Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 13

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 13

LT Profits

Clippers vs Thunder
Pick: Under 213

The Los Angeles Clippers overcame a 16-point deficit with nine minutes left to rally for the 101-99 win in Game 4 vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, evening up the series 2-2. Besides the miraculous comeback, Game 4 was also notable because the 200 points scored were the lowest of any game this series so far where the ‘overs’ and ‘unders’ are split 2-2. We are looking for another ‘under’ in this pivotal Game 5 with so much at stake at this inflated total. Both of these teams can play defense as the Thunder finished third in the NBA during the season in field goal percentage allowed and fifth defensive efficiency, while the Clippers were fifth in field goal percentage allowed and seventh in defensive efficiency. Expect at least one of these teams to slow the pace a tad tonight. The ‘under’ is 6-3 in the Clippers’ last nine post-season road games.

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Sam Martin

Miami Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

This price is a bit too high for us to release the Dodgers as a premium selection, however we still do believe there is very good line value in back the Dodgers at home and fading Miami in a horrible motivation spot after learning the fate of ace starter Fernandez.

Miami is already in a free-fall of sorts losing four games in a row and send out Turner tonight who was shelled by these Dodgers to the tune of six runs on nine hits in just four innings (Dodgers won 9-7). Dodgers starter Beckett somehow has a 1-5 team start record despite owning an ERA south of three, and that record is highly misleading. Dodgers better on offense, pitching, and now motivation following the big news of yesterday.

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Will Rogers

Texas vs. Houston
Pick: Texas

The Rangers had no problems beating the Astros yesterday and it should be more of the same today. Here are my keys to the game:

1. Horrible Houston - You don't REALLY need a reason to go against the Astros, do you?   In addition to having the fewest wins of any team in baseball, they also have the worst run differential.  Currently, they are on pace to win just 47 games, and that's after losing 100-plus times each of the previous three seasons.  Once again, this is clearly MLB's worst team and Texas should benefit from getting to play them so many times.

2.  Matt Harrison - Houston is just 4-9 against left-handed starters and is averaging just 3.5 runs/game in those 13 contests.  They have a .225 team batting average as well.  Harrison has pitched well in three starts, despite the Rangers losing twice, posting a 2.87 earned run average. He didn't allow any runs in his last start and that was against Colorado, MLB's best offense.

3. X-Factor -  These teams have now played four times in 2014.  Three of them have seen the Astros get shutout.

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Ben Burns

Miami Marlins vs. Los Angeles Dodgers    
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers -155

I won with the Dodgers yesterday and I believe they've got an excellent shot at another win here.

While Beckett hasn't earned a victory since way back in 2012, he's been pitching very well this season. He's allowed two earned runs or less in four of his six starts and has a 2.80 ERA. That number dips to 2.66 here at home, where he's also got a stingy 0.887 WHIP. 

After another strong outing last time out, Don Mattingly said this of Beckett: "It's encouraging for us that, except for one pitch, he was just about flawless. He's shown he's still got enough fastball to keep hitters honest. It's disappointing we can't get him a win. He's pitched well pretty much every time out. He can only do so much."

An interesting side-note: With Beckett winless in 14 starts, note that the last Dodger pitcher to go winless in 15 straight starts was Fernando Valenzuela.

As I've pointed out a number of times, the Marlins aren't the same team away from Miami. With yesterday's loss, their fourth straight overall, they're now 3-14 on the road. Knowing they may be without Jose Fernandez for a long time doesn't figure to help their morale either.

Although he fared well at pitcher-friendly Petco Park last time out, Turner still has an ugly 6.75 ERA and 1.687 WHIP. 

It should be noted that the Dodgers already rocked Turner 10 days ago and that he has a 9.00 ERA and 2.788 WHIP in two starts against them.

While Beckett is backed by an LA bullpen which has a 3.37 ERA and 1.181 WHIP here at home, Turner is supported by a Miami pen which has an atrocious 5.56 ERA (1.60 WHIP) on the road.

Throw in the fact that the Marlins hit only .214 and average 2.8 runs on the road and all signs point to Beckett finally breaking through with a "W." Consider LA.

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Scott Spreitzer

Nationals vs. Diamondbacks
Play: Under 8

I'm recommending a play on the Under between the Nationals & D-backs on Tuesday.  Stephen Strasburg owned a hefty 6 ERA after his first four starts, but he has shaved off nearly 3 1/2 runs since then.  He's pitching well with a strong K/BB ratio and the right-hander has owned the Diamondbacks in his last three starts against them.  Arizona has not been able to score runs at home and that explains their horrible home mark.  Bronson Arroyo should be able to keep them in it, despite a lack of run scoring.  Arroyo has pitched quite well in his last three starts and we expect more of the same tonight.  The Nats are on a 7-1 run to the Under when Strasburg is laying up to -150.  I expect more of the same.  I'm recommending a play on the Under between the Nationals & Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

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Tony George

Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers    
Play: Indiana Pacers -5½

The Key to beating Washington is to figure out John Wall, and they have!  Indiana was a big play of mine on Sunday as a Premium Play, and the reasons are simple and two fold.  Hibbert has emerged from the ashes, and the Pacers are playing the best ball of the playoffs right here, right now, especially on defense allowing just 83 ppg their last 5.

Laying points in the Playoffs has been doom for bettors, but the Pacers are brim full of confidence on their home floor tonight with a game that puts this series away and the vaunted Washington offense has struggled and the Pacers are playing defense like they did early in the year.  This line opened at 5.5 and has now dropped across the board in Vegas today at Noon EST to 5.  This is the first 3 game win streak since March for the Pacers and I think they can play good enough defense at home to put away a feisty Wizards team whose time has come and gone and the Pacers are playing like a top seed that we all saw the majority of the season.

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Jeff Alexander

Seattle Mariners +101

The Rays have dropped 6 of 7 and will have their work cut out for themselves with a struggling David Price on the mound versus a red-hot Seattle club.  The Mariners have won 11 of 15, and I like their chances of getting to Price, who has a 4.53 ERA on the season and a 5.50 ERA over his last three starts.  Iwakuma is coming off a gem in his first home start of the season, and the performance comes as no surprise as he's given up no runs in 4 of his last 5 starts.  The Mariners are 18-7 in Iwakuma's last 25 home starts and 14-5 in his last 19 starts versus a team with a losing record.  Also, the Rays have dropped 5 of their last 6 in Seattle.

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Dave Price

Washington Nationals -132

The Nats are showing value at this price with Strasburg on the bump versus an Arizona club that has dropped 14 of 17 this season at Chase Field.  The ace right-hander has been downright nasty of late.  The Nats have won his last four starts, and he's posted an ERA of 0.89 over his last three.  Going back to last season, they are 13-3 in his last 16 starts and 5-0 in his last five starts when he's working on five days' rest.  Arroyo has been just as nasty as Strasburg of late, but the way he's pitched at home is a big concern. The D-backs are 0-3 in his three home starts, during which he's compiled an 8.36 ERA.  His clubs are 0-6 in his last six home starts and 4-9 in his last 13 starts overall.  Washington has won nine of the last 12 meetings overall and six of the last eight in Arizona.

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Jack Jones

Boston Red Sox -102

Great value here with the defending champion Boston Red Sox, who are actually an underdog to the Minnesota Twins (-107) tonight in Game 1 of this series.  The Twins have no business being the favorite in this contest.

That's especially the case with Ricky Nolasco on the mound for Minnesota.  The right-hander has gone 2-3 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.545 WHIP over seven starts this season, allowing 28 earned runs and 58 hits over 44 2/3 innings.

Nolasco has not fared well against the Red Sox, either.  He is 2-2 with a 5.24 ERA in four career starts against them.  Sure, Felix Doubront hasn't been anything special this year for Boston.  However, this play is more of a fade of Nolasco, and a play on the Red Sox offense over the Twins offense.

Minnesota is 12-37 (-23.4 Units) against the money line in home games vs. a good bullpen whose ERA is 3.75 or better over the last two seasons.  The Red Sox are 6-1 in Doubront's last seven road starts.  The Twins are 19-55 in their last 74 home games vs. a team with a winning record.  Boston is 6-0 in its last six meetings in Minnesota.  Bet the Red Sox Tuesday.

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Steve Janus

Seattle Mariners +106

Tampa Bay has lost 6 of their last 7 games overall, while Seattle has won 8 of their last 11. The only reason the Rays are favored on the road is because they will be starting David Price, but he's just 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA over his first 8 starts. Not only has Price been off his game, but he faces a Seattle team that is 11-5 this season against left-handed starters.

It's not like the Mariners aren't sending out a quality starter. Seattle gives the ball to Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 0.750 WHIP. Iwakuma was brilliant in his last start, allowing just 4 hits over 8 shutout innings at home against the Royals. Iwakuma is 12-3 in his last 15 home starts with a money line of -125 to +125 and 21-12 in his last 33 starts in night games. BET THE MARINERS +106!

System - Road teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (TAMPA BAY) - poor offensive team - scoring <=4.7 runs/game on the season (AL), after allowing 10 runs or more are just 86-149 (36.6%) against the money line since 1997!

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Jeff Fenster

Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers    
Play: Indiana Pacers -218

The Pacers look to win the series tonight versus the Wizards who have dropped 3 straight.  Originally the Pacers looked off but have come storming back behind the inspired play of Roy Hibbert.  His teammates called him out and he has come back to be the dominant man in the middle the Pacers expected and need to win.  The JFEN System has the Pacers chances of closing this out tonight at 73% and we are jumping all in on this.  No reason to lay the points and lose money on the Pacers victory.  Bet with confidence as the Wizards know they are done and outmatched in this series.   The Pacers are focusing on one game at a time and the Pacers ML is my free play of the day

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Joe Gavazzi

St. Louis -1½ +100

After playing 26/38 games on the road, St. Louis returned from their Sunday night ESPN late inning victory vs. the Pirates to embark upon a schedule that will see them play 19/22 games at home.  They were rudely greeted by the rival Cubs in an embarrassing 17-5 home field bashing.  That sets up an unusually strong situation tonight.  As in recent seasons, the Cubs have trouble stringing together victories.  Chicago is 3-8 following a win this year, including 0-3 away.  Dating to the beginning of 2013, St. Louis is 58-26 following a loss, including 13-6 TY.  At home, those numbers are 20-8 (since 2013) and 5-2 TY.  Combined with this pitching matchup, it is a Top Play.  At first glance, the 2.89 ERA for Arrieta would appear to be a positive.  A closer inspection sees that in his most recent outing, a 12-5 Cubs’ win vs. CWS, Arrieta lasted just 4 IP, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits.  That is more like the pitcher, who in 80 career MLB appearances, has a 5.18 ERA.  Wainwright is rock solid again this year with a 6-2 record, 2.02 ERA, and 52/14 KBB.  Run line players take note, Wainwright’s last 5 team victories have all come by 2 or more runs.  In addition, since the start of last season, 50/61(82%), including 6/7 TY, St. Louis’ home wins have come by 2 or more runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 13

Jeff Clement

New York Mets vs. New York Yankees
Play: New York Yankees -135

The Mets are 2-6 last 8 road games and 1-4 last 5 Wheeler starts. The Yankees are 9-3 last 12 Inter League Games as a favorite of -110 to -150 and 5-2 last 7 Nuno starts.

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SPORTS WAGERS

San Diego +104 over CINCINNATI

The Padres are dead last in many offensive categories both at home and on the road. The good news is that we are just six weeks into the season and a slow start can really make your numbers look bad. The Padres bats are looking much better lately with 24 runs scored at home over their past three games. In back-to-back games on May 4 and 5, San Diego combined to score 10 times, also at pitcher friendly Petco. Over their last five games, the Padres are batting .290. After 10 straight at Petco, San Diego’s bats are ready to hit the road to face Mike Leake. Leake is certainly reliable but he’s never going to be dominating. This is a low-risk skill set but one without much upside. A steady dose of groundballs and strong control provide a nice floor but a continuous low strikeout rate puts a damper on any further growth for now. Leake seems to be carving out a role as a reliable soft-tosser, but don't expect seasons like 2013 without further skill growth. As it stands now, consider Leake a starter with a groundball and control combination that should continue to net him ERAs in the 3.50 to 4.00 range.

Andrew Cashner has always carried the reputation of big man, big fastball and big injury risk. He mostly exorcized the health demons while making the transition to full-time starter in 2013 and he was almost untouchable in September. In eight games this year covering 50 innings, Cashner has walked 16 and struck out 41. He has an elite groundball rate of 56% and his ERA of 2.86 comes with full skills support. Cashner's 6'6" frame and mid-90s heat have made him a perennial breakout candidate—and until last year a frequent disappointment. By all accounts the shoulder trouble that forced him to miss 2011 is behind him. And while it's too soon to say a Cy Young is imminent, if he can whittle his control rate a little and nudge K rate a bit higher, there's still potential for the 27-year-old to become even more dominant than he is now. Invest in Cashner against a Cincinnati batting lineup that scares nobody.


Detroit +101 over BALTIMORE

Drew Smyly has made only one road start this season and it was a dominant one. The combination of that and the Orioles struggles hitting at home are driving up Smyly’s value for this game. In 15 home games this season, the Orioles are averaging just 3.2 runs per game, while hitting .242 with a .642 OPS. Smyly has never made a start versus the Orioles, yet did shut them out for three innings in an appearance on April 4. Current Orioles have just four hits in 28 career AB’s (.143) versus Smyly. This kid is getting progressively better with each start and is a far better option taking back a small tag than Ubaldo Jimenez is spotting one.

On Aug 22 of last year, Ubaldo Jimenez was 9-7 with a 4.00 ERA. He then knocked out eight straight dominant starts with a 71/10 K/BB ratio, insisting he did so by finally reconciling his velocity drop and adopting a new pitch mix. Long-inconsistent mechanics call into question whether he can bring these gains back this year and so far the answer is no. Jimenez has made seven starts and only one has been of the pure quality variety. He has 34 K’s in 40 innings but he’s also walked 20 over that span to see his WHIP climb to a troubling 1.58. While the 2013 finish is intriguing, the move to Camden Yards (+29% LH HR, +16% RH HR) could be an issue for Jimenez, especially if hr/f trends high as it did in 2012 and the first half of 2013. It will take much better control and plenty of ground balls for Jimenez to be a solid investment in 2014 and so far he has shown none of that.


N.Y. Mets +125 over N.Y. YANKEES

The Mets fell behind the Yanks last night on a few occasions but kept rallying back and finally won it after a three-run eighth inning. The Mets figure to put up another crooked number here against Vidal Nuno. Nuno has been whacked in both his starts at Yankee Stadium this season. In 21.1 career innings there, Nuno has a 6.75 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and a 38% line-drive rate. Vidal Nuno is a short, soft-tossing lefty with a heavy fly-ball bias profile. That's a bad recipe for a pitcher in his home park.

Zack Wheeler comes into this start with a 4.35 ERA and one would have to assume that’s why he and the Mets are being offered a price like this one. We say pay no attention to his ERA because Wheeler’s skills are solid. He's striking out 9 batters per nine innings and has a 48% groundball rate. Wheeler’s 94-mph four-seam fastball velocity is the sixth-highest among qualified NL SP. An unlucky 36% hit% is the reason for his elevated WHIP and ERA. Zach Wheeler is a future #1 starter and he’s showing all the signs of making strides quickly. Win or lose, all the value here is on the much better pitcher because these aren’t your big brother’s Yankees anymore.

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SPORTS WAGERS

New York +146 over PITTSBURGH

OT included. We’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating that you can rarely predict the outcomes of these games with any accuracy or without some good fortune and it’s for that reason we insist on playing value. A good case in point is the Rangers. New York has looked lethargic in games in both rounds so far and they have looked near unbeatable in other games in both rounds. There isn’t a crystal ball in the world that can predict which edition we’ll see tonight but here’s what we do know. The Rangers have momentum and they have physically been wearing down the Penguins game by game. They have outscored them in the last two games by a count of 8-2 and every time Sidney Crosby touches the puck there are Rangers making him pay. It would appear to us that the Rangers are breaking Crosby’s spirit and if his spirit is broken, the rest of the team isn’t far behind.

There’s always the issue of Marc Andre Fleury as well. There isn’t a crystal ball for him either but this is the first time this post-season that the Penguins are facing elimination and we wouldn’t trust Fleury in that scenario as a big favorite ever. Henrik Lundqvist is also a shot away from allowing a softie but he’s not on the team spotting a big price. We’re always leery of a team that missed an opportunity like the Penguins did when they had the Rangers down and out but could not seal the deal. Four our money, it’s the Rangers that have responded better under pressure and it’s the Rangers that have been the more physical team. With all that talent, of course the Penguins could respond in a big way and move on, however, the price here dictates the play because New York has too good a chance to win to ignore this tag. 


MINNESOTA +104 over Chicago

OT included. We have the Wild to win this series at 8-1 and wouldn’t even think of trading it in just yet. Minnesota has yet to lose at home and they’ve been better than Chicago throughout this entire series less the odd period here and there. In Minnesota, however, the Wild have clearly been the dominant team, outscoring the Hawks 8-2 while creating more scoring chances and outshooting them also. Minnesota has played the Blackhawks nose-to-nose through every shift of every period in the first five games. The Wild are just as close to being up 3-2 or even having already eliminated Chicago as they are of being down three games to two.

Chicago has dropped four straight in Minnesota and they wrongly come in as the chalk for this one. Minnesota has not been lucky to win at home. In fact, they’ve been unlucky in losses in Chicago. In February and March when folks were talking contenders, it was St. Louis, Chicago, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Boston mostly. Not many were talking about the Wild but this team has as good a chance to win the Cup as any of the others because they are as elite as the others. If Chicago wins this series, they may go on record afterwards of saying that this series against Minnesota was the toughest of any over the past three seasons. The Wild are taking this to a Game 7 and even though we have them in the series, we’re still going to step in on them here because this team is too good to be a dog in their own barn.     


Pass NBA

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Sammy P

Rangers at Penguins
Play: Under 5

Game 7 tonight in the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins should be a dogfight.  The Rangers have battled back and won the last two games after falling behind 3-1 in the series.  Momentum seems to be on the Rangers side as they head into Pittsburgh as +140 underdogs.  Game 7's have been particularly kind to the New York Rangers as they have won their last four series deciders with the O/U going 0-3-1 as well.  This is however one of the toughest Game 7 scenarios they’ve faced in recent memory. The Penguins have been in this situation before and have the experience to get back on their horse and put together an elite effort tonight.  Pittsburgh hasn't played many Game 7's in recent years, but their three most recent has seen them go 2-1 with both wins going under the total. This has been a tale of two series as the NY Rangers really turned things around and rallied behind Martin St. Louis for Game 5 and Game 6 right after his mother had passed away. Overall I am expecting a very low scoring game. We will see very few power plays given throughout the game and I do not expect these teams to get over the total by scoring on the man advantage.  No one wants to be the one to make the mistake that could cost their team the game so expect a lot of safe plays down the boards and the defenses keeping things to the outside.  The ice has been notoriously bad and slow in Pittsburgh this playoff season and that will only help our wager on the UNDER.

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Wunderdog

Boston @ Minnesota
Pick: Boston -104

Opening 2014 has been a struggle for last year's World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. They started the season 2-1, but haven't gotten back to over .500 until their last game. They look to surge forward from here as they open a series at Minnesota. The Twins were ill-fated here last year vs. Boston, as they were swept in three games, getting outscored 20-8. Ricky Nolasco is 2-3 with a 5.64 ERA, and is an unlikely candidate to stop the bleeding vs. Boston. His lifetime ERA against them of 5.24 does not boding well. Boston has put six of their last seven in the win column behind Doubront on the road, while Minnesota owns just a 28-57 mark at home in their last 85 against a team with a winning road record. Boston has won six straight in Minnesota, and will make it seven tonight. Play on Boston.

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Nelly

Texas Rangers - over Houston Astros

The Rangers are crushing left-handed pitching with nearly seven runs scored per game over the last 10 contests against southpaws. On the season Texas is batting .276 with over six runs per game scored in those matchups. Dallas Keuchel has delivered a promising start to the season for the Astros but his career track record does not suggest this is a sustainable pace. Keuchel has allowed at least two runs in six of his seven starts as he has rarely been dominant and this will be one of the best offensive teams he has faced all season. The Rangers are not scoring as much as they should but Texas has one of the top team OBP rates in MLB. At 20-19 the Rangers have not had as strong of a start as they hoped but the Rangers have dominated the recent history with the Astros, winning nine of the last 10 meetings. Matt Harrison missed most of last season due to injury but he has pitched well in his return with three starts under his belt and a 2.87 ERA. Houston is 3-9 this season against left-handed starters with worse scoring numbers for the season. This is an Astros lineup that is batting just .222 as a team with some of the worst scoring and OBP numbers in baseball. The Astros also have the absolute worst bullpen in baseball so Texas should have opportunities in this game even if Keuchel continues to pitch well.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 13

Harry Bondi

MIAMI (+150) over LA Dodgers

This one is real simple. We have made a fortune going against Josh Beckett over the last four seasons as he continues to be overpriced and we'll do so again tonight where he is a huge favorite. This is a guy who since the start of the 2012 season has a dismal 7-20 record with an ERA of over 4.00. The Dodgers are 1-5 this year in his six starts and overall this season LA is 9-12 at home (-9.0 units). Take advantage of the inflated price and grab the underdog Marlins.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 13

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Indiana/ Washington Under 181.5: In the last game at Washington the OU line was this low and barely got over it and that was with a faster tempo. The Pacers at home will not let the tempo get out of hand, especially in a game where they can wrap up the series. The Pacers have allowed just 89.6 pg in the playoffs overall, including just 79 ppg in the last 3 in this series. The Wizards have not played bad defense in the post-season, allowing just 90.2 ppg overall and 90.5 ppg to the Pacers. This one should be played in the lower 170s as best, mainly because of pace and the defense that both teams have played.

2 UNIT PLAY

Clippers/ Thunder Under 213.5: The series overall this year has been high scoring, but game 4 did produce just 200 points and the further we go into this series the more defense should be played. The Thunder have been decent on defense at home this year, as they have allowed just 99.3 ppg on their home floor for the year. The Clippers have allowed 102.4 ppg on the road this year, but teams have shot just 44.9% vs them away from home. Game 5's are very important, especially when a series is tied at 2 games apiece, like this one is and that should lead to a bit of a slower paced game. This one should be played under 205 points again.

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