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Raptors go gently into the night vs. Cavs

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Cavs sweep…Caps advance…Can you believe NFL lines are already up for all 17 weeks at CG Technology?! Numbers and notes from the NBA, NHL, and NFL…plus a bonus baseball phenomenon before we let the day “get away” in VSiN City.

 

NBA Monday: Cleveland routs Toronto to finish easy 4-0 sweep

The Toronto Raptors looked ready for their tee times, falling way behind early before losing interest completely in the second half. Cleveland coasted to a win and a series sweep.

Cleveland (-5) 128, Toronto 93

2-point Pct: Toronto 50%, Cleveland 66%

3-pointers: Toronto 4/15, Cleveland 12/26

Free Throws: Toronto 17/23, Cleveland 16/20

Rebounds: Toronto 32, Cleveland 37

Turnovers: Toronto 13, Cleveland 10

Pace: 93.2 (for the series, 90.0, 90.8, 91.7, 93.2) 

Kind of a gentleman’s tank job. Toronto’s players knew they had no chance to come back. This isn’t the kind of rivalry yet where the trailing team will go down fighting (which is a big part of Toronto’s postseason woes in recent seasons, a lack of fight). Toronto only attempted 15 3-pointers despite trailing most of the night. Trey attempts by game for the Raptors: 28, 30, 33, and 15.

Quick reminder that this was a very slow series (though Monday picked up the pace a smidge). In regulation, Cleveland scored 105, 128, 105, and 128 in walk-it-up basketball. Dismal defense from Toronto.

Cleveland now awaits the winner of the other Eastern Conference series. That will last at least two days longer…

NBA Monday: Philadelphia stays alive after lineup change

McConnell mania! Philadelphia’s T.J. McConnell isn’t destined to be a star in the NBA. But, the diminutive guard sure had a positive impact in Game 4 of the Philadelphia-Boston series Monday night. The surprise starter (in place of slumping Robert Covington) shot 9 of 12 from the floor and posted a plus/minus of plus 18 in 39 minutes to help extend festivities to at least a fifth game. 

At the team level, McConnell’s “clean sheet” in the turnover department was a big factor in the Sixers winning that category for the first time this series. 

Philadelphia (-7) 103, Boston 92

2-point Pct: Boston 47%, Philadelphia 46%

3-pointers: Boston 11/32, Philadelphia 7/26

Free Throws: Boston 19/26, Philadelphia 20/26

Rebounds: Boston 43, Philadelphia 53

Turnovers: Boston 15, Philadelphia 8

Pace: 95.1 (for the series, 96.1, 93.4, 91.9, 95.1) 

If you watched, you know that the Sixers were ahead comfortably most of the second half. But it’s not obvious in the raw stats how they made that happen until you get down to the bottom two categories. Boston shot better inside the arc and made four extra treys. Free throws were a wash. How did Philadelphia win by double digits? 

That 53-43 edge in rebounds was keyed by 16 offensive boards. That means second chance points that helped the Sixers overcome the lesser inside percentage. And, then a 15-8 differential in turnovers meant Boston was losing additional opportunities to score. Boston was very slightly more accurate, but Philadelphia was scoring more often. The most points wins!

Turnovers by Game

Philadelphia 12, Boston 10

Philadelphia 11, Boston 9

Philadelphia 14, Boston 13

Philadelphia 8, Boston 15

Philadelphia is going to win rebounding because of its size advantage (plus 28 so far through four games). We have to assume now that Philadelphia ISN’T going to have any big 3-point performances. Two monster games vs. Miami are long gone (18 of 28, 18 of 34). Versus Boston’s solid 3-point defensive strategies…

Philadelphia 3-Pointers by Game

5 of 26 (awful)

13 of 33 (solid, but not good enough)

9 of 30 (disappointing)

7 of 26 (slightly better than awful)

Boston isn’t going to get beat from outside. Brad Stevens places too big an emphasis on that element. The Sixers must continue to win the turnover battle to have a chance to rally from behind and make history. 

Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Boston. First lines up for that late Monday night were Philadelphia -1.5 with a total of 204.5. That’s down from team side lines around -4 and Over/Unders of 205. 

NBA Tuesday Previews: Houston and Golden State heavily favored to finish off 4-1 series victories at home

The Western Conference favorites won so handily Sunday that it’s tempting not to spend too much time on these Tuesday previews. They just won on the road by 13 and 26 points. Now they’re at home, laying double digits! Some quick notes…

Utah at Houston (8 p.m. ET. on TNT, Houston leads 3-1)

Game 1: Houston (-11.5/207.5) 110, Utah 96

Game 2: Utah (plus 11.5/205.5) 116, Houston 108

Game 3: Houston (-4.5/209.5) 113, Utah 92

Game 4: Houston (-5/209) 100, Utah 87

Game 5: Houston -12, total of 208

Houston should have learned its lesson about complacency after Game 1. But this is such a tall spread that it’s difficult to bet the Rockets with confidence. Blowouts in Games 1 and 4 drifted back to final margins of 14 and 13. Little margin for error. 

New Orleans at Golden State (10:30 p.m. ET. on TNT, Golden State leads 3-1)

Game 1: Golden State (-7/223) 123, New Orleans 101

Game 2: Golden State (-11/229) 121, New Orleans 116

Game 3: New Orleans (plus 4.5/233) 119, Golden State 100

Game 4: Golden State (-6/231/5) 118, New Orleans 92

Game 5: Golden State -11.5, total of 227

Golden State knows all about the power of rest in the playoffs. That’s been a hallmark of the analytical approach for awhile. You can assume the Warriors won’t sleepwalk through this one. Well, maybe a quarter or two. Key to the cover (and the Over/Under) will be Golden State’s defensive intensity. 

We’ll run the box scores for you Wednesday morning. Then, assume a preview for the much-anticipated Western Conference Championship showdown within the next few days. Houston was “built” to beat Golden State…but the Warriors, when healthy, may be unbeatable over a best-of-seven series. We’re about to find out. 

NHL Playoffs: Washington wins…Winnipeg will have to wait 

The Washington Capitals are finally playing for another conference championship after two decades of disappointment. Winnipeg had hoped to be celebrating a big win…but must now go on the road to win a Game 7 in Nashville. 

Washington (plus 170) 2, Pittsburgh 1 in overtime (Washington wins series 4-2)

Shots: Washington 30, Pittsburgh 22

Power Plays: Washington 0/1, Pittsburgh 0/1

Another tightly played game, characteristic of this series (particularly the battles in Pittsburgh). You can tell the refs didn’t want to decide it with a whistle. Only two power plays all night. Great credit to Washington for winning shot count that handily on the road in a game that was tied most of the evening. Tough to do that as the perceived inferior team. Washington won third period shots 9-5, and overtime shots 6-2 when deadlocked. 

Washington advances to face Tampa Bay, which will enjoy home-ice advantage thanks to a 113-105 edge in regular-season points. Tampa Bay was -140 over Boston, which was perceived as superior to Washington in postseason pricing. That suggests the Lightning will be expensive favorites vs. the Caps. Pittsburgh was -165, -180, and -200 in three home games vs. Washington. Tampa Bay will have a fourth home game if the teams go the distance. 

We’ll go into more depth in our series preview once the schedule is announced. For now, Washington is 8-4 in the playoffs, with a pair of 4-2 series victories over Columbus (winning the last four) and Pittsburgh (winning four of the last five). Tampa Bay is 8-2, with a pair of 4-1 series victories over New Jersey and Boston.

Nashville (plus 140) 4, Winnipeg 0 (Series tied 3-3)

Shots: Nashville 29, Winnipeg 34

Power Plays: Nashville 0/1, Winnipeg 0/4

Third straight win for the road team in this series, and the fourth in six games. Winnipeg wasted multiple early power play opportunities. Nashville took that 4-0 lead (final goal on an empty-netter) before enjoying its only power play of the evening. 

Two excellent contenders continue to battle hard for the right to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western finals. Market chatter was unanimous that the eventual winner of this series would be a favorite over VGK (either would enter with home-ice advantage). We won’t know who that’s going to be for three more days. 

Gonna be a heckuva Game 7 Thursday night. Both squads are surely looking forward to that extra day off. No NHL games Tuesday or Wednesday. We’ll preview that Winnipeg/Nashville finale for you in our Thursday report. 

MLB News: A reminder about “Get Away” days in Major League Baseball

After Sunday’s slate was extremely low scoring (ultimately staying below the Grand Salami by about 30 runs), we were going to talk about this in yesterday’s report. Then, the Cubs and Cardinals played all night so we had to hold it back a day. 

Many baseball sharps are aware of the phenomenon involving “free swinging” on get away days. Some teams, knowing they have a plane to catch after a game, are prone to focusing on swinging for the fences rather than playing patient, sequential baseball. This is a bit harder to spot than it used to be because too many teams are starting to play that way all the time! But Sunday’s results are a reminder that handicappers should at least be aware of travel dynamics.

Out of 30 teams on the field Sunday, only FIVE would be playing in the same ballpark Monday night. So, several “double get away” games where BOTH teams had a plane to catch. Of course, every road team playing on a Sunday will be leaving town right afterward (except for occasional Monday holiday scenarios). 

Sunday Totals: 4 Overs, 10 Unders, 1 Push

  

In those four Overs, each and every one of them went Over in the ninth inning!

*Philadelphia/Washington (Nats win with two runs)

*Miami/Cincinnati (both score two runs to turn 6-3 into 8-5)

*Cleveland/NY Yankees (Yanks win with a grand slam)

*LA Angels/Seattle (Halos score two meaningless runs)

We weren’t that far from a clean sweep of Unders, though you obviously can’t ask all bullpens to throw goose-eggs on any given day. The points to remember about get away days are:

*Many offenses are prone to trying to hit solo homers rather than laying the foundation for big innings.

*That plays into the hands of high strikeout pitchers, which are more common now than ever given the impact of analytics on staff construction.

*Early evidence suggests that MLB has switched back to the old baseballs rather than the “juiced” baseballs of 2017 that had endured construction tweaks. It looks like it’s going to be harder to hit home runs in 2018. 

This doesn’t mean you should just blindly bet Unders in any game where at least one team has a plane to catch. But, it would behoove you to study team offensive tendencies in these spots. Remember to account for the quality of the opposing pitcher, tendencies of the home ballpark, and possible weather factors. 

Before we get away today…

NFL Betting: CG Technology posts point spreads for every 2018 NFL game

Monday, CG Technology posted bettable point spreads for Week 1 through Week 17 of the 2018 pro football season. Limits are just $500. But, if you believe you have a solid early read on a team (or teams), you can put your money down right now.

Marc Meltzer, who you may recall from past guest appearances on VSiN wrote up this online report. Marc’s article links to tweets that show the lines for all 17 weeks (256 total games). You can also find a complete rundown in this article from Covers.com

Among matchups featuring last season’s Super Bowl teams…

Week 1: New England (-7) vs. Houston

Week 2: New England (-2.5) at Jacksonville

Week 5: Philadelphia (-3.5) vs. Minnesota

Week 6: New England (-7) vs. Kansas City

Week 7: Philadelphia (-6) vs. Carolina

Week 8: Philadelphia (pick-em) at Jacksonville

Week 9: New England (-6) vs. Green Bay

Week 11: Philadelphia (plus 2) at New Orleans

Week 13: New England (-4.5) vs. Minnesota

Week 15: New England (plus 1) at Pittsburgh

Week 15: Philadelphia (plus 1) at the LA Rams

Week 16: Philadelphia (-5.5) vs. Houston

We’ll pop in with NFL coverage througout the months leading up to the new season. As sports bettors know, pro football is king!

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