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Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Jimmy Boyd

Milwaukee Brewers -169

I'm taking the Brewers to continue their strong play with another easy win at home over the Cubs tonight. Milwaukee took the first game of the series 5-2 and have won two straight and 6 of their last 7 overall. Chicago on the other hand has lost three straight and find themselves in yet another offensive slump. The Cubs have had exactly 5 hits in each of their last three games.

I'll take my chances that Brewers' starter Marco Estrada will keep the Cubs' bats cold. Estrada has a strong 2.66 ERA and 1.098 WHIP over his first 4 starts and is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 1.027 WHIP over 6 career starts against the Cubs.

Chicago will send out one of their better starters in lefty Travis Wood, who despite being 1-2 has a 2.52 ERA in 4 starts. The key here is that Milwaukee has feasted off left-handed pitching. The are average 4.8 runs/game and are 4-1 on the season against southpaws.

If you are concerned about the price, Milwaukee is 52-12 in their last 64 games as a home favorite of -151 to -200. The Brewers are also 9-1 in their last 10 after scoring 5 or more runs and 15-4 in Estrada's last 19 starts versus the NL Central.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Dave Price

Colorado Rockies +114

The Rockies are rolling, and I expect them to keep right on rolling against a struggling L.A. club Saturday evening.  The Dodgers have dropped each of Paul Maholm's three starts while he's recorded an ERA of 5.87.  Two of these losses have come at home where his ERA is 8.68.  Maholm gets no break tonight as he goes up against a team that has owned him.  He has a 6.63 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Rockies, and his clubs are 0-8 in his last eight starts against them.  Colorado's Juan Nicasio is 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA through four starts.  The Rockies have won his last three starts against the Dodgers - all in L.A. - while he's given up just three earned runs in 16 1-3 innings.  Colorado is crushing the ball, batting .296 and averaging 5.5 runs per game.  The Dodgers are averaging just 4.0 runs per game while batting .241.  Take the Rockies.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Steve Janus

New York Mets -140

The Mets come into tonight's matchup riding a 3-game winning streak and have won 5 of their last 6 overall. I look for New York to add to it with an easy win at home against the Marlins. The Mets will send out Jenrry Mejia, who is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA over his first four starts. Mejia has been nearly unhittable at home, where he's 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA in two starts. New York's offense should have no problem providing him with enough run support to get the win, as the Marlins will counter with Kevin Slowly, who has a 4.15 ERA over 17 and 1/3 innings of work (1 start) in 2014. This will be Slowly's first road start of the season and he's got a 4.16 ERA on the road over the previous three seasons.

Miami is 27-71 in their last 98 games as a road underdog, 15-36 in their last 51 against a right-handed starter and 16-37 in their last 53 against the NL East. New York is 6-1 as a home favorite of -110 to -150 and a perfect 4-0 in Mejia's last 4 starts against a team with a losing record.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Alex Smart

Boston vs. Toronto
Play: Over 9

Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (0-2, 7.71 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.03)

Morrow the Blue Jays starting hurler today vs the visiting BoSox is 1-3 with a 7.99 ERA in 17 career games - nine starts - against Boston. The Blue Jays pitching staff continues to be their undoing and have allowed a total of 29 runs in 3 straight losses. Buchholz the  Red Sox starter today, just does not look to be in top form, and has allowed at least 6 runs in two of his L/4 starts. Im expecting both teams to tee off on these opposing pitchers in for this score to eclipse the set total.

Over is 11-0 in Morrows last 11 starts overall.

Over is 7-1 in Morrows last 8 starts vs. Red Sox.

Over is 6-2-1 in Buchholzs last 9 starts overall.


Alex Smart's Featured Package

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Heath Mac

Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks    
Play: Atlanta Hawks +2½

The Pacers proved that they still haven’t found their mojo by losing game three, 98-85. At this point, it’s safe to say that the Pacers could really lose this series as the top seed in the East. In the game three loss, the Pacers shot just 37.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. Although the Pacers are known as a defensive team, their last eight losses have come when they’ve failed to score 100 or more points. A bright spot for the Pacers has been Lace Stephenson, who is shooting 52 percent from the field in his last four games and scored 21 points in the game three loss. The Indiana Pacers are 39-45-1 ATS overall and 17-25 ATS on the road.

The Hawks shot only 38.4 percent from the field in the game three win, but did make 12 threes and had four of their five starters score in the double figures. Jeff Teague continues to lead the way for the Hawks, as he’s scored 64 points and dished 19 assists in the first three games of this series. Paul Millsap posted a double-double in the game three win and is shooting 41.7 percent from three in this series. The Hawks have now won eight of their last nine games when holding their opponent under 100 points. The Atlanta Hawks are 40-44-1 ATS overall and 22-19 ATS at home.

The Pacers are 6-22 ATS in their last 28 road games and 16-36-1 ATS in their last 53 games overall. The Hawks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record. The home team is 25-11-1 ATS in the last 37 meetings, while the Pacers are 1-3-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings. Indiana is 3-16 ATS in its last 19 games on the road. Indiana is 6-19 ATS in its last 25 games.

Why wouldn’t you back against the Pacers. I can’t believe we are still getting a start here on the Hawks, who have shown that they well and truly have the imploding Pacer’s measure in this series.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

River City Sharps

Tigers / Twins Over 8.5

Phil Hughes is pitching for the Twins, which means we are probably going to see some balls leave Target Field. The Twins offense has been really, really productive in day games this year as they lead the majors in runs scored during day games. They will hit Sanchez around as well, so the Over looks like the right call.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Andrew Lange 

San Diego at Washington
Play: Under 7

Two of the weaker offenses in baseball, a pitcher's park, two solid starting pitchers, and Doug Eddings behind the dish point us towards the under in this afternoon's San Diego-Washington game. The Padres have scored the fewest runs in the National League...by 14. Even on the road, it is always a fight for this team to get to three runs. In 24 games, San Diego has topped three runs only seven times and three out of 11 on the highway. Washington's Tanner Roark is nothing special but in this spacious park, if he keeps the ball down he'll deliver a quality outing. Washington's offense is much stronger but they run into Andrew Cashner who coming from the right ride is a far better matchup vs. the Nats than lefty Robbie Erlin who got smacked around yesterday. And lastly all four of Eddings’ games this year have gone under (avg. 3.5 runs per game). Last game he was behind the dish (4/22 Fernandez vs. Wood) there were 28 strikeouts! The wind is blowing out to right field but still enough factors the get this game under the total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Joe Gavazzi

Detroit -1½

Detroit has won 21/29 games against Minnesota at this site following their 10-6 victory Friday. At last the Detroit bats are booming keying a 3-1 record with 29 runs and .333 BA in their L4 games. Minnesota has faltered at home in this role posting an 18-37 home record off a loss 1 plus years. The pitching matchup is clearly in our favor. Though Sanchez is 0-2, he has a decent 3.54 ERA and 19/6 KBB L3 starts. In 6 recent starts vs. Minnesota, Sanchez has a1.72 ERA including a 1.47 ERA in 3 starts from this mound. Hughes is a dead Play Against. Before pitching 6 innings in an 8-3 victory vs. Kansas City, Hughes had a mark of 0-8 with a 6.46 ERA in 17 previous starts. This includes a 6.43 ERA this year allowing 35 BR in 21 IP. Run line players take note: in 4+ Y, 124-157 (79%) of Detroit road wins have been by 2 or more runs. All 5 Minnesota losses this season at home have come by 2 or more runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

SPORTS WAGERS

TORONTO +136 over Brooklyn

Frankly, it’s ludicrous that the Nets are favored in this series against the higher-seeded Raptors and regardless of outcome we’re absolutely going with the best of it here. Since trading Rudy Gay to the Kings in December, the Raptors are 41-22 - the best record in the Eastern Conference over that span. The breakout backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan poses all sorts of problems for opponents. Dwayne Casey's team takes care of the ball, ranking 10th in turnover percentage. Up front, big man Jonas Valanciunas can control the boards, and his late-season surge (18 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in April) suggests that he could be a scoring factor down low, too. Overall, balance is the strength of Toronto's game. The Raptors were the only team in the East to rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency.

It's been a tale of two seasons for the Nets. Entering January, the Nets were 10-21 and one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA after their offseason acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But the New Year brought new life to Brooklyn. The Nets have posted the second-best winning percentage in the East since Jan. 1 (.667, 34-17), largely on the strength of a new small-ball style, an approach that gave the Raptors fits in their most recent game. Brooklyn's experience can't be underrated. Nets players have started a combined 417 postseason games, compiling more than 17,000 playoff minutes. Pierce and Garnett each boast NBA titles, and Deron Williams and Joe Johnson understand the pressure of the NBA's largest stage as well. In a close game, Kidd knows he has players who can hit big shots. Can Casey say the same? No, he can’t but the Raps won’t be fazed by this stage. The Raps have a huge edge in depth and rebounding (Brooklyn ranked 29th in rebounding) and that’s significant in any game or series.

The Nets have been saying all the right things about their actions over the final few games of the regular season, insisting they were focused on rest, not playoff positioning. After Brooklyn lost four of its final five regular-season games to fall out of the fifth seed — and a meeting with playoff-tested Chicago — and into sixth and a matchup with inexperienced Toronto, the phrase “tanked on purpose” has been used repeatedly. No question the Raptors are aware of the Nets tanking in order to face them instead of Chicago so this is a very unique situation. You have a third seed who’s really good and you a have team that was trying to lose to get to them. That move not only isn’t wise but it’ll motivate the Raps even more.

Lastly, and we hate to bring this up but it’s an issue that must be stated. Our one big concern here is the manipulation of the NBA to get playoff matches that attract big audiences. In that respect, you can’t expect the referees to be helping out Toronto in any way. In other words, don’t expect the calls to go in Toronto’s favor. The NBA would hate to see Toronto advance because TV audiences in the US would diminish drastically. It’s for that reason we are not betting more on Toronto. We hope we’re wrong but we doubt it. Still, the value is on the Raps because they should not be a pooch with home court advantage against an inferior opponent.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

SPORTS WAGERS

Pittsburgh -103 over ST. LOUIS

Tyler Lyons jumps into the rotation for the injured Joe Kelly and makes his second start since doing so. Lyons had a pure quality start in his first outing of the year last week with seven K’s in six innings against the free-swinging Mets. In that start against New York, Lyons also walked four batters in six frames and somehow managed to escape some jams. Lyons does not have world beater stuff. He’s a replacement call-up for an injured starter, otherwise he’d still be in the minors. Lyons is and will be a career swingman/journeyman and he’s not a better option than Francisco Liriano.

Liriano is a lefty. The Cardinals are hitting .158 at home against lefties this season. Liriano has struck out 32 batters over his first 32 innings and his swinging strike rate of 18% is the highest mark of any starter with at least 10 IP. His 4.22 ERA is the result of an extremely inflated 27% hr/f. Liriano is 0-3 and that combined with his ERA makes him one of the best “buy-low” targets after the first (nearly) four weeks. This is a guy that renders lefthanders helpless and is coming off a 16-8 year in which he posted a skills supported 3.02 ERA and now he’s a dog (or pick’em) against a career minor-leaguer? That’s insulting. Invest.


Chicago +156 over MILWAUKEE

Travis Wood’s falling ERA and nice dominant/disaster start scores throughout his career are all signs of a young pitcher figuring it out. Wood just seems to get better with each passing month over his entire career. He was masterful at home against the Diamondbacks last week, striking out nine in a no-walk, seven-inning performance, while picking up the win. Last year's 4.45 xERA made experts believe his 3.11 ERA would be unsustainable this season, but Wood has thus far silenced critics with a 10.1 K’s per nine, outstanding command and a swinging strike rate of 11%. Wood has now struck out 28 batters in his 25 innings so far while walking just four. It may also surprise you to learn that the Brewers are batting a measly .173 at home against lefties and Wood is a southpaw.

We were backing Marco Estrada as soon as the season started, suggesting he was an under the radar pitcher and he rewarded us with a couple of nice wins as a pup. Well, the value on Estrada is now gone and that makes us sellers at this price. Estrada has put up some nice numbers in four starts (24 IP – 6BB -19K - 2.66 ERA - 1.10 WHIP) but he’s also been the beneficiary of unsustainable hit and strand rates. In fact, Estrada’s hit rate/strand rate combination of 26%/83% is one of the top five most fortunate profiles in baseball over the first four starts. Estrada’s xERA is 3.98, which almost 1½-runs higher than his actual ERA. This high tag on Estrada with regression in his ERA inevitable makes the Cubbies a very worthy pooch.


Colorado +112 over LOS ANGELES

In 23 innings, Juan Nicasio has struck out 20 and walked just five. He also has a strong 49%/21%/30% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile and that’s after pitching three of his first four starts at Coors. When you see Nicasio’s 4.30 ERA it may not look appealing but when look at his xERA of 3.38 after pitching three of four games at Coors, you begin to understand how tough he’s really been. However, this wager isn’t about backing Nicasio as much as it is fading Paul Maholm.

A July wrist injury launched Maholm’s second half slide slide last year, shelving him for a month. September elbow soreness didn't help. That 2H hr/f and accompanying loss of command drove ERA way up. Better health could yield better numbers, but Maholm’s strikeout rate and control are walking a fine line that screams out to avoid. You would have to go deep into the archives to find a pitcher that’s more overvalued than Maholm is right now. In 18 innings so far, Maholm has walked eight and struck out six. His swinging strike rate of 4% is the lowest in the majors of any starter or reliever. Maholm’s 5.60 ERA and 1.70 WHIP are completely legitimate because his under the hood stats say so. This is one baseball game and anything can happen but in terms of value, Maholm is a must fade because he’s that bad.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

SPORTS WAGERS

Minnesota +113 over COLORADO Series

Instead of playing the Wild in tonight’s game, we’re going to play them in the series because should they lose tonight, they'll be back here for a game 7 after defeating them again at home in Game 6.  We don’t expect the Wild to lose, we expect them to win here and subsequently finish them off in Minnesota. You see, Minnesota has been the better team in this series by a wide, wide margin. They should have won game 1 and they absolutely made the Avalanche look like a second rate team in both games in Minnesota. The Wild are playing outstanding defense. Their offense, which was considered to be their weak link, is beginning to thrive and peak at the right time. Minnesota has created three times as many scoring chances than the Avs in this series.

Yeah, the Avalanche have the big names that are getting all the press, like Nathan McKinnnon, Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog but Minnesota has a group of forwards like Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson, Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu that are playing as good as any group of forwards in this year’s playoffs. More importantly, the Wild defense that features Ryan Suter playing 30 minutes a contest is so vastly superior to the Avs defense that’s it’s almost not fair. When Matt Cooke took out Tyson Barrie he also took away the Avs chances of winning this series because Barrie may be Colorado's most important player. Minnesota has outshot and out-chanced Colorado in every game of this series. In Minnesota, the Wild outshot them by a combined 78-34. Minnesota’s confidence is soaring and they are also on the verge of scoring a whole lot more. Bet this with confidence because Minnesota is coming on too strongly for the Avs to withstand.


Columbus +156 over PITTSBURGH

OT included. These two teams could play 100 games over the next 200 days and each team would likely win about half of them; that’s how close this series has been. One could argue that the Jackets have been the better team and one could argue that Pittsburgh has. Either argument has validity. That said, the longer the series goes, the better it is for the team that was not expected to win. The longer the series, the more doubt sets in for the favorite. Marc Andre Fleury cannot escape the ghosts of his pasts. The Jackets are deeper and had it not been for a couple of 4-6 minutes windows in which Pittsburgh scored a bunch of times in two games, the Jackets would be up 3-1 in this series. The Jackets have to stay out of the box and avoid any back-to-back-to-back quick strikes and they’ll have as good a shot of winning here as the Penguins.

Look, nobody can predict the outcome of these games at a high percentage. Every game is a complete tossup with any outcome possible. With that, we MUST stick to playing the value. Win or lose here, it does not matter because all the value is on the pup and as a result, we are absolutely going with the best of it. Nothing more needs to be said.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Don Best Consensus

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Pick: Milwaukee Brewers

We gave out MLB's hottest team the (17-6) Milwaukee Brewers on Friday and they rolled to a 5-2 win. Today the Cubs send out Travis Wood to face Marco Estrada. The Brew Crew feel good about the sweep in this series as the Cubs are 5-23 in the last 28 meetings in Milwaukee. Take the Brewers at home, sit back with a Miller High Life and enjoy the profits!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Tony George

Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks    
Play: Atlanta Hawks +2.5

I love the Hawks in this series and although they had a setback in Game 2 they bounced back huge in Game 3 and blew out the Pacers who continue to struggle offensively.  Interesting the line was +2 in the Hawks favor in game 3, and they won by 13 points and the line opened at 2 and it climbing.  No adjustment by Oddsmakers or very little to say the least and I feel the wrong team is favored again, as I had Atlanta as a premium play in game 3, an easy winner.

Interesting trends around this game which is a must win for the Pacers, as they are 3-23 ATS their last 26 games with 1 days rest.  Conversely the Hawks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on 1 days rest!  Add in the fact the Pacers are just 3-10 ATS their last 13 games in Atlanta, and back on their heels here, have me looking at a home dog who quite frankly right now is the better team in this series as I personally took them to win this series on the futures bets.  The lack of a line move tells me Oddsmakers are convinced the Pacers are better, and I disagree, especially after watching their fall from grace the past 6 weeks of this season. 

One key to the demise of Indiana is the play of Hibbert who has went 7 for 25 from the floor in the first 3 games, and the vaunted defense of the Pacers is being outshined by Atlanta's and Indiana outside of George has no huge scoring threat.  Hawks strike again, I am taking the Live Dog.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Jeff Alexander

Texas Rangers +1½- 133

Bottom Line: A Seattle club that has lost 10 of its last 13 is getting too much respect from oddsmakers.  The Rangers have won 8 of their last 10, and they have given Seattle ace Felix Hernandez all kinds of problems.  The Mariners are 5-12 in his last 17 starts against the Rangers, including 1-5 in his last 6 and 0-3 in his last 3.  He has given up an average of 6.0 runs while losing his last 3 home starts versus Texas.  The Mariners are 2-11 in Hernandez's last 13 home starts versus a team with a winning record, 0-4 in their last 4 games as a favorite of -151 to -200 and 1-5 in their last 6 games as a home favorite of -151 to -200.  Colby Lewis has a respectable 3.37 ERA in 15 starts versus the Mariners and has won his last 2 starts in Seattle.  The Rangers are 6-2 in the last 8 meetings overall.  They have an excellent opportunity to cover this run line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Dennis Macklin

Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats    
Play: Miami Heat -4½

Miami has won 17 straight in the series, covering nine of the last twelve. The Bobcat franchise has never won a playoff game and that doesn't figure to change here but .... will the Heat cover this more than reasonable number or is Sin City telling us something ??? Having watched both games, IMHO, the Heat could have named the score in both games and was satisfied getting out of Dodge with a win. The Bobcats can play with the Heat with Al Jefferson in the lineup but he's been the Cats best player. Miami is killing the homies from the perimeter and off the pine. The Heat are getting great looks in knocking down 20 of 46 treys and the Miami Bench is +128 to Charlotte's -98. Things couldn't be breaking any better for a Heat three-peat and figure to get plenty of rest with a sweep here. Add in the "hard" foul at the end of Game II and you'll have a Miami team that figures to take care of business. Miami 101-83.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Freddy Wills

Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks    
Play: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have outplayed the Pacers in 10 of the 12 quarters in this series and it seems like the Pacers are on the verge of collapsing.  There is just far too much team turmoil at this point and I don't think they can recover on 1 days rest this team just seems exhausted and they are 3-23 ATS in their last 26 on 1 days rest.  Meanwhile the Hawks have seen a star develop in Jeff Teague who the Pacers really have no answer for.  He scored 11 of his 22 points int he last 5 minutes of game 3 and is the catalyst for this spread offense that has given the Pacers defense so many issues.  At this point the Pacers don't have the advantage in the paint either as Roy Hibbert has shrunk and is basically being benched in favor of Louis Scola.  Hibbert's rebounding just 4.7 per game int he series with 6 ppg.  The Hawks combination of Elton Brand and Paul Millsap has by far outplayed the Pacers interior and I think it will lead to them taking a 3-1 advantage in the series.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Brad Wilton

The #1 seed in the Eastern Conference squared their series earlier this week at home with a second half rout of Atlanta, but things didn't go so well on Thursday night when the Hawks held down the Pacers in their 13 point home win over Indy.
Indiana may own the better record, and they may own the better talent, but right now they are lost at sea, and right now their mental state is very fragile.

The Hawks are at home once again for this one, and the Hawks have not only covered their last 4 home games, but they have gone 6-2 straight up their last 8 games, and also sport a 3-1-1 spread mark the last 5 times they have faced the Pacers.

Something is definitely wrong with Indiana, and I think they are going down one more time here on early Saturday afternoon.

1* ATLANTA

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Craig Davis

Your free play of the day is on the San Antonio Spurs. Third time's a charm, right?

I've been wrong on the first two games of this series, but the way the road teams are playing in these playoffs so far, the Spurs clearly have a chance to win and cover.

Shoot, they dominated the Dallas Mavericks this season, winning all four games by an average of more than 10 points per game, including two in Dallas. Somehow, however, the Mavericks have outplayed the Spurs in the first two games of this series and honestly should probably be up two games to none heading back to Dallas tonight.

The biggest reason I see the Spurs bouncing back tonight is how disciplined they really are. 20+ turnovers is NOT like a Pop team. Duncan and Parker combining for less than 25 points is NOT like them. I don't believe these two things will happen again in Game 3 and that's not going to be a good thing for the Dallas Mavericks.

While I do expect the Mavs to be competitive, in the end the veteran leaders of the Spurs will turn it up a notch on defense, keeping Dallas's offense in check and forcing them under 100 points for the second time in this series.

Take San Antonio as your free play of the day.

4* SAN ANTONIO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is the Miami Heat.

The extra days off in the series schedule of this Miami-Charlotte series has given the edge to Miami (as if they need any more advantages), as D-Wade has used that rest to his and his team's advantage.

I would like to say the extra days off will help Charlotte big man Al Jefferson work through his plantar fasciitis, but that is not the type of injury that an extra day heals up. So with Jefferson compromised, a big advantage for the Bobcats gets taken away.

I think you have to go with the road favorite here, as Miami's win streak over Charlotte is now won 18 in a row straight up versus the Bobcats, and they have covered 3 of 4 and 6 of the last 8 in this series.

Miami is on a 4-0 against the spread run the past 4 meetings in Charlotte.

Even though the Bobcats stayed inside of the number on Wednesday, but I am just having a hard time going against the Heat with this number being right around 3 baskets.

Heat are the two-time defending champions for a reason, and tonight you will find out just why.

Lay the points with Miami.

4* MIAMI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, April 26

Chris Jordan

My free play for tonight is in the NBA, as I'm still baffled as to why the point spread still favors the Oklahoma City Thunder. I know the oddsmakers can't get them all right, but one week into the postseason, you'd think they'd learn.

I think Memphis takes a commanding 3-1 lead tonight, as it's right where it wants to be after securing homecourt advantage back in OKC. The Grizzlies finished the regular season by winning a franchise-record 14 straight games at home. The run is up to 15 after the Game 3 win.

The momentum is clearly in their favor, too, as the Grizzlies returned to Graceland after knotting up the series by winning 111-105 in overtime in Oklahoma City last Monday.

The Thunder's 25-16 road mark was the NBA's second-best road record in the regular season, but this is the playoffs, and that kind of stuff doesn't necessarily come into play when you're facing the same opponent in a seven-game series. Memphis was 5-2 at home last year in the playoffs.

I'm taking a shot with the home pup in this one, as I think Memphis will come out firing and will look to put the Thunder on the brink of elimination.

2* MEMPHIS

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