Vegas Knights were Golden again with 4-2 win over Winnipeg (as were bettors who laid 1.5 goals!). Plus, the Houston Rockets knotted up their NBA series with a blowout of the Golden State Warriors. We also update MLB Interleague play and the Preakness today in VSiN City.
NHL Playoffs: Vegas Golden Knights take a 2-1 series lead over Winnipeg; plus a preview of Game 4 in Tampa Bay-Washington
If you had Over 5.5, or the Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 runs on the puck line, you were a money loser until the final three seconds! An empty-netter as time was running out caused a lot of money to change hands. Condolences to those who were on the wrong end of that. Congrats to fans of VGK and Overs.
Vegas (-130) 4, Winnipeg 2
Shots: Winnipeg 35, Vegas 30
Power Plays: Winnipeg 0/2, Vegas 0/3
The hosts electrified a plugged-in crowd with a goal just 35 seconds into the game. Vegas would control flow of play through the first period, carrying a 1-0 lead to intermission on a shot count of 10-3. Winnipeg would not go down without a fight. The Jets won shot count 32-20 the rest of the way, playing from behind for all but 12 seconds of those two periods.
Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury turned away several Winnipeg opportunities. That empty-netter created a misleading final score for those not watching the game.
A possible concern for VGK, a disappointing 1-of-7 rate on power plays. Winnipeg is 3 of 9. You can deduce that Vegas leads even-strength scoring 8-4. Vegas must avoid penalties as Winnipeg continues to ratchet up its attack with a series deficit. Jets lead shot count 92-79. Game 4 will be Friday night in the sports betting capital of the world.
The Eastern Conference Finals resume Thursday night. Tampa Bay must break serve again on the road to pull even with Washington.
Tampa Bay at Washington (8:05 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Washington leads 2-1)
Game 1: Washington (plus 160) 4, Tampa Bay 2 (Shots: Washington 32-21)
Game 2: Washington (plus 170) 6, Tampa Bay 2 (Shots: Washington 37-35)
Game 3: Tampa Bay (even) 4, Washington 2 (Shots: Washington 38-23)
Game 4: Pick-em, total of 6
Washington is certainly the much more aggressive side so far. It’s understandable that they won shot count when trailing for so long the last time out. But the Caps also won that stat in the games it won. Through three games (only one at home), Washington leads shots 107-79. Even strength scoring is 9-3 for the Caps, after Tampa Bay’s Tuesday win was keyed by two power-play goals.
Interesting challenge for handicappers. If you agree with the market that Tampa Bay was the superior side entering the series…then this is a must-win game (again) at an affordable price. If you believe Washington has the better chance to control its own destiny based on flow of play so far head-to-head, a price like pick-em on home ice could be a steal.
Could be a heavily bet game in Las Vegas because it’s the only playoff game on the board Thursday evening. You’ll see in a moment that the NBA is about to take a little break.
NBA Playoffs: Houston adjusts, Golden State sleepwalks after breaking serve
As great as the Golden State Warriors are, they’ve no-showed a road game in every playoff series thus far in 2018.
Golden State (-5.5) lost at San Antonio 103-90 (market miss of 18.5 points)
Golden State (-4.5) lost at New Orleans 119-100 (market miss of 23.5 points)
Golden State (plus 1.5) lost at Houston 127-105 (market miss of 20.5 points)
The Warriors set the tone early Wednesday evening with many first-quarter turnovers. Houston made some offensive adjustments after Monday’s loss that created a lot more ball movement and open looks, while also bringing more intensity on both sides of the floor. It all led to this one-sided boxscore…
Houston (-1.5) 127, Golden State 105
2-point Pct: Golden State 55%, Houston 63%
3-pointers: Golden State 9/30, Houston 16/42
Free Throws: Golden State 18/22, Houston 21/27
Rebounds: Golden State 36, Houston 47
Turnovers: Golden State 15, Houston 13
Pace: 99.8 (for the series, 98.4 and 99.8)
We won’t really know until Game 3 whether Houston’s adjustments will give it a chance to win the series. That possibility is obviously more likely now than it was after the awful opener. But Golden State was 8-0 when showing up vs. San Antonio and New Orleans, and still has a ceiling nobody else can reach.
The good news for Rockets fans is that EVERYONE was involved in the attack. You can see that 16-of-42 mark on treys. James Harden and Chris Paul were a disappointing 4 of 20. The rest of the team was 12 of 22. Better ball movement created a lot of open looks. Confident, motivated shooters drained those looks. Big rebounding advantage as well, which is a key hustle stat. Houston is now plus 16 on the boards through two games. Two-point shooting flipped from 62% to 54% for the Warriors in the opener (with countless easy buckets) to 63% to 55% for the Rockets Wednesday night.
For the series, Golden State is still up a service break, and still has the superior talent (though Steph Curry looked to be moving at less than 100% much more obviously in G2). Can Houston win the battle of treys when Golden State is more passionate about guarding the arc? Can Houston win when Golden State isn’t goofing around with the ball because of arrogance? A few days before we find out.
No more basketball games until the weekend. Game 3 in the East featuring Boston at Cleveland will be Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. Cleveland is currently -6.5 in that one, with an Over/Under of 205. Game 3 in the West will be Sunday at 8 p.m. on TNT from Oracle Arena. No early line had been posted as of publication deadlines.
MLB: A 3-1 day for the National League drives its interleague edge up to 37-20 this season
Weather impacted a busy interleague schedule for the second straight day. We’ll have to wait for another time for the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals to play their much-anticipated two-game set. Here’s what happened in the other four Wednesday matchups . . .
- Philadelphia (-110) beat Baltimore 4-1
- Pittsburgh (-175) beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2
- Toronto (-150) beat the NY Mets 12-1
- St. Louis (pick-em) beat Minnesota 7-5
Toronto kept it from being a sweep. But a solid 3-1 performance for the Senior Circuit. A good “shortcut” strategy for evaluating the leagues head to head is to see who’s winning the pick-em games. The fact that Pittsburgh beat CWS as a pricey favorite isn’t necessarily a reflection of the two leagues. Philadelphia and St. Louis both won road market toss-ups.
The season-to-date record is now 37-20 for the National League, which is very much out of character for interleague games the past several seasons. The American League has won for 14 straight years, some by very one-sided margins. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this, particularly on the busier IL schedule days.
Note that Pittsburgh moved to 10-2 against the American League this season, representing their full “games over .500” tally in a 25-17 overall record. The Pirates are currently tied for first in the NL Central, but have only the fourth-best record in the division against NL teams.
The Chicago White Sox are now 1-8 vs. the National League, part of a disastrous 10-29 start that has them worst in the majors by a good bit (slow-starting Cincinnati has risen all the way to 15-29). Chicago is 2-13 its last 15 games, and 7-27 after a 3-2 head fake to begin the season.
MLB: Braves bounce back with late rally against Cubs
Some hard-fought battles this week between the “wanting to prove themselves” Atlanta Braves and the “disappointed about another slow start” Chicago Cubs. They were tied 1-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth Wednesday night.
Atlanta (-110) 4, Chicago Cubs 1
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 12, Atlanta 18
Starting Pitchers: Chatwood 5.1 IP, 1 ER, McCarthy 6 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 2.2 IP, 3 ER, Atlanta 3 IP, 0 ER
You can see the right team won in terms of offensive bases. But the three late runs scored on an RBI single and two bases-loaded walks. Not exactly a power show. Stellar pitching from the Braves, who are fifth in the league on the mound in batting average allowed and quality starts.
Atlanta moves to 26-16, still a game ahead of Philadelphia in the NL East. Chicago falls to 22-18, back into fourth place in the NL Central because St. Louis won earlier in the day.
A few other quick baseball notes…
*Matt Harvey made his second start for Cincinnati. His first had been a four-inning gem…to the degree such a thing could exist…allowing just one hit to the slumping Dodgers. Not so successful Wednesday, allowing 7 hits and 3 earned runs in four innings at San Francisco. He had been gifted a 4-0 lead before taking the mound, but couldn’t stick around long enough to be credited with a win. The Reds were, thanks to solid bullpen work in a 6-3 victory. Cincinnati is now 7-2 its last nine games after starting the season 8-27. San Francisco falls back to .500 at 22-22.
*The flailing Los Angeles Dodgers lost again. The 6-5 loss at Miami was LAD’s sixth straight defeat (all coming against the lowly Reds and Marlins). The Dodgers are 1-9 their last 10, and 5-16 their last 21. Both the Dodgers and Marlins are now 16-26. Guess we can call LAD “lowly” too.
*Houston took two of three on the road against the Los Angeles Angels in a marquee series matching AL West contenders. Wednesday’s win was a 2-0 complete game, 118-pitch shutout by Justin Verlander. It also continued the Astros’ amazing streak of EVERY road victory this season coming by two runs or more. Great payoff for backers laying -1.5 runs on the road with the defending World Champions. Houston moves to 28-17 with the win, two games ahead of the 25-18 Halos.
MLB: Q1 Derivates Show…Gill Alexander joined Wednesday by Josh Towers
Gills “derivatives” shows (digging deep for “first inning” and “five inning” propositions) are always must see viewing for serious baseball bettors. If you lost track of the time, the Q1 show for the 2018 Major League Season aired on Wednesday. Former big league pitcher Josh Towers joined Gill and avid bettors Jason Weingarten and Mark Borchard for “A Numbers Game.” Click here to watch the replay.
Real-world data for real-world bettors!
Preakness Week: Draw for post position in possibly muddy Preakness puts Justify near the outside
Only eight horses will be in Saturday’s starting gate (pending scratches). So, there’s not that big a difference between starting on the inside or the outside. Heavy favorite and Kentucky Derby winner Justify drew the seventh of eight spots. That will have him near the far outside to start. (Click here to read Ron Flatter’s VSiN article on the draw.)
As Vinny Magliulo and Flatter discussed Wednesday with Brent Musburger on “My Guys in the Desert,” a rainy week could lead to a second straight Triple Crown race with muddy conditions. You already know the Yankees and Nationals were rained out in DC Wednesday. A wet forecast continues through the weekend in Maryland.
Here are the official starting positions, with the morning line in parenthesis…
2…Lone Sailor (15/1)
3…Sporting Chance (30/1)
4…Diamond King (30/1)
5…Good Magic (3/1)
Don’t forget that you can order our Preakness preview (a joint digital publication produced with our friends at TVG) for just $19.99. Those of you who are already annual subscribers to Point Spread Weekly were automatically included on the email list.
Back tomorrow to finish out the week. Thanks for spending some time VSiN City, where sports betting has never been illegal!
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