Another “Powerhouse and Over” betting combination launches the Golden State Warriors into the NBA Finals. And causes headaches for Las Vegas sports books.
NBA: Golden State wraps up West by sweeping San Antonio
The Warriors had already reached the point spread by the end of the first quarter. They coasted to their third straight series sweep, possibly on their way to a historic 16-0 run through the 2017 playoffs.
Golden State (-11.5) 129, San Antonio 115
- Two-Point Pct: Golden State 72%, San Antonio 46%
- Three Pointers: Golden State 14/39, San Antonio 8/25
- Rebounds: Golden State 53, San Antonio 41
San Antonio lost the ability to influence pace when Kawhi Leonard was knocked out of the series with an ankle injury. Possession counts by game were 96-103-104-107. Good luck slowing down the Warriors when you don’t have your stopper! Of course, even the game Leonard played went Over the market total. All four cleared by double digits, landing on 224, 236, 228, and 244 against Over/Unders of 209.5, 209.5, 215, and 218.
Entering the night, the South Point was still offering plus-700 on Golden State to run the table. Betting “no” is an expensive -1,100 (meaning, you can bet $100 to win $700 that the Warriors will sweep Cleveland, but it costs $1,100 to win $100 to bet that they’ll lose at least once).
You can visualize the remaining challenge as a four-team parlay, with Golden State linked to itself each game. If you assume that Golden State will be about -250 on the moneyline in its two home games vs. Cleveland, and near pick-em (-110) in its two road games, the parlay calculator at Vegas Insider pegs that at $614 for a $100 bet. Fairly close. You can play around with different prices on that parlay calculator. If Cleveland still looks sluggish in Game 4 against Boston, those projected moneylines will likely become more expensive for GS backers. Have some fun tinkering if the South Point price fluctuates.
NBA Betting: “One of the worst Mays we’ve encountered”
Those are the words of Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay, as told to Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an article that went online Monday evening. Kornegay was talking about how sports books are taking it on the chin in the NBA playoffs because of the rash of “Favorite and Over” covers.
Our own Jimmy Vaccaro told Dewey, “I have never seen anything like I’ve seen in these NBA playoffs…if you can tell me what’s going on, you’re a million times smarter than me.”
It may take several weeks for a postseason post-mortem to truly figure out all that’s been going on in the 2017 playoffs. A review of recent boxscores suggests the following issues are at least a big part of what’s driving a 22-1 combined straight up record for Golden State and Cleveland, a 14-7-2 ATS record (67%), and a 17-6 mark to the Over (74%). (So, “Powerhouse and Over” is a combined 31-13-2 for bettors, 70% winners.)
- Golden State is historically great when healthy, and they’ve stayed healthy.
- Golden State was historically great last year when healthy, and now they’ve added offensive superstar Kevin Durant.
- Cleveland added more three-point weaponry to the defending NBA championship roster.
- Cleveland’s additional weaponry has added 2.3 additional treys per playoff game this season (up to 14.5 makes per game from 12.2), and more accuracy (up to .425 from .406, note that .425 on treys is the same as 64% on deuces).
- Cleveland has conceded some defense while adding offense.
- Cleveland used to slow things down in the playoffs to save LeBron James for the grind. This year’s team has added about FIVE possessions per playoff game (per team) because of a faster pace according to team data at Basketball-reference.
- Opponents are having trouble staying healthy, making it much more difficult to disrupt what Golden State and Cleveland are doing.
All told, we can deduce that the market has failed to fully anticipate the scoring potential of fresh, healthy, SUPER-teams playing at pace vs. out-manned opponents. We have two elites rated very high in Power Ratings…making more treys than observers are used to seeing…at higher possession counts. Cleveland’s loss Sunday night to Boston is just an outlier for now. Unless it happens again!
Tuesday’s point spread
- Boston at Cleveland (-15, total of 215.5); 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT
NHL: Outshot 41-18, Nashville wins the West over Anaheim 6-3
There were two empty-netters for the Predators once Anaheim had to go into desperation mode late in the game. So, Nashville wasn’t as dominant as the final score makes it sound. In fact, they spent most of the game on their own side of the rink!
Nashville (-150) 6, Anaheim 3
- Shots: Anaheim 41, Nashville 18
By periods, the counts were 12-4, 13-4, and 16-10…all for the Ducks. They obviously weren’t going to go down without a fight. Nashville was able to make the most of its opportunities, as the Predators finished their stunning run through the Western brackets. Qualifying as a Wildcard, the Predators took out Central Division champion Chicago in the first round, and now Pacific Division champion Anaheim in the conference finals.
Nashville advances to face the winner of the East. That series resumes Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s moneyline (Pittsburgh leads series 3-2)
- Pittsburgh (-150, total of 5--Over-140) at Ottawa; 8:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Monday on “My Guys in the Desert,” Vinny Magliulo told Brent Musburger and Ron Flatter that Pittsburgh would be a clear Finals favorite over Nashville. The Penguins will have home ice if they can close out Ottawa. The market says Pittsburgh is about 60% to clinch the East Tuesday, and would then be near 67% to finish the job at home if the East goes the full seven games.
MLB: Scoring calms Monday
We’ll keep riding herd on developments in MLB Over/Unders until we see things settle down for a few days. A wash Monday in the NL with one Over, one Under, and a push. Three of four AL games stayed Under, as did both Interleague games.
Thru Monday’s games
- National League only: 148-110-11 to the Over
- American League only: 127-129-14 to the Under
- Interleague only: 39-35-1 to the Over
MLB: National League slowing climbing back in IL play
The New York Mets helped stem the tide of recent AL dominance over the NL this past weekend by winning two of three against the Los Angeles Angels. The senior circuit has a shot to get closer to equality the next few days because the NL hosts four of five early week matchups.
At NL Stadiums: Cleveland at Cincinnati, Chicago White Sox at Arizona, Seattle at Washington, Toronto at Milwaukee.
At AL Stadium: Miami at Oakland
The NL got the new week off to a winning start with the Reds beating the Indians 5-1, and the D-backs beating the White Sox 5-1. We can now update our IL ledger through Monday action.
Interleague records (through Monday)
- American League 45, National League 30
- Adjusted for money lines: American League plus 12 units
- American League at home: 23-11 (plus 9.8 units)
- American League on the road: 22-17 (plus 2.2 units)
We’ll continue to monitor IL results through its most active weeks on the MLB schedule.
MLB: Marquee Series Previews…Dodgers/Cards and Rangers/Red Sox
There are two interesting series that get under way Tuesday night.
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals (currently right on the heels of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central) visit the Los Angeles Dodgers (still one of the top three teams in NL futures price even though they trail Colorado and Arizona in the AL West).
In the American League, the recently RED HOT Texas Rangers are in Fenway Park to take on the Boston Red Sox…the preseason favorite to win the loaded AL East.
Let’s run some key stats for the projected pitchers, starting with Cards/Dodgers…
St. Louis/LA Dodgers
- Lynn (St. Louis): 2.78 ERA, 1.13 WHIP (4.46 xFIP)
- Kershaw (Los Angeles): 2.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (2.99 xFIP)
WHIP is walks plus hits allowed per inning pitched. Remember that xFIP represents “fielding independent pitching” and is constructed on a scale that mirrors ERA. If there’s a difference between the two, history has shown xFIP is the better indicator going forward (as explained during many Gill Alexander and Michael Lambourne handicapping tutorials on “A Numbers Game,” be sure you check out today's "first quarter" seasonal report if you missed it!). That’s a big deal here because Lynn is much more vulnerable than his ERA would suggest. He’s due to regress, while Kershaw is still obviously locked in as a Cy Young candidate.
- Leake (St. Louis): 2.03 ERA, 0.99 WHIP (3.62 xFIP)
- Hill (Los Angeles) 2.77 ERA, 1.38 WHIP (4.26 xFIP)
Both pitchers have misleading ERA’s, which might be signaling some hidden Over potential on the total. Hill’s VERY lucky to have such a low ERA with that high WHIP. Going with fielding-independent-pitching paints the more accurate picture of what’s ahead for him.
- Wacha (St. Louis) 2.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP (3.64 xFIP)
- Maeda (Los Angeles) 5.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP (3.73 xFIP)
Maeda’s the only pitcher in this series whose ERA is higher than his FIP. He’s been vulnerable to big blows…but in a way that’s likely to regress. If you only handicap on ERA, you’ll perceive Wacha as the much better hurler. Look how even the other two stats are.
- Cashner (Texas): 2.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP (5.50 xFIP)
- Porcello (Boston): 4.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP (3.72 xFIP)
Wow…HUGE difference for Cashner between ERA and the analytic indicator. He could be in real trouble in a park like Fenway. Porcello is due to regress back under 4.00 in ERA soon. Though, that WHIP is a cause for concern. Will the hot Ranger bats stay hot?
- Perez (Texas): 3.71 ERA, 1.57 WHIP (4.43 xFIP)
- Sale (Boston): 2.19 ERA, 0.79 WHIP (2.26 xFIP)
Mismatches for Sale in the last two categories…which may not mean too much to you because you were thinking about backing this great pitcher anyway! Tough spot for Perez, who’d better get that WHIP under control or he’ll be out of the rotation.
- Martinez (Texas): 4.33 ERA, 1.25 WHIP (4.86 xFIP)
- Pomeranz (Boston): 4.97 ERA, 1.47 WHIP (3.77 xFIP)
Note how xFIP flips the perception of these pitchers. It can be tough to trust a stat that’s new to you when you’ve been using ERA to evaluate pitchers your whole life. Let’s see if this matchup helps make it easier. A few pitchers in this AL series whose WHIPs are lashing their own win potential.
Cleveland shocked Houston in last weekend’s marquee series with a three-game sweep. Let’s see how these two matchups play out.
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