Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

Jack JonesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Boston Red Sox -1.5 +102FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I look for the Boston Red Sox to beat the Minnesota Twins by two-plus runs tonight. They come into Game 1 of this series highly motivated for a victory after getting swept in Texas over the weekend to drop to 20-11 on the season.
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The biggest reason I'm backing the Red Sox on the Run Line tonight is due to the huge edge they have on the mound. Clay Buchholz is 6-0 with a miniscule 1.01 ERA and 0.963 WHIP through six starts this season. The Red Sox have won five of his six starts by 2 runs or more.
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Vance Worley has simply been atrocious for Minnesota. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.22 ERA and 1.918 WHIP through six starts this season. That includes an 0-3 record and a 10.91 ERA and 2.489 WHIP in four night starts this year.
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In his last two home starts against Minnesota, Buchholz has pitched 12 innings without allowing a single earned run. In fact, he is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three career home starts against the Twins. Bet the Red Sox on the Run Line Monday.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Golden State +700 over SAN ANTONIO SeriesSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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When considering series prices you must look for good value, and at 7-1 the Warriors provide great value t make it to the Western Conference Finals. This line should be closer to 4-1 and we feel comfortable taking the Warriors considering the little respect they have received from the oddsmakers. In the regular season, they won both of their home games against the Spurs while losing their two on the road. The key to winning this series will be winning at least one game on the Spurs home court, where the Warriors have not won in the Tim Duncan era. What people seem to be forgetting however, is that this current Warriors incarnation is only 0-2 against the Spurs on the road, rather than 0-26.as the record now stands. The Warriors employ new acquisitions in Andrew Bogut and Jarrett Jack, a rookie in Harrison Barnes, a second-year coach in Mark Jackson, a sophomore in Klay Thompson, and a big-game assassin in Steph Curry.  If Curry catches fire like he did against the Nuggets than all bets are off, and it is more than conceivable that the Warriors could steal a game in San Antonio. Curry has been the MVP of the playoffs so far with his monster performances and his play has ignited a deadly Warriors offense. Andrew Bogut will be key for the Warriors as well if they hope to advance, as the big Aussie must be able to limit Tim Duncan’s effectiveness in the post. Only a couple years ago Bogut was one of the best low –post defenders as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He showed definite signs in the first round series of getting back to that level of performance. If he does, then Bogut will certainly make life difficult for Tim Duncan down low and Tony Parker as he slashes into the lane.
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Lastly, lets not forget that San Antonio has really struggled recently in the playoffs. They lost to the Thunder last year in the WCF after leading 2-0. Before that, they were much worse, having lost in in the first round of the 2011 playoffs to the Grizzlies in six games when the Spurs were the #1 seed. In 2010, SA was swept in the second round by the Phoenix Suns and in 2009 the Spurs lost in five games in their first-round matchup with the Mavericks. Furthermore, you can’t put any weight on the Spurs easy disposal of the depleted Lakers in the first round. The Lakers would’ve been beaten in four straight by anyone, while the Warriors disposed of an elite Nuggets squad that was predicted by many to represent the West in the Finals. The Spurs, although a greatly coached team with plenty of talent, should be nowhere near a 7-1 favorite to win this series, as this team is also older and very banged up heading into this round with nagging injuries to key personnel. This line has great value in picking the Warriors, as Golden State has a much better shot at winning this series than the line suggests. With nine points to play with in Game 1, we’ll also accept the generous points and play the Warriors to cover the number in the opener as well.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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TORONTO +165 over Boston SeriesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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What a difference a game makes. After being dominated in Game 1, Randy Carlyle made some outstanding adjustments in Game 2 and the Maple Leafs played one of their best games of the season en route to a 4-2 series tying win. Matt Frattin, Ryan Hamilton and defenseman Jake Gardiner all sat out in Game 1 but all three were inserted into the lineup in Game 2 and each player made a positive impact. Carlyle also found a way to get Phil Kessel on the ice when Zdeno Chara was off and that also made a big difference. With the game being in Toronto and having the benefit of the last change, Carlyle will use that to his advantage even more.
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In Game 1, the Leafs came out strong but they quickly fell apart. In Game 2, they came out strong again but this time they fell behind 1-0. Instead of panicking, Toronto, stuck with it, they hit everything in sight and used their speed to take it to the Bruins. Game 1 now looks like more of a case of the Leafs having first game playoff jitters as oppose to the Bruins turning on a switch. That Game 2 victory by the Leafs was huge. It not only tied the series but it has instilled a belief into the Leafs that they belong here and that is an intangible that can’t be measured on the ice. Remember, the B’s lost seven of their final nine regular season games and many of them were crucial to their playoff seeding. Losing Game 2 suddenly puts some doubt in their minds. The Leafs are no longer the Bruins whipping boys. Toronto took three out of a possible four points in the final two games against Boston in the regular season and they took it to the Bruins in Game 2 after a lopsided Game 1 defeat. The Leafs are quicker, they’re more physical, they have momentum and Randy Carlyle has proven that he can outcoach Claude Julien. At +165 to win the series and with home ice now in their favor, the Maple Leafs offer up some pretty nice value and so we’ll play them to win in Game 3 and to win the series.
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Anaheim +114 over DETROITFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. We have the Red Wings in the series but after seeing the first three games, we now have our doubts and will back the team that appears ready to move on. Detroit looked lethargic in Game 1 and held on for dear life in Game 2. Returning home for Game 3 with home ice advantage in their back pockets, the Red Wings never stood a chance in a 4-0 loss. Detroit may have burned itself out with that furious late season charge that allowed them to participate in this year’s post-season. The Red Wings are looking more exhausted with each passing period while the younger and more energetic Ducks appear to be gaining steam.
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One should also not ignore the third period results in this series that further suggest the older Red Wings simply can’t match the Ducks energy levels. In the first three games of this series, Anaheim has outscored the Ducks 8-1. Perhaps most important is that Jonas Hiller is playing his best hockey in two years. The Ducks are limiting the Red Wings scoring chances to just a handful a game while creating many of their own. With a chance to put a stranglehold on this series and return home up 3-1, the Ducks figure to play their best game of the series here. We now get a tag on the more energetic team that has also been the superior team in this series and that is true value. Of course the Ducks can win here.
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St. Louis +129 over LOS ANGELESFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. No question this series has been close throughout in terms of the final scores with each game being decided by one goal and one of those going to extra time. In fact, all three of these games could’ve gone into OT. That said, the Blue Notes dominated play in Game 1 and carried most of the play in Game 3. St. Louis has outshot the Kings by a combined 97 to 79 in this series and has been the better team in at least six of the nine+ periods played so far.
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We often write about value and that certainly applies here. There is no crystal ball in the world that can predict which goaltender will come up with the bigger saves tonight, which team will spend more time in the box and which team will be better on special teams. This series is so close that it can safely be deemed as “unpredictable” and that’s why one must apply the value theory. The Blue Notes are taking back a nice tag in a game in which their chances are equally as good as the Kings and maybe even better. Sure, L.A. is at home but St. Louis has shown an enormous amount of desire to get through this first round and have created more scoring chances while being the more physical team as well. A Kings’ win here would not surprise anyone. However, all the value is on the Blue Notes and it’s for that reason they get our endorsement as the prudent choice.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

Bryan PowerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas vs. ChicagoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: TexasFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Scott Feldman starts for the first time against his former team tonight as the Chicago Cubs host the Texas Rangers.  But just to illustrate where these two franchises are right now, arguably Feldman's best start to a season ever has done little to reverse the fortunes of the miserable Cubbies while Texas is tied for the best record in baseball.  I look for the Rangers to easily take Monday's opener.
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In five starts this year, Feldman has produced an ERA of 3.34.  He is arguably coming off his best start to date, tossing a complete-game three-hitter against San Diego where he struck out 12 batter.  That was on May 1st.  The Cubs have not won since.  They were swept over the weekend here at Wrigley by Cincinnati. That three-game set dropped Chicago to 5-10 at the Friendly Confines this season and only a handful of teams own a worse overall record.  The Cubs' bullpen has been particularly brutal with eight blown saves on the year and an 8.44 ERA the last five games.
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Texas will counter Feldman with Nick Tepesch, who has also pitched well in his five starts (3.53). Though he's coming off probably his worst start to date, the difference is Tepesch has a competent offense and bullpen to back him up.  Before allowing five runs in his last start, Tepesch had allowed just six total in his previous four starts.  The Rangers' bullpen ERA is 2.73.   Offensively, the club is averaging a full five runs per game in night games while going 16-5.   Rangers roll here.

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NHL Predictions

Washington Capitals +130

The Capitals have taken a 2-0 lead in the series as they won both games at home. The first game was 3-1 on Thursday and then they won 1-0 in overtime on Saturday afternoon. Both games have been good games that really could of gone either way, but the Capitals have just been finding ways to win lately as they are now 19-7 in their last 26 games overall. The Capitals are also 8-2 in their last 10 road games and 10-2 in their last 12 games following a win. With the two losses to Washington to start the series the Rangers are just 4-10 in their last 14 vs a team with a winning record. As I said in the Game 1 write up when we took the Caps, the Rangers beat a lot of non-playoff teams down the stretch to get into the postseason. Although the Rangers have a lot of talent and were predicted by many to come out of the Eastern Conference by a lot of people before the season they have just struggled to win against good teams. Although New York is a good home team and this is almost a must win for them the Capitals will feel the same way as they would love to go up 3-0. I had this line closer to a pick’em with the Rangers slight favorites, but at +130 I think we have value on the red hot Caps to win on the road tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

CHRIS JORDAN

I didn't believe the number I saw while writing up Playoff capsules, but yes, the Spurs own an astounding 29-game win streak over the Warriors in San Antonio since 1997. But that won't scare me from taking the rather big number against the one team I think could be trouble for the other three Western Conference finalists.

Seriously, is there anyone else thinking Stephen Curry was the MVP of the first round? His 3-point prowess and rise to franchise-player status might have single-handedly willed the Warriors past an agile and physical Denver Nuggets team in six games.

And if you know his relationship with coach Mark Jackson - who has played in some of the fiercest playoff series in modern-day history - you know that's been the key in keeping this team focused.

Golden State rolls into the semis on a 6-0 ATS run in the postseason, as it covered every game versus Denver to improve to 16-5 overall dating back to the regular season. The Warriors have also covered 10 of 11 in Western Conference play and are on a perfect 5-0 road run. Meanwhile, the Spurs have failed to cover 7 of their last 10 at home and are mired in a 4-10 betting slide after a straight-up win.

I'm taking a shot here, especially since I like the Warriors to win this series in six games. No time like Game 1 to make a statement. Take the underdog.

2* GOLDEN STATE

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BRAD WILTON

Monday's comp play is the Over in the Bulls-Heat game.

Chicago has been playing them on the higher-scoring side of things of late, as their final 4 in their opening round series against Brooklyn all went Over the total. In fact, 5 of the 7 games contested in that quarterfinal series landed Over the price.

Miami went 0-2-2 Under in their opening round sweep of Milwaukee, but the Heat did average 100 points per game in that sweep, and an output like that tonight would pretty much assure Game One of heading just Over the total.

After 4 straight series Unders, these two Eastern Conference rivals closed the regular season with a pair of Overs in as many meetings.

Looking for the Bulls and Heat to land Over in the first game of the Eastern Conference semis.

3* CHICAGO-MIAMI OVER

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BRETT ATKINS

Looking for my fourth-straight free-pick winner in as many days, and tonight I'm in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, as I take a look at the total going Over the posted number.

Strangely enough, in yesterday's semis, we saw the Eastern Conference game go Over and the Western Conference game stay low. The same might take place tonight with this one going high, and the Warriors and Spurs staying low. I won't speculate in the West, cause Golden State is so explosive and is really hot, but in this game, Chicago really needs to step its game up offensively in order for it to stick with the well-rested defending champs.

The Bulls closed out their hard-fought, seven-game series with Brooklyn going over in four straight, while they've gone high in 7 of 8 games after playing on just one day's rest. And while I know Miami tends to play this division tough defensively, the Heat step into this clash on an 11-4 Over run in the conference semis.

Let's play Game 1 Over.

2* OVER Bulls/Heat

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JEFF BENTON

Your Monday freebie is the Red Sox on the Run Line this evening at Fenway Park.

Is there anything to think about here?

Minnesota starter Vance Worley has not won a game since coming over to the Twins, as the righty is 0-4 with an over 7 ERA. He has allowed 12 earned runs in his 16-plus innings on the road this season, so expect the Red Sox who had a rough weekend in Texas to get their bats cranking once again tonight behind their ace Clay Buchholz.

All Buchholz has done is race to a 6-0 mark with an ERA just over 1. He has allowed just 4 runs to score in his 30-plus innings at Fenway this season.

Minnesota is just 2-4 on their current road trip, and I see them dropping to 2-5 after Buchholz keeps the Twins at bay.

Go with Boston on the Run Line tonight.

4* BOSTON -1.5

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Sports Chat Place

Toronto Maple Leafs +114

The Bruins have dominated the Maple Leafs in recent memory as they seem to have a psychological hold on the Buds but Saturday night’s effort in Beantown perhaps lifted the curse at least temporarily. The B’s were outworked at critical points in the game resulting in a convincing win for the Maple Leafs who will be hoping to carry that momentum back home for a pivotal game three encounter. However, the Bruins are one of the most resilient teams in the league and have shown time and time again that they can rebound from adversity and while it is going to be an electric environment at the Air Canada Centre the Bruins have the talent to respond and come away with the win.

The Maple Leafs looked very strong in game two after one of their worst outings of the season in game one and playing in front of their home fans here tonight should give the Leafs a huge boost. Toronto received some timely goal scoring from their top players but perhaps no image is etched more than Phil Kessel’s breakaway goal that left fans of both teams in awe and Leafs fans are hoping that is the beginning of the floodgates opening. The line on this game makes zero sense to me as the Bruins are the favourite but these teams are much closer than people think and the Leafs are playing at home in front of what we can only describe as a raucous home crowd. While the Leafs may not win the series I really think they give it their all and I like them to build on Saturday’s win and as a result they come away with the series lead after this one. Take Toronto ML


NY Rangers -142

Washington had high expectations coming into the regular season but a see saw start and a lackluster performance from Alex Ovechkin had skeptics laughing at the thought that the Caps could miss the postseason altogether. However, a strong second half of the year that was highlighted by Ovechkin’s resurgence has the Capitals as Southeast division champions who lead the Rangers by a 2-0 mark in their best of seven quarterfinal series. The Capitals escaped from DC with two wins but now face a stiff test as they head to MSG to take on a Rangers team who will be in full blown desperation mode. The Capitals have the talent to sweep this series but the Blue Shirts will have home ice advantage for the next two and that is going to play a huge role in this series perhaps more than others.

The Rangers were a bounce or two away from leaving the Verizon Centre with two victories but instead are empty handed and now must kick things into high gear heading back home or else their season could be over prematurely. Henrik Lundqvist has done everything in his power to keep the Rangers in this series and brilliant game two effort was spoiled by Mike Green’s powerplay marker in overtime that ultimately has put the Capitals in the driver’s seat as this series moves along. However, I think the Rangers get back on track here in what should be another tight contest but I think these teams are pretty evenly matched and I projected this one to go seven at the start so I don’t see much changing. Take New York at home to get back in the series. Take New York ML

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

Wunderdog

Chicago at Miami
Pick: Miami -12

The Chicago Bulls, despite a lot of injuries to key players, went to Brooklyn and won Game Seven to advance to the second round where they will play Miami. Miami has been unstoppable over their last 42 games where they are an unbelievable 40-2. The Heat disposed of the Bucks four straight, and have had time to heal injuries, bumps, and bruises. The Bulls will once again be shorthanded, with Deng out and Hinrich a game-time decision. Hinrich may get the green light at tip-off, but he is far from 100%. I expect the Heat to take the game over in the second half as they wear down the under-manned Bulls. Play on Miami.

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Nelly

Minnesota Twins + over Boston Red Sox

Clay Buchholz will have a lot more attention on him for this start after the spitball scandal that has developed. Whether he was cheating or not en route to his red hot first month of the season, he will have to change some of his habits and tendencies on the mound now that the umpires and the Minnesota bench will have their eyes glued to him. Chances are Buchholz could have his worst start of the season if his stuff is no longer enhanced or if his rhythm is changed. Minnesota has been a capable offensive team this season even with a few major holes in the lineup. The Twins are scoring 4.2 runs per game this season and at 13-14 through a tough early season schedule Minnesota looks like they can continue to compete. Boston has been the hottest team in baseball but a weekend sweep in Texas with just four runs produced spoils some of that momentum. In six starts with the Twins Vance Worley has pitched extremely well in three of his starts and while he has had two rough outings that build his ERA up to 7.22, he is doing a lot of things right. He has a nearly 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and he has pitched much better than his 0-4 record indicates. Minnesota has also featured one of the best bullpens in baseball with a 2.56 ERA, an area where the Twins should have a big edge over the Red Sox. At home Boston is batting just .259 for the season and this is a steep line for a Red Sox team that has lost three in a row and in a series where the road team has won eight of the last 10.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday, May 6

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Oakland/ Cleveland Over 8.5:  I really expect this to be a high scoring series and it starts tonight. Jarod Parker is off to a rough start as he has a 7.36 ERA through 6 starts this year and it could get even rougher as they will face a Cleveland team that is 4th in scoring (5.07 rpg) and 3rd in hitting (.272). At home the Tribe averages 4.77 rpg and hits .260, with their home games averaging 9.85 rpg. Ubaldo Jiminez comes in off a strong outing against the Royals, but he still has a 7.13 ERA on the year and he really has pitched well in this park, as he has a 4.30 ERA in 20 career starts here. He will also have a hard time improving on his numbers this year as he will face an Oakland offense that is second in the league in scoring at 5.34 rpg. On the road the A's have hit .269 and have scored 5.87 rpg. Their road games have averaged 9.87 rpg and the Over is 12-3 in those games. Both offense should have a good night vs some weaking pitching and tat should lead to at least 10 runs in this one.

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