Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 10

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SPORTS CHAT PLACE

Miami Heat -7

LeBron James and the Heat completely flipped the script on the series by destroying the Bulls by 115-78 in Game 2. James had 19 points and nine assists while Ray Allen led the team with 21 points off the bench but the game was all about desperation and defense and that's where the Heat absolutely dominated. Right from tipoff, the Heat played with the right level of urgency which completely had the Bulls overwhelmed. The Bulls attempted to fight back with their brand of toughness, but that just led to technical fouls and ejections which really took their focus away from the game and the Heat were able to capitalize in a flash. A 62-20 run spanning from the second quarter through the third had Game 2 over by the fourth quarter and the series level at 1-1.

As for the Bulls, the score sheet doesn't look too pretty as Nate Robinson had just 11 points and Joakim Noah added 12, but while the Bulls applied their toughness on the defensive end, all the pushing and shoving could do nothing to stop the Heat who were allowed to shoot a sizzling 60 percent from the field. The Bulls did a great job of keeping James quiet in the first half of Game 1, but no one could stop him from making his first six shots which had the Bulls playing from behind for the entire game. One person who has been capable of slowing down James is Luol Deng, but he is only listed as day to day so his availability for Game 3 is still uncertain.

In ATS trends, the Heat are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games overall and 20-6 ATS in their last 26 road games, while the Bulls are 5-2 ATS in their last seven Conference Semifinals games and 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games. Head to head, the Heat are 7-15-2 ATS in the last 24 meetings in Chicago and the under is 10-4 in the last 14 meetings.

The Bulls were absolutely run off the court in Game 2 and they know they just didn't execute the plans they had, but at the end of the day, they did their job because they were able to steal a game heading into Game 3. The focus is now on this game alone and while I'm sure we'll see a better Bulls team at home, I can't ignore how good the entire Heat team looked from top to bottom. In a hostile environment, you can expect a slower start from the Heat but I like their chances of pulling away late for a series lead.


Spurs / Warriors Over 203

Head to head, the Spurs are 1-5-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings and 5-2-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings in Golden State while the favorite is 18-6-2 ATS in the last 26 meetings. The Warriors are 9-0 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record and 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games overall. The Spurs on the other hand are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Conference Semifinals games, 1-11 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record and 7-17 ATS in their last 24 games overall.

Who else thought the Golden State Warriors didn’t stand a chance in this series, raise your hands? Well, I’m one of those people, but after watching the first two games of this series, you would have to say this is a 50/50 proposition right now. In fact, the Warriors should be considered slight favorites because they have dominated proceedings thus far and they really should be heading into tonight’s game with a 2-0 series lead. After giving away Game 1, I really thought that Golden State wouldn’t respond well, but boy was I wrong as they looked just as good, thanks in large part to Klay Thompson’s monster first half, which setup the victory for the Warriors. Now the series shifts back to Golden State where the Warriors have to be feeling confident, seeing as they went 3-0 against Denver in the opening round as they defeated the Spurs on both occasions there in the regular season.

While I don’t really like taking totals in the playoffs, I think the over is the best play on the board in this one. Yes they only totalled 191 points in Game 2, but let’s not forget that they ended regulation at 106 apiece in Game 1, and that was after the Warriors scored just 14 fourth quarter points. In their two regular season meetings in Golden State, they finished on 208 (overtime) and 222 points, respectively. Looking back to the first round, the Warriors and Denver didn’t score well in Game 6, which was understandable given what that game meant, but in Games 3 & 4 in Golden State, they both went over 215 points. As far as the Spurs are concerned, they tore apart the Lakers swish cheese defense to the tune of 120 and 103 points in their two away games in that series. You get where I’m going here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 10

SPORTS CHAT PLACE

Detroit Red Wings -126

The Ducks took a stranglehold on their quarterfinal series with the Wings by notching a huge game five victory at the Honda Centre and now have the chance to end the series with another victory in Detroit. The play of Ryan Getzlaf has been huge for Anaheim in this series and all season long as he continues to prove himself as one of the best in the league and if the Ducks can make a push through the playoffs and into the Cup finals you would think that Getzlaf would have to be considered a Conn Smythe candidate. Anaheim was one of the best teams in the league this season and that includes an impressive resume on the road so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Ducks end the series tonight but they know the Wings will be playing with nothing to lose.

Detroit was one of the best teams down the stretch and they were rewarded for their strong play by extending their playoff streak to an unprecedented 22 years but are now a loss away from being sent home early for the second straight season. The Wings will have the home crowd on their side in this one and they’ll need everything they can get if they want to keep their season alive as they know the Ducks are playing very well and are a bounce away from the second round. This series has been incredibly tight in every contest to date and I don’t see much changing here. I like the Red Wings at home to force a deciding game seven where all bets are off.


Washington Capitals -137

New York found themselves in an 0-2 hole heading home but showed great resiliency and battled back to even the score by winning back to back 4-3 contests at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers’ offense finally awakened after being silent in the first two games in Washington and they hope that their offensive prowess will continue heading to Washington who need to reassess after two tough losses. Derek Stepan has been the team’s best offensive producer this season and his knack for scoring timely goals continues as he has netted back to back game winning goals for the Blue Shirts. Stepan’s leadership will be key moving forward for the Rangers and if he can continue to build on his offensive outpour than New York could very well head home with the series lead.

The Capitals looked like world beaters in the first two contests of this series but have suffered back to back heartbreaking losses that if they had received a bounce of two the other way could already bne on to the second round. Alex Ovechkin has been ice cold the past two contests but he thrives playing in front of the Washington faithful and he is too talented to be shut out for three straight games so expect to hear his name plenty in this one. Before this series began I projected a seven game thriller where home ice would be the key to victory and I don’t see that changing at all. The home team has wonm every game so far in this series and I expect the trend to continue here as the Capitals get some revenge and take the series lead.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 10

Big Kat SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco GiantsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Take: Atlanta BravesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Atlanta Braves will look for back to back wins to start their series with the Giants when the two teams meet tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Atlanta took Game 1 on Thursday night 6-3 behind a strong pitching performance from Julio Tehran, who gave up 3 runs over 7 innings before Craig Kimbrel came in to close out the victory. Tonight Atlanta will send Tim Hudson to the hill, who has been good for the Braves this season. He has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.83 ERA this season and has gone 8-4 against the Giants with a 3.17 ERA over 17 career starts. Hudson has been better that that against San Francisco over the past two years, going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts. The Giants will counter with Matt Cain, who has really struggled out of the gate this season. He is just 1-2 with an ERA over 5.50 with his only win coming against a Dodgers team that has had trouble hitting the ball out of the infield this season. The Braves, who currently lead the NL East by two games over the Nationals, have been very good in the spot they are in here tonight against San Francisco. They are 5-1 in their last 6 games against teams from the NL West and they have been excellent when listed as an underdog on the road by the oddsmakers, going 8-3 in their last 11 contests. San Francisco, who has struggled against teams from a division other that the NL West, going 5-9 against those teams haven’t been very good in the situation they find themselves in here this evening. They are just 1-5 in their last 6 games against teams from the NL East and have lost 5 of their last 7 games against teams with a winning record when Matt Cain is on the hill. They also haven’t found any success at home when listed as a favorite, losing 6 of 8. Pair that with the fact that the Braves have posted a 7-2 record in their last 9 games at AT&T Park and we’ll take them on the road at a plus price tonight to get the win.

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Sam MartinFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Spurs at WarriorsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Warriors evened their series against the Spurs with very good offense and underrated defense, and we look for another uptempo game to be played on Golden State's home floor. The first game of this series went over the total even before overtime, and the Spurs shot just 39% from the floor as Game Two fell under the total. Spurs are too experienced to have another poor offensive showing especially when they know they need to win one of the next two games to regain home court advantage prior to Game Five. San Antonio is 19-9 Over as an underdog while Golden State's offense remains red hot and will look for an even faster pace than the two games played on the road.

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Matt FargoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle MarinersFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Oakland AthleticsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I think this is an excellent spot for Oakland to break out of its slump. The A's have lost four straight games after getting swept in Cleveland which was a huge disappointment after winning two of three games against the Yankees in New York. After a white hot start to the season, Oakland have dropped back down to .500 including a game under .500 on the road. They split their opening season series with Seattle and look to open this series with a win behind Daniel Straily. This will be his fourth start of the season and his third on the road. He tossed a quality start against the Astros while pitching a decent game against the Yankees last time out as he was two-thirds of an inning away from a quality outing. In seven starts last season, he posted a 3.89 ERA so his addition into the starting rotation is no accident. The Mariners have been a bit of a pleasant surprise this season even though they are still three games under .500 overall. They got off to a slow start and have rebounded but they are just 4-10 in their last 14 games following a win. One of the biggest surprises has been the emergence of Hisashi Iwakuma who has a 1.61 ERA and 0.76 WHIP through seven starts, six of which have been quality. He did have a solid season last year but nothing like this however I do not see it lasting here. The A's were one of the teams that he shut down but the lineup getting another look at him is an edge for the offense. Look for Oakland to open the series with a victory.

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Greg ShakerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Toronto / Boston Over 9FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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A spot starter in for the Jays with Morrow dealing with some neck stiffness and he is a Blast from the Past. Ortiz came onto the scene a while back and really never lived up to his booking. He could be for a long night tonight here at Boston where the RedSox have been stroking rightside throwers to right at 5 Runs Per 9 Innings. Both teams actually in their best hitting situation with Toronto facing the Lefty and most recently the Jays have averaged 6 per 9 verses these guys over their last 10 played. Lester has not had a great deal of success verses Toronto and part of the reason why OVER is 11-3 his last 14 starts verses them. The Boston pen continues to not get people out over their last 10 and Toronto's Pen slipping of late as well. We do have a better than average weather pattern tonight at Fenway and while this 9 is a relatively high number for an MLB game, mine is right Dead on 10.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, May 10

Sean MurphyFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Antonio vs. Golden StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Golden State -135FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The common line of thinking here is that the Spurs bounce back after suffering an "upset" loss in Game 2 at home. But was it really that big of an upset? Certainly not as big as many would lead you to believe.
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This has been a fairly evenly-matched series all season long, with the two teams splitting six meetings. The Warriors win on Wednesday night marked the first time a road team was able to pull out a victory in this matchup this season.
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You can pretty much throw the last meeting here in Oakland out the window, as the Spurs benched the majority of their key cogs in an eventual 116-106 loss back on April 15th. However, you can't discount the Warriors effort in a 107-101 overtime win over the Spurs at Oracle Arena back on February 22nd.
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Yes, David Lee was a big factor in that win, and all of the regular season meetings, in fact, and of course he's now sidelined, and unlikely to suit up again on Friday night. With that being said, the Warriors have more than adjusted to life without Lee (he's been out since their playoff-opener), and have in fact thrived in his absence.
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The Warriors home court advantage will certainly be played up by the press and every media outlet leading up to this contest, but it's warranted in my opinion. Golden State has quite simply been tough to beat here at Oracle Arena this season, going 31-13 SU, including a perfect 3-0 mark in the playoffs.
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The Spurs have held their own on the road, but haven't been the same 'road warriors' we've become accustomed to seeing in years' past. In fact, entering the playoffs, they had dropped seven straight away from home (I'll admit they had an ever-changing lineup over that stretch, but were still favored in three of those games). They did manage to beat the undermanned Lakers twice in L.A. en route to a 4-0 sweep in the opening round, but they're obviously facing a much tougher challenge in this matchup.
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I'm not going to mess with the pointspread in this spot, as the Warriors have had a knack for winning some tight games in these playoffs, with two of their three home victories coming by four points or less. The Spurs will put up a serious fight, but in the fourth quarter, I look for the Warriors to make the clutch shots, and find a way go grab their first lead of the series.

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Jack JonesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas Rangers -1½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I'm siding with the Texas Rangers on the Run Line Friday as they beat the Houston Astros by two-plus runs. They have a massive edge on the mound in this one, which will lead to a blowout victory.
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Alexi Ogando has been brilliant in his move from the bullpen to the rotation this year. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.263 WHIP through seven starts. One of those starts came against Houston on April 3rd as Ogando pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out 10 in a 4-0 Texas victory.
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Dallas Keuchel is no more than a spot starter in this league. He's getting his first start of the season tonight after struggling in the bullpen up to this point. Kuechel has posted a 4.96 ERA and 1.840 WHIP while allowing 13 runs, 9 earned, and 30 base runners over 16 1/3 innings out of the 'pen in 2013.
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Houston is 1-15 (-12.9 Units) against the money line when playing against a team with a winning record this season. It is losing in this spot 3.2 to 7.2, or by an average of 4.0 runs/game. Enough said. Bet the Rangers on the Run Line.

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Freddy WillsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago Cubs +135FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Samardzija is having a pretty consistent year so far and has even pitched well on the road posting a 3.04 ERA in 4 starts. That's rare for a young star, but I feel like he is ready to be a consistent pitcher for the rest of the year. He has an easier task today against the Nationals who are ranked 22nd in OPS vs. RHP as he has faced the Reds, Brewers, Braves and Pirates on the road this year. 3 of the 4 are in the top 15 in OPS vs. RHP and he's pitched good enough to win in all 4 games. Samardzija has a good history against hte Nationals posting a 0.83 WHIP and a 1.15 ERA which is interesting considering his weakness of giving up too many BB's. He's only walked 1 batter in those two starts and the Nationals again this year are ranked 23rd in BB's which should only help Samardzija pitch another gem tonight.
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The Cubs on the other hand will also have their hand full against Ross Detwiler who continues to pitch well. However, the Cubs are scoring 5.16 runs per 9 over their last 10 games vs. LHP and Detwiler will face a Cubs line up that has 53 AB against him and a .803 OPS. Detwiler also is 4-10 in his last 14 vs. the NL Central and has a 4.21 xFIP on the year which is more accurately displaying what his ERA should be. I think we are getting great value with the Cubs here against a Nationals team that has struggled offensively. Cubs are also fresh off a day of rest which means there bullpen should be at full strength. Cubs have only given up 4+ runs after a day off once this entire season.
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Notable Hot Starters:
Tony Cingrani (19 IP, 2-1, 0.63 WHIP, 2.84 ERA)
Shelby Miller (2-1, 18.1 IP, 1.25 WHIP, 1.96 ERA)
Alexi Ogando (1-2, 19 IP, 1.21 WHIP, 2.84 ERA)
Dylan Axelrod (0-3, 19.2 IP, 0.97 WHIP, 2.75 ERA)
Phil Hughes (3-0, 21 IP, 1.05 WHIP, 1.71 ERA)
Hisahi Iwakuma (2-1, 18 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 1.50 ERA)
Edinson Volquez (3-0, 19.1 IP, 1.14 WHIP, 2.33 ERA)
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Cold Starter Of The Day:
Today's cold starter that has the best shot at winning tonight has got to be Wandy Rodriguez and the Pirates. Though I'm not making an official MLB sports pick on this play I would think there is value with the Pirates because Rodriguez has pitched poorly recently. He has a 2.45 ERA over his last 5 starts vs. the Mets and he's backed by a better bullpen. The Mets have a .198 average at home vs. LHP and they will start Shawn Marcum who is still trying to get used to starting again.
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Notable Cold Starters:
Jon Garland (1-2, 17 IP, 1.88 WHIP, 6.35 ERA)
Wade Davis (1-2, 14.1 IP, 2.44 WHIP, 7.53 ERA)

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Dave PriceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Washington Nationals -141FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Cubs haven't yet shown they can be trusted on the road where they have dropped 58 of their last 81, including 10 of 16 this season. The Cubs have also lost 4 straight at Washington. I like Jeff Samardzija, but he isn't being done any favors by an offense that is hitting only .207 and scoring 2.7 runs per game on the road. The Cubs are 2-7 in Samardzija's last 9 road starts and 0-5 in his last 5 starts as an underdog. The Nats have won 6 of 7 and should be in good hands with Ross Detwiler on the bump. He's won both of his home starts against the Cubs, and the Nationals are 7-0 in his last 7 starts versus clubs that have a losing record. Take Washington.

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Steve JanusFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Golden State Warriors -2½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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How could you not be impressed with the way the Warriors responded in Game 2 after that horrific collapse in Game 1. They now head home for two games with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 advantage. There's clearly going to be a lot of public money on the Warriors as a small home favorite. Golden State is a perfect 8-0 ATS in the playoffs and have covered in 11 straight dating back to the regular season. They are an impressive 31-13 at home this year and have clearly looked like the better team.
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While I'm not big on backing the public, I think there's a bit of an overreaction here to the fact that Golden State is favored by a lot of the sharps. There's really not much of a difference between being a 2.5-point favorite or a 2.5-point underdog.
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There was a lot of the same sharp action against the Warriors in their first round series against the Nuggets, when they returned home after a split in Denver as a 1.5-point underdog in Game 3. You can say what you want about the Big 3 of San Antonio, the best player on the floor is Steph Curry and until he shows any signs of slowing down I'm certainly not going to bet against him.
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Golden State is 10-2 ATS in home games after playing 2 straight games as an underdog. They are also 5-0 ATS when playing on 1 days rest, while the Spurs are a miserable 3-12 ATS over their last 15 games when playing on 1 days rest.

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SPORTS WAGERSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami -7½ -102 over CHICAGOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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That was certainly quite a show that the Heat put on in Game 2. At one point, the Heat went on a 62-20 run on their way to utterly demolishing this Bulls squad. Now the series shifts back to the Windy City with the series tied at one game apiece. Unfortunately for the Bulls they will most likely be without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich for Game 3. The Heat already laid an egg in Game 1 and that woke them up. That Game 1 loss helped to remind Miami that every game must be played with intensity for 48 minutes. They got the bulletin and responded. They will not lay another egg, especially in this all-important Game 3. 
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That Game 2 win by the Heat also had some other notable elements to it. After nine technical fouls, two ejections and a whole lot of extracurricular pushing and shoving, the end results were as follows: The biggest postseason win in Heat history, the biggest postseason loss in Chicago Bulls history, and tons of fresh venom pulsing through the veins of this now-tied Eastern Conference semifinal series. Miami won 115-78, a stunning outcome for a game that was basically back-and-forth for much of the first half but it really showed what this Heat team is capable of when a fire in them is ignited. The Bulls should have let a sleeping dog lie but they didn’t. They will pay the price in Game 2, just like the paid the price in the second half of Game 1.
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GOLDEN STATE -2½ -102 over San AntonioSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Talk about value and one need not look further than these Golden State Warriors. After losing 29 straight games in San Antonio, the Warriors, fresh off a tremendous upset over the Nuggets, went into San Antonio and completely dominated both games, aside from the final four minutes in Game 1. Ultimately, the Warriors should be up 2-0 in this series. Instead of dwelling on that miraculous Game 1 loss, the Warriors came out with a “we can do this” attitude and survived a 14-2 third quarter run by the Spurs before putting them away in the fourth. Golden State is not all Steph Curry either. Klay Thompson had 29 points at halftime, including five second-quarter three-pointers, and he turned a three-point lead into a 19-point margin over 11 second-quarter minutes. His shooting swung the momentum and on top of that, Thompson defended Parker for stretches, helping limit the All-Star guard from getting the Spurs’ offense functioning at top capacity.
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The Spurs can’t focus on one guy. Too much attention to Curry and Thompson will go off. Both Andrew Bogut and Thompson can rebound as good as or better than any player on the Spurs. The Warriors have the better shooters, they have a ton of confidence and they have been unbeatable at home in these playoffs. The Spurs defeated a physically and mentally beaten down Lakers squad in the first round. They were a 9-point choice in Game 1 over the Warriors and a 7½-point choice in Game 2. They didn’t come close to covering in either game and had no business winning Game 1. The Warriors continue to be undervalued and should not be skipped over spotting a cheap price at home. The Warriors don’t need any pep talks.

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SPORTS WAGERSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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N.Y. Rangers +122 over WASHINGTONSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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OT included. We saw the Kings lose the first two games of their series in St. Louis before rallying at home and subsequently winning the pivotal game five on the road. The Rangers are in the same boat and there’s no reason they can’t duplicate L.A.’s success. The Rangers are drawing a lot more penalties than the Caps and that suggests that Washington may be a step behind. Over the past three games, the Caps have had just seven PP opportunities while the Rangers have had 13 opportunities over that same span. Killing penalties takes its toll and the Rangers are like a prize fighter that keeps jabbing to the body to set up the knockout punch later in the fight. That time has come now.
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With momentum on their side, the Rangers come into this one having scored four goals in back-to-back games. It’s also worth noting that the Capitals have a horrible history of choking in the playoffs. It’s actually quite remarkable. In 1985, 1987, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2009 and 2010, the Caps were up 2-0 or 3-1 in all those series and went on to lose. Of course, those have nothing to do with the outcome tonight but what it does is put a little more doubt in the collective minds of the Capitals. In pivotal game 5’s, the Caps are 10-20 all time, instilling even a little more doubt. The Rangers have held Alex Ovechkin scoreless in the past two games and that, too, is a notable adjustment, as they continue to limit OV’s space out there. The Rangers have outplayed the Caps in three of the four games so far. The Blue Shirts suddenly have a swagger about them that was missing for most of the year and one can just feel the Rangers taking over this series. With that, New York offers up all the value in this one, as they appear primed to deliver the proverbial knockout punch.

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ST. LOUIS -1½ +143 over ColoradoFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Rockies are slowly coming back down to earth. After a scorching start that saw them win 13 of their first 17 games, the Rockies are now just four games above .500 with just six wins in their past 17 games. Jon Garland has had four quality starts in six tries but he pitches about as well as Lindsay Lohan handles her money in Hollywood after a bender. In 36 innings, Garland has struck out 17 batters while walking 10. In other words, he pitches to contact. With a WHIP of 1.42, a line-drive rate of 30% and a xERA of 5.03, the only thing on the horizon for Garland is regression. 
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Shelby Miller has fulfilled his ace potential so far, both on the surface (1.96 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and beneath it. Miller has 38 K’s in 37 innings, 11 walks and a 45% groundball rate. With a tweak in control against LH bats, Miller could have even more upside, given his elite command vs. RH bats. This is an elite young talent that is certainly worth riding, especially with this Cardinal offense behind him against Garland.
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Philadelphia +143 over ARIZONAFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. The Phillies bullpen has a 4.27 ERA this year while the Diamondbacks pen has a nifty 2.87 ERA and it’s for that reason that we’ll play this pup in the first five innings only. Ian Kennedy has some nice skills but those skills may not be best suited for this park. This is the seventh straight season that Kennedy has a fly-ball bias profile. He has a 34%/40% GB/FB profile this season and when you throw in his 26% line-drive rate at this park, it makes him a high risk low reward proposition. With those batted ball percentages it should come as no surprise that Kennedy has one win in three starts at Chase Field with an ERA of 5.49. Kennedy’s fly-ball rate has been increasing over his past five starts to 43% and his GB rate over that same span has decreased to 33%. The Diamondbacks have won four straight but it came against the reeling Dodgers and they are just a game above .500 at home.
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Philadelphia is 8-10 both at home and on the road. They are a middle of the pack outfit that will rarely sweep anyone or rarely get swept because they have some solid starting pitching. The Phillies have recalled Tyler Cloyd from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for this start. Cloyd bears watching. In six starts with the Phils last year, obviously a small sample size, he put up some solid skills right across the board despite the 4.91 ERA.  Pay more attention to his 3o K’s in those 33 innings against just seven walks. Cloyd got off to a very slow start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley but seems to have righted the ship there in his last few starts. Notably on Saturday, Cloyd struck out 10 and walked none over eight innings against Indianapolis. Soft-tosser with great movement and excellent control was lights-out at AAA, with a 12-1 record and 2.35 ERA. He has a chance to stick around for a long time because he knows how to pitch. Cloyd offers up some tremendous profit potential so we’ll step in right away when his stock is low.
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Miami +125 over LOS ANGELESFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Unlike the Dodgers, at least the Marlins know they are losers. Miami’s projected win total for the year was the second lowest in baseball while the experts suggested that the Dodgers will contend. Keep listening to the “so-called” experts and you’ll go broke fast. These are the same folks that also said the Blue Jays and Angels could meet in the ALCS. In any event, the Dodgers have dropped seven in a row and their 111 runs scored are the second worst in the majors. Matt Magill has made two starts at this level and there are plenty of signs of trouble. He’s already walked six batters in eight innings along with 10 hits for a 2.00 WHIP. Once you cross over a 1.50 WHIP, the minor leagues are not far behind and the only reason that Magill is pitching at this level is because of numerous injuries to the Dodgers starting staff. Magill has steadily progressed through the LA system since 2008 with a 3.77 ERA and .237 opp BA in 532.2 IP over that span. He does not possess typical starter stuff, relying on a slider/change-up combo but the results worked for him in the minors and he’ll keep testing it out at this level. Magill’s fastball is below average, topping out at 91 mph. Slider is his only plus offering and he uses it quite often to miss a lot of bats but he’s also erratic with it and these major league hitters are not going to swing away like they do in the minors. It may surprise you to learn that only seven teams in the majors have struck out fewer times than these Marlins   The tell-tale sign of a successful transition to the majors will be whether or not he can get hitters to chase his slider consistently but so far the answer to that is no.
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Jose Fernandez was recalled from the minors earlier than expected. After seeing his raw stuff, maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising. He has the fifth-highest average fastball velocity in MLB at 94.7 mph and it's a pitch that has a ton of horizontal movement. All of that has added up to these impressive skills: 32 K’s and 12 walks in 31 innings and a 53% groundball rate. This kid is the real deal. Fernandez has a very athletic frame that supports his strong arsenal of pitches. He throws a plus, plus sinking FB ranging from 93-97 that can top out at 99, a plus, plus slow curveball, a late breaking slider, and a change-up that has above-average potential and showing steady improvement. The Fish won’t win many games this season but Fernandez always gives them a chance and against the reeling Dodgers, their chances increase even more.

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Bob Balfe

Giants / Braves Over 7

This is a playoff type preview with two awesome pitchers however both starters have been a little shaky this year and have given up a decent amount of home runs. Both teams hit the ball pretty well last night in the Braves 6-3 victory. Both teams left a combined 15 men on base last night. I like what I am seeing from these teams and as boring as baseball can be this early in the year this is a game worth watching. Take the Over.

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Orioles / Twins Over 8.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Jason Hammel had a surprise breakout season for the Orioles last year, delivering a 3.43 ERA over 20 starts. While he was sidelined for a big chunk of the season his strong early season start helped keep Baltimore in the race. Hammel is already 5-1 this season but his numbers are not as impressive. Hammel owns a 4.10 ERA but his xFIP is nearly a full run higher at 5.01. Hammel has also walked 11 batters over his last four starts. Hammel has allowed at least two runs in every start and he has surrendered 41 hits in 41 innings. His WHIP over his last three starts is 1.59 despite going 3-0 with strong run support and some good fortune.
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Mike Pelfrey was a bit of a gamble for the Minnesota Twins as a free agent signing this winter. Pelfrey is coming off missing almost the entire 2012 season and was not an effective pitcher in his last healthy season in 2011. The results have been mixed but mostly marginal for Pelfrey in his move the American League. Last week’s start against Cleveland was by far his best of the season and while it was encouraging Pelfrey had surrendered 19 runs in his previous four starts, spanning only 17 innings. At Target Field Pelfrey owns a 5.40 ERA with a 1.73 WHIP and he only has 14 strikeouts in 28 innings with half of those coming in his last start.
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Minnesota and Baltimore both feature bullpens that have been successful early this season but these are two offenses that have had recent success as well. In the last 10 games the Twins are scoring over 5.2 runs per game coming off a great series in Boston with 31 runs scored in taking three out of four games. Baltimore has scored 5.4 runs per game this season against right-handed pitching and that number is closer to 5.6 runs over the last 10 games with the Orioles batting .276 in those match-ups. The ‘over’ is 7-2 in the last nine Baltimore road games and Target Field has averaged nearly nine runs per game this season despite featuring the fewest home runs of any park in baseball.

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NHL Predictions

Toronto Maple Leafs +½

So far in this series we’ve taken the Leafs +170 and won that bet, and then lost our bet on the Leafs +122 on Wednesday in overtime. Tonight I come back on Toronto +0.5 in regulation getting a solid +111. For those newer bettors this means the Leafs can win outright or just force overtime to cash this wager. Toronto has been right in this series, but finds themselves in a must-win situation down 3-1. They have already won in Boston once and will need another big effort to win. Watching this series I’ve noticed that Leafs goalie James Reimer is playing better than the score may indicate. A number of the goals have been deflections or bounced off someone’s body and in the net. The moneyline in this game has the Leafs +185 but already winning one in Boston and this series being a shot off the post from 2-2 I think we have some value on Toronto. Instead of taking Toronto to win I will take the generous price with them +0.5 in regulation time.

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John Ryan

Oakland at Seattle
Prediction: Under

The simulator shows a high probability that fewer than 7 runs will be scored in this game. Oakland is 44-22 UNDER (+19.3 Units)facing a starting pitcher with good control (less than 1.75 BB's/start) over the last 2 seasons. Oakland has been slumping of late losers of four straight and six of the past eight. In this situation thjey are a solid 11-0 UNDER (+11.1 Units) in road games after having lost 6 or 7 of their last 8 games over the last 3 seasons. Both starters are in solid form, especially Hisashi Iwakuma. he has posted a 1.61 ERA with a 0.761 WHIP, allowing just 26 hits, eight walks, while striking out 42 batters spanning 44 2/3 innings of work. Oakland has a solid bullpen adn both teasm struggle to hit.

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Nelly

Miami Marlins + over Los Angeles Dodgers

Top prospect Jose Fernandez has lived up to the billing so far this season with a 3.48 ERA through six starts and a great strikeout count with 32 in 31 innings, while allowing just 12 walks. The Marlins are just 10-25 on the season but 3-3 behind Fernandez and his FIP is just 3.00, suggesting he could produce even better numbers in upcoming starts. Miami scored just one run in the last series in San Diego and the offense has been damaged by injuries and limited to begin with. Rookie Matt Magill has been far less promising than Fernandez however, allowing seven runs in eight innings in his two starts for the Dodgers. His two starts have come at Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park, two of the lowest scoring parks in MLB historically as well. Magill has allowed six walks in eight innings and he could be just what the struggling Marlins need right now to get the offense on track. The Dodgers only have three more wins than the Marlins despite a payroll that is more than four times greater. Los Angeles has now lost seven consecutive games while topping three runs scored in just two of the last 11 games. The offensive numbers are frighteningly similar for these teams despite the big name stars in the Los Angeles lineup and the complete lack of proven MLB talent in the current Miami lineup. Miami has also featured a solid bullpen this season, featuring a 2.53 ERA over the last 10 games. Compare that to a 5.25 ERA for the Dodgers over the last 10 games and knowing that Magill is very unlikely to go deep into this game with just eight career MLB innings under his belt. Backing Miami in any situation is a bit risky but the Dodgers are an undeserving favorite.

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Teddy Covers   

Atlanta at San Francisco
Play: Atlanta

The Braves are hitting significantly better than the Giants right now.  Tim Hudson is in better current form than Matt Cain.  Atlanta’s bullpen is every bit as good as that of the Giants, and they’re the fresher of the two pens following yesterday’s short outing from Ryan Vogelsong  and the Giants extra inning affair the night before.  Put it all together and we’ve got a ‘wrong team favored’ scenario in play tonight!

Atlanta has been scoring runs in bunches; 38 of them in their last six games, with previously slumping guys like Brian McCann (finally healthy), Dan Uggla and BJ Upton showing signs of life (five hits, four RBI and three runs scored last night), while Andeltron Simmons  has delivered eleven hits in the last five games as an emerging table setter.  Meanwhile, the Giants season long struggle to plate runs hasn’t changed one iota of late, held to four runs or less in eight of their last nine at home including six of seven on their current homestand.

Matt Cain is a big name, big price tag pitcher who simply isn’t living up to expectations.  The results don’t lie.  The Giants are 2-5 in Cain’s starts this year, including a 1-4 mark the five times he was the favorite!  He’s been struggling with the gopher ball, allowing nine dingers in his last five trips to the hill. Cain’s ‘swing and miss’ rate on pitches in the strike zone is way down this year – he’s just not overpowering or fooling batters on a consistent basis.

Atlanta is 5-2 with Tim Hudson on the hill this year, and he’s thrown five quality starts in his last six tries.  Hudson threw seven innings of five hit, one run ball in a 7-1 victory on his last visit to San Francisco.  That’s one of six consecutive dominant efforts in his last six tries against the Giants, dating back to the start of the 2010 season – a 1.76 ERA and .205 batting average against over 46 innings of work.  Expect more of the same tonight!

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