Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, April 24

Red Dog Sports

Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers    
Play: Chicago White Sox +195

Max Scherzer faces Carlos Quintana in early Thursday action on getaway day. These teams are in the same division and know each other well. Quintana pitched well back in 2013 but has been average in 2014. Max Scherzer was great back in 2013 and won 10 of his last 12 home starts. I think there is value in the underdog as they do have some solid bats in the llineup and are familiar with Scherzer.

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Bryan Power

Oakland vs. Houston
Pick: Oakland

The A's were just swept - at home - by Texas.  I expect the club to have a far better go of it this weekend against another AL West foe, that being last place Houston. The winning should commence right away in Thursday's series as opener as Scott Kazmir toes the rubber. The A's are 4-0 in Kazmir's starts so far....

Oakland has already swept Houston this season, doing so just last week.  They were above a $2.00 favorite in every game, so there's some value here because this series is being contested at Minute Maid Park where the Astros are just 3-7 this season, the worst home record in all of baseball. Houston did win the first two games of its three-game set in Seattle to start the week, but lost yday on a walkoff.   The offense has scored the second fewest runs in all of baseball w/ 64 and has the lowest batting average .200.

The A's are 23-5 all-time vs. the Astros, including 18-4 as division opponents.  During that time, they are 8-1 here in Houston. Having lefty Scott Kazmir start Thursday only strengthens their case as he has a 4-0 TSR w/ a 1.65 ERA and 0.768 WHIP. Last week, he threw a season-best eight innings and allowed just three runs - two earned - against these Astros.   Houston is batting just .192 vs. southpaws so far. Oakland's offense was held scoreless on only three hits yesterday, but previously had 9+ hits in five straight games. That includes 34 in the three games vs. Astros pitching. Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer has seen the team lose all four of his starts so far.

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Strike Point Sports

Golden State (+1.5) over L.A. Clippers

This series is really starting to heat up, regardless of the 40-point waxing the Warriors took in Game 2. These two teams absolutely hate each other, and Golden State wants to show that they are not going to lie down and die in this series. The Clippers were up 30+ points late in Game 2 and still taking three-point shots. This didn’t sit well with the entire Warriors organization. Golden State is going to win this game outright and show the Clippers that they can’t behave in that sort of fashion. Teams remember when they are made fools of, and they won’t stand for it. The Oracle is one of the loudest arenas in the NBA, and it is going to take its toll on LA. Look for Golden State to return to the style of play they showcased in Game 1 and focus a bit more on the defensive end of the floor.

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Jimmy Boyd

Pacers vs. Hawks
Play:Hawks +2.5

I've really been impressed with how the Hawks have matched up with the Pacers and I look for them to take back control with a win at home tonight. I wasn't surprised at all that Atlanta lost Game 2, as they had already secured the split in Indiana. A lot of people are quickly jumping back on the Indiana bandwagon after that dominating 2nd half, but I still have a lot of concerns with this team. Even when the Pacers were playing well, they had their struggles on the road. Indiana finished the regular season a mere 21-20 on the road. Atlanta on the other hand is a much stronger team at home, which is important to note after how well they played at Indiana. The Pacers have really struggled of late against strong offense teams, as they are a mere 8-17 ATS in the second half of the season against team who average 99+ points/game. They are also just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games versus a team with a winning home record and are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a SU win by more than 10 points. Combined that forms a solid 76% (35-11) system in favor of the Hawks! .

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Bob Balfe

Boston Red Sox -105

The Yankees Bullpen is not what it once was and neither is Sabathia who once was given a ton of money really has not looked the same dating back to even last year. The Red Sox and Yankees always get together for great baseball. Boston hits well against left handers and should get the win again tonight against a superstar on the decline.

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Ian Cameron

San Jose at Los Angeles
Play: Over 5

This series is 3-0 to the Over so far and it’s not by accident. Los Angeles has been unable to keep San Jose’s speed through the neutral zone in check which normally isn’t an issue for the Kings’ historically strong defense. LA has been running around in its own zone for minutes on end in this series and that has resulted in a lot more quality scoring chances and goals. A venue shift to their home ice at the Staples Center in Game 3 didn’t change things and I’m not expecting any sort of drastically different result tonight either. The Kings have yielded 33, 40 and 40 shots on goal in the three games and have made goaltender Jonathan Quick look rather ordinary. On the flip side, Los Angeles has been drawn into playing a more up and down game and has seen its scoring chances increase with 34, 26 and 31 shots on net in the first three games. The physical nature of this series has also resulted in a penalty parade with San Jose scoring a power play goal in every game and LA netting a pair of PP goals in Game 3. This total of 5 with minimal juice has been the baseline for the majority of LA’s games this season so let’s take advantage and bet the Over.

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Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Memphis/ Oklahoma City Under 189: The teams played one high scoring game and one low scoring game at Oklahoma City, but now they are at Memphis, where the majority of their games are low scoring.A Big part of that is due to the fact that they have allowed just 96 ppg on 44.8% shooting on their home floor this year and when these teams met here back in January, the Grizzlies allowed just 87 points to the Thunder. Speaking of the Thunder, they have allowed 101.2 ppg on the road, but on just 43.9% shooting, so they can play solid defense away from home. When a series is tied it makes game three very important and that should bring about a slower paced game and more defensive intensity. This one should be rated higher but one of the Refs (David Jones) has been involved in 18 overs and 5 unders in games where the OU line is between 185 and 194.5 this year. Still I still can't see this one hitting the high 180's at all, especially on this floor.

2 UNIT PLAYS

Indiana -2.5 over ATLANTA Going with the Pacers in this game, even though they are 4-12 ATS the last 16 meetings in Atlanta. The pacers are still the more talented team in this series and if they can just cleanup the the crap between their ears and in the locker room then they will be a real threat to Miami in the East. I have to feel that a big win here to get back home court advantage, will be huge for their confidence and I thus I expect a total team effort from them in this one. Look for the Pacers to pull away late.

Golden State/ LA Clippers Under 214 Golden State home games are not all that high scoring, as their home games have averaged just 202.1 ppg on the year. in the least game the Warriors allowed the Clippers to put up 138 points on them, so you can bet they will look to put forward a much better defensive effort in this one and they do that very well on this floor where they have allowed just 97.3 ppg this year. The Clippers havn't played all that bad on defense ion the road as they have allowed just 101.9 ppg on 44.7% shooting away from home this year. I just can't see the Clippers putting up as many points as they did in the last game, especially with how how the Warriors play defense at home. This one should be play around 205 at best.

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Tony George

Atlanta +2

Whole world will be on Indiana, Atlanta is not all that tough at home but in this spot off a brutal; beat down and poor shooting, I will gladly take them here.  I doubt Indiana can match the shooting percentage on the road that they enjoyed in their last game, zig zag theory in play here, taking the Hawks.

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SPORTS WAGERS

L.A. Clippers/GOLDEN STATE Under 214

We’re always looking for over-reactions and under-reactions to previous games and we get a prime example of that here. The Clip Joint had their way with the Warriors in Game 2, blowing them out by 40 points while scoring at will on any possession they wanted to. It appeared as though the Warriors were quite satisfied with taking one of the two games in Los Angeles and failed to show up with any intensity in Game 2. The total in that game was 212½ and the total in Game 1 was 211. Now the series shifts to Golden State. Game 3 is often referred to as the pivotal game when the series is tied 1-1, meaning the deeper we get into these series, the more the intensity levels increase. We do not see a reflection of that in this total. Instead of the number coming down, it has increased and that prompts us to step in.

You won’t see L.A. hoisting up low percentage triples in a game that means so much. Instead, Doc Rivers, who knows a thing or two about big games and how important it is to make every possession count, will instill a playoff like mindset into his players. When Rivers was winning series with the Celtics, it wasn’t because of offense. Additionally, Mark Jackson’s Warriors were third in the Association in defense this year. This is a Golden State team that went under 47 times in the regular season and was one of the top five under teams in the league. The home team more often than not dictates the pace of the game and there is no way that Mark Jackson wants to get into a run and gun contest against the Clippers because his teams’ chances of winning in that style decreases significantly. The fact that this game is seeing a higher posted total than the two games played at Staples is an absolute over-reaction to that last game. Attempting to take advantage of that is the prudent play.

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Joe D'Amico

Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers

Just the facts here. Los Angeles is 58-26 SU. Golden State is 52-32. The Clippers boast an astounding 25-15-1 ATS road mark while the Warriors are 19-20-2 ATS at home. Golden State took Game 1 by 4 points but Game 2 was a shellacking by LA, as they won, 138-98. In Game 1, Blake Griffen fouled out after just 19 minutes but came back with a vengeance in Game 2 to post 35 points. Paul and Jordan have been outstanding. GS, Forward, David Lee accounted for just 11 points and 4 rebounds in Game 2 against Griffen, who didn't have foul problems. The Clippers have covered 4 of their L5 away contests while the Warriors are 4-5 ATS their L9 at home. Los Angeles is the top-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 107.9 PPG on 47.4% shooting and has the 5th best defense against FG%, yielding a mere 44.1%. The Warriors have a very athletic squad but Assists, Steals, Blocks, and TO'S all favor the Clippers here. And now that LA has found the game plan to win this series, Blake Griffen will take this game on his shoulders and get the road win and cover. The Clippers are 5-1 ATS their L6 vs. the NBA Pacific while the Warriors are 2-5 ATS their L7 against the NBA pacific.


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Jeff Alexander

Philadelphia Phillies +1.5 -135

Haren is off to a nice start but is being overvalued considering his poor track record against the Phillies.  He has a 5.09 ERA in 8 starts versus Philadelphia, and his clubs have lost seven of these.  Kendrick hasn't fared well against the Dodgers, but the Phillies have won or lost by a single run in 5 of his 9 starts against them.  Kendrick has looked good in his last 2 starts and has a tidy 2.57 ERA in a pair of road starts this season.  Additionally, Haren's clubs are 7-15 the last 3 seasons as a favorite of -150 or more.  They are 9-17 the last 3 seasons as a home favorite of -110 or higher and 5-12 during this stretch as a home favorite of -150 or more.

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Dave Price

Padres/Nationals Under 7

The Padres have been an under machine at 8-0-1 Under in their last nine games.  Looking back further, they are on a 40-14-2 Under run.  San Diego has scored three runs or fewer in seven straight games.  It is averaging just 2.3 runs per game on the road this season while batting .206.  Its offensive struggles figure to continue against Zimmermann, who is one of the most consistent starters in the game.  He has a 1.95 ERA versus the Padres.  Washington has struggled offensively at home where it is batting only .214 and averaging 3.5 runs per game.  San Diego's Stults has shaken off a rough opening start and delivered a 2.70 ERA over his last three outings.  When Zimmermann and Stults opposed each other last season, we saw a 2-1 ballgame.  Take the Under.

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Jack Jones

Yankees/Red Sox Over 8½

The books have set the bar too low in this contest between the rival New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  I look for a high-scoring affair tonight between two mediocre starting pitchers in C.C. Sabathia and Felix Doubront.

Sabathia is coming off the worst year of his career in 2013, going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.370 WHIP in 32 starts.  He hasn't been any better thus far in 2014, going 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA through four starts.  Sabathia is 10-14 with a 5.04 ERA and 1.381 WHIP in 30 career starts against Boston, including 1-2 with an 8.49 ERA in his last four starts, allowing 22 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings.

Felix Doubront is no more than a fill-in starter in this league.  He has gone 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA and 1.546 WHIP in four starts this season, including 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.713 WHIP in two home starts.  Doubront is 0-2 with a 9.42 ERA in his last three starts against the Yankees, allowing 15 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings.

Sabathia is 39-24 to the OVER In all games over the last three seasons.  The OVER is 16-6-2 in Sabathia's last 24 road starts with a total set of 7.0-8.5.  The OVER is 10-3 in Doubront's last 13 starts as a home favorite of -110 to -150.  Bet the OVER in this game Thursday.

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Jeff Fenster

Oakland A's vs. Houston Astros    
Play: Oakland A's -154

Oakland comes into this new series after getting swept at home by their rival Texas Rangers.  The A's swept these very Astros last weekend and there could be an element of 'revenge' coming from the Astros.  Add the fact that the relief pitching and bats of the A's were inconsistent and mediocre over the last 3 games and one would want to stay away.

However, Kazmir (2-0 1.65 ERA) takes the hill for the A's tonight as they try to stop the bleeding and he should be able to do that versus the anemic Astros lineup.  The A's are by far the better team and will be focused and ready for tonights game!

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Dennis Macklin

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies    
Play: Oklahoma City Thunder -1-113

Tough game to call but in the end, we're basically asking the better team to win straight up on the road. OKC has lost four of their last five visits here but that includes last year's playoff series without Russell Westbrook. The Grizz have won six of seven but have covered just two of their last seven as a dog and face a hornet's nest here. This one is likely comes down to Thunder bench play and bench play in general. OKC has gotten zero scoring from anyone other than KD and RW other than the odd basket from Serge Ibaka. The Thunder bench is 10-38 (barely 25%) for the series. The Grizz reserves were 13-23 in the win after going 9-28 in Game I. After winning Game I in this series and then getting swept last year, just gotta think the Thunder will bring their A-Game here and come away with an 8-10 point win.

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Sam Martin

Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Prediction: Oakland Athletics

While we admit Houston's Brett Oberholtzer has pitched better than his record shows, it doesn't get more lopsided than a pitcher with a perfect 4-0 team start record facing a pitcher with a 0-4 team start record, and we'll back the obvious choice of Kazmir and the A's on the road tonight in Houston.

With Oakland being the road team we are still getting decent line value, and Kazmir has been awesome in his four starts allowing just five earned runs in 27 1/3 innings of work - good for a low 1.65 ERA. This is a pitching rematch from last week in a game Oakland won 4-3 at home, and while the final score was only a difference of one run the A's finished with a 14-7 advantage in base hits, so the final score could have been far worse.

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Will Rogers

San Diego vs. Washington
Pick: Washington

By scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth, Washington was able to avoid getting swept at home by the Angels. Look for there to be a carry over in momentum as the Nationals now turn around to start a series with the always light-hitting San Diego Padres.

Here are my keys to the game:

1.  Not Scoring - You can't win games if you can't score runs and there lies the problem so far with the 2014 San Diego Padres, who have scored the fewest runs in all of baseball coming into today.  They have just 60 in 22 games, which works out to an average of 2.7/game.   Believe it or not, but lately that already weak production has gone DOWN as the offense hasn't scored more than three runs in any of the last seven contests. They scored just twice yesterday in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

2.  Jordan Zimmerman - In addition to having recent success against the Padres (1.95 ERA last 5 starts), he has allowed two earned runs or less in three of four starts this season.  He was undone by three unearned runs in his last start against St. Louis, but still has better numbers than San Diego's Eric Stults.  Zimmerman also has 13 strikeouts over his last 14 innings of work.

3.  X-Factor -   Stults has allowed a home run in each of his four starts.

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Wunderdog

Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
Pick: First Half Under 95

The Memphis Grizzlies did what they needed to do, and got the series equalizer in game two. It is all about the defense for the Grizzlies, as their offense is limited, but their game translates well in the playoffs as they are a half-court team. They have learned a lot about Oklahoma City, a team that bombed them for 116 points in the first meeting in Memphis this season. They held them to 87 points in the second meeting at home, and 56 points total in three of the four quarters. I look for them to come out on the defensive, limit possessions, and frustrate the Thunder on the offensive end. Oklahoma City has been around the playoffs long enough to know that they need to come here ready to match that intensity or they will be in trouble. Before the free throws spoil a bid for the full game UNDER, play the first half UNDER.

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LT Profits

LA Clippers vs Golden St
Pick: Under 214.5

The Los Angeles Clippers ran the Golden State Warriors off the floor in a 138-98 romp in Game 2 in what could have been a case of the Warriors already content to seize home court advantage by winning Game 1 on the road. Look for both teams to play better defense in Game 3 in what until now is the biggest game of this series. Most people do not associate these clubs with defense, but each squad would give up much fewer points if it did not prefer the fast pace that it plays. To wit, Golden State is actually third in the NBA in defensive efficiency, fourth in field goal percentage allowed and third in three-point defense, while the Clippers are seventh in defensive efficiency, fifth in field goal percentage allowed and first in three-point defense! The ‘under’ is 40-19 the Warriors’ last 59 after allowing 100 or more the previous game.

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Hollywood Sports

Sharks at Kings
Play: Over

Expect a game similar to the Sharks' 4-3 win in overtime with the Kings desperate by being down 3-0 in this series. The Over is 5-0-1 for San Jose and 4-1-1 for Los Angeles in their last 6 respective games in the Conference Quarterfinals. Additionally, while the Sharks have played 5 straight Overs versus teams with a winning record, the Kings have played 6 straight games Over the Total against teams with a winning percentage over 60%. Look for these team trends to continue tonight and take the Over.

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