Best Bets of the Weekend
Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – Friday 6/10/16
The strangeness of the 2016 NBA Playoffs continues into the NBA Finals as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors by 30 points in Game 3 after losing Game 2 by 33. I can’t remember a postseason in which there were this many blowouts and just no correlation between games. It’s hard to say exactly what went right for the Cavs compared to Games 1 and 2, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that they played much better without Kevin Love. We’ll find out this morning if he is cleared to play tonight or not, but what does Cleveland do with him? Ty Lue can’t just flat-out bench him, can he? I would feel much better about the Cavs if I knew we had the same rotation and game plan for Game 3. Both teams here have a big home court advantage with the Warriors having one of the best home records in the NBA over the last 2 years and the Cavaliers having not lost a game at home yet this postseason. It might be one of those series as a bettor where you just have to back the home team instead of trying to figure out small edges in other areas.
Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -2
We have to assume that Kevin Love is playing tonight…but even if he is, I like the Cavaliers. Cleveland just plays like a different team at Quicken Loans Arena and I loved the energy they came out with in Game 3. They turned up the defensive pressure and really made Steph Curry work in the first half of that game. Even though his numbers look efficient, he was held to 2 points with 3 turnovers at halftime. The decision to get Kyrie the ball early in the game and letting him create offensively was a big factor as well. Kyrie looked a lot more confident and really was the catalyst of that early run they went on before never looking back. I don’t think you can play Irving and Love at the same time anymore. I never feel great picking against the Warriors, just because in any given game they can hit a bunch of 3’s and pull away…but I didn’t like what I saw from them on Wednesday night. Everything from their play to their body language. I think we head back to Golden State tied up at 2-2 so take the Cavs and the small number.
Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks – Sunday 6/12/16
This series for the most part has been predictable as the Pittsburgh Penguins through the first 4 games were clearly the better team…so I did not see Game 5 coming. San Jose went into Pittsburgh last night and fought off elimination by scoring 4 goals, 3 in the first period. I pointed out in previous posts and tweets that the Penguins had consistently had more SOG than the Sharks in each game, so other than the fluky Game 3 where the Penguins had a late lead in the 3rd period, I couldn’t see how the Sharks would generate enough offense to hang with them. Now Pittsburgh faces a Game 6 on the road and the pressure is going to start mounting. Could this just be the Sharks year? Wouldn’t it be fitting for this thing to 7 games after the magical ride they’re on?
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins +110
Still not buying the Sharks win. If you really look at the numbers, the Penguins outshot the Sharks again in Game 5 but it was 46 – to 22! Pittsburgh more than doubled up San Jose on shot attempts. The Sharks scored 3 in the first period so I suppose you could make the case that they changed their gameplan with a lead, but it’s not a coincidence that Pittsburgh is creating more chances every game. They are still the superior team in my eyes. It took Martin Jones standing on his head with 44 saves to get them to this spot. One concern for the Penguins is obviously Matt Murray. That was a tough game for him allowing 4 goals on just 22 shots. You have to wonder if the run he’s been on is actually running out of time. But I’ll take my chances with the Penguins. I feel a lot better putting my money on a team that I know is going to have themselves in great position to score goals.
Grade I Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap – Saturday 6/11/16
Brilliant card for Saturday’s racing at Belmont Park as we have a ton of great stakes races other than the obvious Belmont Stakes. The one I’m pointing to here is the Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap aka the Met Mile. The Met Mile is one of the most prestigious non-Triple Crown races in all of horse racing with a long list of great champions having won it. This year we have a great field of older horses, some who we haven’t seen in some time. Horses like Frosted, Marking, Stanford, Noble Bird, Blofeld, and Upstart all headline this field. Let’s get right to it with my selection:
Pick: #5 Frosted 7/2 ML odds
Love this horse, I’ve always loved this horse. Frosted is making his 2016 debut in the United States after finish 5th in the Dubai World Cup. Last year you might remember Frosted as the main challenger to American Pharoah during the Triple Crown series, though unsuccessful. When he was finally away from Pharoah though, he delivered a big win in the Pennsylvania Derby. He also ran in the Breeder’s Cup back in October and won a Grade II race over in Dubai as a prep for the World Cup. In that race, he set the track record by 2 seconds! This horse is all class when you take a look at this field. He’s had 3 months off so he should be fresh and ready to go in this one. He got a great post position at 5 and I think the distance really suits him because he will be cutting back. He will definitely be the favorite at post time so we just have to hope for decent odds. Expect the son of Tapit to sit anywhere from mid-pack to the front and draw clear in the stretch to get the victory.
- #5 Frosted
- #13 Marking
- #7 Stanford
5-13-7 Trifecta Box.
ATP Hertogenbosch Semifinals – Saturday 6/10/16
Our best bet for tennis is in the Netherlands for the Ricoh Open on grass court. This match features two big-time servers on their best surface. Ivo Karlovic, the world 28 from Croatia, takes on Gilles Muller, the world 44 from Luxembourg. These two have met twice previously with Karlovic winning both matchups. The most recent meeting between them however was back in 2013 so I don’t know if we can really put much weight into those. Ivo Karlovic may be the greatest server in tennis history. At 6’11, this guy just fires down aces at a historic clip and it’s the reason he is still competitive today at age 37. Gilles Muller is not far behind in the serving category as the big lefty fired in 24 aces in his first round matchup against the hometown favorite Robin Haase. Muller has a more complete game than Karlovic though, as Karlovic is very one dimensional. Muller isn’t a great baseline player, but he’s better than the Croatian and in longer rallies he has more weapons to win points. Having said that, don’t expect many long rallies. There will be a lot of standing around, a lot of unreturnable serves, a lot of aces. So what’s the play here?
Pick: OVER 2.5 Sets +120
This seems like a no brainer to me. We very well may have a tiebreak in every single set, so that would tend to favor this to be a long match. Anything can happen in a tiebreak. If you do believe in past results, the only grass meeting between these two players did go 3 sets. Gilles Muller is more than capable of winning a set here because he is the more complete player. But also, you can’t go against Karlovic who is nearly unbeatable on this surface. He’s 13-4 on grass the last 2 seasons. I figure both players get a tiebreak, and then the match is decided in the final set. I’m not ready to pick a winner but I am ready to watch the aces rain down on Saturday morning. It’s just more fun to bet this way.
Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox – Friday 6/10/16
Our baseball tip is in Chicago where the Kansas City Royals and Ian Kennedy (4-4 3.44 ERA) take on the Chicago White Sox and Chris Sale (9-2 2.54 ERA). The defending champion Kansas City Royals come into this one ice cold. They’ve lost 7 in a row and they’ve yet to recapture the magic of last season. They have been solid at home but just can’t figure it out on the road. They are in the middle of a 10 game road trip and have yet to win. Now the run into an ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Chicago White Sox come in not exactly on a great run either. They’ve lost 5 of their last 7 and are now at .500 on the season. For a while it seemed like Chris Sale may not lose a game, but he’s come back down to earth and is now posting his usual numbers which are still stellar. He’s actually pitching slightly better on the road this year but he’s only allowing hitters a .183 average at US Cellular Field.
Pick: Chicago White Sox -160
Hard to ignore the recent trend the Royals are on. This is both a fade of them but also a backing of one of the best pitchers in baseball. Royals hitters actually hit .306 against Chris Sale for his career, which is pretty good. If I had to guess, I’d say that this is probably one of the best numbers that any team has against Sale. White Sox hitters also have success against Ian Kennedy, current hitters are batting .280 against him. I’m going to chalk up the inflated stat against Sale to the fact that the Royals and White Sox play each other so much. Royals might be due for a win but I don’t think it’s going t0 come against this tough lefty. Back the White Sox to get the win at home against their division rivals. And if they don’t, I’ll look a little like this….