Oh what a rush…a gold rush! The Vegas Golden Knights prove they’re road warriors with their fourth away victory of the NHL postseason to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Complete playoff coverage plus MLB and the Kentucky Derby as we start a new week in VSiN City.
NHL Recaps: Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning advance to conference finals with Sunday victories
With all the talk about the “Vegas flu” during the regular season (the tendency for visiting teams to succumb to distractions), it became easy to forget that the Golden Knights know how to win away from home too. Sunday’s 3-0 win at San Jose to close out their second round series was VGK’s fourth road victory in five tries this postseason.
Vegas Golden Knights (plus 130) 3, San Jose 0 (Vegas wins series 4-2)
Shots: VKG 33, San Jose 28
Power Plays: VKG 0/1, San Jose 0/2
A tightly played game with few penalties. A scoreless first period, then a scoreless third period until an empty-net goal very late. You can see that VKG had an edge in shot count despite leading much of the night. Speaks very well for its control of game flow.
Vegas advances to face the winner of the Winnipeg/Nashville series. And the Golden Knights will do so with a strong home arena AND a clear ability to win on the road.
VGK (plus 130) won at Los Angeles 3-2
VGK (plus 120) won at Los Angeles 1-0
VGK (plus 110) won at San Jose 4-3 in overtime
VGK (plus 130) lost at San Jose 4-0
VGK (plus 130) won at San Jose 3-0
The only loss came in a fairly obvious “rest” spot after regaining home ice advantage in the second of two consecutive overtime games. When NOT playing on the road after back-to-back overtimes, the Knights are undefeated, with a combined scoreboard win of 11-5.
So much for playoff inexperience! A historic regular season has been followed by an 8-2 performance in the first two rounds. A 4-0 sweep as a -140 series favorite over the dangerous Los Angeles Kings was followed by an impressive 4-2 swim passed the surging San Jose Sharks, also as a -140 series favorite. The market STILL doesn’t believe what’s happening with this storybook franchise.
Tampa Bay (-150) 3, Boston 1 (Tampa wins series 4-1)
Shots: Boston 28, Tampa Bay 22
Power Plays: Boston 1/3, Tampa Bay 1/3
Fairly dominant performance this series from the Lightning, considering they were only a -140 favorite to advance…and that Boston was a pricey -155 or -160 in its two home games. Tampa Bay won scoreboard 15-7 over the last four games, and owned shot count for the series by a decisive 154-133. That’s tough to do when winning because the trailing team often drives the flow of attack. Sunday’s meeting was the only time Boston won shot count the entire series.
Tampa Bay will advance to face the winner of the Pittsburgh/Washington series. Based on pre-playoff futures prices and locked in home ice advantage, the Lightning would be a favorite over either side. Those teams started the playoffs at 5/1 (Tampa Bay), 6/1 (Pittsburgh), and 20/1 (Washington).
NHL Previews: Last year’s finalists Pittsburgh and Nashville AGAIN have their backs to the wall Monday night
Last week, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, last year’s finalists in the battle for the Stanley Cup, were trailing 2-1 in their respective second round series. Both would win Game 4 to knot things up, only to lose Game 5 to stare elimination directly in the face.
A lot of drama on the Monday night card.
Washington at Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Washington leads series 3-2)
Game 1: Pittsburgh (plus 110) 3, Washington 2 (Shots: Washington 34-25)
Game 2: Washington (-140) 4, Pittsburgh 1 (Shots: Pittsburgh 33-32)
Game 3: Washington (plus 150) 4, Pittsburgh 3 (Shots: even at 22)
Game 4: Pittsburgh (-180) 3, Washington 1 (Shots: Pittsburgh 24-21)
Game 5: Washington (-130) 6, Pittsburgh 3 (Shots Pittsburgh 39-32)
Game 6: Pittsburgh -200, total of 6
The market has considered Pittsburgh the superior team in this series from the get-go. So, bettors have to pay an extreme premium to get them in the must-win spot at home Monday. You can see that Pittsburgh was -170 and -180 in its prior home games, while Washington was in the -130 to -140 range in the nation’s capital. Pittsburgh was the pre-series favorite despite not having home ice.
The Penguins will have it for the last time in this series this evening. Let’s see if posting a shot count advantage of plus 11 over the last four split games helps them control flow of play. You know Tampa Bay hopes this series reaches a seventh game.
Nashville at Winnipeg (9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Winnipeg leads series 3-2)
Game 1: Winnipeg (plus 150) 4, Nashville 1 (Shots: Nashville 48-19)
Game 2: Nashville (-175) 4, Winnipeg 3 in OT (Shots: Winnipeg 50-41)
Game 3: Winnipeg (-130) 7, Nashville 4 (Shots: Winnipeg 45-30)
Game 4: Nashville (plus 130) 2, Winnipeg 1 (Shots: Winnipeg 33-29)
Game 5: Winnipeg (plus 140) 6, Nashville 2 (Shots: Nashville 40-32)
Game 6: Winnipeg -155, total of 6
Great series. At the beginning of the playoffs, Nashville was the futures market favorite to go the distance at 4/1. Before Sunday’s action, Winnipeg had become the favorite to win the West at 11/4 (with a 3-2 series lead here, and in advance of Sunday evening’s Vegas Golden Knights/San Jose game. VGK was 4/1 with its 3-2 series lead over SJ at the time). Tells you a lot about how much respect Winnipeg has earned from the sharpest market influences.
Well, tonight’s price should already tell you that! Nashville is excellent, in a must-win spot, and just won the last time at this site. Winnipeg is still -155 anyway.
NBA Playoffs: Golden State and Houston find championship form by cranking up defensive intensity in Sunday victories
Two very similar games in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs Sunday. Let’s run the numbers…
Golden State (-6) 118, New Orleans 92
2-point Pct: Golden State 57%, New Orleans 45%
3-pointers: Golden State 11/33, New Orleans 4/26
Free Throws: Golden State 15/18, New Orleans 24/30
Rebounds: Golden State 45, New Orleans 51
Turnovers: Golden State 11, New Orleans 19
Pace: 107.3 (for the series, 104.3, 110.5, 103.6, 107.3)
Several things to talk about here. First, Golden State went for the first time ever to its “cheat code” starting lineup of Curry, Durant, Thompson, Igoudala, and Green. That’s five nice aces to have up your sleeve. Golden State won the first quarter 37-22. Each of those five finished the game with a plus/minus of at least plus 21.
Second key factor, Golden State brought peak intensity on defense. The Warriors held Anthony Davis to 8 of 22 from the field…after 9 of 20, 12 of 24, and 15 of 27. Allowing 92 points may not “seem” like great defense. But, this was a lightning fast game with a pace factor of 107.3. Holding a team to 92 points here is like holding a team to 86 points over 100 possessions. You can tell the Warriors emphasized guarding the arc too. New Orleans was just 4 of 26 on treys, after making 13 and 14 the last two outings.
Third point of emphasis is the turnover category. Golden State often plays sloppy, figuring they’ll make up for that with extra points on treys. Turning the ball over 11 times in 107 possessions is a very clean game. Golden State’s intense defense forced almost 20 miscues from the Pelicans.
Finally, Golden State won by 26 despite not shooting particularly well on treys. This isn’t a team that “has” to make its treys to win. In fact, the Warriors hold a 3-1 series lead despite hitting 33% or less on treys over the last three games. Golden State is a champion with its normal game…then historically great when the treys are falling.
Game 5 will be Tuesday at Golden State.
Houston (-5) 100, Utah 87
2-point Pct: Houston 54%, Utah 46%
3-pointers: Houston 10/38, Utah 7/29
Free Throws: Houston 16/17, Utah 16/20
Rebounds: Houston 49, Utah 45
Turnovers: Houston 13, Utah 16
Pace: 98.0 (for the series, 96.8, 103.2, 99.7, 98.0)
An extremely similar game to the one above, hidden at scoreboard glance by a much slower pace. There were about nine fewer possessions per team here. Houston also intensified its defense in terms of protecting the arc and forcing turnovers. Houston also led comfortably most of the way despite not having a good game on treys (five makes below their norm). Houston also grabbed a 3-1 series lead by winning on the road. Golden State won bigger thanks to better shooting and a bigger turnover differential.
No reason to add any paragraphs to that. Houston again needs to avoid complacency, which they failed to do in Game Two at home. Game Five will be Tuesday in Houston.
NBA Previews: Series underdogs Boston and Cleveland both going for sweeps Monday
This is one of the most shocking developments ever in the NBA Playoffs. We’ve seen series upsets before. But, they don’t often happen “in tandem” where the consensus teams to play for a conference crown both fall behind 3-0 to big pre-series underdogs.
Philadelphia went from instant juggernaut to exposed pretender in a finger snap (then another and another). Toronto went from “new power” and #1 seed to “same old disappointments” with calls to clean house.
Boston at Philadelphia (6:05 p.m. ET. on TNT, Boston leads series 3-0)
Game 1: Boston (plus 4.5, 205) 117, Philadelphia 101
Game 2: Boston (plus 3.5/205.5) 108, Philadelphia 103
Game 3: Boston (plus 9.5/205) 101, Philadelphia 98 in overtime
Game 4: Philadelphia -6.5, total of 204.5
(Note the very early starting time again.) Philadelphia is still being priced as the superior team, though the line has finally adjusted to something more representative of series performances. Boston is playing much smarter basketball tactically, with much more energy in the areas that matter most. The good news for Philly fans is that this is the series where its young stars will learn about the higher level of intensity it takes to win playoff games vs. real threats. The bad news is that its young stars should have learned that after Game One and didn’t.
Game 3 was played this past Saturday. Let’s run those numbers quickly.
Boston (plus 9.5) 101, Philadelphia 98 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Boston 89, Philadelphia 89
2-point Pct: Boston 59%, Philadelphia 43%
3-pointers: Boston 10/38, Philadelphia 9/30
Free Throws: Boston 9/14, Philadelphia 13/18
Rebounds: Boston 49, Philadelphia 50
Turnovers: Boston 13, Philadelphia 14
Pace: 91.9 (for the series, 96.1, 93.4, 91.9)
Boston wasn’t “scoring at will” inside with that 59% mark, or it wouldn’t have launched 38 3-pointers. That stat composite means that Boston scored very easily when it was able to get the ball inside for a close look.
One of the lessons of the Philadelphia/Miami series was that the Sixers looked mortal when they weren’t red-hot on treys. Well, they looked UNGODLY when they were red-hot on treys. But, they were beatable otherwise. Boston does a great job of denying open looks at the arc. Hence, Philadelphia is 5 of 26, 13 of 33, 9 of 30, and 0-3 on the scoreboard. Nothing near the 18 of 28 and 18 of 34 explosions vs. the Heat. The Sixers may have fallen in love with their own bombs in those 130-103 and 128-103 blowouts of Miami.
Toronto at Cleveland (8:35 p.m. ET. on TNT, Cleveland leads series 3-0)
Game 1: Cleveland (plus 7, 214) 113, Toronto 112 (in OT)
Game 2: Cleveland (plus 7/213.5) 128, Toronto 110
Game 3: Cleveland (-4.5/214) 105, Toronto 103
Game 4: Cleveland -6, total of 214
At least Toronto rallied from behind to tie in the final moments Saturday night. It looked like a road tank job until DeMar DeRozan was benched with a big deficit. He stayed benched through the full rally. Cleveland took him out of the game (literally), but got a bit too complacent when that plan worked.
Cleveland (-4.5) 105, Toronto 103
2-point Pct: Toronto 52%, Cleveland 54%
3-pointers: Toronto 13/33, Cleveland 9/25
Free Throws: Toronto 20/25, Cleveland 20/25
Rebounds: Toronto 41, Cleveland 36
Turnovers: Toronto 17, Cleveland 10
Pace: 91.6 (for the series, 90, 90.8, 91.6)
Cleveland cooled off a bit on treys. But, you can see that LeBron James is very clearly forcing HIS tempo on proceedings. Toronto must figure out a way to win at halfcourt basketball against the single greatest halfcourt force ever (if you count the ability to draw fouls, and new skill sets at an age when players are supposed to decline). Cleveland is plus 8, plus 8, and plus 7 in turnover differential, which has turned out to be a linchpin stat.
MLB: Yanks still on fire, but still trail the Red Sox in our “Magnificent Seven” check up
Every Monday morning we’ll check in our how “The Magnificent Seven” have been performing against market expectations. Those are the seven Major League teams projected to win more than 90 games in the Regular Season Win propositions. It’s very hard to make money backing high profile media teams the public loves to bet. That’s proving true again this season, despite stellar starts for both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Here are the season-to-date performances for “The Magnificent Seven,” ranked by profit/loss.
Boston 25-9…plus 11 units after a 5-2 week
NYY 24-10…plus 8.5 units, a 13-1 record the last 2 weeks!
Houston 21-15…minus 5.5 units after a shocking 2-5 week
Cubs 16-14…minus 5 units (pending late Sunday finisher in St. Louis)
Washington 18-17…minus 5 units thanks to a 5-unit profit off a 6-1 week
Cleveland 17-17…minus 7 units after a dismal 3-5 week
LA Dodgers 15-19…minus 18 units after a 3-4 week and more bad injury news
Only one team is below the .500 mark a little over a month into the season. Yet look at the huge composite negative. The first six roughly cancel out. Then, you have the struggling Dodgers knocking at the door of being down 20 units all by themselves.
This week’s big games:
Boston at the New York Yankees Tuesday thru Thursday
That’s the only matchup featuring teams in “The Magnificent 7” going head to head. There are several other series matching teams who currently have winning records. So, it’s actually a HUGE week in baseball if you focus on the current standings at the expense of all the slow-starting powers.
Early Week (current record in parenthesis)
San Francisco (19-15) at Philadelphia (18-15)
Seattle (19-14) at Toronto (19-16)
Houston (21-15) at Oakland (18-16)
LA Angels (21-13) at Colorado (20-15)
NY Mets (17-15) at Philadelphia (18-15)
San Francisco (19-15) at Pittsburgh (19-16)
Milwaukee (20-15) at Colorado (20-15)
Washington (18-17) at Arizona (23-11)
Oakland (18-16) at the NY Yankees (24-10)
Boston (25-9) at Toronto (19-16)
Our baseball coverage here in the newsletter will increase as the NBA and NHL playoffs start to wind down. That’s happening very soon as we approach the respective conference finals.
Kentucky Derby: Long shots didn’t Justify attention as another favorite wins
We’ll take leave of horse racing until picking up with “Preakness Week” in seven days. If you missed the final results of the Kentucky Derby this past Saturday…
1…Justify, paid $7.80 to win
2…Good Magic, paid $9.20 to place
3…Audible, paid $5.80 to show
The trifecta with those three in exact order paid $141.40. The big payoff came on the four-horse Superfecta, which paid a whopping $19,618.20 because 90/1 shot Instilled Regard finished fourth.
Hope you enjoyed VSiN’s coverage of “The Run for the Roses,” particularly the stellar work done by Ron Flatter on site and Dave Tuley with his race day predictions. This sport will enjoy some time back in the saddle here in VSiN City next week.
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