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How should bettors process 76ers' run?

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Can you “Trust the Process” with your playoff bankroll? Young Philadelphia continues to impress with aggressive, high-energy basketball. The latest from the NBA, NHL, and MLB right now in VSiN City.

NBA Tuesday: Boston goes up 3-2 while Philadelphia and Golden State advance on a low-scoring night
You know the results. You know all three games stayed way Under (by 23, 20, and 13 points). Let’s see how it happened. We’ll take the games in Nevada Rotation order.

Boston (-4) 92, Milwaukee 87
2-point Pct: Milwaukee 43%, Boston 50%
3-pointers: Milwaukee 9/33, Boston 10/31
Free Throws: Milwaukee 14/20, Boston 24/32
Rebounds: Milwaukee 37, Boston 50
Turnovers: Milwaukee 11, Boston 17
Pace: 95.9 (for the series 96.5, 93.2, 88.7, 89.3, 95.9)

Classic example of casual viewers linking a low-scoring game to pace “slowing down” when it was actually a drop in shooting performance. This was the second-fastest pace factor of the series. Though, if you watched you know that a late free-throw parade caused a last-minute surge. Without it, we would have been a touch above the games in Milwaukee. Some teams do slow down under late series pressure. But teams already playing slowly don’t have much further to go with a 24-second shot clock hounding them.  

Here are the biggest contributors to the drop in regulation scoring from 198-226-208-206 to 179... 

Milwaukee points: 107-106-116-104-87
Milwaukee 2-pt pct.: 52%, 59%, 63%, 56%, 43%
Milwaukee missed 3’s: 13-10-17-13-24

Whether you credit more intense Boston defense, or blame Milwaukee’s shooters…the awful shooting was the defining force in the game staying Under by 25 points. Boston’s high turnover count was an influence too. 

Nothing here would change anyone’s mind about doom in the next round vs. Philadelphia. Game 6 will be Thursday in Milwaukee. The Bucks were laying around -5 to -6 at home earlier in this series, and will likely get market respect again in a backs-to-the-wall spot. 

Philadelphia (-10) 104, Miami 91
2-point Pct: Miami 45%, Philadelphia 51%
3-pointers: Miami 10/35, Philadelphia 7/28
Free Throws: Miami 13/22, Philadelphia 29/36
Rebounds: Miami 40, Philadelphia 53
Turnovers: Miami 11, Philadelphia 15
Pace: 98.9 (for the series 98.4, 99.9, 98.7, 107.8, 98.9)

Another game that stayed way Under despite normal pace for the series. Teams were 17 of 65 on treys. Maybe Miami’s so bad by past playoff standards that Philly’s dominance is a red herring. But you have to be AMAZED that the Sixers just won a two-game tandem 210-193 while shooting a horrible 14 of 59 on treys (24%) and turning the ball over 41 times. 

Aggressively attacking the rim led to a big two-game advantage in free throws (56-26 edge in makes on 71-47 attempts) and rebounds (110-83). Basically, Philadelphia is a “defense and rebounding” team…that’s also an “attacking the rim” team…which is also capable of shooting 18 of 28 or 18 of 34 on treys when the stars align. 

There’s a very real chance Philadelphia has arrived early, and is now the true favorite to win the East. We won’t know that for sure until they face a tougher opponent than Miami. It might not happen in the second round because neither Boston nor Milwaukee is showing much in the key skill sets. This is a very special collection of talent that’s feeling its oats. And the market is still underestimating that talent. Philly went 3-1-1 ATS for the series, and is 14-4-1 ATS its last 19 times on the floor.

Just what the commissioner needed…everyone seeing that tanking can work!

Golden State (-11) 99, San Antonio 91
2-point Pct: San Antonio 45%, Golden State 57%
3-pointers: San Antonio 7/30, Golden State 5/27
Free Throws: San Antonio 20/22, Golden State 20/25
Rebounds: San Antonio 48, Golden State 47
Turnovers: San Antonio 13, Golden State 10
Pace: 93.6 (for the series, 96.6, 94.1, 94.7, 87.9, 93.6)

Golden State was in control most of the night, until falling asleep in the fourth quarter. San Antonio got as close as two points in the final moments before the Warriors snapped out of it. The Warriors still are coasting at three-quarter speed. They become ridiculously mortal when downgrading from coasting to sleep-walking. That’s how the Spurs won Game 4, and almost stole this one red-handed. 

Another Under keyed by poor three-point shooting. Pace was up from an artificially deflated Game 4 (GS had a million offensive boards that lengthened possessions in that game). Slightly down from the other games. These two offenses were 12 of 57 on treys, on a night where all six teams combined for an ugly 48 of 184. Just 26%!

Golden State advances to face well-rested New Orleans. That series will begin Saturday at Oracle Arena. 

NBA Wednesday Previews: Get ready for a rare weeknight grand slam
Four important playoff games on a Wednesday night! Here’s a quick recap of the twin doubleheaders on the NBA Network and TNT. 

Washington at Toronto (7 p.m. ET. on NBA Network, series tied 2-2)
Game 1: Toronto (-7.5/214) 114, Washington 106
Game 2: Toronto (-7/214) 130, Washington 119
Game 3: Washington (-1/217.5) 122, Toronto 103
Game 4: Washington (plus 1/217) 106, Toronto 98
Game 5: Toronto -7, total of 216

Toronto is feeling the heat after falling apart in the second half of Game 4. This is a franchise that’s disappointed its fans repeatedly in recent playoff action. Now, an early 2-0 series lead has been erased. Home court still makes the Raptors a prohibitive favorite to advance. They’d better start making some shots (only 45% on deuces in Washington) and protecting the ball (18 giveaways per game in those two losses). 

Indiana at Cleveland (7 p.m. ET. on TNT, series tied 2-2)
Game 1: Indiana (plus 7/212.5) 98, Cleveland 80
Game 2: Cleveland (-8.5/213.5) 100, Indiana 97
Game 3: Indiana (-1.5/208) 92, Cleveland 90
Game 4: Cleveland (-2/206) 104, Indiana 100
Game 5: Cleveland -6.5, total of 205

Cleveland didn’t find an extra gear last time out. More like imposing its bullying will by earning extra trips to the free-throw line. The Cavs were 22 of 26, compared to 8 of 13 for Indiana. That’s plus 14 points in a game Cleveland only won by four. The Cavs did get their first cover of the series last time out. Indiana can’t keep falling behind early and hoping to rally. You don’t pull off series upsets by climbing out of holes every time out.

Note that the winner of the two Eastern Conference series we just discussed will play each other in the second round.  

Houston at Minnesota (9:30 p.m. ET. on TNT, Houston leads series 3-1)
Game 1: Houston (-10.5/215) 104, Minnesota 101
Game 2: Houston (-10.5/216.5) 102, Minnesota 82
Game 3: Minnesota (plus 5.5/217) 121, Houston 105
Game 4: Houston (-5.5/219) 119, Minnesota 100
Game 5: Houston -12, total of 216

This should be the game that ends it. It will be a strike against Houston if it can’t squash any suspense relatively early in the evening. As we’ve said a few times, Houston starts every game way ahead based on expected three-point production. 

Oklahoma City at Utah (9:30 p.m. ET on NBA Network, Utah leads series 3-1)
Game 1: Oklahoma City (-4.5/205) 116, Utah 108
Game 2: Utah (plus 3.5/208.5) 102, Oklahoma City 95
Game 3: Utah (-5/209) 115, Oklahoma City 92
Game 4: Utah (-5.5/209.5) 113, Oklahoma City 96
Game 5: Oklahoma City -3.5, total of 207.5

Will be very interesting to see if Oklahoma City has already imploded, or if the Thunder can bounce back for one good outing before young and hungry Utah seals the series in Salt Lake City. You can see that Utah has won the last three games by a combined 47 points. We showed you Carmelo Anthony’s poor shooting stats yesterday. Utah is tempting as an underdog bet based on series flow and skill sets (OKC needed to shoot 14 of 29 on treys to win the opener). Are the Jazz experienced enough yet to win a close-out game on the road? 

One more playoff game to discuss for Wednesday. It’s in a different sport…

NHL Game 7 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins close out the first round in Beantown
Two of the most exciting words in sports are “Game 7.” Our first of 2018 comes in the NHL as the Maple Leafs and Bruins arrive at their series finale this evening. 

Toronto/Boston graded out in the regular season data to be a great series…

Regular Season Points: Boston 112, Toronto 105
Goal Differential: Boston plus 56, Toronto plus 45
5x5 Goal Differential: Toronto plus 28, Boston plus 27

The market pegged Boston as a clear pre-series favorite of -150 thanks largely to home ice advantage. Toronto has rallied from a 3-1 series deficit despite being big plus 170 dogs two games ago, and home underdogs last time out. 

Boston at Toronto (7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Boston leads 3-2)
Game 1: Boston (-160/6) 5, Toronto 1 (Shots: Boston 40-27)
Game 2: Boston (-175/5.5) 7, Toronto 3 (Shots: Toronto 33-28)
Game 3: Toronto (-110/5.5) 4, Boston 2 (Shots: Boston 42-30)
Game 4: Boston (-115/6) 3, Toronto 1 (Shots: Toronto 32-21)
Game 5: Toronto (plus 170/5.5) 4, Boston 3 (Shots: Boston 45-21)
Game 6: Toronto (plus 110/6) 3, Boston 1 (Shots: Boston 33-30)
Game 7: Boston (-175/5.5) 

You can see Boston is still getting serious market respect in that finale price. That’s partly due to Game 7 history across the sports world…and due to Boston’s 209-173 advantage in shot attempts through six games.

The winner will face Tampa Bay in the second round. Pittsburgh battles Washington in the other Eastern semifinal. That series begins Thursday, along with San Jose/Vegas in the West. We’ll preview both of those series in tomorrow’s edition of VSiN City.   

MLB: Checking in on some marquee matchups
A dark Tuesday night on the hockey schedule provides room to catch up with some early-season baseball stories. There were five games on the Tuesday ticket matching teams with winning records. Let’s run the numbers from those, including the much-anticipated matchup of Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels against the defending World Champion Houston Astros. 

LA Angels (plus 120) 8, Houston 7
Total Bases Plus Walks: Los Angeles 23, Houston 28
Starting Pitchers: Ohtani 5.1 IP, 4 ER, Player Morton 4 IP, 4 ER
Bullpens: Los Angeles 3.2 IP, 3 ER, Houston 5 IP, 4 ER

The short home run fences overruled poor visibility on this night in what’s been the best pitchers’ park in baseball the last two seasons. The Halos hit three homers (including #10 from Mike Trout, and two from shortstop Andrelton Simmons). Houston hit two. Astros earned more raw production, but left 11 runners on base…compared to just four for the Angels. The win sneaks LA past Houston into first place in the AL West. LAA is 16-8, Houston 16-9. Not a great night for Ohtani, though he repeatedly hit 100 mph on the radar gun. Sharps bet flamethrowers, though they backed off him tonight after he left the Boston game with a blister. 

Toronto (-115) 4, Boston 3 (in 10 innings)
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 12, Toronto 12
Starting Pitchers: Porcello 7 IP, 3 ER, Happ 7 IP, 1 ER
Bullpens: Boston 2.1 IP, 2 ER, Toronto 3 IP, 2 ER

Toronto blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning, before Curtis Granderson won it with a walk-off homer in the tenth. Red Sox have now lost three straight after that amazing 17-2 start to the season. Toronto is one game clear of the New York Yankees for second place at 14-8. Jays have held their own against AL powers with a 5-4 record against Boston, the NY Yankees, and Cleveland. A very strong 9-4 vs. everyone else. 

Moving to the National League…

Arizona (-110) 8, Philadelphia 4
Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 27, Philadelphia 12
Starting Pitchers: Ray 4.2 IP, 3 ER, Velasquez 4.2 IP, 4 ER
Bullpens: Arizona 4.1 IP, 1 ER, Philadelphia 4.1 IP, 4 ER

Still weird to see Philadelphia in an important game matching winning teams. Great start to the season has been helped by a soft schedule. The Phillies haven’t played anyone yet in “The Magnificent Seven” that we’ve been monitoring…the seven teams projected to win at least 90 games in the market’s Regular Season Win Totals. Phillies fall to 14-8 with this loss. Arizona rises to 16-6, and is 5-1 against the Dodgers in games against the M7. Clear dominance Tuesday, with a 27-12 “football score” win in offensive basses. Both starters struggled. Arizona’s bats and bullpen won the night. 

NY Mets (plus 180) 6, St. Louis 5 (in 10 innings)
Total Bases Plus Walks: NY Mets 22, St. Louis 21
Starting Pitchers: Wheeler 4 IP, 4 ER, Weaver 4.1 IP, 4 ER
Bullpens: NY Mets 6 IP, 1 ER, St. Louis 5.1 IP, 2 ER

Eight of those offensive bases for the Mets were drawn walks. Ended the night with six runs on six hits. Becoming more common for starting pitchers on GOOD teams to have trouble making it to five full innings. Nobody in these two NL games in focus managed to get that far (nor in LAA/Houston). Managers don’t mind yanking them if they trust their bullpens. Mets move to 15-6 on the season, still way ahead of preseason NL East favorite Washington, who’s under .500 approaching the end of the month. St. Louis is 13-9, a game behind the Brewers but a game ahead of the Cubs. 

One huge interleague series we wanted to check in on…

Chicago Cubs (plus 120) 10, Cleveland 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 32, Cleveland 17
Starting Pitchers: Chatwood 6 IP, 1 ER, Tomlin 3.2 IP, 5 ER
Bullpens: Chicago 3 IP, 1 ER, Cleveland 5.1 IP, 5 ER

Cubs hit FOUR home runs to move to 11-9 for the season. That’s the first time in 2018 the Cubs have reached two games over .500. Cleveland falls to 12-9, and Tomlin’s disintegrating ERA is up to 9.24 with an ugly WHIP over 2.00. Final game in the two-game set will be Wednesday night on ESPN with Jon Lester facing Trevor Bauer.

Great to see so many secondary stories developing below “The Magnificent Seven” from the preseason. Arizona, the LA Angels, Toronto, the NY Mets, and Milwaukee are all playing over .600 ball so far. Philadelphia is too but might be using some smoke and mirrors. Plenty to look forward to when our baseball coverage expands.

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