THURSDAY SERVICE PLAYS

THURSDAY SERVICE PLAYS

SPORTS ADVISORS

NBA FINALS

(1) L.A. Lakers (12-3, 10-4-1 ATS) at (1) Boston (12-8, 8-12 ATS)

The No. 1 seeds from each conference renew one of the most renowned rivalries in all of sports when the Lakers travel to the TD Banknorth Garden to face the Celtics for Game 1 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

Los Angeles closed out the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games, winning the clincher 100-92 last Thursday as a 7½-point home chalk to claim its first Western Conference crown since 2004. The Lakers are 12-4-1 ATS in their last 17 starts overall dating to the regular season, including 4-2 ATS in their last six.

Boston took out Detroit in six games to earn the Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the Finals for the first time since 1987. In the clinching Game 6 on Friday, the Celtics posted an 89-81 road win as a five-point underdog. Despite that result, the C’s have struggled at the betting window throughout the playoffs and are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games, despite getting a 3-3 ATS split with Detroit.

These longtime rivals met twice in the regular season, with Boston rolling to wins in both contests, which were played before Los Angeles acquired center Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, The Celtics won 107-94 at home in November laying eight points and 110-91 on Dec. 30 catching three points in L.A.

Prior to this season, the Lakers had won three in a row and six of eight head-to-head clashes dating to 2003, and despite the two non-covers this year, L.A. is still 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings. Also, Phil Jackson’s squad has cashed in five of the last six battles in Boston, and the road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven contests.

The Lakers have four road victories in the 2008 playoffs (4-0 ATS), while the Celtics have just one home loss in 11 postseason games, having dropped Game 2 against the Pistons. However, since cashing in all four home games of a first-round series against Atlanta, Boston is 1-6 ATS on its own floor.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant leads all playoff scorers, averaging 31.9 points per game, along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists, while Gasol is averaging 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds for L.A. in the playoffs. Boston doesn’t have anyone in the top 10 in playoff scoring, with Kevin Garnett checking in at 14th at 21.0 ppg., but Garnett is also hauling down 9.8 rebounds per game. Paul Pierce is Boston’s second-leading scorer, at 19 ppg, and he’s adding 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

The Lakers average a playoff-best 105.9 ppg while allowing 99.5. The Celtics aren’t nearly as prolific offensively, putting in just 91.6 ppg in the playoffs, but they’re the top defensive team, giving up just 87.3 ppg. Boston has outrebounded its three playoff opponents by an average of 39.4-36.1 per game, while the Lakers have been outrebounded 43.9-40.5.

The Celtics, who have 16 championships, and the Lakers, who have 14 titles, have met 10 times previously in the NBA Finals. However, this is their first Finals matchup since 1987, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson carried the banner for the league. Boston holds a commanding 8-2 edge in championship series, winning the first eight clashes before Los Angeles – behind Johnson during its “Showtime” era – broke through with victories in 1985 and 1987.

Los Angeles won the 1985 and ’87 series 4-2, overcoming Boston’s homecourt advantage in 1985 and beating the Celts in L.A. to win the title. In 1987,

The Lakers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five NBA Finals games, stemming from their stunning 2004 championship series loss to Detroit. But the recent pointspread trends are nothing but positive from there for L.A., including 36-16-2 overall, 11-2-1 after a SU win, 7-1 as a road ‘dog of less than five points, 4-0 as a playoff pup of that same price, 19-7-2 as a road underdog and 10-4 against the Eastern Conference. Finally, the Lakers are 15-3-1 ATS this season as an underdog of less than seven points.

The Celtics are 5-1 ATS in their last six against the Western Conference, 7-2 ATS in their last nine at home against teams with a winning road record, 6-2 ATS in their last eight on Thursday and 5-2 ATS in their last seven against the Pacific Division. However, Boston is mired in ATS funks of 0-6 after a spread-cover, 1-4 as a home chalk, 2-5 as a playoff favorite of less than five points, 3-7 after a SU win and 19-39 as a home chalk of less than five points.

Los Angeles stayed under the total in all five games against the Spurs, and the under is on further runs for the team of 6-2 on the highway, 6-1 as a road underdog and 4-1 as a playoff pup. However, the over is 5-1 in the Lakers’ last six against Atlantic Division foes. For Boston, the over is 4-1 in its last five at the Garden, but the under is on runs of 8-3 on Thursdays, 4-1 after a SU win and 4-1 when laying less than five points.

Finally, the over/under split in the two regular-season meetings this year between these rivals, with the under being the play in Boston.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. LAKERS and UNDER


NATIONAL LEAGUE

Florida (31-26) at Atlanta (31-28)

The Marlins will send Ricky Nolasco (5-3, 4.48 ERA) to the mound to face the Braves and rookie Jair Jurrjens (5-3, 3.45) as these N.L. East rivals wrap up a four-game series at Turner Field.

Florida, which lost the first two games of this series, scored four runs in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak overall and a three-game losing skid to the Braves. The Fish are still only 2-6 in their last eight (all against the N.L. East), while Atlanta has dropped six of its last nine. On the bright side for the Braves, they’re on runs of 39-17 at Turner Field, 6-1 against the N.L. East, 4-0 in Game 4 of a series, 8-3 against winning teams, 20-6 against right-handed starters and 5-1 on Thursdays.

The season series is now tied at 4, but the Braves are still 37-16 in the last 52 head-to-head battles at Turner.

Nolasco is 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts, including 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in the last three. On Saturday at Philadelphia, he allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings as Florida scored a big 7-3 upset win.

With the victory at Philadelphia, the 25-year-old right-hander improved to 4-1 with a 3.99 ERA in seven road starts this season. He’s also 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in six appearances (five starts) against the Braves. But he got pelted by Atlanta in an 8-0 home loss in April, giving up six runs on nine hits – including four homers – in just 4 2/3 innings. Florida is just 1-4 in his five career starts against Atlanta (0-2 in Turner Field).

The Braves are 3-1 in Jurrjens’ last four efforts, though the 22-year-old is just 1-0 with three no-decisions in that span. In an 8-7 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, the youngster got knocked around for six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, easily his worst and shortest outing of the year.

Jurrjens is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in six home starts this year (all Atlanta wins) and 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his lone career start against Florida – a 4-0 road loss in April in which he gave up two runs on four hits in six innings.

With Nolasco throwing, the over for Florida is on runs of 5-1 overall, 4-0 on the highway, 4-1 in division play and 12-4-1 with the starter going on four days’ rest. On the flip side, the under is 8-4 in Jurrjens’ 12 starts this year (3-3 at home).

The over for the Marlins is on runs of 20-7-3 overall, 11-1-3 on the road, 62-26-9 in divisional play and 24-9-3 in Game 4 of a series, though the under is 6-1 in the team’s last seven on Thursday. For Atlanta, the under trends include 36-16-3 overall, 7-4-1 in division play and 4-0 on Thursday, but the over is 6-1-1 in its last eight against winning teams, 5-1-1 in its last seven at Turner and 36-16-5 in the last 52 when playing the fourth game of a series.

Finally, the over is 3-0-1 in the last four series meetings between these rivals.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ATLANTA and OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (35-24) at Boston (37-25)

The Red Sox look to extend a 12-game home winning streak – and put the finishing touches on another three-game Fenway Park sweep of the Rays – when they send southpaw Jon Lester (3-3, 3.67) to the mound opposite Tampa Bay’s James Shields (4-3, 3.24 ERA).

Behind a strong outing from ace Josh Beckett, Boston rolled to a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night for their 12th consecutive home victory. The Red Sox continue to sport the best home mark in the majors at 23-5, including 5-0 against the Rays. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has followed up a three-game winning streak with consecutive losses, and while the Rays are 18-8 in their last 26 games, they’re now 11-14 on the road this season and 43-99 in their last 142 games as a visitor dating to 2006.

The home team in this American League East rivalry is now 8-0 this year, with Boston winning the last five meetings after Tampa took the first three. The Red Sox have completely dominated this rivalry over the years, winning 97 of the last 140 clashes and going an astounding 44-9 in the last 52 head-to-head battles at Fenway Park, including 7-0 in the last seven in Beantown.

Shields hasn’t earned a win since May 9, going 0-1 with no-decisions in his last three starts, but the Rays won all three of those games and are 6-2 in his last eight trips to the mound. On Friday against Chicago, he threw a solid six innings, yielding one run (a solo homer) on seven hits in Tampa’s 2-1 home victory. That was Shields’ shortest outing of his last five starts, in which he has a complete-game shutout, an eight-inning effort and two starts of seven-plus innings.

Shields is 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA in five road starts this season, and he’s 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA in six career starts against Boston, with the win coming in a dominant complete game in April. In that contest, Shields allowed just two hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts, as Tampa won 3-0 at home. However, six days later at Boston, he got blitzed for seven runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings as the Rays lost, 12-4. He’s 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in two career starts at Fenway.

Lester settled for his seventh no-decision in his most recent start on Saturday, a game Boston won 6-3 at Baltimore. Lester gave up all three runs on seven hits in five innings in that start. Including his first career no-hitter, Lester has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but he’s lasted at least six innings just four times during this stretch.

Lester’s no-hitter came in a 7-0 rout of the Royals in his most recent home start, as the lefty improved to 2-1 with a 2.72 ERA in six outings at Fenway. He’s also 2-0 with a 4.71 ERA in five career starts against Tampa, including a 7-3 Boston victory at home last month in which he allowed one run on four hits in six innings.

The Rays are just 2-10 in Shields’ last 12 road starts against winning teams and 1-4 in his last five Thursday starts. On the positive side, Tampa is on streaks of 6-1 on Thursday, 4-2 in division games, 8-4 overall and 21-9 in the third game of a series.

The Red Sox are on a 41-12 tear at Fenway dating to 2007, and they’re 23-6 in their last 29 on Thursday and 40-17 in their last 56 at home against teams with a losing road record. Also, with Lester taking the ball, Terry Francona’s club is on runs of 18-8 overall, 8-2 at home, 6-1 in Game 3 of a series, 9-2 inside the division and 9-2 when he pitches on four days’ rest.

The over is 5-0 in Shields’ last five Thursday starts. However, with Lester starting, the under is on runs of 12-5-2 overall, 5-1 at Fenway and 5-1-2 in division games.

The under streaks for the Rays including 6-1 overall, 6-1 against southpaw starters, 5-1 against winning teams, 4-1 on Thursdays and 16-6-1 in the third game of series. But the over is 9-4-1 in Tampa Bay’s last 14 roadies. Meanwhile, Boston is riding “over” trends of 6-2-3 against the A.L. East, 4-2 at home against teams with a losing road record and 12-4 in Game 3 of a series.

Finally, the over is on a 4-1 in the last five series meetings between these clubs (all in Boston), with the lone under coming in last night’s contest.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON

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Gator Report

MLB 70% Super Situations  (MLB Record 16-12 +362 units)

Our MLB 70% Super Situations could be either sides and/or totals from the MLB Card for that particular day. Selections are rated * 1 Unit, ** 2 Units, and *** 3 Units, with Three Units as a Top Selection.


MLB (16-12 +362) Thursday:  Play On MLB (NL) teams with a money line of -100 to -150 with a team that averages 4.3 to 4.8 runs per game against a starter with an ERA<=3.00, with a bullpen whose ERA is 3.75 or better on the season.35-8 SU last 5 seasons (81.4%) (3-1 TY)   

PLAY: ** LA Dodgers -110



Gator's News & Notes   

In this edition of Gator's News & Notes we have a couple NBA angles that may help with your handicapping process for Game One of the NBA Finals. Also included in this issue Gator has a few of his Top MLB Systems that have been cashing in this season.

NBA

PLAY AGAINST Boston as a home favorite of more than 1 point off a road SU Win, 7-23 ATS since 2004.


PLAY AGAINST Boston (not a favorite of 5+ points) with a total of 214 or less playing with at least two days rest and off a SU win, 5-21 ATS since 2004.

MLB


“Play On” any MLB Home Underdog of +140 or better whose opponent is off a win by 5 or more runs and had 10+ hits and left 5 or more runners on base, 62-74 SU +2495 Units


“Play On” any MLB Home Underdog of +140 or more who is off a 5+ run loss and facing an opponent who is off a 5+ run win in which they had 10+ hits, 43-41 SU +2715 Units


“Play On” any MLB Home Underdog of +140 or more whose opponent is off a road win in which they scored 5 or more runs and left 5 or more runners on base, 131-173 SU +3705 Units

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Cleveland w/Sabathia

Note: The Tribe completes their four-game visit to Texas this evening behind last year's Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia knowing his road ERA (3.42) is two full runs better than his home ERA (5.40) this season. With the big lefty in commanding KW form with 3 walks and 17 strikeouts in his last three starts, look for Sabathia to improve to 9-3 in his last twelve road starts in June here tonight.

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Jim Feist

TOR Blue Jays and NYY Yankees
Take TOR Blue Jays

Toronto is red hot, on a 15-6 run. This offense is clicking, along with several young starters such as Dustin McGowan. McGowan is 2-1 his last 3 starts with a 2.79 ERA, even beating the Angels as a dog. NY starter Chien-Ming Wang is in a big slump, winless in his last three starts with a 7.91 ERA. NY has a .500 record as a favorite. Play the Blue Jays!

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Bob Akmens

Texas Rangers +117

The computer models I’ve developed for each sport look at the most-predictive variables that go into the winning and losing of games.

Several interesting factors in today’s play are as follows –

How would like to get an underdog – playing in front of a friendly home crowd – where the visiting pitcher’s team has lost 7 of his last 11 road starts – and a home pitcher whose team has won 9 of his last 10 starts at home?

Well…you got it!

C.C. Sabathia goes for the Indians…and how many times in all the years I’ve handicapped have I seen this? Cy Young-Winner one year…Cy Young-Bum the next.

Of course, when they gave this guy the Cy Young, I had to scratch my head. But what do I know? I’ve only been one of this great country’s best baseball handicappers for 30+ years. And the defending national baseball handicapping champ.

Keep in mind that Sabathia had an official record of 20-9. Add in his 8 no-decisions to get a better picture of his seasonal performance, and you get a team record of 24-13 in all his starts. Was that worth the Cy Young? How about his profitability if you had bet on him in every one of those starts? You would have netted +5.6 wins. Not bad, you think?

Were there any pitchers with better numbers than that? Just a few. Like 32 other guys. 18 in the NL, and 14 in his own league. I had fun looking this up. Even his teammate Carmona had better numbers: a team record of 24-11 in all of his starts and a +10.7 net wins figure if you bet them all. How did Josh Beckett with a 25-9 team record not win this award?

Why do I go through all of this stuff a year later? Because it’s all relevant to this game. Don’t look at games in a vacuum when you handicap them – look at them through the big-picture window. Try to fit the puzzle pieces together instead of having gaps in your knowledge.

Obviously the public remembers a Cy Young award. And that’s why this guy – who is having a bum of a season so far with his 3-7 record – which extrapolates to a Cy No- Young award-type 8-20 W-L full-season record – is the -1.27 favorite here vs Kevin Millwood at Arlington.

You want the biggest dichotomy in all of baseball between home performance and road performance by a single pitcher?

You got it…again!

Unbelievably enough, the Rangers are 9-1 in Millwood’s last 10 at home…and 0-13 in his last 13 away from Arlington. How do you explain something like that? I’ve seen that almost absolute polar-extreme before – but it’s very rare. Can you imagine the guy who keeps on betting Millwood on the road, saying “he’s due?” Due for what? Another loss?

So, while any team in baseball has a chance to win any given game, you really don’t want to go with the Indians here, folks.

Go with the RANGERS at home at +1.17 in this 8:05 PM ET matchup

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Mike Rose

KANSAS CITY ROYALS +150

Looking to secure a win against their division rivals for the first time this season will be Gil Meche who enters tonights start a disappointing 3-7 with a 5.35 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Kansas City is 4-8 in his 12 starts this season, but they’re 3-3 in his road starts where his ERA drops down to 3.58. Meche hasn’t been nearly as good as last season giving up 75 hits and 42 runs with a K/BB ratio of 54/25 in just under 71 total innings of work. He’s managed to avoid the blow-up of late giving up three earned runs or less in each of his L/4 starts, but his offense has given him no support evidenced by his 0-2 mark during that span. Against the White Sox, Meche is 6-2 in his career, and a solid 3-1 at US Cellular Field.

Chicago management must be thrilled with their decision to hold onto Jose Contreras after he struggled throughout his entire ’07 campaign. Many thought he had lost it, but Contreras comes into tonight’s start 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Chicago’s won seven of his 11 starts on the year, but failed to do so in his last start at Tampa Bay that snapped a string of four straight winning starts. Jose has been nothing short of spectacular against Kansas City in his career going a 8-4 with a solid 3.41 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, but Chicago lost three of his four starts against the Royals last season.

Chicago has feasted upon divisional competition this season winning 16 of their 24 overall games (8-1 L/9), and they’re 19-11 against sub .500 teams on the year. Kansas City has been the whipping boy of the AL for a number of seasons now, and come into tonight’s confrontation with the White Sox a pathetic 10-26 the L/36 times they’ve squared off against a winning team. For some reason, Chicago is 3-9 the L/12 times Contreras has faced a losing team at home, which makes the Royals an attractive underdog in this spot considering Meche’s career success against the Palehose.

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Matt Fargo

Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Play: Cincinnati Reds   

The Reds got one back last night thanks to a dominating pitching performance from Edinson Volquez and they look to even this series this afternoon. Cincinnati has won eight of 12 games and going back further, the Reds are 14-8 in their last 22 games and have been able to once again flirt with the .500 mark. The offense has cooled slightly but the pitching has been solid with a 3.42 ERA over those 12 games. The Reds have allowed three runs or fewer in seven of those games and the offense has averaged 5.3 rpg.

The Phillies had their three-game winning streak snapped and the offense has cooled off considerably, averaging 3.6 rpg over the last five games after putting up an average of 12 rpg in its previous five games. Cincinnati pitching has really cut down the explosive offense and the disparity has grown in each of the three games in this set. Pitching has been very solid throughout the season but over the last 10 games, the starters have posted a 4.76 ERA and that surprisingly has been pushed up mostly by today’s starter.

Reds top prospect Homer Bailey makes his season debut. In Louisville, Bailey dominated in April, going 4-2 with a 2.29 ERA, but for a three-game stretch he allowed 15 earned runs in 14.1 innings. He got it back on May 27 against Columbus, allowing one earned run in six innings. The Phillies chased Bailey after six runs in 1.2 innings last season. “I know what to expect,” he said. “I threw against Philadelphia last time and, although it was my worst one, I know what to expect. Nothing is really going to surprise me.”

Cole Hamels is hoping to turn things around after getting roughed up in his last two outings. He just has not looked like the same pitcher he once was and this includes the whole month. After posting a 2.70 ERA in April, in six May starts, he posted a 4.89 ERA as he allowed four runs or more in four of those games. Pitching in the daylight has never been good as his ERA has been higher in day starts than in night starts in every season. His combined daytime ERA is 5.25 in 20 starts compared to 3.12 in 43 nighttime starts. Play Cincinnati Reds 1 Unit

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Great Lakes Sports

New York Mets at San Diego
Play on: San Diego with Banks

The San Diego Padres are 6-3 at home when the total is between 8 to 8.5 this year, and 103-90 when playing at home the last three years. The New York Mets are 15-21 vs right hand starting pitching this year, and 12-17 when playing on the road this year. We look for the San Diego to grab the home win tonight.

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Big Al McMordie

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox     
Play: Boston Red Sox     

At 6:05pm our complimentary selection is on the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Who would have thought that as late as June this would be a critical series for the Red Sox? With these two teams locked in a virtual dead heat for the AL East Division lead, this series (and the remaining games between these two clubs) becomes more meaningful than perhaps at any time in seasons past. Tampa has been a blueprint for how to build a successful franchise and even if it fades from sight as the season goes on and does not make the playoffs in 2008, make no mistake that it will be a factor in the immediate years to come. Boston got a double-dose of bad news in the past week as two of its best players have had to make trips to the DL - its top starter this season (Dice-K) and its top offensive production player (David Ortiz). The good news for the Sox is that other players who have had inuury problems in the past like Mike Lowell, JD Drew, and Julio Lugo seem now to be healthy and very productive so those injuries shouldn't hurt them too much. Young righthander James Shields goes for the Rays in this one and that's fine except for the fact that this game is being played on the road where Shields has been stinking up almost every visiting park he's pitched in (1-2 with a 6.04 ERA in five away starts). Boston's lefty Jon Lester loves pitching at Fenway as he is 2-1 with a 2.72 ERA there. And oh yes, there was that no-hitter a few weeks ago too. Take the Sox.

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Big AL NBA GOY

At 9:05 pm, on Thursday, our selection is on the Los Angeles Lakers over the Boston Celtics. Back in November, I bet on the Celtics (at 4-1 odds) to win the NBA Title. And I've liked Boston all the way through its Eastern Conference Finals win over Detroit -- UNTIL NOW. Frankly, after watching the Playoffs through this point, I'm jumping off the Boston bandwagon, and backing the Lakers. The Celtics have looked like the 2nd best team in the Playoffs, for sure, and deserve to represent the Eastern Conference, but they can't match what the Lakers just pulled off in defeating the defending champs (San Antonio) four games to one, and the Utah Jazz (who might have been the 2nd best team out West) four games to two. Also, Denver was a darn good team (by my estimate, one of the top 10 teams in the Playoffs), and the Lakers dispatched the Nuggets in a four games to none sweep. Boston barely got by two bottom-tier teams (Cleveland and Atlanta) in seven-game series (both Cleveland and Atlanta had NEGATIVE POINT DIFFERENTIALS in the regular season), and survived to defeat a very good Pistons team (though somewhat hobbled) in six games. Although Boston will be playing at home in Game 1, that will not be much of an advantage against a Lakers squad that won both games in Denver; and two of five at Utah and San Antonio (with one of the losses in overtime in Game 4 at the Jazz). Boston did defeat LA both times in the regular season, but Pau Gasol was not on LA's roster in either game, so those victories should be thrown out. The bottom line is that Kobe Bryant is playing incredible ball right now, and can't be defensed. The Spurs' Bruce Bowen was draped all over him throughout the series, and Kobe still found ways to score. When the Lakers were down by 20 points in Game 1 and 17 points in Game 5, Kobe just went into overdrive, and pulled the Lakers back. And he did this with Bowen (and the rest of the Spurs) NOT fouling him to put him on the line for easy points. Instead, Kobe just made REAL TOUGH shots, and he made it look easy in the process. Boston has had the league's best defense all season, but great defense won't stop great offense. Take the Lakers.

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Sportsbettingstats

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics

The Lakers come into game 1 of the finals after beating the San Antonio Spurs 100-92 in game 5 of that series, while the Celtics come into the finals after dispatching the Detroit Pistons 89-81 in game 6 of that series. This is the dream match up that most NBA fans have hopes for, as the rivalry of the 80's is now reborn in 2008. Instead of Bird vs. Magic there is now Kobe vs. the Big 3 of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen. The Celtics will host game 1 in Boston and have home court advantage throughout the finals, which may be a big factor, as there have been few away victories in the 2008 NBA playoffs, even though the Lakers and Celtics won away games in their conference semifinals. The main man for the Lakers in their game 5 win over the Spurs was Kobe Bryant, who torched the Spurs for 39 points on 16/30 shooting. Pau Gosol was also huge in the game going for 12 points and 19 rebounds. In that game the Lakers shot 35/85 for a field goal percentage of 44.7%. Defensively the Lakers allowed the Spurs to shoot 36/74 for a field goal percentage of 48.6%. The big gun for the Celtics in their close out game of the Eastern Conference semifinals was Paul Pierce who had 27 points on 8/12 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds. In that game the Celtics shot 32/72 for a field goal percentage of 44.4%. Defensively the Celtics held the Pistons to 29/69 shooting for a field goal percentage of 42.0%.

Staff Pick: The key to this game will be if the Celtics can keep the Lakers from scoring a ton of points. Sure, the Celtics are a good defensive team, especially Kevin Garnett, but the Lakers have many scoring options. For the Celtics to be successful in this game, and the series, Ray Allen has to break out of his playoff slump and score. The Celtics Kendrick Perkins has to play solid, as the Lakers are weak at the Center position since Andrew Bynum was lost to a knee injury. Bryant will have his hands full with Paul Pierce, who has been awesome in the 2008 playoffs. If Bryant can shut down Pierce and Allen continues to struggle the Lakers will definitely have the advantage no matter how many points KG has. The Lakers Derek Fisher has been solid in the playoffs (10.0 ppg) and if he can score from the backcourt and open it up for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom the Lakers will be sitting pretty. The Celtics have to contain Odom and Gasol, as Bryant will get his points, but if their other scoring options are shut down the Celtics will have the upper hand. Look for an exciting game one with many sub-plots, but the Lakers look like the team to beat and they will come into Boston and steal game 1, which will give them the home court advantage for the rest of the series.

Lakers 98 Celtics 94

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Kosmo

Philadelphia -210 1 unit
St. Louis Even 1 unit
Toronto/Under 8.5 -110 1 unit
Minnesota -110 1 unit
Boston -115 1 unit
White Sox -160 1 unit

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Bobby Maxwell

Chicago Cubs +110 at L.A. DODGERS 

Tonight we're going with the Cubs as they visit the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Both teams are coming off 2-1 losses Wednesday night and for the Cubs it brought an end to their nine-game winning streak. But they won't be down long as they've got Ryan Dempster (7-2, 2.75 ERA) on the mound today against the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley (4-6, 3.29).

Chicago is 37-18 in their last 55 games overall and they took three straight from the Dodgers last week at Wrigley Field, giving up just three runs in the three-game set.

Dempster and Billingsley hooked up in the opener of that series with Dempster allowing just one run in seven innings of a 3-1 victory. Billingsley wasn't bad, allowing two runs in six innings in taking the loss.

Going back to 2002, Dempster has beaten the Dodgers four straight times and the Cubs have won four of his last five starts overall.

Before Wednesday's loss to the Padres, the Cubs had been scoring plenty of runs, getting at least five in six straight outings. Look for them to get the offense going again tonight as they blow out Billingsley and the Dodgers.

4* CHICAGO CUBS

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Karl Garrett

Tampa Bay at BOSTON -130 

Looks to the G-Man like the Red Sox are showing the Rays who is the class of the AL East the last few days, as Boston has won the first two of this three game set, and I like the broom to come out in full force late day today at Fenway.

The Sox have moved up the start of this game by one hour so the fans can get to the local watering hole, and watch the NBA Finals after they celebrate a Boston win over Tampa.

Boston is a monster 23-5 at home this year, and as good as Tampa has been at home this season, they are just 11-14 on the road for the year.

The Rays are also just 4-19 in Beantown since 2006! To top it off, starter James Shields is only 1-2 on the road this year with an ERA over 6.

Go with Boston to complete the sweep.

2* BOSTON

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Lucky Leprechaun Sports

Philadelphia -1.5 over Cincinnati

The Phils have to be hopping mad after being shutout last night and they should get back on track today. The Phils don't take to kindly to being shut down, as they are 5-0 after scoring 1 run or less, scoring 7.6 rpg in the process. Last night the Phils offense run up against leagues ERA leader and he did a number on them, but today they face Homer Bailey who was just 4-4 with a 4.15 ERA @ AAA Louisvile. He faced the Phils once last year and they had him for lunch with 6 hits, 3 walks and 6 ER in just 1.2 innings of work. The Phils offense puts up 5.6 rpg at home and even though they average just 5.1 rpg in day games, they average 8.67 rpg in Hamels 3 day starts. Cole has been struggling a bit lately and even though he is 2-1 in his last 3 starts his ERA is 7.19 in those games. The good news is that the Phils put 6.3 rpg up for him in those starts. Cole has had only 3 starts in his career vs the Reds, but they were good ones as he went 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA in those 3 starts. The Reds score just 4.2 rpg on the road and 4.4 rpg vs lefties, plus they come in averaging just 3.8 rpg in their last 7. Those numbers won't get it done a s I look for the Phils to get a few homers off Homer and put at least 8 runs on the board. This one is easy as the Phils bounceback from last nights horrible offensive performance.

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Professional Gamblers Newsletter

REDSOX -116 over Rays

WHITESOX -160 over Royals

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DUNKEL

MLB

Cleveland at Texas   
Kevin Millwood will look to improve on his perfect home record (3-0, 4.65 ERA) behind the Rangers' high-powered offense and take advantage of Cleveland's 3-4 record as a road favorite between -100 and -125.  Texas is the underdog pick (+115) according to Dunkel, which has the Rangers favored straight up by 1.  Dunkel Pick: Texas (+115).   Here are all of today's games.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

Game 901-902: Cincinnati at Philadelphia
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Bailey) 14.905; Philadelphia (Hamels) 16.904
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 2; 8 1/2
Vegas Line: Philadelphia (-230); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-230); Under

Game 903-904: Houston at Pittsburgh
Dunkel Ratings: Houston (Backe) 14.678; Pittsburgh (Maholm) 14.595
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-120); 9
Dunkel Pick: Houston (+110); Under

Game 905-906: Florida at Atlanta
Dunkel Ratings: Florida (Nolasco) 14.345; Atlanta (Jurrjens) 15.850
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 1 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Atlanta (-155); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-155); Over

Game 907-908: St. Louis at Washington
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Parisi) 13.912; Washington (Redding) 14.714
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1; 8
Vegas Line: Washington (-105); 9
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-105); Under

Game 909-910: NY Mets at San Diego
Dunkel Ratings: NY Mets (Pelfrey) 14.872; San Diego (Banks) 15.799
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 1; 9
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-115); 8
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+105); Over

Game 911-912: Chicago Cubs at LA Dodgers
Dunkel Ratings: Cubs (Dempster) 14.786; LA Dodgers (Billingsley) 14.916
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1/2; 7 1/2
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-115); 8
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-115); Under

Game 913-914: Toronto at NY Yankees
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto (McGowan) 15.223; NY Yankees (Wang) 16.375
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 1; 9
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-160); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-160); Over

Game 915-916: Baltimore at Minnesota
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Olson) 15.245; Minnesota (Baker) 14.862
Dunkel Line: Baltimore by 1/2; 9 1/2
Vegas Line: Minnesota (-110); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Baltimore (+100); Over

Game 917-918: Tampa Bay at Boston
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Shields) 15.215; Boston (Lester) 15.193
Dunkel Line: Tampa Bay by 1/2; 9 1/2
Vegas Line: Boston (-115); 9
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+105); Over

Game 919-920: Cleveland at Texas
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Sabathia) 14.366; Texas (Millwood) 15.155
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1; 12
Vegas Line: Cleveland (-125); 10
Dunkel Pick: Texas (+115); Over

Game 921-922: Kansas City at Chicago White Sox
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City (Meche) 14.521; White Sox (Contreras) 15.692
Dunkel Line: Chicago White Sox by 1; 8 1/2
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-150); 8
Dunkel Pick: Chicago White Sox (-150); Over

Game 923-924: St. Louis at Washington
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Wellemeyer) 14.412; Washington (Lannan) 14.214
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 1/2; 7 1/2
Vegas Line: St. Louis (-115); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (-115); Under


NBA

LA Lakers at Boston
The old rivalry renewed, the Celtics open up at home and come into the contest with a 7-3 ATS record this season against Pacific division opponents, including 2-0 versus the Lakers.  Boston is the pick in Game One (-2 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Celtics favored by 4 1/2.  Dunkel Pick: Boston (-2 1/2).   Here are all of today's games.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

Game 501-502: LA Lakers at Boston
Dunkel Ratings: LA Lakers 127.394; Boston 131.806
Dunkel Line & Total: Boston by 4 1/2; 195
Vegas Line & Total: Boston by 2 1/2; 192
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-2 1/2); Over

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EZWINNERS

MLB

5 STAR PARLAY: (902) PHILADELPHIA (-$225) and NY YANKEES (-$156)
(Listing Hamels and Wang only)
(Risking $500 to win $685)

5 STAR: (903) HOUSTON (+$110) over Pittsburgh
(Listing Backe and Maholm)
(Risking $500 to win $550)

1 STAR: (921) KANSAS CITY (+$150) over Chicago
(Listing Meche only)
(Risking $100 to win $150)

1 STAR: (909) NY METS (-$115) over San Diego
(Action)
(Risking $115 to win $100)


NBA

1 STAR: (502) BOSTON (-2.5) over LA Lakers
(Risking $110 to win $100)

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Ben Burns' #1 NBA Finals TOTAL OF THE YEAR! (9-0 L9 GOY/TOYs!)

I'm playing on the Lakers and Celtics OVER the number. I'm well aware that the Celtics possess a great defense. I also respect the Lakers' defensive skills. That being said, I don't believe that the offenses are being given enough credit here. The Celtics averaged 98 points per game this season, including 99.5 here at home. Despite coming off back to back series' vs. a pair of strong defensive teams, they've still scored a minimum of 96 points in 10 of their last 13 games here. They'll face an LA squad which averaged a whopping 108.2 on the season, including 106.1 on the road. The Lakers have scored a minimum of 98 points in 17 of their last 20 road games and they managed a minimum of 92 in all 20 of those games. These teams met twice in the regular season and both games finished with exactly 201 points. The over/under lines were 198 for the game at LA and 205 for the game here at Boston. Obviously, tonight's line is significantly lower. I feel that offers us excellent value with the OVER. Looking back further and we find the OVER at a highly profitable 16-6 the last 22 times that these storied franchises have faced each other. It's true that the Celtics were a profitable 'under' team this season. However, a closer look reveals that the majority of those low-scoring games came against Eastern Conference teams. In fact, the OVER was 17-13 when they faced teams from the West, improving to 52-36 the past three seasons. During that stretch, the OVER is 12-7 the last 19 times that the Celtics played with three or more days worth of rest in between games. Look for those numbers to improve this evening, as the final score proves to be higher-scoring than most are expecting. *Finals Total of the Year

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MONEYLOCKOFTHEDAY

DIGGER'S PICK
CUBS/DODGERS UNDER 8 RUNS
LAKERS/CELTICS UNDER 48 FIRST QUARTER POINTS


JUNIOR'S PICK
CELTICS -2.5 POINTS

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