This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."
NBA Finals: The Miami Heat reached this year's NBA Finals as the East's No. 5 to face the LA Lakers, the West's No. 1 seed. Miami is the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999. The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West's No. 6 seed. The Lakers rolled in Game 1 by the score of 116-98 and took Game 2 by 10 points (124-114), as Miami was with Dragic and Adebayo. Despite playing without those two starters in Game 3, Miami's starters outscored the Lakers' starting five 89-51 and Jimmy Butler played "the game of his life," with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Butler became the 21st player to have a triple-double in the NBA Finals but it was just the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history.
Game 4 was last night and Adebayo returned for Miami. He scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 33 minutes but Butler was able to score just 25 points (down from 40). The Heat used just three players off the bench and that trio combined for 13 points while shooting an abysmal 4 of 18 (22.2%). LBJ was his usual self (28-12-8) and A.D. bounced from a poor game (15 points) with 22 points and nine rebounds, while starting LA guards Caldwell-Pope and Green combined to score 25 points. LA's bench outscored Miami's 27-13. The Heat stayed with the Lakers all game but LA bettors (INCLUDING ME) lost when Miami rookie Tyler Herro nailed a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds to go. The 102-96 final gave Miami the ATS win. And so it goes in the sports betting world. The Heat fell to 13-6 SU this postseason but are 15-4 ATS, while the Lakers are 15-4 SU but just 10-8-1 ATS. Playoff numbers to-date: Favorites are just 40-39-2 ATS, while the under has cashed in 47 of the 81 games (58.0 percent). For those following the "Zig-Zag" Theory (that means playing "on" the SU loser of the previous game), they've gone 30-33-2 ATS (47.6%) or minus-6.3 net units. Game 5 is Thursday and the early line has the Lakers favored by the same 7 1/2-points they were in Game 4.
MLB Playoffs: The NL 'joined the party' on Tuesday with Miami vs Atlanta from Houston. and the Padres vs the Dodgers from Arlington. I noted in Tuesday's notes that Atlanta's Max Fried had made 12 starts in 2020 (including Game 1 of the wild card series) and the Braves have gone 11-1. However, he allowed four ERs on six hits in just four innings. The Braves trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the 7th but 'exploded' for SIX runs, highlighted by Travis d'Arnaud's three-run HR and two-run shot by Dansby Swanson. The final was 9-5 Atlanta, as five relievers held Miami to just two hits and one run over five innings with seven Ks Atlanta is now 12-1 in Fried's 2020 starts (never in doubt).
The Dodgers beat the Padres 5-1 in that series Game 1, which was somewhat strange. Mike Clevinger made it only two pitches into the second inning of his postseason debut for the Padres before leaving with the same elbow injury that sidelined him during the first round. San Diego's heavily worked bullpen couldn't keep putting up zeros, or keeping runners off base, even though the Padres gave up only four hits. Clevinger walked three batters in his one-plus inning of work and then NINE San Diego relievers allowed SEVEN more. The Dodgers had already drawn nine walks before Mookie Betts got their first hit in the sixth inning, when LA boke open a 12- game with FOUR runs. Buehler lasted just four innings, allowing two hits and one ER with eight Ks. Four relievers worked five scoreless innings and the LA staff struck out 14 Padres!
Back in the AL, the Astros took a 2-0 lead over the A's with a 5-2 win and the Rays evened their series with the Yankees with a 7-5 win. George Springer hit two HRs and Martin Maldonado also went deep for Houston, as the Astros (just 29-31 in the regular season) moved to 4-0 in the postseason and are now just ONE win away from reaching their FOURTH straight ALCS. Oakland didn't have an at-bat with a runner in scoring position, as the A's are batting only .226 for the series (14 for 62). The NY Yankees became the first team in American League history to hit a grand slam in back-to-back playoff games in Game 1, while setting a franchise record by hitting at least three HRs in three consecutive postseason games. Giancarlo Stanton hit two HRs in Game 2 and has now hit five HRs this postseason, tying an MLB record held by Juan Gonzalez (Rangers, 1996) for HRs by a player in his team's first four playoff games. However, the Rays hit four HRs in Game 2 and more importantly, four Rays pitchers struck out 18 Yankees, an MLB postseason record for a nine-inning game and a postseason record for Yankees batters. Starter Tyler Glasnow allowed three hits and four runs in five-plus innings, while walking three. His 10 strikeouts surpass the previous Rays postseason record of nine done three times. It was the Rays' 10th straight win when Glasnow started. He won his FIFTH straight start and SEVENTH consecutive decision.
Wednesday's MLB (in order of starting times). Miami (Lopez) vs Atlanta (Anderson) at 2:08 ET (Braves -210 / 8 .5), Oakland (Luzardo) vs Houston (Urquidy) at 3:35 ET (Astros -110 / 9), Tampa Bay (Morton) vs NY Yankees (Tanaka) at 7:10 ET (NYY -125 / 9) and San Diego (undecided) vs Los Angeles (Kershaw) at 9:08 ET (no line).
Thursday's notes zeroes in on CFB Last week's highlights, current AP poll and a look ahead to the weekend.