Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Larry Ness

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers
Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers

This is simply a play against Indiana, which has now been a 92% ATS “go-against” its last 13 away from home...

The Pacers found a way to beat the Heat Wednesday, giving them a three-game lead over Miami (two in the loss column) with the season winding down. The Pacers (52-20) have won back-to-back division championships for the first time since 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the latter season being the only time the franchise has appeared in the NBA finals. However, Indiana couldn’t avoid a season-worst fourth straight road loss at Washington on Friday, falling 91-78.

Indiana opened February with four straight wins, the last of which was a 118-113 OT victory over the Blazers on Feb 7, a non-cover which began a slide in which Indiana was 3-16-1 over a 20-game stretch. A week ago Friday’s home win and cover against Chicago made them 4-16-1 ATS the last 21 but Indiana then lost the next night 82-71 at Memphis (a season low in points) and 89-77 at Chicago on Monday. Wednesday’s win over Miami was another non-cover and then we have Friday night’s loss at Washington. The Pacers are 4-20-1 ATS their last 25 games. More importantly for this game, the Pacers are a WOEFUL 1-12 ATS on the road since Feb 9, covering only in a 112-104 OT victory at Detroit (as a five-point favorite).

This is simply a play against Indiana, which has now been a 92% ATS “go-against” its last 13 away from home (see above). That said, I will add that the sad-sack Cavs have covered their last four as a home dog, against the likes of Miami, OKC, Houston and Toronto m(won outright!). Take the points!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Will Rogers

NY Rangers vs. Edmonton
Pick: NY Rangers

It was a "tough day at the office" for "The Coach" on Saturday, but that can't take away the fact he's up $30,000 the last 4 months and $64,000 the last 11!

Here I like the Rangers to come into Edmonton and pick up the two points.  Though they lost in Calgary Friday, I still view the Blue Shirts as the much better team in this situation.

Here are my keys to the game:

1. Martin St. Louis - How is it that the man who led the NHL in points last season has not scored a single goal in 13 games, which is the span of his Rangers career?  Coach Alain Vigneault has made the decision to shuffle his lines tonight, putting St. Louis back in his more natural right wing position (had been on the left previously) and with former teammate Brad Richards.  I expect St. Louis to score tonight.

2.  Winning and Losing - Edmonton has lost 27 of 37 games this season against teams with winning records.  The Rangers have won 25 of 38 against teams with losing records.

3. X-Factor - Prior to beating Anaheim on Friday, the Oilers had lost three in a row and were outscored 16-4 in the process.  The Rangers had won five straight before losing to the Flames.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Chase Diamond

Chicago vs. Pittsburgh
Play: Pittsburgh -102

This game features the 42-18-15 Chicago at the 47-22-5 Penguins. The Penguins look to make a statement today at home and also revenge a 5-1 loss they took out in Chicago a few weeks ago. The public is all over Chicago here at a rate of 70%. I believe the Pens are the better team in this spot. Look for the Pens to make a statement here and show they are the best team in Hockey take the Penguins.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

DAVE COKIN

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES VS BROOKLYN NETS
PLAY: BROOKLYN NETS -4

Revenge is a definite factor at the college level. At that level, emotion has a tendency to mean more than at the professional level. Therefore, I generally won’t give much weight to the result of a prior meeting when analyzing the NBA.

But there are exceptions, and I believe there’s such a spot on today’s board. The previous clash between the Nets and Timberwolves was as ugly as it gets from Brooklyn’s point of view. The Nets got destroyed from the opening tip en route to lopsided 30 point loss, and it was every bit that bad.

Much has changed for the Nets since that unfortunate result. At the time, Brooklyn was getting crushed and there was lots of buzz as to whether Jason Kidd would last until Christmas as the team’s head coach. That’s all a distant memory now, as the Nets have rallied to forge a respectable record and they loom as the should win at least one round in the playoffs.

The Nets have been outstanding at home for some time, having covered 16 of their last 21 in Brooklyn. They’ve also been hard to handle when rested, as is the case tonight. As for the Timberwolves, they’re in what has been a negative situation lately. For whatever reason, this team has had a really bad time coming off a game where they put up a big offensive showing. After scoring 143 in the blowout over the Lakers on Friday, it’s a potential bounce scenario for the Wolves.

It looks to me like a game that with nothing but the numbers to work with, Brooklyn looms as a decent choice. Add in what should be a motivational edge, and I feel good about laying the very reasonable number with the Nets.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Joe Gavazzi

Chicago Bulls -5

Entering Sunday's action, all winning NBA teams are 213-148 ATS following a loss. That applies to Chicago who lost 91-74 at home to Portland on Friday night. Since making adjustments for the loss of Rose, Chicago has gone 31-16 SU. Following the All Star Break, their success has been keyed by a defense that has allowed just 91 PPG. Look for that excellence to carry over against a Boston who they have dominated in this series with a record of 12-3 ATS (80%). No problem playing these Super Surging Bulls against the Towel Tossing Celtics who enter today on slides of 11-31 SU and 1-8 SU recently. Nor is there a problem fading this home court where the Celtics are 9-16 ATS of late and 8-13 ATS as home dog on the season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Wunderdog

Indiana at Cleveland
Pick: Indiana -5

Indiana looks to maintain its edge in the race for home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating Cleveland for the 10th straight time. Cleveland hasn't reached 100 points in its last 11 games against Indiana, and has dropped 15 of 16 in the series. Cleveland is banged up, has a losing record at home, and is 4-9 ATS following a spread loss. The Pacers have limited the Cavaliers to 76 points and 35.1 percent from the floor, including 21.3 percent (10 of 47) from 3-point range while winning the three meetings this season. Making matters worse, the Cavaliers will be without Kyrie Irving for the second straight meeting. Cleveland is off a blowout loss at Brooklyn, and the Cavaliers are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games following a loss of more than 10 points. The Pacers are 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings, too. Play the Pacers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Andrew Lange 

UConn vs. Michigan St
Play: UConn +5.5

Outside of the first 10 minutes of the game in which Michigan State was averaging a ridiculous 1.45 points per possession, the Spartans had a very difficult time not only scoring on Virginia but pulling away hence the final two-point margin. UConn doesn't have UVA's defensive acumen but this team is guarding and rebounding much better than their overall season numbers show. And like UVA's x-factor of tremendous defense, UConn's Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier provide the key to keeping within striking distance of the Spartans. I also like the emphasis UConn has placed on getting to the free throw line with 70 attempts and 86% makes in its three NCAA Tournament games thus far. Michigan State has also been effective at getting to and knocking down free throws but I'm looking for aspects in which the Huskies can potentially match or outperform the favorite. Size, athleticism, offense, and defense – the Spartans have some advantages but 5.5 points more than the Huskies? Sagarin and Ken Pom both have this game less than -3 while oddsmakers and the betting markets feel present MSU is far different and better than a majority of what we witnessed during the regular season. I respect that notion, but also respect the close nature of these games and in my opinion this particular matchup.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

Harry Bondi

CHICAGO (-5) over Boston

Like the spot here for the Bulls, who come in off an embarrassing loss to Portland the other night and will get to take out their frustrations on a fading Celtics team that has lost nine of its last 10. The depth-shy C's are also in the midst of playing three games in five days and have gone just 2-7 ATS the last three years against Chicago. In the first of a home-and-home series, the Bulls come out with a focused effort and get back on track with a road win.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, March 30

MLB Predictions

Dodgers / Padres Under 6.5

The Dodgers opened the season in Australia and picked up 3-1 and 7-5 victories. Hyun-Jin Ryu will actually be making his second start of the season tonight, as he picked up the victory in the Dodgers 7-5 win. Ryu pitched brilliantly in that game going 5 innings allowing just 2 hits with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. In 2013 he was 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA, .252 OBA (opponents batting average), and 1.20 WHIP. He pitched once vs the Padres last season going 6.1 innings allowing just 1 earned run. Andrew Cashner will get the ball for the Padres season and home opener after going 10-9 with a 3.09 ERA last season. He pitched well all season with a low .233 OBA and 1.13 WHIP, but pitched even better down the stretch of the season with a 2.25 ERA in August and 0.76 ERA in September. He had 6 appearances and 3 starts vs the Dodgers last year and had a superb 1.35 ERA vs a good hitting L.A. team and held them to a .235 team batting average. Cashner also pitched much better at home last year where he was 5-4 with a low 1.95 ERA in pitcher friendly PETCO Park. The UNDER is 5-0 in these two teams last 5 meetings overall and also 5-0 in their last 5 meetings in San Diego. I'll take the UNDER at plus money on opening night.

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