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Big Al's Daily Angle: NHL, EPL, NBA and MLB Previews and Odds - 04/16/2021

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Apr 16, 2021

The Friday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the English Premier League.The NBA has eleven games on the docket. The card begins at 3 PM ET, with Utah hosting Indiana as a 9.5-point favorite with the total set at 235 (all odds from BetOnline).Three games begin at 7 PM ET. Detroit plays at home against Oklahoma City as a 7-point favorite with an over/under of 217. New Orleans visits Washington as a 2-point road favorite with a total of 242. The Los Angeles Clippers travel to Philadelphia for the opening game of an ESPN doubleheader at 7 PM ET. The Clippers won their seventh straight game with a 100-98 win against Detroit as a 3-point favorite on Wednesday. The 76ers have won three in a row after their 123-117 victory against Brooklyn as a 9-point favorite on Wednesday.The Nets play at home against Charlotte at 7:30 PM ET as a 13.5-point favorite with an over/under of 224. Orlando visits Toronto at 7:30 PM ET. At 8 PM ET, Memphis travels to Chicago in a pick ‘em matchup with a total of 227.5. Miami plays at Minnesota. Denver visits Houston as an 8.5-point road favorite with the total at 225.5. Portland is at San Antonio at 8:30 PM ET as a 1.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 232.The nightcap on ESPN has Dallas hosting New York at 9:30 PM ET. The Mavericks ended a two-game losing streak with a 114-113 win at Memphis as a 3-point favorite on Wednesday. The Knicks have won four in a row after their 116-106 upset win at New Orleans as a 2.5-point underdog on Wednesday. Dallas is a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 211.Six games are on the NHL schedule. Montreal plays at home against Calgary at 6 PM ET as a -130 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. The New York Islanders visit Boston at 7 PM ET. Minnesota is at home against San Jose at 8 PM ET as a -186 money line favorite with a total of 5.5. Colorado is home against the Los Angeles Kings at 9 PM ET as a -290 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Vegas visits Anaheim as a -230 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5. Fifteen games are on the MLB slate. There is one afternoon game with Atlanta playing at Chicago against the Cubs as a -129 money line road favorite with an over/under of 7.5. Three games begin at 7:05 PM ET. Washington is at home against Arizona as a -194 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Philadelphia plays at home against St. Louis as a -135 money line favorite with an over/under of 9. Tampa Bay visits the New York Yankees. San Francisco travels to Miami at 7:10 PM ET as a -140 money line radio favorite with a total of 8.5. The Chicago White Sox play at Boston. Cincinnati hosts Cleveland as a -108 money line favorite with an over/under of 9. Texas is at home against Pittsburgh at 8:05 PM ET as a -119 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Milwaukee hosts Pittsburgh at 8:10 PM ET as a -150 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Toronto visits Kansas City as a -120 money line road favorite with a total of 8.5. The New York Mets travel to Colorado at 8:40 PM ET. Minnesota plays at the Los Angeles Angels at 9:38 PM ET. Oakland is at home against Detroit at 9:40 PM ET as a -180 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. The Los Angeles Dodgers visit San Diego at 10:10 PM ET as a -150 money line road favorite with the total at 8. Houston travels to San Diego as a -110 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.Matchweek 31 in the English Premier League begins with Tottenham playing at Everton on the NBC Sports Network at 3 PM ET. The Spurs are a -0.25 money line road favorite with a total of 2.5.

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Ness Notes: The Ides of April (NBA Playoffs a Month Out)

by Larry Ness

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

It's April 15, better known as tax day (although it's been pushed back to May 15 in 2021), or using some literary license, "The Ides of April." The last day of the NBA regular season is scheduled for May 16. The No. 1 through No. 6 seeds in each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots, while seeds 7-10 will be part of the NBA's new "Play-In" format. Any team that finishes worse than No. 10 will be in the lottery and since there is a chance for teams to finish with an uneven number of games played due COVID-19, the NBA will use winning percentage to determine the standings. There will be six total games involving eight teams as part of the play-in tournament. Those games will begin May 18 and end May 21, with the first round of the NBA playoffs tipping off May 22.Here's the set-up for the "Play-In" round. Game 1 has the No. 7 seed (by winning percentage) hosting the No. 8 seed  in each conference with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The losing team gets another chance in Game 3. In Game 2, the No. 9 seed will host the No 10 seed, with the winner moving on to Game 3. The loser is eliminated and enters the NBA draft lottery. The final spot in each conference will be determined when the loser of the No 7 vs. No 8 matchup will host the winner of the No. 9 vs No 10 matchup, with the winner securing the No. 8 seed in the postseason. The losers of the two Game 3s also enter the lottery. Recapping, the teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages will have TWO opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot, while the teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages need to win two straight games to advance. Got it?If the season ended (April 14), the "Play-In" matchups would be: In the Eastern Conference: Charlotte Hornets (No. 8) at Miami Heat (28-27) and Chicago Bulls (No. 10) at Indiana Pacers (No. 9). In the Western Conference: Memphis Grizzlies (No. 8) at Dallas Mavericks (No. 7) and Golden State Warriors (No. 10) at San Antonio Spurs (No. 9)The top-six seeds look like this. In the Eastern Conference: No. 1 76ers (38-17), No. 2 Nets (37-18), No. 3 Bucks (34-20), No. 4 Hawks (30-25), No. 5 Celtics (29-26) and No. 6 Knicks (29-27). In the Western Conference: No. 1 Jazz (41-14), No. 2 Suns (39-15), No. 3 Clippers (39-18), No. 4 Nuggets (35-20), No. 5 Lakers (34-21) and No. 6 Blazers (31-23). Random Thoughts: Will the NBA count an appearance in the "Play-In" tournament as having "made the playoffs?" The longest current playoff droughts belong to the Sacramento Kings (14), the Phoenix Suns (10) and the NY Knicks. The 22-33 Kings are currently 9 1/2-games back of the West's No. 6 seed, so a "Play-In" berth is their only chance and as the saying goes, "Slim just left town." I wonder if Sacramento fans ever wonder why the Kings fired Rick Adelman. He led the Kings to EIGHT consecutive playoff appearances, twice winning the Pacific Division (during the Kobe/Shaq era) with 61-and 59-win seasons. Sacramento's current playoff drought began the first season after Adelman's firing. As for the Suns, their 10-year playoff drought is OVER. Phoenix is 39-15 and its .722 win percentage is on pace to be the third-best in team history (2004-05 Suns were 62-20, .756). Only the 41-14 Jazz have a better record than the Suns this season and NO team owns a better ATS record than Phoenix (Suns are 35-19, or 65%). That leaves us with the Knicks and their seven-season playoff drought. At 29-27, the Knicks currently own the East's No. 6 seed, coming off a 21-45 record last year. The East's No. 4 through No. 8 seeds are tightly-bunched (separated by just 2 1/2-games) but New York is almost guaranteed a "Play-In" berth, as the Knicks are currently SEVEN games clear of the East's 'dreaded' No. 11 seed. I wonder how many know that the Knicks own the NBA's second-best ATS record of 34-21-1 (62%).Gregg Popovich's first full season as the Spurs' head coach was in 1997-98 and beginning with that year, he led San Antonio to 22 consecutive postseasons, while winning FIVE championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014). That remarkable streak came to an end in last year's pandemic-shortened season and "Pop" and his Spurs could miss for a second straight year here in the 2020-21 season. The Spurs are currently 26-27, which places them 10th in the West. Seeds 8 through 10 are tightly-bunched (separated by only ONE game) but the underachieving Pelicans (dreaded No. 11 seed) are just two games back of San Antonio. Earning a No. 6 seed (which would avoid the Play-In route), seems like a 'bridge too far' (Spurs are 4 1/2-games back of the Blazers) but San Antonio should qualify for the "Play-In" tourney, giving Pop a chance to "coach'em up"  and into a 7 or 8 seed.With the Spurs missing the playoffs last season, the current active leader in consecutive playoffs made is Houston, as the Rockets opened the current season having made EIGHT straight NBA postseasons. However, that streak is O-V-E-R. James Harden left OKC and signed with the Rockets prior to the 2012-13 season and eight consecutive playoff appearances followed. The previous three seasons Harden has led the NBA in scoring but in NONE of his eight seasons, was he and his ever-changing group of cohorts able to get the Rockets into the NBA Finals (just two, Conference Finals appearances). Harden pouted and 'held his breath' early this season until the Rockets sent him to Brooklyn and Houston currently sits 14-41. That's the NBA's worst record and for good measure, the Rockets also own the NBA's worst ATS mark of 18-37 (33%).Portland and Toronto each entered the 2020-21 season with SEVEN consecutive playoff appearances, The 31-23  Blazers are currently the West's No. 6 seed and need to hold off the 30-24 Mavs to avoid falling into the "Play-In" tournament, As for Toronto, the Raptors 'fall from grace' has been dramatic this season. Toronto won the NBA title in 2019 and even in last year's pandemic-shortened season (without Kawhi), entered last year's playoffs with the NBA's second-best overall record of 53-19 (a half-game better than the eventual champion LA Lakers). Toronto is currently 22-34 (No. 11 seed), which leaves them 7 1/2-games back of the East's No. 6 seed (last guaranteed playoff berth). The Raptors' ONLY chance for postseason success will be getting into the 7-10 "Play-In" field. Toronto is just ONE game back of the No. 10 seed (Bulls) but is FIVE games back of the No. 9 seed (Pacers). Toronto will need to catch the Bulls first (doable) but then win two consecutive road games to earn the No. 8 seed. The Clippers are securely in the West's playoff field, so maybe the Raptors can 'rent' Kawhi for two games, if they promise to send him back to LA after that?I'll check back in on the 'state of the NBA union' on May 3.Good luck...Larry

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NHL Stanley Cup Futures Bets

by Sean Murphy

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

With the NHL trade deadline in the rear-view mirror and the playoff picture beginning to take shape, now is a good time to lock in some Stanley Cup Futures bets. Here's a look at one team from each of the NHL's four divisions worthy of a wager with the playoffs less than a month away.North DivisionWinnipeg Jets 18-1While I honestly don't believe this is the year that a Canadian team hoists the cup for the first time since 1993, I will anoint the Jets as the Great White North's best hope (and best value). While the Leafs certainly possess the most talented roster, they're not settled in goal and have inexplicably proven inconsistent offensively. The Jets have an elite goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck and a roster that has remained virtually intact for a number of years. The window of opportunity is starting to close when it comes to their core of Mark Schiefele, Blake Wheeler, Nik Ehlers, etc. We've seen Winnipeg go on a deep playoff run as recently as 2018 when they reached the Western Conference Final before bowing out at the hands of a red hot Golden Knights squad. There's no team in the North Division that should intimidate the Jets and they'll be afforded a chance to fine-tune their game heading in with a playoff spot all but locked up. East Division New York Islanders 13-1Despite sitting in second place in the East Division, the Islanders actually have shorter odds to win the cup than the first-place Capitals. Rightfully so, in my opinion. The Isles have played with purpose this season and have a roster built for playoff hockey with plenty of front-line talent but also enough grit to withstand a grueling seven-game series. Head coach Barry Trotz is just a couple of seasons removed from guiding the aforementioned Caps to a Stanley Cup title. He was brought to Long Island with the sole purpose of returning the Isles to glory as well. In this topsy-turvy 2021 season, why not pick a hard-luck franchise like the Isles to hoist Lord Stanley's mug. Central Division Carolina Hurricanes 12-1I picked the Hurricanes to go on a deep playoff run in last Summer's bubble-hockey postseason tournament and that prediction looked pretty good for a series. Unfortunately Carolina was overmatched in the second round against Boston. The 'Canes made the necessary offseason moves to chart their course back to Stanley Cup contention this year and while they're fresh off ugly back-to-back losses to the lowly Red Wings as I'm writing this, I've seen enough positives to warrant them a true championship contender. Carolina has gotten healthier lately with Petr Mrazek returning to an already solid stable of goaltenders and Vincent Trocheck providing some additional scoring depth up front. Trocheck is one of those key offseason additions I mentioned and he hasn't disappointed here in 2021, chipping in with 34 points in 32 games. The Tampa Bay Lightning will prove to be a tough obstacle but as we saw two years ago when the Bolts were swept by the eight-seeded Blue Jackets in the opening round, anything can happen in the NHL Playoffs.West Division Vegas Golden Knights 8-1While the Avalanche are favorites to come out of the West Division for a reason, I'm willing to take a shot with the Golden Knights at what I consider to be a reasonable return. Vegas has proven it can go toe-to-toe with Colorado. In fact, I feel the Golden Knights even have a slight edge in terms of depth - certainly between the pipes, where the Avs are a Philip Grubauer injury away from newly-acquired journeyman Devan Dubnyk shouldering the load. Colorado has more elite talent at the top of its payroll with Nate MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen up front and phenom Cale Makar patrolling the blue line. But the Knights have proven they can win games in a variety of different ways and recently welcomed back stud offseason acquisition Alex Pietrangelo from injury. I do believe this Knights team is better than the one that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 and see value backing them at the current price point. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB Previews and Odds - 04/15/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

The Thursday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, and MLB.The NBA has four games on the docket. The card begins at 7:30 PM ET with the first game of the TNT Thursday doubleheader with Milwaukee visiting Atlanta. The Bucks have won their last two games after their 130-105 at Minnesota as a 10-point favorite on Wednesday afternoon. The Hawks have won seven of their last eight games with their 108-103 upset win at Toronto as a 1-point underdog on Tuesday. Golden State travels to Cleveland at 8 PM ET. Sacramento visits Phoenix at 10 PM ET. The second game on TNT has Boston playing at Los Angeles against the Lakers at 10:30 PM ET. The Celtics have won four in a row after their 116-115 upset win at Portland as a 1-point underdog on Tuesday. The reigning NBA champions have won two of their last three games (despite continuing to play without the injured LeBron James and Anthony Davis) after their 101-93 win at Charlotte on Tuesday. Boston is a 6-point road favorite with the total set at 211.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Nine games are on the NHL schedule. The card at 7 PM ET with seven contests. Winnipeg visits Toronto. Carolina hosts Nashville as a -185 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Pittsburgh is at home against Philadelphia as a -162 money line favorite with a total of 6. The New York Rangers plays at home against New Jersey as a -210 money line favorite with an over/under of 6. Washington plays at home against Buffalo as a -293 money line favorite with a total of 6. Boston hosts the New York Islanders as a -120 money line favorite with an over/under of 5. Tampa Bay is at home against Florida on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Lightning have lost three of their last five games after their 7-2 loss at Nashville on Tuesday. The Panthers have won seven of their last ten games with their 3-2 win at Dallas on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is a -162 money line favorite with the total at 6.Twelve games are on the MLB slate. Six games take place in the afternoon. The New York Mets host Philadelphia at 12:10 PM ET as a -220 money line favorite with an over/under of 7. Atlanta is at home against Miami at 12:20 PM ET as a -164 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. San Diego visits Pittsburgh at 12:35 PM ET as a -168 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8. Seattle plays at Baltimore at 1:05 PM in the first game of an afternoon doubleheader. Minnesota plays at home against Boston as a -148 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. The Chicago White Sox are at home against Cleveland as a -138 money line favorite with an over/under of 8. Washington hosts Arizona as a -165 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Tampa Bay is at home against Texas as a -178 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Toronto visits Kansas City at 8:10 PM ET. Oakland plays at home against Detroit as a -157 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. The MLB card concludes at 10:10 PM ET with the Los Angeles Dodgers playing at home against Colorado as a -285 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.

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NHL Hockey: Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Preview, Odds and Prediction - 04/15/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

Thursday NHL NBC Sports Network Preview: Florida versus Tampa Bay. Florida visits Tampa Bay on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET in a battle to break the tie atop the Central Division.The Panthers moved into a tie with the Lightning (and Carolina Hurricanes) for first place in the Central with their 3-2 overtime victory at Dallas. Frank Vatrano scored a power-play goal with 1:51 left before the shootout to give his team the win. Aleksander Barkov and Radio Gudas scored in regulation. Chris Driedger made 24 saves.Florida ended a three-game losing streak with the victory. Joel Quenneville’s team has won seven of their last ten games. The organization was aggressive at the trade deadline by making two impactful moves. Brandon Montour was acquired from Buffalo to add depth on the blue line after the season-ending leg injury to Aaron Ekblad. The team took a chance on Calgary center Sam Bennett who is a former number four pick in the NHL draft. Both players will make their debut with the Panthers tonight. Barkov leads the team with 44 points coming from 18 goals and 26 assists. The center is complemented by Jonathan Huberdeau at left wing who has 14 goals and 29 assists. Center Carter Verhaeghe has added 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points. Driedger is in a time-share in goal with Sergei Bobrovsky. He has a 12-5-2 record after his win on Tuesday with a 2.04 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage. Bobrovsky has a 15-7-2 mark with a 2.85 goals-against-average and .907 save percentage. Florida has indicated that Driedger gets the start tonight.Tampa Bay had a two-game winning before suffering a 7-2 loss at Nashville on Tuesday. The Lightning allowed three goals in the first period before Brayden Point scored in the second period to pull within two goals. They went into the third period trailing, 4-1, with Yanni Gourde scoring their final goal. Curtis McElhinney stopped only 15 of 22 shots in the loss, although head coach Jon Cooper laid the blame on the defense.The reigning Stanley Cup champions have lost three of five and six of their last ten games. Tampa Bay made a move at the trade deadline to fortify their defense by acquiring David Savard from Columbus. He will likely join Victor Hedman to form the team’s top blue-line pairing.Hedman leads the team with 38 points coming from seven goals and 31 assists. Point has scored 17 goals and added 18 assists from anchoring the top line at center. Left wing Ondrej Palat has 12 goals and 23 assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy should be back in goal tonight after getting Tuesday off. The former Vezina Trophy winner has a 25-6-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against-average and a  .932 save percentage this season. Steven Stamkos is out tonight with a lower-body injury. Tampa Bay has been without right winger Nikita Kucherov with a hip injury, although he is expected back for the playoffs.These teams have split their four meetings this season. The Lightning won the most recent encounter by a 5-3 score at home on March 21st. BetAnySports lists Tampa Bay as a -155 money line favorite with the total set at 5.5.Computer prediction:  Tampa Bay 3 Florida 2

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UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal Previews and Odds - 04/14/2021

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021

UEFA Champions League Wednesday: Quarterfinals PreviewThe quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League concludes on Wednesday with the remaining two second-leg matches at 3 PM ET. Liverpool plays at home at Anfield against Real Madrid, needing a 2-0 victory or a win by at least three goals. They lost the opening leg to the La Liga giants last Tuesday by a 3-1 score. Vinicius Junior tallied a brace for the winners, with Marco Asensio scoring the second goal in the 36th minute. Mohammad Salah cut the score in half six minutes into the second half, but that was as close as the game would get.Jurgen Klopp’s side needs a 2-0 win to advance to the semifinals from the away goals tiebreaker. If the Reds surrender a goal, they would have to Real Madrid by at least three goals to win the aggregate goal score.The reigning English Premier League champions endured several crushing injuries this season. Klopp has lost his top three center backs to injury, with Virgil Van Djik, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez all out the season. These losses have impacted the Reds’ ability to deploy their high press since the center backs become the sole line of defense. Klopp has adapted by engaging a more conservative approach on the attack, and they have registered three straight clean sheets. Diogo Jota returned to the pitch last month to help jumpstart the Liverpool attack. The Reds responded from their midweek loss by defeating Aston Villa on Saturday, 2-1. Salah scored the opening goal at the 57-minute mark before Trent Alexander-Arnold knocked the game-winner at the 90+2 point in stoppage time. Liverpool has won four of their last five matches at home across all competitions. They remain in sixth place in the English Premier League table, three points behind West Ham United for fourth place and the final qualifying position for the Champions League next season.Real Madrid built off their victory against the Reds by defeating their arch-rivals Barcelona by a 2-1 score. Karim Benzema gave them the lead in the 13th minute of El Clasico before Toni Kroos doubled the lead 15 minutes later. Things got nervy when Oscar Mingueza cut the lead in half 15 minutes into the second half for Barca, but Los Blancos held on for the win.Zinedine Zidane’s men have won six straight matches across all competitions. Real Madrid has won 12 of their last 17 games in the Spanish top flight, putting them one point behind Atletico Madrid for first place with an impending showdown on the horizon.Zinedine will again be without captain Sergio Ramos who is dealing with a calf injury. The 35-year old defenseman has only played in 15 matches this season due to injuries. Center back Raphael Varane missed last week's matches after a positive COVID test. He is a doubt for this second leg, along with right-backs Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal, who picked up knocks last week.BookMaker lists Liverpool as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total set at 3.Manchester City plays at Borussia Dortmund in the second quarterfinals match in the Champions League. Man City won the first leg by a 2-1 score last Tuesday courtesy of Phil Foden’s goal in the 90th minute. Kevin DeBruyne gave the Cityzens the lead 19 minutes into the match before Marco Reus evened things out with just six minutes to go in regulation time in the second half.The Black and Yellows must either win by a 1-0 score or earn a victory by at least two goals. Borussia Dortmund advances to the semifinals with a 1-0 win by claiming the away goal tiebreaker. Manager Edin Terzic’s side comes off a 3-2 win at Stuttgart in the Bundesliga on Saturday. The Black and Yellows are in fifth place in the German top flight, seven points behind the fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt. Erling Haaland leads the team with 31 goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season. The Black and Yellow are second in the Bundesliga with 55 goals. Haaland has scored in six straight Champions League matches before blanking last week. Terzic will not have Jadon Sancho, who has been out since early March with a torn thigh muscle. The 21-year old midfielder has scored eight goals with 12 assists in 27 matches this season. Man City comes off a 2-1 loss to Leeds United in the EPL on Saturday despite outshooting the Whites by a 29 to 2 margin. The Cityzens are still cruising to their second English Premier League title in the last three seasons. They are up 11 points in the EPL table over Manchester United. Their 67 goals are eight more than Man United, who has scored the second-most goals in England’s top flight. They have allowed 23 goals which are eight fewer than the 31 goals that Chelsea has given up. Manager Pep Guardiola has yet to win a Champions League trophy in his coaching career which includes previous stops at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Man City is attempting to pull off the rare quadruple by winning the EPL, Champions League, Carabao Cup, and FA Cup titles. The Cityzens have not advanced past the quarterfinals of the Champions League in the last four seasons under Guardiola.Man City is a -0.75 goal line road favorite with a total of 3.25. Both matches are on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All-Access).

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB and UEFA Champions League Previews and Odds - 04/14/2021

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021

The Wednesday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the UEFA Champions League.The NBA has 12 games on the docket. The card begins at 7 PM ET with Brooklyn traveling to Philadelphia in the opening game of an ESPN doubleheader. The Nets had their two-game winning streak end with a 126-101 upset loss at home to the Los Angeles Lakers as an 11.5-point favorite on Saturday. The 76ers have won three of their last four games after their 113-95 win at Dallas as a 3.5-point favorite on Monday. The nightcap on ESPN has Dallas playing at Memphis. The Mavericks lost for the third time in four games after their loss to the Sixers on Monday. The Grizzlies ended their two-game losing streak with a 101-90 win against Chicago as a 2-point favorite on Monday. Dallas is a 1-point road favorite with the total set at 226 (all odds from BetOnline). The NBA card closes out at 10 PM with two games. Washington plays at Sacramento. Denver is at home against Miami as a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 213.Six games are on the NHL schedule. The opener is at 2 PM ET, with Minnesota playing at home against Arizona after this game rescheduled for the daytime. The Wild are a -194 money line favorite with a total of 5.5.A doubleheader on the NBC Sports Network begins at 7:30 PM ET with Colorado playing at St. Louis. The Avalanche have won eight of nine games with their 4-2 victory against Arizona on Monday. The Blues have won three in a row after their 3-2 win against Minnesota on Saturday. Colorado is a -177 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Vegas plays at Los Angeles in the second game on the NBC Sports Network at 10 PM ET. The Golden Knights won their third in a row with a 4-2 win on the road against the Kings on Monday. Los Angeles has lost two of their last three games. Vegas is a -205 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5. Fifteen games are on the MLB slate, including a doubleheader between Boston and Minnesota. The card begins at 1:07 PM ET with the New York Yankees playing at Toronto as a -130 money line road favorite with an over/under of 10.5. The MLB schedule finishes at 10:10 PM ET with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting Colorado as a -270 money line favorite with a total of 8.The second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals concludes with two matches at 3 PM ET. Liverpool plays at home at Anfield against Real Madrid, needing a 2-0 victory or a win by at least three goals. Los Blancos won the opening leg last Tuesday by a 3-1 score. A 2-0 win for the Reds would have them advance to the semifinals from the away goals tie-breaker. A two-goal Liverpool victory by any other score clinches the away goal tie-breaker for Real Madrid.Manchester City plays at Borussia Dortmund in the second quarterfinals match in the Champions League. Man City won the first leg by a 2-1 score last Tuesday. The Black and Yellows must either win by a 1-0 score or earn a victory by at least two goals. Borussia Dortmund advances to the semifinals with a 1-0 win by claiming the away goal tie-breaker. Man City is a -0.75 goal line road favorite with a total of 3.25. Both matches are on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All-Access).

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Late-Season NBA Tips

by Wayne Root

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

Pay Close Attention To Late-Season Changes Smart, expert sports bettors know that it pays to be aware of what the betting public is likely to think and do in a particular situation because that will have an impact on how the lines are set, how they move, and where the value can be found. With my 35 years of experience, I can single handily tell you the Oddsmakers line on the next game of the one just played based on the previous play and how the public perceived the final result. This is especially true heading into the playoffs at the end of the year. The public thinks that teams are scripted by the NBA for playoffs seeding and who generates the best TV money. I certainly pay attention to that.  But more importantly, seeing an improvement late in a playoff-borderline team making a late season charge is certainly different than a team in fourth with no chance to move up to the number three seed, for solid information.   Understanding Momentum  There are all sorts of factors that can lead to a winning streak such as a dose of increased confidence, good health, an easy schedule, and luck among them. To put too much faith in momentum is to believe too strongly that what has happened in the past has a direct bearing on what will happen in the next game. That makes momentum a dangerous concept for NBA sports bettors. Understand what the changes are and look for solid reasons for better play for example. Let’s certainly not ignore negative momentum as internally there could also be reason to go against a certain team. There are usually glaring reason for such shifts in players play or a team’s performance. More important than momentum are matchups. Some teams play better at a slower tempo while other love the transition game. Certain teams defend the perimeter neutralizing the opponent’s three point shooting.   Look For Road Results  One of the simplest ways to measure how tough and talented a NBA team really is is to look at their performance on the road. This is an even bigger factor in the playoffs. Studies have shown that the biggest reason that home court advantage exists is the crowd. With Covid restrictions during the regular season, take that into account. As we move into post-season, the NBA may admit fans. That momentum of having crowds finally would probably help the home underdogs more than anyone. The officials normally are well aware of the crowd, and are not interested in making that crowd angry, so they subconsciously give the home team some advantages. In the playoffs the crowds and the fans are more enthusiastic and vocal. That means that home court advantage is going to be tougher to overcome in the playoffs than it might be in the middle of the regular season. A team that appears to have a lot of momentum on the road is one that is probably tough enough to not be bothered by the extra challenges the playoff offers when they are on their opponent’s hardwood. That will increase their chances of playoff success, and therefore makes them more interesting for sports bettors depending on how big a favorite they are for that particular game.   When a Good Team is Struggling  Let’s first find out why a good team is struggling late in the season. Are their players being rested? Was there a “key” injury? Is their regular season standings set to where they can’t move up in seedings? We always find out the “why”. More significant than a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs is the opposite – a total absence of momentum. Some strong contenders will perform at less than their potential down the stretch because they are looking forward to the playoffs and have little left to accomplish in the regular season. Sometimes, though, the struggles of a good team will go well beyond just trying to save themselves. If a team is losing games they should be able to win, performing well below expectations statistically, and bickering or exhibiting a bad attitude in the press, then it could be an important sign that the team isn’t as ready for the league playoffs as they should be, and may not be as strong in the playoffs as their record would suggest. This is especially true for the lower seeded team that barely make the playoffs. They may have extreme talent but are very young and are fighting among themselves.  Nice Betting Value Is Apparent  It usually happens in the first round of the playoffs. Some team that has a mediocre over-all win/loss regular season record may be playing their best basketball. Teams that were 15-26 the first part of the season may have for some important list of variables completely did an about face and finished 26-15. That’s the key stat!! If a team has been shooting better from the field, defending better on the perimeter and under the basket, or rebounding better recently then they did on the whole year then it’s quite possible that they have taken their game to a new level. Perhaps they are more comfortable with each other, or their coaches have found a better way to get through to them, or they are healthy. That’s the value of great coaches. They know the season is long and they’ll use all 82 regular season games to adjust the lineups and find the right chemistry. Whatever the reason, this type of momentum is very valuable for bettors because it can lead to a situation in which a team is better than their record, and therefore better than a lot of casual bettors will assume them to be. That could lead to nice value for the basketball bettor.

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Baseball Betting: Don't Wait for Football - Get the MLB Profits Now

by Wayne Root

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

Betting Baseball Mission Statement  Upon completion of reading this, you should be able to see why baseball is by far the best sport to invest your money. With the house edge being significantly smaller compared to other sports, and the ability to predict future outcomes, baseball can quite easily and most definitely become your most profitable sport to bet. The Largest Sample Size Wins What statistic do you think is more reliable – Aaron Rodgers’ completion percentage in 16 games, or Juan Soto’s batting average in 162 games? If you have taken any kind of statistics course, you know that larger sample sizes are much more predictive. With so many measurable skills and outcomes, with consistently improving analytics readily available to anyone, over a long 162 game season, it’s relatively easy to create a predictive model for baseball (relative to other sports). And it’s not hard to convince anyone of the logic that this is very true and the reason that Sportsbooks place betting limits on baseball but not on football. Out of all the major American sports, baseball is by far the leader in analytics, research, and advanced statistics. Now popularly known as sabermetrics, this phenomenon has allowed front offices and sports bettors alike to more accurately project a game’s outcome. It comes with more bang for your buck. The only risk the players may have occasionally is less action but more profits to the bankroll to make up that shortcoming.  Point Spread vs Moneyline Betting Football and basketball regularly make up about two-thirds of all bets placed in the United States. In these sports, most bets are made on the point spread. Instead of simply betting who will win the game, most bettors bet HOW MUCH a team will win (or lose) by in football and basketball. Let’s look to understand the difference of laying points vs betting moneylines. In football, if you lay -7 points and bet the favorite and the score is 20-17 with 1:45 to play, the favorite will simply play to use up the clock, maybe kick a field goal and win by by six points. You lose your bet even tho the favorite won the game 23-17. Has the following happened to you betting a top 25 team in hoops? In basketball, you bet the favorite to cover a -12 point spread. With 1:25 to play and up 70-55, the home team favorite calls time out and sends in the second team substitutes. Final score is 72-62. You lose your bet even tho the favorite won the game. Does that sound all too familiar? Two favorites lose and the bettor goes 0-2.  Batter Up...Bet Baseball  In baseball, it’s who wins the game. If the LA Dodgers are playing the Colorado Rockies and you bet the Dodgers, all the Dodgers have to do is win the game...period. A game where you don’t have to win by a set amount. Just win the game and get paid. Additionally, in baseball, no matter who I pick though, I know that either team will try to “win” the game. Players will try to score runs on offense, prevent runs on defense, and managers will use strategies to optimize the team’s chance of winning – thus enhancing the chances of my bet winning. This doesn’t happen when betting point “spreads” in football or basketball. Why To Consider The House Edge The house edge for baseball is typically half that of point spread odds. Because baseball betting doesn’t have the same draw and popularity of football and basketball, sportsbooks cut their odds prices a long time ago to attract more action. Instead of the traditional -110 odds for even match-ups, -105 is now the norm for baseball. This drops the house edge from 4.55% to 2.44% using the same calculations as above. However, the price advantage doesn’t stop there. For each dollar bet, there is always a ten-cent difference between the amount required to win $1 with a bet on the favorite and the payout a $1 bet on the underdog will win. This difference, or spread, is where the term “dime line” comes from and is the number one reason why one definitely needs to concentrate on baseball. The Bottom Line Assuming you have created a model that gives you a positive expected value, the longer season is an incredible benefit. Compare this to a casino owning a roulette table which has a positive expected value of 5.26%. Would you rather own it for one hour, one day or one month? A lot of variance can happen in one hour and you might not make a profit despite the 5.26% edge. HOWEVER, this variance should smooth out, or regress to the mean over a longer period of time (such as 24 hours or 30 days). Compare this example to the difference between an NFL season and MLB season. In a 16-week NFL regular season, there are 256 NFL football games versus 2430 total baseball games over a 162-game season. Even if you built an NFL model with a positive expected value, there’s a decent chance you will lose money with such a small sample. By stretching this advantage over 2430 games, you are much more likely to make a profit. So lastly, are you in this for action or in this to make a profit? The baseball is in your hand; throw some strikes and and then hit it out of the ballpark. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, MLB, NHL and UEFA Champions League Previews and Odds - 04/13/2021

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

The Tuesday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the UEFA Champions League.The NBA has six games on the docket. The card begins at 7 PM ET with the opener on TNT with the Los Angles Clippers visiting Indiana. The Clippers won their fifth straight game with a 131-124 victory at home against Detroit as a 12.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Pacers won their third in a row when they upset Memphis on the road, 132-125, as a 3.5-point underdog on Sunday.The nightcap on TNT has Portland hosting Boston at 10 PM ET. The Trail Blazers lost their third game in their last four with a 107-98 loss at home to Miami as a 1-point underdog on Sunday. The Celtics won their fifth game in six on Sunday with a 105-87 upset win at Denver as a 3-point underdog. Portland is a 1-point favorite with the total set at 228 (all odds from BetOnline). Six games are on the NHL slate. The schedule begins at 7 PM ET, with Washington playing at home against Philadelphia. The Capitals won their second straight game with their 8-1 victory at Boston on Sunday. The Flyers have lost three of their last four games after a 5-3 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Washington is a -150 money line favorite with an over/under of 6.Seventeen games are on the MLB schedule, with two doubleheaders making up for two of the postponements on Monday. The card begins at 2:10 PM ET with Minnesota at home against Boston as a -143 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Two televised games are on ESPN, beginning at 7 PM ET with Philadelphia playing in New York against the Mets in the second game of their Tuesday doubleheader after the rainout on Monday. The starting pitcher matchup will likely be Aaron Nola pitching for the Phillies against New York’s Marcus Stroman. The second game on ESPN has San Francisco hosting Cincinnati at 10 PM ET. The Reds won the series opener with a 3-0 victory on Monday. They turn to Luis Castillo for Game Two against the Giants’ Kevin Gausman. San Francisco is a -108 money line favorite with an over/under of 7.5. The second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals has two matches on Paramount (formerly CBS All-Access) at 3 PM ET. Chelsea plays FC Porto after winning the first leg as the road team, 2-0, last Wednesday. Porto must score at least two goals in a victory to advance to the semifinals. A 2-0 win after regulation time will force extra time with the aggregate score tied at two goals apiece. If both teams scored in the extra time, but the score remains tied after the two after the two 15-minute halves, the road team wins via the away goals tie-breaker. A best-of-five penalty shootout resolves the match if the extra time went scoreless. Chelsea is the technical home team with both legs of this matchup played at Seville, Spain, due to travel restrictions due to COVID. Chelsea is a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 2.5.Paris Saint-Germain hosts Bayern Munich at their Parc des Princes after their 3-2 triumph on the road at Allianz Arena. The Bavarians must either win by two goals or score four goals in a victory, to advance to the semifinals. A 3-2 win after regulation time would force the extra time tie-breaker. Bayern Munich is a -0.50 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 3.5. 

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UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals Previews and Odds - 04/13/2021

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

UEFA Champions League Tuesday: Quarterfinals PreviewThe quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League continue on Tuesday with two second-leg matches at 3 PM ET. Chelsea is the technical home team against FC Porto after defeating the Portugal Primeira League club, 2-0, in the first leg of the quarterfinals showdown last Wednesday. Mason Mount scored the opening goal at the 32nd-minute mark of the first half before Ben Chilwell took advantage of a defensive error in the 85th minute in the second half to score the insurance goal. The Blues only tallied six shots with three on target. The Dragons bettered both marks, with five of their eight total shots being on target. Porto was the technical home team last week, with both matches being played on neutral soil in Seville, Spain, due to COVID travel restrictions. The Dragons must score at least two goals with a victory in this second leg to advance to the semifinals. A 2-0 win after regulation time will force extra time with the aggregate score tied at two goals apiece. If both teams scored in the extra time, but the score remains tied after the two after the two 15-minute halves, the road team wins via the away goals tie-breaker. A best-of-five penalty shootout resolves the match if the extra time went scoreless. Manager Sergio Conceicao’s side rebounded on Saturday by defeating Tondela, 2-0m the Portugal top flight. Porto is unbeaten in the Portugal Primeira League since October but remains in second place to Sporting Life. Their loss to Chelsea last week was just the second time in nine Champions League matches this season where they failed to score. Conceicao may have to alter his 4-4-2 defensive formation that often keeps six players in back to generate the pressure necessary to score at least twice against a stout Blues’ defense. The Dragons scored four goals in their Final 16 legs against Juventus. Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace by a 4-1 score on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel rested many of the starting XI that played on Wednesday, which resulted in a more offensively-oriented group on the pitch against the Eagles. Kai Havertz rewarded Tuchel’s decision to play him at a forward position by scoring the opening goal eight minutes into the match. Christian Pulisic then scored twice before Kurt Zouma scored the final goal. The Blues allowed an opponent to score on Saturday for just the second time in their last ten games across all competitions. Chelsea has registered a clean sheet in seven of their nine matches in the Champions League. BookMaker lists Chelsea as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.5.Paris Saint-Germain hosts Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes after their 3-2 triumph at Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Kylian Mbappe produced a brace, and Marinquos scored the middle goal in the 28th minute to lead the Parisians to the upset victory. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has his team advance to the semifinals if they do not surrender two goals. PSG followed up their victory on Wednesday with a 4-1 win at Strasbourg in Ligue 1 three days later. The Parisians are three points behind Lille for first place in the French top flight. Bayern Munich got goals from Eric-Maxim Choupo Motine and Thomas Muller in the losing effort last week. Manager Hansi Flick continues to be without attacker Robert Lewandowski, out a few more weeks after injuring his knee during the international break playing for his Polish national team. Lewandowski has netted 42 goals in 36 matches across all competitions this season. Despite the final score, the Bavarians outshot PSG, 21-5, with 12 of their shots on target to just four for the Parisians. Flick’s side comes off a 1-1 draw at home to Union Berlin on Saturday. Bayern Munich has scored only two goals in their two Bundesliga matches since the Lewandowski injury. Knocks also question the availability of Serge Gnarby, Douglas Costa, and Corentin Tolisso for this match.The Bavarians must either win by two goals or score four goals in a victory, to advance to the semifinals. A 3-2 win after regulation time would force the extra time tie-breaker. BookMaker lists Bayern Munich as a -0.25 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 3.5. Both matches on the Paramount+ app (formerly CBS All-Access). The PSG-Bayern Munich match is also on TUDN.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: MLB, NHL, NBA and EPL Previews and Odds - 04/12/2021

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Apr 12, 2021

The Monday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and English Premier League.The NBA has nine games on the docket. The card begins at 7:30 PM ET, with the New York Knicks hosting the Los Angeles Lakers as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 206 (all odds from BetOnline). Philadelphia travels to Dallas for the first game of an ESPN doubleheader at 7:30 PM ET. The 76ers have won two of their last three games after a 117-93 victory at Oklahoma City as a 9.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Mavericks have lost two of three games after their 119-117 upset loss to San Antonio as a 6-point favorite on Sunday. San Antonio visits Orlando at 8 PM ET as a 5.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 220. Brooklyn plays at Minnesota as a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 240.5. Utah plays at home against Washington at 9 PM ET as a -13.5-point favorite with an over/under of 234. Memphis hosts Chicago as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 229. New Orleans is at home against Sacramento as a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 232.Phoenix hosts Houston at 10 PM ET as a 13-point favorite with a total of 228. Denver travels to Golden State in the second game on ESPN. The Nuggets had their eight-game winning streak end with a 105-87 upset loss to Boston as a 3.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Warriors have won two of three with their 125-109 win against Houston as a 7-point favorite on Saturday.Eight games are on the NHL slate. Winnipeg visits Ottawa at 7 PM ET as a -180 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6. Toronto is home against Montreal as a -129 money line road favorite with a total of 6. Carolina plays at home against Detroit as a -355 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Chicago travels to Columbus as a -118 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5.Minnesota hosts St. Louis at 8 PM ET as a -135 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Arizona plays at home Colorado at 9 PM ET. Vegas visits the Los Angeles Kings at 10 PM ET as a -168 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5. San Jose is at home against Anaheim at 10 PM ET. Fourteen games are on the MLB schedule. The card begins at 2:10 PM ET, with Minnesota hosting Boston as a -141 money line favorite with an over/under of 9. Milwaukee is at home against the Chicago Cubs on FS1 at 7:40 PM ET. The Brewers have won four of their last five games after their 9-3 win against St. Louis on Sunday. The Cubs have lost four of five after a 7-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Adbert Alzolay pitches for Chicago against Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta. The Brewers are a -137 money line favorite with a total of an over/under of 8.The MLB card concludes at 9:45 PM ET with San Francisco playing at home against Cincinnati as a -110 money line favorite with the total at 8.5.Matchweek 31 in the English Premier League concludes with two matches on the NBC Sports Network. Southampton travels to West Bromwich Albion at 1 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line road favorite with a total of 2.5. Brighton and Hove Albion plays at home against Everton at 3:15 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25.

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