The shooting eyes have it for Warriors

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

Golden State grabbed a two-game lead on Cleveland in the NBA Finals Sunday night. Washington wants to do the same Monday night to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Finals. Championships…and a Triple Crown…may be won this week in VSiN City.

NBA Finals: Golden State shoots lights out as Cleveland’s outlook gets gloomier 

The only question entering Game 2 of the NBA Finals was whether or not the Cleveland Cavaliers could recover from their blown opportunity last Thursday night in Game 1. While Sunday’s rematch wasn’t really a blowout in the fourth quarter, the final stats suggest that the Cavs were still reeling. 

Golden State (-11.5) 122, Cleveland 103 

2-point Pct: Cleveland 44%, Golden State 70%

3-pointers: Cleveland 9/27, Golden State 15/36

Free Throws: Cleveland 20/26, Golden State 13/21

Rebounds: Cleveland 42, Golden State 41

Turnovers: Cleveland 10, Golden State 12

Pace: 93.9 (for the series, 90.5, 93.9)

Super-motivated teams with revenge on their minds don’t allow 70% on two-pointers while ALSO allowing 15 3-pointers on a bunch of open looks. That’s 122 points allowed on just 94 possessions! This was Cleveland’s sorry defense from the regular season, playing a step or two slow against one of the greatest offenses in the sport’s history. 

Golden State wasn’t breathing fire itself much of the night, particularly when allowing 34 points in a rare third quarter loss. Though, in a way, that told you how “in command” the Warriors were. They didn’t feel the need to crush Cleveland’s soul after the half. GS saved that for the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.

Game 3 isn’t until Wednesday because of travel. Golden State could finish off a sweep Friday. Early line is Golden State -5, with a total of 217.5. The big question for handicappers and bettors now is determining if the Warriors are going to blow off a game in Cleveland or not. This team does get arrogant and sloppy…and has at least one really bad road result in every prior 2018 playoff series. 

Stanley Cup Finals: Vegas in must-win position Monday after losing Saturday at Washington

The Vegas Golden Knights aren’t used to having their backs to the wall. Though, they did bounce back very well from a Game 1 loss in the Winnipeg series…winning the next four and the series.

Actually, Saturday night’s loss had a lot in common with that poor game at Winnipeg.

Washington (- 130) 3, Vegas 1 

Shots: Vegas 22, Washington 26

Power Plays: Vegas 0/2, Washington 0/5

Let’s stack that one with the Winnipeg opener. Both were “road openers” for VGK in their respective series.

*Winnipeg (-140) beat Vegas 4-2, winning shots 26-21

*Washington (-130) beat Vegas 3-1, winning shots 26-22

VGK’s offense was out of sorts both games. This is a team that usually flies all over the ice, launching dangerous shots from start to finish. Versus Washington this past Saturday, not a single period with double digit shots (only 13 total shots through two periods!)

How low are shot counts like 21 or 22 for Vegas? Let’s run the numbers from their full playoffs. Note that these are regulation shot counts (excluding overtime) to keep everything at 60 minutes. Anything in the low 20’s really jumps out as an outlier.

Versus Los Angeles: 28-34-26-21

Versus San Jose: 34-29-30-34-39-33

Versus Winnipeg: 21-28-30-29-32

Versus Washington: 34-39-22

The first “21” was sandwiched between much higher counts in the Los Angeles and San Jose series. The second “21” was followed by a minimum of 28 over the next six games. What’s coming after the “22” in the nation’s capital? Answer that and the rest of the series picks itself. 

That was either a temporary blip in what’s going return to being a thrilling series. Or, it was a sign that Washington figured something out regarding VGK’s passing. If you’ve watched a lot of VGK games this season, you’ve surely noticed some outstanding passing at speed. From stick-to-stick, either from the “receiver” being in the right spot at the right time…or great vision from the passer. Saturday? Just wasn’t happening. The only Vegas goal was a gift. Washington created many more high-percentage opportunities, and should have cashed in more than it did.

Vegas at Washington (8 p.m. ET on NBC…Washington leads 2-1)

Game 1: Vegas (-155) 6, Washington 4 (Shots: Vegas 34-28)

Game 2: Washington (plus 130) 3, Vegas 2 (Shots: Vegas 39-26)

Game 3: Washington (-130) 3, Vegas 1 (Shots: Washington 26-22)

Game 4: Washington -125, total of 5.5 (Under -125)

Washington is now the series favorite at -240. The Golden Knights return plus 190. If you still believe in the Cinderella story…that’s a large comeback. If VGK wins Monday, we’re back on serve and home ice belongs to the Knights. The fact that Washington is only -125 (or so) to maintain home ice, but -240 to win the series tells you how impressed important market influences have been with Washington’s road play this postseason. 

Because Washington made it to three goals again Saturday, we wanted to update the data we posted last Friday. Look at how consistently Washington scores at least two goals…and how often they lock in with at least three. 

Versus Columbus: 3-4-3-4-4-6

Versus Pittsburgh: 2-4-4-1-6-2

Versus Tampa Bay: 4-6-2-2-2-3-4

Versus Vegas: 4-3-3

In all sports, CONSISTENCY is a hidden key to success that sharps have been taking advantage of for years. The general public is typically more impressed with teams who can explode (like the New England Patriots in football), rather than those who consistently grind out numbers that position a team to win. Let’s take an extreme example. Imagine a baseball team that averages 5 runs per game by scoring 0-10-0-10-0-10-0-10 in perpetuity. That’s a great per-game average, but the team won’t even break the .500 mark because they can’t win with zero runs and they’ll occasionally lose a slugfest. Inconsistency causes a poor distribution of offense. 

Now, imagine a baseball team that compiles the same 5 runs-per-game average, but does it with 5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5 in perpetuity. That’s going to win A LOT of games because opponents are going to score four or less so often. 

There are no sure things in sports. Washington may have a bad offensive game or two coming up. But the Capitals’ skill sets are packed with offensive talent…and the Vegas defense has been repeatedly caught a step slow in this series. If Washington is going to keep popping three’s on the scoreboard, VGK may have to get to four goals three more times to lift the Cup. Tall task.

MLB: Big week for the “Magnificent Seven,” though defending World Series Champion Houston falls out of first place!

This might have been the first week all season where the seven teams pegged by preseason markets to win at least 90 games looked mostly like playoff material. You’ll see in a moment that Houston was the only one of “The Magnificent Seven” to post a losing record. But that came against a brutal schedule. Even the Los Angeles Dodgers started getting results!

Current records entering the new week…

Boston 41-19…plus 14 units after a 5-2 week

NY Yankees 37-17…plus 10.5 units after a 4-1 week

Washington: 33-25…minus 0.5 units after a 4-3 week

Houston: 37-24…minus 2 units after a 3-4 week

Chicago Cubs: 33-23…minus 2 units after a 6-1 week

Cleveland: 30-28…minus 9.5 units after a 4-3 week

LA Dodgers: 29-30…minus 22 units after a 5-2 week

Still minus money as a composite, because of the huge Dodgers drag and the disappointing start for the Indians. But we could have five teams in the black within a week or two. And, it’s not much easier to see all seven teams making the playoffs than it was a few weeks ago. The Dodgers are still within striking distance in the NL West. Cleveland leads the AL Central even with a disappointing record. 

The biggest recent off-the-radar surprise is the Seattle Mariners. They’ve surged past Houston in the AL West thanks to a 26-12 explosion the past six weeks. Just when Houston thought its schedule would slow down after mostly facing Cleveland, the NY Yankees, and Boston lately, guess who’s coming to town?!

Teams with Winning Records Squaring Off

Early Week (current record in parenthesis, all begin Tuesday)

Philadelphia (31-26) at the Chicago Cubs (33-23)

Seattle (37-22) at Houston (37-24)

Milwaukee (37-23) at Cleveland (30-28)

There are no series this week matching teams in the Magnificent Seven going head-to-head. But all three of those matchups listed above will impact current pennant races. Is Seattle ready to battle for a division or a Wildcard? A good test begins Tuesday. 

Weekend (all begin Friday)

Pittsburgh (30-29) at the Chicago Cubs (33-23)

Milwaukee (37-23) at Philadelphia (31-26)

Arizona (31-27) at Colorado (30-29)

Big weeks for the Cubs, Phillies, and Brewers. Arizona’s long slump erased a previously big lead in the NL West. Righting the ship against the likes of Cincinnati and Miami gives them a chance to make a statement this coming weekend in Colorado. 

Other series impacting tight divisional races: LA Dodgers at Pittsburgh and Arizona at San Francisco both begin Tuesday. San Francisco at Washington and Atlanta at the LA Dodgers both begin Friday. 

A chance for the Giants to become important…and a chance for the Dodgers to build on recent successes. 

MLB: Wanna get away? Sunday Under trend continues for another week

We’ve been following the Sunday “get-away” dynamic the past few weeks. Another week-ender with a lot of Unders. Though Boston-Houston few Over in the ESPN game, still almost two-thirds Unders up and down the card Sunday. That brings us to this through the last five Sundays…

Sunday Totals Records

May 6: 4-10-1 to the Under

May 13: 5-10 to the Under

May 20: 6-9 to the Under

May 27: 7-8 to the Under

June 3: 5-9 to the Under (one postponement)

We’re seeing 27-46-1 to the Under the last five Sundays. Always remember to check Sunday lineups to see if managers are giving any star players a day off to rest. Don’t force Over bets on Sundays because you think hot weather is going to ignite scoring. That does happen sometimes. But many hitters seemed more interested in getting out of the heat and heading to the airport rather than patiently building run scoring opportunities.

We’ll keep monitoring this for you until results suggest it’s not a dynamic worth covering. 

Horse Racing’s Triple Crown: Belmont Week is here!

After some time off, Justify will try to capture the third jewel in the 2018 Triple Crown this Saturday at the Belmont. Comprehensive coverage from VSiN has already begun.

*Click here to read Ron Flatter’s more recent article on the big race. More are coming through the week.

*Click here to listen to Ron Flatter’s podcast featuring special guest Bob Baffert. More on tap for audiophiles in the coming days. 

Ron will be reporting live from New York later this week for VSiN broadcasts around the clock. Also this week…

*The third publication in our Triple Crown digital preview series will be available. Just $19.99 for “Inside the Belmont Stakes.” Selections from experts and comprehensive data for handicapping the race will be at your fingertips. Thanks to all of you who have purchased our prior previews. (Remember that subscribers to Point Spread Weekly automatically receive these bonus publications.)

*The third TV preview show from the VSiN studio in association with TVG will air. 

TVG and TVG2

Friday 8:30 a.m. ET, 5:30 a.m. Vegas time

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. ET, 4:30 a.m. Vegas time

Be sure to set your DVR’s if you’re not an early bird. Some satellite/cable programming schedules didn’t list the proper show at those times before the Preakness. If you don’t see “VSiN” on your schedule, just record whatever’s on at those times! 

Here are the latest global betting odds on the race by way of oddschecker. Our broadcast programming will update the odds for you all week. 

2018 Belmont

Justify 4/5

Hofburg 4/1

Bravazo 8/1

Vino Rosso 10/1

Tenfold 10/1

Blended Citizen 14/1

Noble Indy 25/1

Restoring Hope 33/1

Gronkowski 33/1

Free Drop Billy 33/1

Seahenge 33/1

What a week! The Stanley Cup Finals…the NBA Finals…and the final leg of the Triple Crown. There’s no June Swoon in VSiN City! Back Tuesday to run the hockey numbers. A light Monday baseball schedule will give us a chance to add some context to last Wednesday’s tutorial on how to turn run projections into money line equivalents. Thanks for all the feedback we’ve heard on that discussion. 

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