggest money losers in MLB

  • San Francisco -13 units
  • Toronto -10 units
  • Kansas City -9 units
  • Chicago Cubs -7 units
  • Texas -7 units

Still a disastrous season for the Giants. They were supposed to threaten for a wildcard, but continue to kick games away (or wreck non-terrain vehicles). Toronto and Kansas City are also on the short list of implosions. Even if neither was supposed to win its division, both were expected to be much more competitive than they’ve been.

Soon the NBA and NHL playoff schedules will lighten up, allowing us more time for in-depth baseball discussions. We plan to talk about 5-inning betting strategies, run-line betting strategies (taking or laying -1,5 runs at adjusted prices), Over/Unders, and team totals at the very least. Baseball allows many ways to play every day, which is right in the wheelhouse for serious handicappers and bettors. 

We’ll also check in on Interleague results here and there. You just saw that the Yankees and Orioles are cashing a lot of tickets this season. The trio of the Yanks, O’s, and Red Sox are 16-4 against the National League after wins Monday night for the Yanks and O’s over the Reds and Nationals respectively.

That wraps up our Tuesday report. If you have any comments or suggestions about VSiN city or our daily broadcast programming, please drop us a note

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