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Summer of Love for Ball

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

July 17, 2017 09:37 AM
Lonzo Ball had a weekend that ALMOST lived up to the hype.
© USA Today Sports Images

Championship chatter in July? How about the Las Vegas Summer League, the championship chase in baseball, plus tennis and golf from Great Britain…all today in VSiN City!

Las Vegas Summer League: Lakers and Blazers ride “team effort” into Monday’s championship

Though Lonzo Ball has been earning the bulk of the headlines through the Las Vegas NBA Summer League (with the brand of shoes he was wearing in each game ranking second in media exposure), both the Los Angeles Lakers and their championship opponent the Portland Trail Blazers have exemplified the best of team play through this event. 

  • Ball has passed brilliantly while leading an efficient offense (particularly in the later rounds). Teammates Kyle Kuzma (a sleeper out of Utah) and Vander Blue (MVP of the D-League, now to be called the G-League) lit up the scoreboard while the team as a whole has shared the ball unselfishly. Yes, it’s a bit over-the-top how ESPN’s announcers like to give Ball credit for OTHER players’ assists (he’s changed the culture!). These guys were brought in by Magic Johnson and Luke Walton, of course they’re going to play unselfish basketball! Still, great run.
  • Portland has shared scoring responsibilities among several players, including rookie Caleb Swanigan of Purdue (who you probably saw on TV often last season), Jake Layman, Jarnell Stokes, and Jorge Guiterrez. The Blazers dominated the boards this past weekend, out-rebounding San Antonio in the quarterfinals 48-31, and Memphis in the semifinals 41-29. Blue collar basketball that got the job done.

Let’s quickly run through this past weekend’s results…

Saturday’s Quarterfinals

  • Portland (plus 3.5) beat San Antonio 94-87

Layman scored 23 points in 25 minutes, and the Blazers forced 20 turnovers in addition to earning that big rebounding edge we just mentioned. San Antonio was getting a lot of respect in the betting markets. Portland played the better game.

  • Memphis (-2.5) beat Miami 98-85 in double overtime

Similar to the game above, Memphis won rebounding (48-38) and turnovers (8-18) to survive the marathon. Miami couldn’t advance despite hitting 16 of 34 treys. Wayne Selden Jr. scored 24 points in 33 minutes for the Griz.

  • Dallas (-3.5) beat Boston 91-74

Jayson Tatum sat out again for Boston, which left the Celtics little hope against the team that had dominated the summer to date. Dallas shot 55% on two-pointers, nailed 15 of 33 treys, while also winning rebounds and turnovers in this blowout. 

  • LA Lakers (-1.5) beat Brooklyn 115-106

Yes, it was a track meet. But, it was a well-played track meet that actually had a slightly slower tempo than we saw in the Lakers 103-102 win over Philadelphia in the first knockout round. (Name another media entity besides VSiN City that keeps track of possession counts in the summer league!). The Lakers scored 115 points on fewer than 100 possessions, shooting 47% on two-pointers, a sparkling 14 of 26 on treys, while only turning the ball over SIX times. Sharp basketball.

Sunday’s Semifinals

  • Portland (plus 2.5) beat Memphis 87-82

The Blazers aggressively attacked the basket and the boards…winning free throws 24 of 33 to 12 of 20, and rebounds 41-29. The defense emphasized keeping Selden in check. A pair of weekend upsets over respected opponents for the Blazers.

  • LA Lakers (plus 3.5) beat Dallas 108-98

Ball had to leave the game with a right calf strain early in the third quarter (it was already 62-40 at halftime). His status for Monday’s title hasn't been announced yet. LA blew most of a 26-point lead, but regained composure late. Most of this event has featured lousy three-point shooting across the board. The Lakers hit 14 of 26 Saturday, then 17 of 22 (!!) Sunday! That’s 31 of 48 from behind the arc in playoff style basketball. Crowd-pleasing to say the least.

If Ball is able to go, the Lakers will be a favorite over the Blazers. They might still be a favorite without him. Remember, they won as an underdog over Sacramento when Ball had to sit out with a groin strain. You can watch the Las Vegas Summer League championship game at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. Las Vegas time) on ESPN (after the Toronto/Boston baseball game).

MLB: Undefeated weekends for NL divisional favorites…but two MLB contenders got swept 

Bettors are prone to expect the very best from contending Major League Baseball teams after a refreshing All-Star Break. It’s time to get serious and WIN! The three heavy favorites to capture National League divisions did just that with wins Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

  • Washington took three games in Cincinnati, winning the weekend scoreboard 29-11 (this is a 4-game series doesn’t end until Monday). With final scores of 5-0, 10-7, and 14-4, the Nats also covered all three -1.5 run lines at much more favorable returns. Scoring early and often helped them cash five inning decisions by scores of 5-0, 3-0, and 9-3. That 17-3 early edge, followed by only 12-8 in the last four innings is a reminder of Washington’s bullpen issues. They tried to solve that by trading for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson of Oakland. Fangraphs posted this comprehensive analysis of the trade’s potential impact for the Nats.
  • The Chicago Cubs swept Baltimore, winning the weekend scoreboard 27-11. The Cubs blew an 8-run lead Friday, before winning by one run. That prevented them from also sweeping at -1.5 runs, with final scores of 9-8, 10-3, and 8-0. Chicago did sweep “first five” props by scores of 8-6, 7-1, and 6-0. A great sign of life for Cubs fans. Just remember that the Yankees cooled off after they had a huge scoring series against this horrible Orioles’ pitching staff, as did Cleveland. Newly acquired Jose Quintana made his Cubs debut Sunday, throwing seven scoreless innings garnering a dozen K’s with no walks. 
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers made it a sweep of sweeps for the projected division winners in the senior circuit. LAD won the weekend scoreboard at Miami 16-7, with victories of 6-4, 7-1, and 3-2. Only two victories cleared the -1.5 run hurdle for run line bettors. The Dodgers only managed a 2-1 mark in “first half” betting, trailing at the five-inning mark 4-3 on Friday, before rallying back for 6-0 and 3-1 cashers. 

Not all playoff teams had success…

  • NL Wildcard leader Arizona GOT SWEPT in Atlanta, further limiting any hopes of chasing down the Dodgers from behind out West. The Diamondbacks lost by scores of 4-3, 8-5, and 7-1, also losing all five-inning props by scores of 1-0, 2-1, and 7-1. That puts the D-backs 10.5 games behind LAD in the NL West. In the East, Atlanta is now right at the .500 mark at 45-45 for the season. The Braves have offered value to bettors, up almost nine betting units this season because of all their underdog cashes. Unfortunately, they’re WAY out of the playoff picture unless Colorado keeps falling apart (Rockies are six games up on the Braves for that last Wildcard spot).
  • AL Central leader Cleveland GOT SWEPT in Oakland, blowing a chance to get distance on second-place Minnesota in the AL Central. The Indians were outscored 17-6, losing 5-0, 5-3, and 7-3. It was a slightly better 0-2-1 in “first five” performance, with scores of 4-0, 2-2, and 5-2 favoring the hosts. Cleveland knew Minnesota had to “re-start” down in Houston…but actually lost one game of their lead when the Twins managed to take one of three from the best team in the AL. 

There was one other sweep that probably won’t influence the pennant races. Seattle took all three games in Chicago. That lifted the Mariners to within a game of .500 in the crowded AL Wildcard race. Will the White Sox go in the tank after the Quintana trade? 

The marquee series of the weekend featuring the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox ended up a four-game split. 

  • The NY Yankees won Saturday’s game, and the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader by scores of 4-1 (in 16 innings) and 3-0. 
  • Boston won Friday’s game and Sunday’s nightcap, by scores of 5-4 and 3-0

Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who had the busiest All-Star Break of any individual player, went 1 of 18 in the series.

CFL: Calgary shocked! Hamilton is so bad a backup QB led BC to 500 yards!

We’re now a month into the 2017 Canadian Football League season. The hierarchy continues to sort itself out in what’s typically a fairly condensed league. The biggest news of the week was an upset loss suffered by Grey Cup favorite Calgary…a team that’s failed to play to market expectations in three of its four outings. 

Let’s run through the key stats from Week Four in schedule order. 

Week 4 Stat Summaries

Winnipeg (-3.5) beat Toronto 33-25

  • Total Yards: Toronto 354, Winnipeg 336
  • Yards-per-Play: Toronto 5.9, Winnipeg 5.7
  • New Records: Toronto 2-2, Winnipeg 2-1
  • Against the spread: Toronto 2-2, Winnipeg 2-1

Toronto continues to be very inconsistent with its new offensive approach. This week they scored 22 points in the first half, but only 3 in the second half. The prior week they had scored just one point in the first half (worst single scoring half of any team in the league this season), but rallied for 25 second-half points and a win. Poor rushing continues to be an issue, as the Argos have now totaled just 39, 22, 60, and 30 yards on the ground in a league where most teams can get to 80 if they’re trying. Pass-dependent teams are more prone to interceptions. Two this week for Ricky Ray proved to be the “tie breaker” that turned a yardage and YPP win into a scoreboard loss. Note that both teams had special teams’ TD’s, so this wasn’t quite the offensive shootout suggested by the score. Nothing yet to suggest these aren’t both mid-level teams. Winnipeg’s better balance helped get them the win and cover. 

Montreal (plus 3.5) upset Calgary 30-23

  • Total Yards: Calgary 398, Montreal 427
  • Yards-per-Play: Calgary 6.5, Montreal 8.5
  • New Records: Calgary 2-1-1, Montreal 2-2
  • Against the spread: Calgary 1-3, Montreal 2-2

Well, Calgary goes back on the “plays like New Orleans or Atlanta” list after a week of what might have been misleadingly good defense in Winnipeg. Montreal had been priced like a doormat vs. quality, but topped 400 yards on 8.5 YPP against the Stampeders this week. Our experimental effort with CFL analysis is just getting started, so we’re not sure how big a negative intangible “second straight road game” is for a favorite of more than a field goal. Calgary trailed 16-9 at the half, and didn’t perform to their price in this spot. Big edge for Montreal on the ground, with a 143-28 squash in rushing yards. Montreal’s game-by-game performance in rushing is 99-106-89-143…to give you a reference point for Toronto’s woes earlier. Montreal had a fumble return TD, to help negate two picks thrown by their quarterback Darian Durant. 

Edmonton (-3) beat Ottawa 23-21

  • Total Yards: Ottawa 336, Edmonton 378
  • Yards-per-Play: Ottawa 6.3, Edmonton 6.3
  • New Records: Ottawa 0-3-1, Edmonton 3-0
  • Against the spread: Ottawa 3-1, Edmonton 1-2

Poor Ottawa. They’ve played a very demanding schedule (vs. Calgary, at Calgary, vs. Toronto, at Edmonton), and their scoreboard margins in order have been 0, -4, -1, -2. That’s a combined loss of just 7 points even with an OT in the mix! When the season is in the books, losing by just 4 at Calgary and 2 at Edmonton is likely to look very strong. A very feisty underdog. At least playing in the East Division will give them a chance to chase down Montreal and Toronto from behind.  

British Columbia (-3.5) won at Hamilton 41-26

  • Total Yards: British Columbia 507, Hamilton 424
  • Yards-per-Play: British Columbia 9.2, Hamilton 6.8
  • New Records: British Columbia 3-1, Hamilton 0-3
  • Against the spread: British Columbia 3-1, Hamilton 0-3

One of the few CLEAR facts about the first month of CFL action is that Hamilton is much worse than everyone else. They were obliterated statistically in their first two games. And, then…here…allowed 507 yards and 9.2 YPP to a team that lost it’s starting quarterback on his first pass of the game! Jonathon Jennings was knocked out. Veteran backup QB Travis Lulay came in to set an all-time league record for passing yards off the bench. 

Hamilton’s defense in the part of the season where their defense is supposed to be fresh and opponents are supposed to be rusty:

  • Allowed 524 yards and 8.7 YPP to Toronto
  • Enjoyed a bye week
  • Allowed 466 yards and 7.5 YPP to Saskatchewan
  • Allowed 507 yards and 9.2 YPP to an offense run by BC’s backup QB

Hamilton isn’t just 0-3 against the spread, but they have a 3-0 edge in “non-offensive TD’s,” yet still missed market expectations by 13.5, 14.5, and 11.5 points. That’s three double digit misses when fate was smiling on them! Good result for BC laying points in a third straight road game. They were lucky that tricky schedule spot landed against this overmatched opponent.

Through four weeks…

  • Underdogs: 12-4 ATS
  • Totals: 7-9 to the Under 

If you took out the non-offensive scoring in Week 4, three of the four games would have stayed Under. Instead, three of four went Over. 

Updating composite offshore odds to win the Grey Cup…

Offshore Odds to Win the Grey Cup

Calgary 11/4

Edmonton 4/1

British Columbia 11/2

Winnipeg 15/2

Montreal 15/2

Ottawa 8/1

Hamilton 17/2

Toronto 9/1

Saskatchewan 12/1

The unbalanced divisions create some headaches here. As Ottawa can realistically be only 8/1 after an 0-3-1 start in a weak division…and pathetic Hamilton still has time to right the ship and make a run in such a long season. That said…Hamilton rating better than Toronto in futures prices must obviously be related to something that isn’t in the boxscores to this point. 

Time to check out this week’s schedule. Remember when we told you how tough Ottawa’s schedule had been so far. Brace yourselves...the Redblacks play TWICE this week!

This week’s schedule…

  • Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET): Montreal at Ottawa
  • Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET): Edmonton at Hamilton 
  • Friday (10 p.m. ET): Winnipeg at British Columbia 
  • Saturday (9 p.m. ET): Saskatchewan at Calgary 
  • Monday (7:30 p.m. ET): Ottawa at Toronto 

So, Ottawa has to face the pass-happy Argos with just a few days off, after playing three of their first four games against the top two Power Rated teams in the CFL. Brutal!

Speaking of Power Ratings (which we’ll update tomorrow), we’ll get a sense of the full scope of the league once the line in Saskatchewan (market-worst) at Calgary (market-best) settles in. That should be the tallest spread to date. 

Rule Britannia: Anticlimactic Wimbledon hands off to The Open Championship

This past weekend’s Wimbledon finals are barely worth mentioning. Betting favorites Garbine Muguruza and Roger Federer won in straight sets, with total games played staying Under the market total in both cases. 

Golf’s British Open, known as The Open Championship overseas, begins Thursday at Royal Birkdale in England. Back during the US Open, we introduced you to the Betfair exchange, where overseas bettors can bet Yes/No on individual players to win. This informed, very liquid market gives you a much better sense of “true odds” for each competitor. 

Here’s a link to prices on the exchange. The “blue” column under “Back all” is a bet on that player to win the tournament. Subtract one from the number you see…because that total represents what’s paid back to a bettor off a one-unit investment. The “pink” column under “Lay all” is a bet that the player WON’T win the tournament. You also subtract one from that column.

The favorites as of Sunday evening:

  • Dustin Johnson: plus 1550 to win, minus 1600 that he won’t win
  • Jordan Spieth: plus 1700 to win, minus 1750 that he won’t win
  • Rickie Fowler: plus 1770 to win, minus 1750 that he won’t win
  • Jon Rahm: plus 1850 to win, minus 1900 that he won’t win
  • Sergio Garcia: plus 1900 to win, minus 2000 that he won’t win
  • Rory McIlroy: plus 2000 to win, minus 2100 that he won’t win
  • Justin Rose: plus 2100 to win, minus 2200 that he won’t win

All the VSiN hosts love talking golf! Be sure you tune into “Follow the Money” with Mitch and Pauly (though Matt Youmans will be filling in today), “A Numbers Game” with the returning Gill Alexander, and “My Guys in the Desert” with Ron Flatter and Amal Shah for coverage and conversation throughout the week. 

Back with you tomorrow here in VSiN City. If you’re reading today for the first time on our website home page…

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See you Tuesday!

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