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Shaky Cavs recover (but don't cover) vs. Celtics

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

Kyrie Irving came to the rescue for the Cavs in Game 4 vs. the Celtics.
© USA Today Sports Images

After a shaky start, the Cleveland Cavaliers used a 40-point third quarter and clutch play from Kyrie Irving (42 points) and Kevin Love (17 rebounds) to take a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics. 

NBA: Cavs now a game away from rubber match with Warriors

There were more than a few worried looks across the state of Ohio when the Cleveland Cavaliers continued to flounder through two quarters of Tuesday night’s playoff game against the Boston Celtics. Boston led 57-47 at the half, which means that the big, ugly, supposedly helpless road underdog had just taken the last four quarters by a count of 118-89.

A 40-point third quarter for the heavily favored hosts realigned the stars…particularly those named Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Irving took command when needed, and Love seemed to grab every rebound that mattered.  

Cleveland (-15.5) 112, Boston 99

  • Two-Point Pct: Boston 52%, Cleveland 65%
  • Rebounds: Boston 29, Cleveland 37

LeBron James was just 3 of 4 from the free throw line, which means he’s not drawing contact nearly as successfully as he had been earlier in the postseason.

  • LeBron was 22 of 38 from the FT line in 4 games vs. Indiana
  • LeBron was 45 of 54 fom the FT line in 4 games vs. Toronto
  • LeBron is 17 of 25 from the FT line in 4 games vs. Boston (8 of 14 last 3 games)

He scored 34 points. So, it’s not like he disappeared. Still feels like he left the cape back home in his closet the past couple of games compared to the Toronto series. He was both foul prone (4 in the first half!) and turnover prone (5 giveaways) Tuesday night.

Game 6 will be Thursday night in Beantown. Offshore sportsbooks posted Cleveland -9 with a total of 214.5 soon after Game 5 had ended. Those numbers may have changed by the time you read this. Be sure you watch VSiN programming all day for line updates.

NHL: Fans were waving white towels, not throwing them in! Ottawa forces Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh 

While the NBA playoffs continue to lack drama, the NHL playoffs deliver almost every night. Feisty underdog Ottawa forced a seventh game in its Eastern Conference Championship series with current Stanley Cup holder Pittsburgh in front of a rabid home crowd Tuesday.

Ottawa (plus 130) 2, Pittsburgh 1

  • Shots: Pittsburgh 46, Ottawa 30

Pittsburgh had 10 more shots Tuesday than they had in any prior game this series, yet could only find the net one time. That relative control of game flow will keep them as heavy favorites to wrap things up at home Thursday. A lengthy hangover from the Washington war kept Pittsburgh from winning shot count through the first half of this series (87-83 for Ottawa). Since then…

Game 4: Pittsburgh 35, Ottawa 26

Game 5: Pittsburgh 36, Ottawa 25 (despite sitting on a big lead)

Game 6: Pittsburgh 46, Ottawa 30

That’s 117-81 for the Penguins. Quite a turnaround!

Pittsburgh was -200, -210, and -175 in their prior three home games. You can expect a moneyline in that range in Thursday’s decider. 

MLB: Handicapping lessons from current “5-inning” performances

Monday during Gill Alexander’s Q1 report on “A Numbers Game,” he presented five-inning performance data courtesy of Onside Sports. We’ve updated the records of all 30 teams to account for games played Tuesday evening. We’ll take them from best to worst as ranked by betting units. 

5-inning Profit/Loss (record in parenthesis)

  • Tampa Bay plus 15.7 (28-14-6)
  • Milwaukee plus 12.1 (23-16-6) 
  • Texas plus 12.1 (23-13-10) 
  • Colorado plus 10.1 (26-17-4) 

Let’s stop there, because those four teams are well clear of the field. Nobody else is plus double digits in 5-inning profit. Nobody else is even better than plus seven units. Tampa Bay is an amazing story…somehow sinking this ridiculously fantastic start down to a full-game record and profit near break-even You see above that the Rays are 28-14-6 after five innings. They’re only 23-25 in the AL East race despite having one of the top 12 bullpens in the league. In essence, five early wins and six early pushes turned into full game losses. Somebody better tell the offense that games last nine innings! Colorado is successful all the way around. You see they’re up 10 units in early action. They’re up 16 units in full games. A developing story that’s going to be fun to follow all season. 

  • Minnesota plus 6.9 (20-14-8) 
  • Arizona plus 3.0 (22-18-7) 
  • St. Louis plus 2.4 (21-15-6)

Only three additional teams are even showing a profit of more than two betting units. You can see how hard it is to ride individual teams to big profits on this prop. You can pick your spots with pitchers and situations. Only a few franchises are worth riding nightly. Think hard about this the next time you talk yourself into focusing on 5-inning props at the expense of full games…only seven out of 30 teams in the majors are up more than two units against 5-inning prices!

  • Detroit plus 1.8 (21-19-4) 
  • NY Yankees plus 1.8 (23-19-1) 
  • Washington plus 1.6 (25-15-4) 
  • Atlanta plus 0.3 (18-20-5)
  • Chicago White Sox -0.7 (16-22-6) 
  • Baltimore -1.3 (21-20-3) 
  • LA Angels -1.4 (18-19-11)
  • LA Dodgers -1.7 (25-17-4)
  • Seattle -2.0 (18-19-9) 
  • Philadelphia -2.7 (15-22-6) 
  • Kansas City -2.8 (19-22-4) 

A huge hunk of teams within a couple units of break even. The Yankees are a surprise in this group because they’ve had such a great season. They’re only plus two units after five innings, but plus seven in full games despite having to deal with the “Yankee tax” that often hits their pricing in their best seasons. The bottom three of Seattle, Philadelphia, and Kansas City are all worse overall than in the first five (at minus seven, minus 10, and minus six respectively). All three have bullpens that rank near the bottom of the Majors. 

We want to draw your attention to the Washington Nationals. You’ve probably heard that the team’s bullpen is horrible so far this season. Yet, that hasn’t affected them at all in terms of game splits. Betting them “only” in the first five innings has yielded a profit just under two units. In full games, they’re right at two units. Washington’s offense is so good that it can make up for a bad bullpen.

  • NY Mets -3.7 (20-20-3) 
  • Pittsburgh -4.0 (19-23-4)
  • Cincinnati -4.3 (16-23-6) 
  • Houston -4.3 (21-19-6) 
  • Oakland -6.4 (16-21-8)
  • San Francisco -6.7 (17-23-7) 

A lot of high profile teams in this group of money losers. Most surprising is Houston, who’s actually one of the best moneymakers in baseball in full games. The Astros are plus 12 units overall this season despite these horrible starts. 

San Francisco’s another team that got an early reputation for blown saves. The Giants have now settled into an average bullpen ERA, and only show a fractional difference between 5-inning and full game loss. 

  • Miami -8 (16-24-4) 
  • San Diego -8.7 (15-26-6) 
  • Boston -9.5 (18-22-4) 
  • Chicago Cubs -11.1 (20-21-3) 
  • Toronto -16.0 (14-26-6)
  • Cleveland -16.3 (18-23-3) 

Big losers here, including last year’s two World Series teams and this year’s projected winner of the historically strong AL East! Both Toronto and Cleveland have rallied from those minus-16 unit starts to suffer just eight and seven losses overall. 

As we were comparing five-inning results to full-game results while researching and preparing this report for you, something was very clearly screaming to get our intention. Let’s write it out this way for you. 

All of the following teams were at least five units better off in full games than against. Here are their rankings heading into Tuesday action in wOBA (weighted on base percentage, a great offensive indicator stat) and bullpen ERA. Again, these are teams who significantly improved their five inning mark in the last four innings, and how they rank in the areas of offense and bullpen.

At least 5 units better off in full games than 5-inning props

  • NY Yankees #2 in wOBA, with the #3 ranked bullpen
  • Arizona #5 in wOBA, with the #8 ranked bullpen
  • Houston #6 in wOBA, with the #4 ranked bullpen
  • Colorado #9 in wOBA, with the #17 ranked bullpen
  • Boston #12 in wOBA, with the #5 ranked bullpen
  • Cleveland #18 in wOBA, with the #1 ranked bullpen
  • Baltimore #14 in wOBA, with the #14 ranked bullpen

If you’re considering betting a team that’s in the top half offensively and in the bullpen, particularly the top quarter, it would be pretty crazy to limit yourself to a five-inning bet. That’s kind of obvious. But, think about the ramifications for your full-game handicapping. 

How much time do you spend on the starting pitchers? So much mediocrity in rotations these days that it cancels out in many matchups. Focus more of your analysis on the combination of offense and bullpen, and your 9-inning handicapping might make a big leap forward. 

Lessons to ponder:

  • Few teams can consistently beat 5-inning prices, though some can get very hot.
  • Many more are currently struggling, meaning it’s better to find strugglers to fade than try to guess who will be hot.
  • Don’t limit superior offenses to just five innings for your money. You want to maximize their journeys through the heart of the lineup.   
  • Sharpen your full-game handicapping by looking at offensive wOBA and bullpen rankings.

MLB: Interleague Update

Another nice day for the National League, thanks to a late underdog win by the Miami Marlins. Slowly but surely, the senior circuit may be climbing off the mat.

AL Tuesday Winners

  • Cleveland (-170) won at Cincinnati 8-7
  • Toronto (even) won at Milwaukee 4-3

NL Tuesday Winners

  • Washington (-150) beat Seattle 10-1
  • Arizona (-170) beat the Chicago White Sox 5-4
  • Miami (plus 120) beat Oakland 11-9

Interleague records (through Tuesday) 

  • American League 47, National League 33
  • Adjusted for money lines: American League plus 10.6 units
  • American League at home: 23-12 (plus 8.4 units)
  • American League on the road: 24-21 (plus 2.2 units)

MLB: Scoring still settling

They played baseball late into the night in the National League, thanks to the rain delay in Pittsburgh/Atlanta, and extra innings in St. Louis/Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates and Braves both scored in the ninth inning to push that game Over. Another Under night in the American League. The tally through Tuesday…

Thru Tuesday’s games

  • National League only: 151-112-11 to the Over
  • American League only: 128-133-14 to the Under
  • Interleague only: 42-37-1 to the Over

That five game under .500 mark in the AL is actually 18.6 games below break even for bettors when you factor in the 10% vigorish. Don’t force Over bets in that league just because you heard scoring is up this season in the Majors!

VSIN Programming: Jimmy Vaccaro to host oddsmakers roundtable Wednesday

In what should be a very entertaining program, legendary oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro will host a special roundtable discussion Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. here in Las Vegas. “Inside Looking Outside” will air live on and Sirius channel 204 during what is normally the first hour of “My Guys in the Desert.” 

All three of South Point’s men behind the counter will be on hand, along with two very special guests.


  • Jimmy Vaccaro


  • Chris Andrews, South Point Sportsbook Director
  • Vinny Magliulo, VSiN oddsmaker
  • Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill Sports Director
  • Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station Race and Sportsbook Director

Knowing the men involved, the audience will learn a lot about the history of sports betting in Las Vegas, while also gaining insights into cutting edge developments that are influencing the market every day. Most importantly, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s like being invited to dine with industry legends. And, it’s on us! 

Truly appointment television (or Sirius radio!). If you can’t catch it live, be sure you watch the replay that will be posted Wednesday evening on our website. 

VSiN continues to make and shape broadcasting history in the field of sports wagering with innovative programming and inside access that you just can’t get anywhere else. Jimmy says “Don’t be late!”

That’s all for Wednesday in VSiN City. Click here to automatically set up morning email delivery. If you have any comments or questions about the newsletter or our daily programming, please let us know. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter for programming bulletins and sports betting news. 

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