The NHL & NBA finals are now set after the Toronto Raptors’ stunning rally from a 15-point deficit in Saturday night’s Game 6 to also stunningly win the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2 after losing the first two games of the series.
As I promised in last week’s Point Spread Weekly, here is my updated Tuley’s Takes for the championship series:
NHL Stanley Cup Finals
Tuley’s Take: The Boston Bruins have been the better, more consistent team all season, so I understand why they’re around -160 series favorites, but the St. Louis Blues have been the best team in hockey since starting out as the worst and the whole turnaround goes back to rookie sensation Jordan Binnington. He’s 36-10-3-0 as a starting goaltender and that doesn’t begin to tell the story of how he’s been controlling games. These two teams split their regular-season meetings 1-1 but neither was with Binnington in goal, so in my mind that’s an advantage in the Blues’ favor and gives value to the plus-140 series price. I hope readers jumped in with me on the Blues last round at 2-1 in the series price when they fell behind the Sharks 1-0 as I had confidence in Binnington. Series wagers have been the best way for yours truly to make money in the NHL playoffs (1st Period wagers started great but then dried up). My other series wagers were the Islanders plus-135 vs. the Penguins and Stars plus-160 vs. the Predators in the first round, losing with the Stars in the second round to these very same Blues (because I thought at the time that the Stars’ defense and goaltending was the equal of the Blues but was wrong) before hitting the Blues at plus-200 against the Sharks for a 3-1 series mark and plus 3.95 units. Like Ben Bishop for Dallas, Boston goalie Tukka Rask has been great this season, too, but I still give the edge to Binnington and the Blues: Best Bet: Blues plus-140 in series; I’m tempted to back the Blues as road underdogs in Games 1 and 2 but leaning toward just using the series price.
Tuley’s Take: I hope everyone was with me on the Raptors plus-7 in Thursday’s Game 5 as I posted in last Wednesday’s PSW. There’s one bet I wish I had shared with everyone but it was more of a spontaneous bet before Game 4 – 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. Now, I did put my ticket ($100 to win $1,900) on PropSwap for $669 during the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s Game 6, feeling I would be content to take a 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 think about it, the more I like the Raptors chances (though I don’t need to take the plus-250 series price at Westgate/plus-260 at Caesars and Stations since I have 18-1!). I understand why the Warriors are favored with what many consider an all-time 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 regular-season series 2-0, but not 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 for a minute. If it wasn’t for the Warriors’ reputation/legend (meaning if you were remove biases and just compare the two teams), the Raptors should be favored. Best Bet: Again, I don’t need to make a series wager, but I am confident enough in the Raptors that I’m planning to bet them in Game 1. The line opened Warriors -1 and was already up to -1.5 at several books on Saturday night so we’ll wait to see where it goes during the early part of the week. My plan would be to bet the Raptors ATS in Game 1 and again in Game 2 (though if they win Game 1 outright, I’d pass in Game 2 and wait for what should be big juicy prices in Games 3 and 4 in Oakland).