Championship Week (though I think it should be called Championship Fortnight) for the NHL & NBA started Monday and the Tuley’s Takes home office already feels like it’s been on a rollercoaster ride like the ones we survived last weekend on a family trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.
If you read our Tuley’s Take EXTRA! at VSiN.com, you know we took the St. Louis Blues 140 vs. the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals and assume many of you joined us for the ride. We had the anticipatory buildup of the long holiday weekend, then the exhilarating thrill with the Blues speeding out to a 2-0 lead in Game 1 but then felt increasingly nauseous as the Bruins tied the game by the end of the second period and took a 3-2 lead early in the third before bringing us to a jolting stop with an empty-net goal with 1:49 left to finish off the Bruins’ 4-2 victory.
So where does this leave us for Game 2 and the rest of the series? Below are my updated “takes” on the two championship series:
TULEY’S TAKES ON NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS There seems to be a conventional wisdom out there (by mainstream media reports and the general consensus of the public) that the Blues blew it in Game 1 because that was their chance to steal a road game while the Bruins were rusty coming off their long layoff after sweeping the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals. Everyone is saying that after the Blues took their 2-0 lead that the Bruins “woke up” and then showed their true colors and dominated the rest of the way. There’s obviously a lot of truth there as that’s how things played out, but I’m here to tell you that it’s also a very square way of thinking and an overreaction if you think it proves anything like the Bruins are a far superior team. I mean, if you look at the full game, the end result was a toss-up; we just as easily could be talking today about how dominant the Blues were if they hadn’t blown the lead. And don’t forget it was still only 3-2 before the empty netter, so again it’s silly to think of Game 1 as a blowout. I expect the rest of the series to play out the same way with coin-flip results, so I like the adjusted price of the Blues 250 ( 255 at William Hill as of this writing late Tuesday night). You could play the Blues in the individual games this week (Wednesday-Saturday-Monday) and hope they win two of three to even the series at 2-2, but I’m going to stick with the series price and re-access where we are in next Wednesday’s Point Spread Weekly. Remember we also recommended passing on Game 1 and just focusing on the series prices like we have in hitting earlier bets with the Islanders 135 vs. the Penguins, Stars 160 vs. the Predators and Blues 200 vs. the Sharks (after losing Game 1) to build a 3-1 record and 3.95 units in this year’s playoffs. Best Bet: Blues 250 or better with the adjusted series price.
TULEY’S TAKES ON NBA FINALS
On Page 10 of this issue, I went out on a limb by predicting the “Raptors in 6,” so you already know where this is heading! I hope everyone was with me on the Raptors 7 in last Thursday’s Game 5 vs. the Bucks as I posted in last Wednesday’s PSW as it certainly had a lot of value after they had rallied to tie the series 2-2. Of course, the Raptors roared back to win the series 4-2 and now face the Warriors in the NBA Finals. Now, there’s one bet I wish I had shared with everyone but it was more of a spontaneous bet before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals – with the Bucks still leading 2-1, I bet $100 on the Raptors at 18-1 to win the NBA championship. I didn’t really think the Raptors were going to rally to overcome the Bucks, but since they had a chance to tie the series if they won Game 4 at home, I felt they had a shot and the 18-1 odds seemed fair enough. As the Raptors were rallying in Game 6 to close out the Bucks, I was curious what I could get for my ticket ($100 to win $1,900), so I posted it on PropSwap for $669. I would have been content to cash out at better than 5-1 payoff (after the 10% commission) but after only receiving an offer for $500, I pulled it off the market and I’m letting it ride. The more I thought about it, especially in light of them beating the Bucks in four straight games, the more I like the Raptors’ chances (though I didn’t need to take the 250 series price offered earlier this week since I have 18-1!). As I wrote the other day, I understand why the Warriors are favored with what many consider an alltime great team, but we’ve seen they’re not invincible and I kinda think it’s funny that the Raptors actually had the better overall record (and thus home-court advantage and hosting the first two games) but is the series underdog. The Raptors also swept the regularseason series 2-0, but I don’t think enough credit is being given to the Raptors in how they did it. The first meeting was a 131-128 OT win at home that featured Kevin Durant (who reportedly won’t be available for the NBA Finals opener) scoring 51 for the Warriors. Granted, Steph Curry didn’t play in that game, but he did play in the next meeting when the Raptors went into Oakland and romped 113-93 WITHOUT Kawhi Leonard! Think about that. If it wasn’t for the Warriors’ reputation/ legend (meaning if you were to remove biases and just compare the teams), the Raptors should be favored. Best Bet: Assuming you don’t have a future ticket on the Raptors, I’d suggest the 250 series price that’s still available at a lot of books. I’m going to pass on Games 1 and 2 in Toronto, but will probably be backing the Raptors as road underdogs in Game 3 when the series moves to Oakland next Wednesday, but again we can address that in next week’s PSW).