Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is Atlanta-Detroit under the total in their matinee at Comerica.

Atlanta got their ya-yas out at Coors Field earlier this week, while Detroit and Kansas City put some runs on the board in their abbreviated set at Comerica Park.

Then last night the Tigers continued raking, while the Braves bats fell dead silent.

I do not think that the Tigers high-scoring trend will continue this afternoon.

With this being a day game after a night game, you get the feeling the bats will be a little "sleepy" for this matinee.

Kris Medlen has been hard to scratch out a run against, as the righty stands at 1-2 through his first 4 starts this year, but his ERA is a solid 2.16 for the year, and he has not allowed more than 3 earned runs to score in any of those assignments.

True, Rick Porcello is the flip side of that coin, as Porcello has been shellacked for 16 runs in his 13 innings of work - 9 of them coming his last time out which lasted a grand total of 2/3rds of an inning.

Still, Porcello is facing Atlanta for the first time, so he at least has the element of surprise working in his favor. I think you can count on Porcello working deeper into this game with minimal damage.

Lets call this one 7 runs tops between the teams, and an Under in the Braves-Tigers game.

1* ATLANTA-DETROIT UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Scott Delaney

My free winner for tonight is on the San Diego Padres over the San Francisco Giants and I want you listing pitchers in this game, as we have ourselves a little revenge-game theory taking place with Eric Stults over Barry Zito.

Stults will be looking to avenge his last start, in which he allowed a season-high five runs against these same Giants. Since firing five shutout innings in his first start, on April 4, against the New York Mets, the left-hander has allowed 25 hits over his last three starts. Now at home, in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, I expect him to be at his best to earn revenge.

While Zito is hoping to take his AT&T Park success on the road, I'm not sure he actually can. He's thrown in four games this season - three at home and one on the highway. He's 3-0 in Frisco and 0-1 in Milwaukee, where he lasted all of 2-2/3 innings and was tagged for eight hits and nine earned runs. This one is going to be a rough one for him, mark my words.

List both and take the home team here.

2* SAN DIEGO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Chris Jordan

My free winner is on the St. Louis Cardinals, who have played just seven home games so far, fewest among National League teams. They made the most of their return to Busch Stadium with a rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates in last night's series-opener.

Tonight I see the line is a bit cheaper, but that doesn't faze me, this should be higher, as the Cardinals are now on a little roll, and they have sweep and winning run on the brain.

The Redbirds have won four in a row, and tonight they're handing the ball to Jake Westbrook, who had a start against Pittsburgh rained out earlier this month, and here's why I'm not llisting either hurler - he's opposing A.J. Burnett - because the Pirates have always given the Westbrook fits.

The St. Louis has only one win in 13 appearances against the Bucs, and I think he's in a good spot to reverse the trend here. I know Burnett has been stellar to start the season, but I don't know if he can handle this red-hot lineup right now.

Again, I don't care about listing either pitcher, so let's make money with the Cardinals.

3* ST. LOUIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Brad Wilton

For your free play on Saturday, I think it is a safe assumption that there will be some points scored in the Pacers-Hawks tilt at the Philips Arena.

Both games played in Indianapolis easily topped the total to make it 5 straight series meetings between the teams landing in the Over column.

The Pacers have now played 6 of their last 7, and 8 of their last 10 overall OVER the total, and the Hawks have not shown that they can stop Frank Vogel's team from cracking the century, as Indy has topped 100 points in 5 straight series meetings.

As for the Hawks, they are on a 6-1 Over run of their own.
This is the largest priced total in the series, but I don't think the teams will have any trouble shattering it.

Pacers-Hawks to go Over.

5* INDIANA-ATLANTA OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Craig Davis

Atlanta hasn't lost to Indiana at home since 2008, and that was a two-point game. Since then the Hawks have averaged winning by nearly double digits, including two wins this year of three and nine points. Last year it was 10 and 12 points.

Either way you slice it, the home team has dominated this series winning 9 of the last 10 and 15 of the last 17... that's pretty impressive.

The Hawks definitely didn't end the regular season the way they wanted, but they did have a stretch in March/April where they won 7 of 9 including five double digit wins.

They know the desperation of having to win a Game 3 when down 2-0... it's happened to them recently in the playoffs and they always seem to bounce back with the answer.

You'll see a better effort from Josh Smith and Jeff Teague and the defense will have to play better for the Hawks to make this a 2-1 series and take it back to Indiana.

They will.

I like the Hawks by seven today as your free play of the day.

3* ATLANTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Brett Atkins

My free play is on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, against the Memphis Grizzlies, as I think with Oklahoma City losing Russell Westbrook, you're going to see the Clippers respond. Sound weird? Not really, follow me...

I'm a firm believer the NBA Playoffs are more mental than anything else, and as long as you're a contender in this game, you're stuck on what every one else is doing as much as what you're putting on the floor. So knowing the Clippers would get the Thunder in the second round, Los Angeles' chances to make it to the Western Conference Finals just increased with Westbrook headed in for knee surgery. Get it?

The facts remain the same overall, too, in that one L.A. road win here would put the Clippers in a commanding position. The Clippers failed to do so in Game 3, and have to know if Memphis wins this game, well, there's a serious fly in the ointment and we'll have a series on our hands. The Clippers cannot let Memphis nab Game 4, cause that'll simply shift momentum, even going back to Los Angeles, especially since the road team has covered 4 of 6 in this series.

Take the points in this one.

1* CLIPPERS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Matt Rivers

Saturday's comp play is the Clippers-Grizzlies game to stay Under the total.

These teams are definitely no strangers to one another, having played in last May's postseason, and with such familiarity with one another, the baskets just aren't easy to come by.

Thursday night's game at the FedEx Forum managed to hold Under the total, making it 4 of the last 6 games played between the teams that have rewarded the Under backers.

I like the Under one more time on Saturday, as it is hard to overlook the fact the Low has been the play now in 7 of the last 10 overall meetings, and each of the last 5 played in Memphis.

The Grizzlies have been quite defensive-minded, with 10 of their last 13 games dating back to the regular season holding Under.

One more Under won't hurt. Clippers and Grizzlies to make it 6 straight at Memphis on the Low side.

2* L.A. CLIPPERS-MEMPHIS UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

Jeff AlexanderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Arizona D-backs -150FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado's Jeff Francis is 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA in his last 3 starts. Arizona's Wade Miley is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 4 starts this season. Miley is also 4-0 with a 3.37 ERA in 5 career starts versus Colorado. Francis is 3-6 on the money line in his last 9 starts versus Arizona. The Rockies are 3-7 in Francis' last 10 starts, 1-4 in his last 5 road starts and 1-7 in his last 8 starts as an underdog. The Diamondbacks are 7-2 in Mileys last 9 starts as a favorite of -110 to -150. Bet Arizona.

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Toronto +140 over N.Y. YANKEESFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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For the first time this season, the Blue Jays are undervalued. Projected as the team to beat in the AL, the Blue Jays have stumbled out of the gate and the oddsmakers (and betting public) have finally abandoned ship. Now we get an opportunity to buy low and that’s usually the best time to step in. C.C. Sabathia has a 3.34 ERA and 1.23 WHIP after his first five starts. It seems like business as usual for Sabathia but it comes with a warning sign in his fastball velocity. No starting pitcher has lost more velocity on his fastball between April 2012 and April 2013 than Sabathia (91.8 mph vs. 89.6 mph). He had off-season surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow so this drop shouldn't come as a complete surprise. But if Sabathia only has a 90 mph fastball to work with, it will be 3-4 mph lower than his career norm, meaning he'll need to rely completely on location and movement to remain elite. That's a risky proposition and his groundball/fly-ball split of 40%/40% is also a career worse. Sabathia has been tagged for four bombs over his past two starts and will face a Blue Jays team that has gone yard 31 times in 24 games. 
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Three years of a near-5.00 ERA and 1.40+ WHIP will keep J.A. Happ’s stock low for the time being but there's something interesting here. Concurrent control and strikeout rate improvement were kept hidden by an abnormal hit percentage jump. xERA of 3.98 last season confirm that he's got skills worth speculating on. Happ has 19 K’s in 22 frames this season to go along with a much-improved 1.14 WHIP. He’s already faced some strong hitting clubs in Kansas City, Baltimore and Boston and has allowed just 16 hits in 22 frames for a BAA of .198. Happ now gets the benefit of facing an injury plagued lineup that will be without starting catcher, Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli joins a long list of Yankees on the disabled list that may soon also include Kevin Youkilis, who was not available for the sixth straight game last night because of lower back tightness and reports are that Youkilis will not be available today either. Undervalued for the first time and expected to lose, the Blue Jays are in a good spot to pull off the upset. 
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Pittsburgh +108 over ST. LOUISFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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After losing five of their first six games, the Pirates have the league’s best mark at 12-5 since. Included among those victories were three-game sweeps over both Atlanta and Cincinnati. Over the past 15 games, the Pirates lead the NL with a .274 batting average and a .344 on base %. Current Pirates have had great success against Jake Westbrook with 69 hits in 229 career AB’s against Westbrook for a BA of .314. Westbrook is 1-1 with a 1.25 ERA in three starts but his early skills insist an implosion is forthcoming. Westbrook’s xERA is 5.05. He’s walked 14 batters in 21.2 innings while striking out just eight. In three starts, Westbrook has thrown 327 pitches with 54% of those being out of the strike zone and called balls. Westbrook survives on an elite groundball rate of 63% that induces double plays but with all those walks and hard hit balls, he simply can’t continue to outpitch his xERA by four runs. Jake Westbrook is about to get lit up big time and the Pirates are seeing the ball well right now. This could be the day he implodes.
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A.J. Burnett has been downright dominating this season. He has an elite strikeout rate of 42 K’s in 29 frames, which leads the majors in that category. Burnett also comes in with a .208 oppBA, a 1.14 WHIP and an ERA of 2.79. Burnett’s xERA of 2.52 is even lower than is actual 2.79 ERA and there is nothing fluky about his success. Burnett is getting lots of K’s, he has an elite groundball rate of 58% and a normal strand rate of 77%. Burnett has just one win in five starts but deserves at least four wins and probably five. No pitcher in baseball has been sharper than Burnett. Taking back a tag against Westbrook here offers up some pretty sweet value and hopefully Burnett will get some much deserved justice in the form of a win.
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Baltimore +129 over OAKLANDFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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In the first two games of this series the A’s have managed nine hits and two runs with the two runs scored coming in the first inning of the opener and both runs were unearned. That suggests that Buck Showalter and the Orioles staff have a very good read on the weaknesses of the Athletics’ hitters. Now Chris Tillman gets his shot. Tillman went 9-3 with 2.93 ERA in 86 innings for the O’s last season. Last year, Tillman found his way out of the woods, guided by velocity gains, newfound control and great progress against lefties. Tillman has two very good starts in four tries this year. He’s coming off a 6.2-inning, four-hit, one run gem against the Blue Jays and he also threw a beauty against the Red Sox on April 11th. Tillman’s xERA doesn't buy that he's a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher just yet, but the skills say he's right on the cusp. That said, this one is more about playing against the A’s suddenly lifeless offense with A.J. Griffin on the mound.
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Griffin is a pitcher in trouble. His ERA is somewhat respectable at 4.50 but it’s been all luck and very little skill. Griffin faced three struggling offenses in his first three starts (Seattle, L.A.A and Houston) before running into the Red Sox in his last start. Boston went off for nine hits and eight runs against Griffin in four frames. Griffin has a putrid profile that shows a 27%/32%/42% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball rate. That’s serious and tells us that Griffin is not fooling anyone. Balls were hit hard in Griffin’s first three starts but they were hit right at people. It caught up to him in his fourth start and is likely to continue here. In his rookie campaign last season, Griffin put up some nice surface numbers but his under the hood numbers also suggested it was all smoke and mirrors. The films on Griffin have been studied by major-league hitters and his days of quality starts will soon be a thing of the past. Griffin is major fade material, as major leaguers have caught up to him and it says here he will be out of the rotation and back in the minors before the end of June. Huge overlay.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 27

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Carolina +182 over PITTSBURGHFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. What a season it has been. Playing the most grueling schedule in the history of this league, all playoff positions in the East have been solidified and that includes the Penguins #1 seeding. With playoffs scheduled to start on Tuesday, the only question remaining is who the Penguins will face. Pittsburgh will either face Ottawa, New York Rangers or New York Islanders with the latter two being the most likely. In any case, the Penguins have nothing to play for here. Expect the third and fourth lines of the Pens to get most of the playing time here. The Penguins cannot afford any more injuries and they figure to lack motivation as well.
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The ‘Canes have nothing to play for either but unlike the Penguins, they are packing it in after this game and they have something to prove. Carolina is without question, the best team in the league to miss the playoffs. In fact, this Carolina squad led the NHL in shots on net per game. They possess a wickedly strong offense but the injury to Cam Ward early in the year left them with a major hole in net. The ‘Canes did not receive the quality goaltending it takes to make the post-season but they may not need it here, as Pittsburgh is unlikely to have its gas on the pedal here. With an offense like this one and playing an unmotivated host just looking to stay healthy, this price on the Hurricanes makes them one of the most appealing dogs of the year and we’re not about to miss it.   
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DALLAS +120 over DetroitFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. If you think the Stars are going to be pushovers tonight, you’re dead wrong. Dallas is not going to the playoffs but they have huge motivation to bring this hated rival down with them. With a chance to knock the Red Wings out of participating in the post-season for the first time in 20 years, the Stars figure to play their hearts out in an attempt to do just that. In a season with no satisfaction, Dallas will get plenty of satisfaction if they can make life miserable for the Red Wings. Added motivation also comes from the Red Wings dressing room in that some of Detroit’s players have “vowed” that missing the playoffs won't happen on their watch. That’s not the right thing to say. Detroit should have said, “Dallas is a tough team and we’re going to have to be at our best to defeat them”, or something along those lines.
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The interesting thing here is that Detroit needs just one point to secure a playoff spot so they will be playing for that one point should the game be tied late. Once the third period ends and Detroit is tied, OT will be just a formality and completely anti-climactic. Additionally, the Red Wings have put themselves in this position by losing far too many games to teams they used to beat with regularity. Against Nashville at home on Thursday in a must win situation, Detroit fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 against the league’s worst offense before rallying. Detroit also took too many penalties in that important game. That should not happen. Against Phoenix in that 4-0 win this past week, Detroit was outshot 34-22 and they also have a recent loss against Calgary. Many believe the Red Wings will seal their own fate with a win here against a beatable team. We’re not buying that for a second. Sports history is lined with teams that had to win in the final game of the regular season to make the playoffs but failed to do so because the opposition does not want to allow that to happen on “their watch”. Dallas plays like it’s the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals here.

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MEMPHIS -3½ over L.A. ClippersFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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After a heartbreaking loss at the buzzer in Game 2, the Grizzlies bounced back in a strong way at home on Thursday night. The home teams have now won all three games so far this season and this trend figures to continue in Game 4. The Grizzlies have fixed their rebounding problems that plagued them in the opening game. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 43 points and 19 rebounds and held the Clippers starting front court of Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan to just 18 points and 10 rebounds.
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The Grizzlies are one of the league’s stingiest defensive units. Marc Gasol was recently voted the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and teammate Tony Allen finished 5th in voting. While the Grizzlies big men were shutting down the Clippers front court, Allen was hounding Chris Paul into one of his worst postseason performances as a member of the Clippers. Look for Gasol, Allen, and the rest of the Grizzlies to duplicate Thursday’s strong defensive effort, as they cover the spread and even up this best-of-7 series at two games apiece. These two teams went the full seven games last season and they sure seem destined again to wind up going the full distance again. 
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HOUSTON +102 over Oklahoma CityFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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As this captivating series shifts back to Houston for Game 3, one of the key participants will be watching from the sidelines. News circulated around the league that Russell Westbrook would undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee and would miss the rest of this series. While the Thunder will still defeat the Rockets in this opening series, the Rockets will capitalize on Westbrook’s absence to steal Game 3 at home.
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The Rockets trailing by 15 points with nine minutes to go in Game 3 nearly pulled off the spectacular comeback in one of the toughest arenas in the league in OKC. Now the Rockets return home to the Toyota Center, where they compiled a 29-12 record. Former Thunder James Harden put up a spectacular line against his old team in Game 3 going for 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. With Westbrook out, the Thunder are venturing into uncharted territory without their scrappy all-star point guard, as he has never missed a game in his career. An adjustment period for the Thunder is inevitable. Therefore look for Harden, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, and the rest of the Rockets crew to take advantage of this opportunity and inch closer to evening this series in front of their home fans.
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Indiana +120 over ATLANTAFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Pacers come into this Game 3 firing on all cylinders. Indiana has dominated the first two games of this series, winning by 16 points per game behind the stellar play of the NBA’s Most Improved Player, Paul George. George’s play through the first two games has been MVP-worthy as he has averaged 25 points and 7.5 assists. The Hawks simply have no answers to contain George in this series. Kyle Korver and Deshawn Stevenson have been burned repeatedly by George through the first two games. If that wasn’t enough, The Pacers front line of 7’2 center Roy Hibbert and rugged 6’10 power forward David West has overmatched the Atlanta Hawks duo of Josh Smith and Al Horford down low.
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Even though the Hawks have shot a better percentage from the field in the first two games, there should be some regression in Game 3. The Pacers were the number one defensive team this season, only allowing opponents to shoot 42% from the field and 32.7% from 3. The Hawks have actually shot nearly 50% from the field through the first two games and 40% from 3. What does this say about the Hawks chances as they have shot exceptionally well so far in this series and still lost both games handily in Indiana? Look for the Pacers to clamp down defensively on the Hawks in Game 3 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead.

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Luis Carlos Abregu/Antonin Decarie under 9½ -120VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This 12-rounder for the vacant WBC Silver welterweight title comes to us from Argentina and it’ll be shown on HBO. The 5-1 favorite is a 29-yr.-old from Argentina, Luis Carlos “El Potro” Abregu, who is 34-1 with 28 KO’s, losing only to world champion Timothy Bradley. Abregu was recently signed by Top Rank, which makes this fight that much more important to him. 
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The underdog, Antonin Decarie, is a 30 yr.-old from Quebec, Canada, who is faced with a very daunting task indeed. Antonin has fought mainly in his home country, losing only once, five fights back to the 38-yr.-old war horse, Souleymane M’baye, a much smaller man than the one he will be up against today. Decarie scraped by to win a majority decision in his next vs. 17-5-3 Irving Garcia. The oddsmakers figure that since he has never been stopped and has only one loss on his record, that this could/should be a competitive affair that will go some rounds. However, a closer examination reveals that Decarie has faced a lower level of opposition and has little punching power, stopping only eight of his opponents. If he can’t gain Abregu’s respect, then what?! Luis Carlos has stopped 80% of his opponents and now he’s fighting with a new promoter. His entire future is on the line in front of his home crowd. Make no mistake, this favorite can hit hard and Decarie will be taking some punishment like he’s never had to absorb before. Decarie will not be able to keep the bigger, stronger and the much-heavier-hitting Argentinean off of him for 31½ minutes. That’s an awfully long way to go especially when you’re an awfully long way from home.
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Jack Culcay/Guido Nicolas Pitto under 9½ -120VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Undefeated Jack Culcay defends his WBA Intercontinental - light miiddleweight title against the Argentinean (now living in Spain), Nicolas Pitto in this 12-rounder coming to us from Hamburg, Germany. Culcay is around a 7-1 favorite but there’s some good value to be had here by playing the total. “Golden” Jack Culcay is from Ecuador, but makes his home in Germany and will want to impress the locals. He’s right in his prime at 27 and is 14-0 with 10 KO’s. All of Culcay’s last five fights have lasted 7 rounds or fewer and this one doesn’t figure to last much longer either.
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Culcay’s opponent, Guido Nicolas Pitto, is 17-1 with only 7 KO’s but looks to be in over his head this day. He’s fought a rather low-level of opposition (to put it mildly), and has only twice in his career been in a 10-round fight and has never been in a 12-rounder. In his fifth last, Pitto was down in the first round against a 9-19-1 fighter, who is now 12-23-1. Pitto managed to lose a 10-round majority decision against the 12-6-2 Mateo Damian Veron in his 3rd last. Pitto’s tune-up in March was a six-round unanimous decision against a 13-31-2, 35-yr.-old fighter who has lost 10 out of his last 11. Culcay appears to be the naturally bigger man and this one has mismatch written all over it. Welcome to Germany, Mr. Pitto and enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, if that many.
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UFC 159FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Jon Jones/Chael Sonnen under 1½ +146VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This one is for all the marbles in the light heavyweight division. Originally, it looked like Sonnen was a possible live underdog but his actions outside of the ring recently suggests his mindset or confidence isn’t where we’d like it. Sonnen has been saying things like, “If I go down, I’ll go down swinging like an American gangster” (his nickname). He sounds like a boxer talking about retirement and that’s not a good sign. Also Sonnen has been extremely respectful and complimentary to his supposed adversary/nemesis. It could be mind-games/psychology but that’s not the sense we’re getting. Rather, we see a guy almost preparing himself to lose. Chael’s the naturally smaller man and he’s no youngster any more at 36 years of age. He’s also moving up in weight to a class that he was never successful in and he’s up against a mixed martial artist that Sonnen admits is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Jon Jones is a 10-1 favorite here and he’s also around 5-1 to win inside The fight itself is around 6-1 to not go the distance so obviously a distance fight looks remote at best.
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Sonnen may go for broke fast; and it could be lights out fast, too. Jones just has too many weapons and advantages here. He could win it via brutal ground-and-pound (incl. vicious elbow strikes) or a slick submission, of which Sonnen has been the victim of many times before. Expect Jones to finish Sonnen off well inside the allotted time frame here.
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Roy Nelson/Cheick Kongo under 1½ +121VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Two heavyweights are gonna collide here and it’s highly unlikely that this fight will make it anywhere near a final bell or horn. Cheick Kongo is a perennial gate-keeper in the UFC and one could almost call him a trial horse. “Big Country” Roy Nelson is a better than a 2-1 favorite coming in but the value here lies in the way we’re going to play it. The odds of this contest not going the distance is around -240 but we’ll step in and grab the better than even money that it won’t make it past the 2:30 mark of the second round. That gives us 7½ minutes to play with and that’s not chump change in the octagon. Nelson can hit very hard and Kongo’s chin has been questionable of late. This one figures to be a violent fight with no fooling around whatsoever, as Nelson goes after this opponent right from the opening bell and probably finishes him off sometime in the first round.

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Wunderdog

Brooklyn at Chicago
Pick: Chicago -2.5

The Brooklyn Nets came out hot in game three and opened up a 17-5 lead in the first five and a half minutes. They were then stopped dead in their tracks as Chicago turned up the defensive heat and held the Nets to 59 points over the last 42 and a half minutes. The Bulls will take that lesson to heart in game four. The Bulls have won four of the six games between these teams on the season. Even though four of the six were played in Brooklyn, the oddsmakers say these teams are even, which hasn't been the case. Since scoring 60 points in the first half of the opener, Brooklyn has managed just a total of 204 points in five halves of basketball since, or an average of just 40.8 per half. The Bulls have cashed seven of their last ten vs. a winning team and have the defense to continue having success vs. this Nets team. Play on Chicago.

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Bob BalfeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Rays/White Sox Under 7FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Gavin Floyd has not gotten much run support this year and has yet to post a victory. Today he will be facing a weak hitting Rays team. Tampa will be pitching Matt Moore who is one of the best pitchers in baseball that nobody knows about. Both pitchers are strikeout machines and I think we are in for a great pitchers duel tonight. Take the Under.

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Harry Bondi

OKLAHOMA CITY (-1) over Houston

The big news out of the NBA Playoffs came yesterday when it was announced that Russell Westbrook would miss the rest of the playoffs with a torn meniscus in his right knee. The announcement quickly moved OKC from a 4-point favorite to a 1-point favorite and we think that's too much of an overreaction. We have seen this scenario play out so many times in the past in all different kinds of sports. A star player goes down, the oddsmakers and the public overreact and then everyone on the team that suffered the big loss steps up huge in the first game without said key player. That's what we see happening tonight. Kevin Durant will still be the best player on the floor and we expect him to take control of this game tonight. Remember, this is still a Rockets team that has failed to cover four in a row, six of their last eight and has given up 98 points or more in nine of their last 10 games. And Jeremy Lin is not nearly 100 percent healthy, which makes the Rockets a one-dimensional offense. The Thunder rally for Westbrook and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

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Frank JordanFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago BullsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Brooklyn NetsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Bulls were up 65-52 heading into the fourth quarter of game three, but something clicked for the Nets as they went on a run scoring 24 points and more importantly limiting the Bulls to just 14 in the fourth quarter. That comeback fell a little short, however it did give them a blue print of how to play against Chicago who had shut them down over the previous seven quarters. Look for the Nets to get back into this series and tie things up as they use this new found system to keep the Bulls on their heels to take game four. Play Brooklyn

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Jeff Scott SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago/ Brooklyn Under 178: This has been a low scoring series all season long as 6 of 7 games played have put up 182 points or less, while the 7 games have averaged 174.6 ppg. Chicago home games this year have averaged just 183.1 ppg, while the 3 games between these teams played here this year have averaged just 167.3 ppg. The Bulls really do play low scoring home games as they like to dictate pace and play strong defense. the Bulls allow just 90.5 ppg at home and they have allowed the Nets to score just 81 ppg in the 3 games played here between these teams. The Nets offesnes is struggling to score right now, having put up just 78 ppg the last 2 games and I just don't expect that to pick up vs a Bulls team that is truly locked in on the defensive end. The Net defense comes in ranked 6th in the points allowed and will be facing a Bulls offense that is 29th in the league in scoring. The Bulls will again dictate pace on offense and their defense will do the rest as this one is played in the lower 170's.   
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Indiana +2.5 over ATLANTA: The Hawks are not playing good ball right now and they can't seem to figure out this Indiana defense that is on fire. Atlanta has averaged 98 ppg on the year, but just 94 ppg in the 1st two games of this series. The Hawks do average 99.4 ppg at home, but the Pacers have allowed 91.6 ppg on just 42.9% shooting on the road. Defensively the Hawks have struggled vs the Pacers all year long, allowing 100+ points in each of the last 5 meetings and they have allowed 107 ppg in their last 5 games overall. At Home Atlanta has allowed 98.3 ppg and I see them struggling at that end in this one as well. Too much Pacer offense and way too much Pacer defense in this one for the Hawks to overcome. Atlanta has one the last 11 meetings here, but all streaks must end. Indiana takes a comanding 3-0 lead after this one.
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Oklahoma City -1.5 over HOUSTON: All the Thunder has been hearing is that the Westbrook injury gives a host of other teams a chance to win the West. Well this is the first game after the injury and I expect the Thunder to rally around their fallen player and take game 3. This is still a deep and talented team, even without Westbrook, and they will look to make a statement in this one. The Rockets defense is still bad and the thunder still have Durant. I look for Oklahoma City to take this one.

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Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis GrizzliesSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: Los Angeles ClippersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Clippers offense production was awesome in Game One, scoring 112 points on 55% shooting. But since then they have fallen in each of their next two games, scoring 93 points on 47% shooting in a close two-point win in Game Two, then 82 points on 39% shooting in a 12-point blowout loss in Game Three here in Memphis. We look for the Clippers to get back on track offensively and steal a road win tonight noting 16-7 against the spread playing with revenge this year. Clippers also played very well here in Memphis in the regular season winning outright as road underdogs twice in two chances - winning those two games by a combined 30 points and covering the spread in those games by a combined 37 points. Memphis came through in a "must win" spot in Game Three, but now suffer a letdown today.

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Teddy Covers   

LA Angels at Seattle
Play: Over

It’s certainly not hard to make the case for a Joe Blanton pitched game to go Over the total.  All four of his previous starts have produced ten combined runs or more. 

Blanton isn’t missing many bats these days, allowing a whopping 38 hits (including six homers) in just 20.2 innings of work.  His next quality start will be his first of the season.  The Angels bullpen behind him has been ‘suspect’ at best, ‘atrocious’ at worst. 

King Felix has a well-deserved reputation as an elite level hurler.  But when Hernandez faces off against the Angels, a lineup that has seen his stuff literally dozens of times, his track record is downright lousy!  Hernandez faced LA five times last year.  He notched only one quality start in those five outings, going 0-3 with a 6.25 ERA and a .313 batting average against – ugly numbers. 

The Angels lineup has come to life in recent games, pounding out 48 runs in their last nine contests, including six last night.  And Seattle’s bullpen behind Hernandez is no elite unit; quite capable of a late game meltdown should we need it!

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