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Tuesday Morning Handicapper

   by Hollywood Sports - 06/03/2014

Frank Sawyer's Hollywood Sports' NBA playoff basketball, NHL playoff hockey, Major League Baseball and Belmont Stakes handicapping tips and observations from over the last week that may inform my decision-making in betting those sports.


BIG WEEK!
This is one of the best sports week of the entire year with the NBA and NHL Finals beginning in the playoffs, the Belmont Stakes finishing out the Triple Crown races and MLB in full gear after being about 40% through the season. And finally the World Cup is right around the corner!


NBA FINALS: MIAMI HEAT VERSUS THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS.
While I all already have plenty of thoughts on how this series will go down, there are always some very good research provided by the usual suspects that flex their "advanced analytics" muscles. I make sure to ingest as much of that information as possible before looking to Game One as it does help me wipe the slate clean from any preconceptions about both teams while helping to inform my ATS and Over/Under bets. The one thing I need to keep in mind for this Finals is resist the lazy temptation to embrace the overrated zig-zag theory when going game-to-game. That kinda worked about five years ago but now the public -- and the books -- are so aware of it that it has become trite.


STANLEY CUP FINALS: NEW YORK RANGERS VERSUS THE LOS ANGELES KINGS.
It has been another outstanding Stanley Cup Playoff season. These games are so fun to bet. If the Total for all the LA-Chicago games never inched up to 5 1/2 goals, then this series will definitely be locked at 5 with Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick in net. While it is easy to be aggressive with the 5 since Pushes are likely, at least one of these games will go Under the Total. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to decipher that the Canadians-Rangers Game Seven was destined to be low scoring -- as it was with New York's 1-0 victory -- after that 7-4 scoring fest in Game Six. I don't think the Rangers are being given enough respect. That said, that does not mean they will always offer money line value.


MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: 40% through the season.
Entering the third month of the season, now really becomes the time where starting pitchers' home/road splits from last year can be dismissed if it is contradicted by that starter's home/road splits for this season conflict. I still consider home/road splits from last year if they are consistent with a starting pitcher's career numbers. But now is the time where we really want to dig into the deeper sabermetrics for this season since the sample size is now good. Most bettors look to Win-Loss records which I completely dismiss. I am looking for finding value between a starting pitcher's ERA versus what their SIERA and xFIP project. And I really want those findings to be consistent with team trends with 2/5s of the season complete.


BELMONT STAKES: very nice betting value.
We will get the lane information and then opening betting lines on Wednesday. I doubt I will be betting California Chrome to Win this event for a host of reasons. Big underdogs historically do very well at this event. And since many of the horses from the Kentucky Derby will return for this race, all my research for the derby will come in handy (and I save every bit of those notes).


WORLD CUP: time to start deeper research.
The World Cup finally begins next Wednesday (I think …). With this event hyped more than ever, there will be more helpful information out there to reward those of us that take this sport seriously. It takes a bunch of time to learn the intangibles that will separate these times -- but that invest is worth it. I need to get started on that work by the weekend to make sure we are ready for the first couple of days of games.


Best of luck for us -- Frank.

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