Friday Service Plays

Friday Service Plays

Marc Lawrence

Game: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals
Prediction: Atlanta Braves

Note: The Braves take on the Nationals in Washington's new ballpark as they send Tim Hudson to the hill in a series in which Hudson has excelled. That's confirmed by the fact that Hudson is 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in his career team starts against the Nats. One of those losses occurred here on March 30th when the Braves fell, 3-2, in their season opener to Washington. With Hudson sporting a 1.17 ERA as a visiting pitcher in this series, look for Hudson and the Braves to get their revenge here tonight.

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Jimmy The Moose

Game: Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons
Prediction: Washington Wizards

Reason: The Pistons don't have anything to play for while the Wizards are jockeying for playoff position. The Wizards are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 road games. In their last 14 games as a road dog they are 11-3 ATS. Washington has won their last 3 games SU. The Wizards are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 conference games while the Pistons are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 vs. Eastern Conference opponents. Detroit is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southeast opponents. The Wizards are 3-1 SU and ATS in the last 4 meetings between the clubs. Play on the Wizards +.

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Vegas Sports Pics

Houston (Oswalt) / Florida (Nolasco) UNDER 9*    

Houston has won last four Oswalt starts vs. Florida by a combined 16-4. The Astros are 3-7 averaging 3.8 runs. Under is 3-5 last eight meetings in Houston.    
   

N.Y.Yankees (Wang) / Boston (Buchholz) OVER 9.5*    

Buchholz is making his 4th career start off losing at Toronto 10-2 on 04/05, allowing 3 runs over 5 innings. Over went 8-1 in 9 meetings at Boston last season, including 2-0 in 2 Wang starts.    
   

Texas (Padilla) - 110** over Toronto (Litsch)    

Texas is 22-5 versus Toronto last 27 home meeting. Padilla made won home start vs. the Jays last season, winning 11-4, allowing one earned run over seven innings.     
   

San Diego (Peavy) - 110* over (at) L.A.Dodgers    

Defending NL Cy Young winner Peavy is 2-0 allowing one run over 16 innings including a 4-1 home win over the Dodgers on 04/05.    
   

Arizona (Webb) - 145** over Colorado (Francis)    

Arizona posted a 3-0 sweep at Colorado last week, by a combined 20-5. Webb beating the Rockies 7-2 in the middle game, Francis the losing pitcher allowing five runs over six innings.

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The Sports Advisors

NATIONAL LEAGUE

San Diego (5-5) at L.A. Dodgers (4-5)

The Padres send ace right-hander and reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy (2-0, 0.56 ERA) to the Dodger Stadium mound against fellow righty Brad Penny (1-1, 2.84) in a rematch of a showdown six days ago in San Diego.

San Diego enters this series after losing two of three on the road to San Francisco. The Padres opened the set with an 8-4 win Monday, then lost 3-2 in 11 innings Tuesday and got blanked 1-0 Wednesday. Since getting off to 3-1 start, the Pads just 2-4 in their last six games, scoring five runs in the four defeats. Also, going back to last year, San Diego has dropped five of its last six on the road.

Los Angeles returns home after getting in a three-game series at Arizona, getting outscored 23-11, including a tough 4-3 setback in Thursday’s finale. The Dodgers are 2-1 at home this year

L.A. took two of three from the Padres last weekend at Petco Park, the only setback coming in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Peavy. Going back to last year, the Dodgers are on a 4-1 run against San Diego.

Peavy has been on the mound for each of San Diego’s last three wins against the Dodgers and five of the last seven. In fact, with Saturday’s dominating effort – he hurled a complete-game, two-hit gem with one walk and eight strikeouts – Peavy improved to 10-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 19 lifetime starts against L.A. San Diego has won 11 of Peavy’s last 12 starts against the Dodgers.

Peavy, who shut out Houston over seven innings in his season debut, is coming off a 19-6 campaign (2.54 ERA), which included an eye-popping 10-1 mark and 2.57 ERA in 15 starts on the highway.

Penny, coming off a season-opening 5-0 home win over San Francisco, couldn’t match Peavy and the Padres in his second outing, allowing four runs on 10 hits in six innings. Penny is 3-7 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 starts against San Diego. In 2007, Penny nearly matched Peavy’s numbers, going 16-4 in 33 starts, including 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA at home.

L.A. is on streaks of 21-10 on Fridays, 19-7 when Penny starts at Dodger Stadium and 4-1 with Penny throwing on five days rest. But the Dodgers are just 5-11 in their last 16 against right-handers and 14-38 in their last 52 as an underdog.

The Pads are 8-2 in Peavy’s last 10 road outings and 14-4 in Peavy’s last 18 against a National League opponent. On the downside, they are 1-4 in their last five against righties and 1-5 in their last six roadies.

The under is 4-1 in the Padres’ last five overall and 9-2-1 in Peavy’s last 12 Friday starts, but the over is on a 6-0 tear with Peavy on the road, 8-2 for the Padres following an off day and 5-1 with Peavy throwing on five days rest. For Los Angeles, the over is on streaks of 11-2 in series openers, 4-1 after an off day, 6-0 on Friday and 5-1 with Penny going on five days rest. On the flip side, the under is 9-3 in Penny’s last 12 Friday outings and 8-3 in his last 11 against the NL West.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN DIEGO


AMERICAN LEAGUE

N.Y. Yankees (5-5) at Boston (5-5)

The 2008 edition of this American League rivalry kicks off at Fenway Park, where the Yankees will pit right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-0, 1.38 ERA) against the World Series champion Red Sox and right-hander Clay Buchholz (0-1, 5.40).

New York dropped the first two in its series at Kansas City, but behind a solid outing from Andy Pettitte, it salvaged Thursday’s finale, winning 6-1. The Yankees are 1-6 in their last seven series openers, but they are 15-5 in Wang’s last 20 road starts, 7-1 in Wang’s last eight outings on Friday and 8-2 when Wang starts Game 1 of a series.

Boston finished off a three-game set against Detroit with Thursday’s 12-6 rout, taking two of three from the Tigers after getting swept in three games in Toronto last weekend. The Red Sox are 0-4 in their last four against right-handed starters and 0-4 in their last four against the American League East, but they are 6-1 in their last seven series openers and 56-25 in their last 81 as a home chalk.

The Yankees are on a 6-1 streak in this rivalry and won the season series last year 10-8, including four of the last six at Boston, although Wang got shelled in his last start there in September, a 10-1 Red Sox victory. The Yanks are 11-5 in the last 16 clashes at Fenway.

Wang, who opened the season with a 3-2 home victory over Toronto, tamed Tampa Bay in his last outing on Sunday, allowing four hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings as New York won 2-0. Wang was 19-7 with a 3.70 ERA last year, including 9-3 with a 4.91 ERA on the road. For his career, he’s an even 5-5 in 11 starts (12 appearances) against Boston with a 4.56 ERA.

Buchholz struggled a bit in his first outing of 2008, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings in Saturday’s 10-2 loss at Toronto. Buchholz, a 23-year-old, broke into the majors in August last year, going 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four appearances (three starts) for the Sox, including a no-hitter in his second big-league start.

When these teams have met lately at Fenway, the over has been a good bet, cashing in 21 of the last 26 clashes. For New York, the over is on runs of 24-8-3 as an underdog, 8-2 in series openers, 8-2-1 when Wang pitches on the road and 4-0 with Wang on the hill at Fenway. Also, the over is on streaks for Boston of 20-7-2 on Friday, 4-1-1 against the A.L. East and 6-2 as a favorite. However, the Yankees have stayed under the total in each of their last six overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NEW YORK and OVER

Phoenix (53-26, 38-38-3 ATS) at Houston (53-25, 45-31-2 ATS)

Two of the Western Conference’s top teams look to pad their playoff credentials when the Suns travel to the Toyota Center to take on the Rockets.

Phoenix is coming off Wednesday’s 96-79 rout of San Antonio as a seven-point road underdog, winning and covering on the road for the second straight night after Tuesday’s 127-113 victory at Memphis laying 12½ points. The Suns are 6-2 SU in their last eight starts (5-3 ATS), including 4-1 SU on the highway.

Houston pounded Seattle 103-80 Wednesday night as a 13½-point home chalk for its fourth consecutive SU and ATS win. The Rockets are also 7-3 in their last 10, though they are just 5-4-1 ATS in that span.

Phoenix is on a 14-3 ATS tear against the Rockets and is 12-2 ATS in its last 14 trips to the Toyota Center. This year, the Suns have won and covered two of the three meetings, including a 122-113 home win giving 6½ points on March 22. The Suns also won 115-105 at Houston in November as a 5½-point favorite. Finally, the chalk has cashed in seven of the last nine head-to-head battles.

The Suns are 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 starts overall and are on additional positive ATS runs of 9-2-1 as a favorite overall, 7-1-1 as a road chalk, 5-1 against the Southwest Division and 10-2-1 against the West, but they are 1-4 ATS in their last five when coming off a spread-cover.

The Rockets also carry several positive pointspread trends, including 36-16-1 overall, 14-4-1 at the Toyota Center, 6-0 as a ‘dog of less than five points, 4-0 against the West, 21-5-1 after a SU win and 23-8 after a spread-cover. On the negative side, Houston is 10-25-1 ATS in its last 36 as a home pup and 7-19 in its last 26 as a home ‘dog of less than five points.

For Houston, the under is on runs of 5-2 at home, 5-1 as an underdog and 6-2 after a spread-cover, but the over is 5-1 in its last six against the Pacific Division. For Phoenix, the under is 7-3 in its last 10 as a favorite, 5-1 in its last six as a road chalk and 4-1 in its last five on Friday. However, the over is 7-3 in the Suns’ last 10 against the Southwest Division and 9-4 in their last 13 when playing on one day of rest.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHOENIX


New Orleans (55-23, 48-28-2 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (54-25, 45-32-1 ATS)

The Hornets, looking to strengthen their grip on the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, travel to the Staples Center to take on the Lakers, who are currently second in the conference standings, 1½ games back of New Orleans.

New Orleans drubbed Minnesota 122-90 Wednesday as a 10½-point road chalk, a night after a dismal offensive performance in a 77-66 home loss to Utah giving 5½ points. The Hornets, who have alternated ATS wins and losses in their last five starts, are 11-2 SU in their last 13 outings, going 9-3-1 ATS in that span.

Los Angeles, which stumbled in a 112-103 road loss to Portland laying 8½ points Tuesday, bounced back in a big way last night against the Clippers, cruising 106-78 as a 15½-point favorite. Despite easily cashing on Thursday, the Lakers are still just 2-6 ATS in their last eight outings (5-3 SU.

New Orleans has won two of three meetings against L.A. this season, including a 108-98 home victory last month as a two-point pup. In the last 10 games in this series, the two teams have evenly split the wins and the cash, with the straight-up winner going a perfect 10-0 ATS. Finally, the underdog is on a 6-0 ATS run in this rivalry.

The Hornets are on an 8-1 ATS run as a road pup of less than five points, and they are on additional ATS streaks of 36-16-1 overall, 5-1-1 on the highway, 5-1 against the West, 20-6 against the Pacific Division and 19-8 as a ‘dog of any price.

The Lakers are 5-1 ATS in their last six when playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but the ATS trends are all negative from there, including 3-7 as a chalk of less than five, 2-6 as a favorite of any price, 1-7-1 against the Southwest Division and an alarming 0-6 at home.

For New Orleans, the over is on streaks of 9-2 against winning teams, 7-2 on the highway, 8-2-1 on Fridays and 6-0 as a road pup. For Los Angeles, the over is 19-7 in its last 26 on Friday, 5-2 in its last seven against winning teams and 5-2 in its last seven against the Southwest Division. Finally, the over is 9-2 in the last 11 series meetings overall, including 5-0 in the last five battles at Staples Center.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

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Big Al Mcmordie

Game: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
Prediction: under

Reason: At 8:05pm ET our member selection is on the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers 'under' the total. 30 year old righthander Vicente Padilla may finally be starting to come into his own after almost 10 years in the majors. This is Padilla's third year with the Texas Rangers after six seasons with the Phillies and he is off to his best start ever, giving up a total of only four earned runs in his first two starts covering thirteen innings. Despite the Rangers supposedly having one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league, Padilla had one of the most lopsided home-road records in 2007, going 4-3 with a 3.28 ERA in Arlington vs. 2-7 with an ERA over eight runs on the road. His first two starts of 2008 have been on the road so this bodes well for Padilla to have a breakout season. The Jays will counter with 23 year old Jesse Litsch, who has also pitched well early on this season and has been on fire in his last four starts, giving up more than one earned run only once during that span. The under is 26-11-2 in Toronto's last 39 road games and 9-2 in Litsch's last 11 road starts. The under is also 16-4 in Texas' last 20 games as a favorite and 22-6 in their last 26 home games. Take the 'under'.

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VEGAS EXPERTS TIP OF THE DAY

San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers

Peavy has just dominated the Dodgers in his career to the tune of a 10-1 record (13-6 TSR) and 2.21 ERA. Only twice has he yielded more than two runs to them in any start since 2003! Penny should be much better back at home, where he threw 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in the season opener. Peavy is an incredible 15-0 Under vs. National League teams that average less than 3.8 runs per game on the season.

Play on: Under

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Dave Cokin

Angels @ Mariners
Play: Angels +115

Little to choose as far as the numbers are concerned in tonight's Angels-Mariners hookup. Weaver and Hernandez have remarkably similar pitcher vs. hitter stats, although King Felix has been a bit more prone to the long ball against the Halos hitters. I think the coast to coast travel could factor against Seattle here with the Angels having enjoyed a day off Thursday. Plus, the Seattle bullpen is very shaky right now with Putz injured. I see decent value in backing the Angels as dogs tonight.


Great Lakes Sports
         
Milwaukee at Boston
Play on: Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are an amazing 49-28 ATS this year including 6-2 ATS in their last eight games, and 21-12 ATS when playing in the second half of the NBA season. The Boston Celtics are also 39-24 ATS as a favorite this year. We look for the Boston Celtics to roll for the home ATS Win & cover tonight.

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JEFFERSONSPORTS

PHOENIX/HOUSTON UNDER 204

The new Suns will slow this game down and feed Shaq atleast for the first part of the game. No one slows the break down better than SA and with revenge, the spurs put on their shut down D. We have been on lots of their unders lately and we will be on it again.

Basically we are going to take this under again for the same reason that we had when we hit the spurs/suns under. The Suns have to get use to using Shaq. That means playing a halfcourt style of offense. Also, having Shaq to anchor the defense is good too. Duncan struggled down the stretch because of the D Shaq played on him. Then we have the playoff implications. Both defenses intensity will really pick up alot like what we saw with phoenix and san antonio. Houston also at time falls into a 2-3 matchup zone that can slow the game down as well. Phoenix will try to establish Shaq early and this will be a playoff type of game with lots of defense. Adelman said if the rockets have any shot at doing anything, it will be because of the shutdown D they can play.

UNDER THE 204

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MLB DUNKEL

Toronto at Texas   

The Rangers come off a double-header sweep of Baltimore yesterday and look to stay in the win column behind starter Vicente Padilla, who makes his first home start after picking up victories in a pair of road starts against the Angels and Mariners.  Texas is the pick (-105) according to Dunkel, which has the Rangers favored by 1/2 a run.  Dunkel Pick: Texas (-105).   Here are all of today's games.

FRIDAY, APRIL 11

Game 951-952: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Volquez) 15.286; Pittsburgh (Maholm) 14.498
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Cincinnati (-110); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-110); Under

Game 953-954: Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Marquis) 15.169; Philadelphia (Myers) 14.707
Dunkel Line: Chicago Cubs by 1/2; 11
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 955-956: Milwaukee at NY Mets
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee (Parra) 15.350; NY Mets (Figueroa) 15.005
Dunkel Line: Milwaukee by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-125); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (+115); Under

Game 957-958: Atlanta at Washington
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Hudson) 15.353; Washington (Chico) 14.517
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-155); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-155); Over

Game 959-960: Florida at Houston
Dunkel Ratings: Florida (Nolasco) 14.960; Houston (Oswalt) 14.744
Dunkel Line: Florida by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Houston (-190); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Florida (+180); Over

Game 961-962: Colorado at Arizona
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Francis) 14.284; Arizona (Webb) 16.326
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 2; 7
Vegas Line: Arizona (-145); 8
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (-145); Under

Game 963-964: St. Louis at San Francisco
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Lohse) 15.163; San Francisco (Zito) 14.850
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-135); 8
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-135); Under

Game 965-966: San Diego at LA Dodgers
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego (Peavy) 14.845; LA Dodgers (Penny) 14.460
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1/2; 5 1/2
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-110); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+100); Under

Game 967-968: NY Yankees at Boston
Dunkel Ratings: NY Yankees (Wang) 15.937; Boston (Buchholz) 14.831
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1; 8 1/2
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-105); 10
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-105); Under

Game 969-970: Oakland at Cleveland
Dunkel Ratings: Oakland (Blanton) 15.678; Cleveland (Sabathia) 14.576
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 1; 9
Vegas Line: Cleveland (-150); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Oakland (+140); Over

Game 971-972: Baltimore at Tampa Bay
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Guthrie) 15.871; Tampa Bay (Shields) 15.024
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Tampa Bay (-150); 9
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (+140); Under

Game 973-974: Toronto at Texas
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto (Litsch) 15.768; Texas (Padilla) 15.968
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Texas (-105); 10
Dunkel Pick: Texas (-105); Under

Game 975-976: Minnesota at Kansas City
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Hernandez) 15.720; Kansas City (Meche) 15.086
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Kansas City (-135); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+125); Under

Game 977-978: Detroit at Chicago White Sox
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit (Willis) 13.799; White Sox (Contreras) 14.740
Dunkel Line: Chicago White Sox by 1; 12
Vegas Line: Detroit (-110); 10
Dunkel Pick: Chicago White Sox (+100); Over

Game 979-980: LA Angels at Seattle
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Weaver) 14.933; Seattle (Hernandez) 14.994
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Seattle (-125); 8
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-125); Under

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Michael Cannon

NY Yankees (EV) at BOSTON

Baseball's greatest rivalry takes center stage in Fenway as the Yankees take on the Red Sox.

Take the Yankees at the even price for the win tonight.

I can't pass up the opportunity to get Chien-Ming Wang at this price, even if it's in Fenway.

The Yankees ace has stormed out of the gates with a 2-0 record and a 1.38 ERA this year. He hasn't dominated the Red Sox in his career, going 5-5 in 11 games, but New York definately has the pitching edge with Clay Buchholz going for the BoSox.

Buchholz may have thrown a no-hitter last year, but he still only has five career big league games to his credit. He might be facing a Yankees lineup minus Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, but the Pinstripes still have formidable talent with Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano.

Take the Yankees at the even price as they grab the win in Fenway.

3* NEW YORK YANKEES

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Jim Feist

WAS Wizards - DET Pistons

Take "WAS Wizards"

There’s little reason to back the Detroit Pistons the rest of the regular season. They are locked into the No. 2 seed and resting key players. They’ve lost 2 in a row to the Knicks and 76ers. Washington comes to town healthier than they’ve been all season. This week the Big Three of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were on the floor together for only the second time in 2008. Washington has won 3 in a row, beating the Bulls and Celtics as a dog, because they are trying to stay ahead of Philly in the No. 5 slot and could overtake Cleveland. Washington is also 24-14 ATS on the road. Play the Wizards!

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Alex Smart

Houston Astros -1.5 +130

Roy Oswalt the Astros starting hurler here today has not looked great in first two outings this season, struggling with his vaunted breaking ball . He is just to big a talent to continue down, the road hes on now, and I expect he will turn things around tonight, against a Marlins team that he has dominated of late allowing them, just two runs in 12 1/3 innings of work last year for a stingy 1.43 ERA. Final notes & Key Trends: Astros are 22-4 in Oswalts last 26 home starts against a team with a winning record ,like the Marlins. Play on the Astros

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DCI

NBA

TORONTO 102, New Jersey 95
PHILADELPHIA 106, Indiana 98
ORLANDO 109, Minnesota 94
Cleveland vs. CHICAGO: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
BOSTON 107, Milwaukee 86
Atlanta 101, NEW YORK 99
MIAMI 102, Memphis 100
DETROIT 98, Washington 90
HOUSTON 105, Phoenix 101
SAN ANTONIO 106, Seattle 86
SACRAMENTO 103, Portland 98
L.A. LAKERS 105, New Orleans 103


DCI

NHL

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Game 2, best-of-7
N.Y. Rangers vs. NEW JERSEY: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
PITTSBURGH 3, Ottawa 2

Game 1, best-of-7
WASHINGTON 3, Philadelphia 2

Western Conference Quarterfinals
Game 2, best-of-7
MINNESOTA 3, Colorado 2

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WILD BILL

Under 9 Braves-Nationals (2 units)
Braves -155 (1 unit)
Astros -200 (1 unit)
Under 8 Cards-Giants (1 unit)
Under 8 1/2 A's-Indians (1 unit)
Indians -155 (3 units)
Baltimore +150 (1 unit)
Over 8 Angels-Mariners (2 units)

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THE POWER INDEX

NHL

Pittsburgh* (-160) 1 over Ottawa (+160)
Washington* (-156) .5 over Philadelphia (+156)
N.Y. Rangers (-108) even with New Jersey* (+108)
Minnesota* (-106) even with Colorado (+106)

NBA

Philadelphia* 7.5 over Indiana
Toronto* 7 over New Jersey
Orlando* 13.5 over Minnesota
Miami* .5 over Memphis
Boston* 18.5 over Milwaukee
Atlanta 1.5 over New York*
Detroit* 7.5 over Washington
Chicago* .5 over Cleveland
San Antonio* 17.5 over Seattle
Houston* 4 over Phoenix
Sacramento* 4? over Portland
L.A. Lakers* 4 over New Orleans

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CAPPERS ACCESS

Royals
W. Sox
Raptors

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Bobby Maxwell

The Rockets struggled after their 22-game winning streak came to an end but they seem to have corrected a few things and have rattled off four straight wins and are looking to stay in contention for a top-four spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

But the one team in the Western Conference they don't want to see is this Suns' team and they way they are playing right now, they could beat anybody - with ease. Phoenix is winning slugfests and winning defensive struggles. They went to Memphis on Tuesday and beat the Grizzlies 127-113 as 12 1/2-point road favorites and then went to San Antonio the next night and beat the spurs 96-79 as seven-point road 'dogs.

The victory over the Spurs was impressive as they held San Antonio to 34-of-81 shooting from the field and won the rebounding war.

Phoenix has won two of three against the Rockets this season and they are 14-3 ATS in the last 17 meetings with Houston and 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 overall.
Phoenix has size and speed while the Rockets bring no size to the table. Let's go ahead and play the Suns in this one to win it by 10. A big second half will put Houston away.

3* PHOENIX

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TONY WESTON

We?re going to switch gears and focus on some hoops as the Seattle Supersonics play at the San Antonio Spurs.

These teams have only played twice this season, both times in Seattle. The first time they played the Spurs won 116-101 as 10-point favorites. However, the second time they hooked up the Sonics stunned San Antonio, winning 88-85 as 7 1/2 point dogs.
And even though Seattle has very little to play for, it's had a little fight in it lately.

Over their last three games the Sonics are 2-1 ATS with those two wins coming against playoff teams Denver and Dallas.

The Spurs, on the other hand, have lost three straight ATS, including their last two where they were installed as favorites.

Also consider that while San Antonio has done a good job collecting rings over the last few years, it hasn't done so in overwhelming fashion. Take this season. So far this year the Spurs are outscoring their opponents by a little less than five points per game, winning by an average score of 95.3-90.6. And over their last five, they've only outscored their opponents by an average of two points 88-86.2.

The number set up for this one is too great to cover, even for the dynastic Spurs.

Take the points and the Sonics.

2* SONICS (1* to 5* Scale)

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MATT RIVERS

For Friday take the number back with the Marlins.

Florida may be the weakest team in the National League and own the worst record when all is said and done but Houston has no business ever laying such a price as this team is a 75 or so win club.

Yes Roy Oswalt is a stud and has Cy Young potential but the Astros bats could get shut down at anytime. Bad teams just cannot be giving big numbers, ever!

The Marlins have a guy in Ricky Nolasco on the bump who could get drilled but the righty has also had some success over his first few years in the bigs and has enough to hold his own and at the vey least keep his team in the game.

Hanley Ramirez is a stud and guys like Mike Jacobs, Jeremy Hermida and a few others will take their hacks today in a game in which they are a bigger dog than they should be.

The 'Stros probably should win this game as Oswalt will more than likely shine as usual but to get almost $2 or so back is too tempting too pass up against a bad team!

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Re: Friday Service Plays

Gold Medal Club

New Orleans @ Lakers
PLAY OVER 212

What a deep card in the NBA tonight, what better way than to cap it off with a late night winning "Total". Expect a shootout here, with both teams reaching triple digits. We note the Lakers are averaging 100 ppg on there home court, while giving up over 100. The Hornets have put up an average of 104 in there last 5 games. In what should be a closely contested game there is also the realistic chance of overtime here as well.

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