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NHL Hockey: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals Preview, Odds and Prediction - 05/23/2021

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, May 23, 2021

NHL Sunday USA Network Preview: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals.Boston looks to close out their seven-game series with Washington on Sunday at 7 PM ET on the USA Network. The Bruins took a 3-1 lead in this series with their 4-1 road victory on Friday.Brad Marchand opened the scoring for Boston with a power-play goal eight minutes into the second period. David Pastrnak added a power-play goal 29 seconds into the third period. Charlie Coyle scored the team’s third goal 34 seconds later to break the game wide open for the Bruins. Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board with a power-play goal of his own at the 4:54 mark of the final period. Matt Grzelcyk scored the final play on a power play at 14:50. Boston converted in three of their five power-play opportunities. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced to earn his 54th career victory in the postseason. After some shaky moments in this series, Rask has a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage after the first four games. Charlie McAvoy had three assists in the win. He leads the Bruins with five points from five assists in the postseason. Pastrnak is second on the team with four points including a goal. Marchand’s three playoff goals are tops on the team. Ilya Samsonov made 33 saves for Washington. He made 40 saves in the third game of this series, but he made a mistake that cost his team that game in overtime. Samsonov has posted a 2.67 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage since returning from COVID quarantine to play the third and fourth games. Craig Anderson started the second game after coming into relief for Vitek Vanecek in the first period of the opening after he incurred a lower-body injury. Vanecek is questionable for this game. Ovechkin’s power-play goal was his 71st playoff goal in his career. He leads the Capitals with four points in this series from two goals and two assists. T.J. Oshie and Garnett Hathaway both have three points.Game 4 was the first time in this series that the game did not go into overtime. Washington took the opening game, 3-2. Boston won game two by a 4-3 score before winning the third game in double overtime, 3-2.The Capitals got centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller back on the ice on Friday after both players did not play in Game 3. Yet Washington endured a stretch lasting 18:40 minutes in Game 4 where they failed to muster a shot on goal. The Caps have converted on just three of their 17 power-play opportunities in this series. Washington tied for first place in the East Division with Pittsburgh but settled for the second seed given tie-breakers. The Capitals had 77 points in the regular season, coming from a 36-15-5 record under first-year head coach Peter Laviolette. Led by Ovechkin and a core group of veterans who led the franchise to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018, the hope is the pieces are in place to make another deep postseason run. Boston finished in third place in the East Division with a 33-16-7 record. Bruce Cassidy's team finished four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. The Bruins ran away with the President’s Trophy last year, but they lost their mojo after the stoppage of play in March. They lost all three of their round-robin games in the bubble to determine playoff seeding before losing to Tampa Bay in the second round.BookMaker lists Boston as a -136 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.Prediction:  Washington Capitals 4 Boston Bruins 2

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA and EPL Previews and Odds - 05/23/2021

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Sunday sports card has action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, and the English Premier League.The NBA playoffs have four games on the docket. Philadelphia hosts Washington on TNT at 1 PM ET. The 76ers have won 10 of their last 12 games after their 128-117 victory against Orlando as a 6.5-point favorite last Sunday. The Wizards have won three of four after defeating Indiana in the Play-In Tournament, 142-115, as a 4.5-point favorite on Thursday. Philadelphia is a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 228.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Phoenix plays at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on ABC at 3:30 PM ET. The Suns won their third straight game with their 123-121 victory at San Antonio as a 2-point favorite last Sunday. The Lakers have won six in a row after defeating Golden State, 103-100, as a 5.5-point favorite in the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday. Phoenix is a 2.5-point favorite with an over/under of 213.5.New York is at home against Atlanta on TNT at 7 PM ET. The Knicks have won three in a row after their 96-92 victory against Boston as a 12-point favorite on Sunday. The Hawks have won seven of their last eight games with their 124-95 win against Houston on Sunday. New York is a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 215. Utah hosts Memphis on TNT at 9:30 PM ET. The Jazz have won seven of their last nine games after their 121-99 victory at Sacramento as an 11.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Grizzlies won their seventh game in their last eight with their 117-112 upset victory at Golden State as a 4.5-point underdog in the Play-In Tournament on Friday. Utah is an 8.5-point favorite with an over/under of 216.Four games are on the NHL playoff slate. Carolina plays at Nashville on the NBC Sports Network at 2:30 PM ET. The Predators come off a 5-4 victory in the third game of this series on Friday. The Hurricanes still hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Carolina is a -140 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5.Colorado visits St. Louis on the NBC Sports Network at 5 PM ET. The Avalanche took a 3-0 lead in this series on Friday with their 5-1 victory. Colorado is a -212 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Boston travels to Washington on the USA Network at 7 PM ET. The Bruins have won the last three games in this series after a 4-1 victory at home on Friday. The Capitals hope to stave off elimination as they trail 3-1 in the series. Boston is a -125 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5.Edmonton visits Winnipeg on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30 PM ET. The Jets took a 2-0 lead in this series with their 1-0 victory in overtime on Friday. The Oilers have lost three games in a row. Edmonton is a -125 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Fifteen games are on the MLB schedule. The New York Yankees play at home against the Chicago White Sox at 1:05 PM ET as a -128 money line favorite with a total of 9. Washington hosts Baltimore as a -182 money line favorite with an over/under of 9.5. Philadelphia is at home against Boston as a -122 money line favorite with the total at 8.5. Tampa Bay visits Toronto at 1:07 PM ET. Cleveland plays at home against Minnesota at 1:10 PM ET as a -128 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Milwaukee plays at Cincinnati as a -124 money line road favorite with a total of 8. The New York Mets play at Miami. Atlanta hosts Pittsburgh at 1:20 PM ET as a -190 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.Kansas City plays at home against Detroit at 2:10 PM ET as a -144 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Houston visits Texas at 2:35 PM ET as a -167 money line road favorite with an over/under of 9. Colorado is at home against Arizona at 3:10 PM ET as a -140 money line favorite with the total at 11.5.The Los Angeles Dodgers visit San Francisco at 4:05 PM ET as a -128 money line road favorite with an over/under of 7.5. Oakland is at Los Angeles to play the Angels at 4:07 PM ET as a -110 money line road favorite with a total of 8.5. San Diego hosts Seattle as a -220 money line favorite with an over/under of 7. St. Louis plays at home against the Chicago Cubs on ESPN at 7:08 PM ET. The Cardinals are a -130 money line favorite with a total of 8.5.Three games are on the WNBA schedule. New York plays at Chicago on ESPN at 1 PM ET. Washington visits Indiana at 1 PM ET. Connecticut travels to Las Vegas at 6 PM ET.Matchweek 38 concludes the English Premier League season with all ten matches starting at 11 AM ET. Manchester City is at home against Everton as a -1.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3. Leicester City hosts Tottenham on the NBC Sports Network as a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 3. Liverpool plays at home against Crystal Palace as a -2.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3.5.

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Ness Notes: 2021 NBA playoffs-Part 2

by Larry Ness

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Play-In results: The Celtics beat the Wizards 118-100 (Tatum had 50 points!) on Tuesday to claim the No. 7 seed in the East, as Boston will make its seventh straight playoff appearance and its 13th in the last 14 seasons). The Lakers edged the Warriors 103-100 (LBJ won it by making a 34-foot three-pointer!) on Wednesday to grab the West's No. 7 seed, giving last year's champs a chance to defend its title. Raise your hand if you had predicted BEFORE the start of the current season that Boston and LA, the NBA's two most storied franchises with 17 NBA titles apiece, would be this season's No. 7 seeds! The Wizards recovered from their loss at Boston by crushing the Pacers 142-115 win in Washington giving them the East's No. 8 seed. The Pacers saw their run of five straight playoff appearances end (note: Indiana had lost in the first round in each of those five appearances). The last team to claim a berth in this year's postseason was Memphis, which avenged a 113-101 loss at Golden St last Sunday by beating the Warriors 1117-112 (OT) last night in San Francisco. The Grizzlies led 62-49 at the half but the Warriors sent it into OT. Curry had 39 points for the Warriors but Ja Morant scored 15 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and OT, as the Grizzlies became the youngest playoff team since the 2010-11 Oklahoma City Thunder (average age of Memphis' roster is 24.8 years old), The NBA's 16-team playoff field is now set and here are the eight series and the prices, courtesy of BetAnySports: Bucks -290/Heat +260Clippers -375/Mavs +335Nets -1100/Celtics +900Blazers -128/Nuggets +118Sixers -925/Wizards +725Lakers -150/Suns +140Hawks -120/Knicks +110Jazz -1100/Grizzlies +900The NBA expanded its playoff field to 16 teams for the 1983-84 season but first round series were best-of-five with all remaining series being the best-of-seven. The first round was extended to a best-of-seven series for the 2002-03 season (and has remained in place) with the change arguably benefitting the higher seeded teams by reducing the likelihood of an upset by a lower seed. The lowest seed to reach the NBA Finals was the No. 8 NY Knicks in the 50-game strike season of 1998-99, who would lose 4-1 to the Spurs (the first of Pop's five championship teams). The lowest seed to win an NBA title was the No. 6 Houston Rockets in the 1994-95 season. Houston had won the NBA title the year before but the team's second consecutive title was an unforgettable one. Houston won all FOUR series without the home court edge and its 'victims' that postseason had a combined record of 238-90 (.726) during the regular season. No championship team, before or since, has beaten a more impressive group of challengers on its way to an NBA title.Is there a long shot in this season's NBA playoff field? I guess it depends how one defines a long shot. Here's a quick look at a trio of first round matchups in which the lower seed could advance. The Lakers are a No. 7 seed but are also defending champs and have LBJ and A.D. Can they really be considered a long shot? That said, they are a No. 7 seed, so like Houston back in 1995, would have to win four consecutive series without the home court edge in any one. LA gets the Suns in the first round, who ended a 10-season playoff drought in 2021 by going 51-21 to grab the West's No. 2 seed plus own the West's best ATS record at 42-28-2. Phoenix is a VERY talented group but its leader is Chris Paul and for all the talk surrounding just how good he is, looms the fact that he's never  led one of his teams to a conference final (no less an NBA Finals or a championship). The irony heading into the series is that the Lakers seem healthy, while the Suns are concerned over center Ayton's (14.4 & 10.5 in playing 69 of 72 games) knee and SF Johnson's (9.6) wrist. Would anyone really be surprised if LA were to pull the 'upset?' What upset? The Lakers are a -150 favorite to win the series.Both No. 6 seeds are also worth mentioning. The Heat are the East's No. 6 seed and will meet the Bucks, the East's No. 3 seed. As most probably know, the Bucks owned the East's (and the NBA's) No. 1 seed each of the last two seasons. Milwaukee's.639 winning percentage (46-26) this season is far off its .748 percentage of the previous two seasons (116-39). Milwaukee made the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago but after going up 2-0 against the Raptors, lost FOUR in a row. Last season in Orlando, the Bucks fell to Miami 4-1 in the second round. The Heat would make it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2020, before losing to the Lakers. Miami was last postseason's best pointspread team at 16-5. Milwaukee is the NBA's highest scoring team (120.1 PPG) and would surely love to finally put its playoff disappointments of the last two postseasons behind them. Will that be enough or will Spoelstra's Heat surprise again? The Bucks are a sizable favorite at -290 to win the series but...Moving back to the Western Conference, the Blazers (No. 6 seed) will take on the Nuggets (No. 3 seed). Portland's dynamic guard duo is back healthy, as McCollum (23.1) missed 25 games earlier but has been back since mid-March to join Lillard (28.8-4.2-7.5). Center Nurkic (11.5 & 9.0) missed 35 games but now gives the Blazers a two-headed center threat along with Kanter (11.2 & 11.0). Then there is 'Melo (13,4), who has revived his career with the Blazers and will face the team that made him No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 draft. Denver lost PG Murray (21.2-4.0-4.8) for teh season but MVP favorite Nikola Jokic (26.4-10.8-8.3) has kept Denver winning, as the Nuggets went 13-5 without Murray. Denver has also had injuries to backup PG Morris (10.2 & 3.2 APG) and swingman Barton (12.7-4.0-3,2) but Morris is back and Barton is expected back soon. SF Porter (19.0 & 7.3) has had a breakout year and acquiring PF Aaron Gordon (10.2 & 4.7) at the trade deadline from Orlando has been a great "fit," with the Nuggets going 19-6 in his 25 games with the team. However, Portland comes in having won 10 of 12 and like with the Lakers over the Suns, is a case where the lower seed is favored (-128).Enjoy the NBA playoff 'ride' and I'll be back June 1 for a MLB update through Memorial Day play.Good luck...Larry 

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2021 NBA Playoffs: 1st Round Previews, Odds and Predictions

by Al McMordie

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The NBA Playoffs tip off this weekend, and the match-ups have been set.  Let's take a look at the eight First Round series from a point spread perspective.In the Eastern Conference, the match-ups are:(1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (8) Washington Wizards(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (7) Boston Celtics(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (6) Miami Heat(4) New York Knicks vs. (5) Atlanta HawksIn the Western Conference, the match-ups are:(1) Utah Jazz vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Dallas MavericksThe odds (courtesy of BookMaker) on each team to win its First Round series are:Philadelphia 76ers (-973)/Washington Wizards (+723)Brooklyn Nets (-1164)/Boston Celtics (+838)Milwaukee Bucks (-299)/Miami Heat (+258)New York Knicks (+112)/Atlanta Hawks (-127)Utah Jazz (-1164)/Memphis Grizzlies (+832)Phoenix Suns (+138)/Los Angeles Lakers (-153)Denver Nuggets (+118)/Portland Trail Blazers (-133)Los Angeles Clippers (-368)/Dallas Mavericks (+313)The regular season series records for each of the First Round match-ups are as follows:Philadelphia defeated Washington 3 games to 0Brooklyn defeated Boston 3 games to 0Milwaukee defeated Miami 2 games to 1New York defeated Atlanta 3 games to 0Utah defeated Memphis 3 games to 0Phoenix defeated Los Angeles 2 games to 1Denver defeated Portland 2 games to 1Dallas defeated Los Angeles 2 games to 1The ATS and O/U records for each team are:Atlanta Hawks:  39-32-1 ATS (54.9%); 35 overs, 36 unders, 1 tieBoston Celtics:  34-38-1 ATS (47.2%); 37 overs, 36 undersBrooklyn Nets:  38-34 ATS (52.7%); 40 overs, 32 undersDallas Mavericks:  35-37 ATS (48.6%); 34 overs, 38 undersDenver Nuggets:  34-38 ATS (47.2%); 39 overs, 32 unders, 1 tieLos Angeles Clippers:  39-32-1 ATS (54.9%); 35 overs, 35 unders, 2 tiesLos Angeles Lakers:  32-40-1 ATS (44.4%); 28 overs, 43 unders, 2 tiesMemphis Grizzlies:  43-31 ATS (58.1%); 35 overs, 37 unders, 2 tiesMiami Heat:  34-36-2 ATS (48.5%); 38 overs, 34 undersMilwaukee Bucks:  32-40 ATS (44.4%); 41 overs, 30 unders, 1 tieNew York Knicks:  45-26-1 ATS (63.3%); 32 overs, 40 undersPhiladelphia 76ers:  38-31-3 ATS (55.0%); 34 overs, 37 unders, 1 tiePhoenix Suns:  42-28-2 ATS (60.0%); 42 overs, 30 undersPortland Trail Blazers:  38-34 ATS (52.7%); 36 overs, 34 unders, 2 tiesUtah Jazz:  41-31 ATS (56.9%); 33 overs, 38 unders, 1 tieWashington Wizards:  42-31-1 ATS (57.5%); 37 overs, 37 undersFirst Round trends since 1990:Home:  547-537-24 ATSAway:  537-574-24 ATSUnderdog:  541-604-26 ATSFavorite:  604-541-26 ATSOff Win:  578-597-28 ATSOff Loss:  573-554-24 ATSOff SU/ATS Win:  458-471-24 ATSOff SU/ATS Loss:  462-460-21 ATSOff Back-to-Back SU/ATS Wins:  184-183-12 ATSOff Back-to-Back SU/ATS Losses:  174-159-13 ATSOff 20-point Playoff Win:  65-79-1 ATSOff 10-point Cover in Previous Playoff Game:  171-185-6 ATSOff Upset Playoff Win:  124-151-9 ATSOff Over in Previous Playoff Game:  416 overs, 448 unders, 18 tiesOff Under in Previous Playoff Game:  442 overs, 494 unders, 16 ties#1 seeds:  143-138-4 ATS#2 seeds:  170-109-10 ATS#3 seeds: 149-144-7 ATS#4 seeds: 134-168-5 ATS#5 seeds:  168-134-5 ATS#6 seeds:  144-149-7 ATS#7 seeds: 109-170-10 ATS#8 seeds:  138-143-4 ATSPredictions:Eastern Conference:Philadelphia 76ers win 4 games to 0Brooklyn Nets win 4 games to 0Milwaukee Bucks win 4 games to 1New York Knicks win 4 games to 3Western Conference:Utah Jazz win 4 games to 0Phoenix Suns win 4 games to 3Portland Trail Blazers win 4 games to 2Dallas Mavericks win 4 games to 2Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NHL Hockey: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild Game 2 Preview, Odds and Prediction - 05/22/2021

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, May 22, 2021

NHL Saturday NBC Preview: Vegas Golden Knights at the Minnesota Wild. The Vegas Golden Knights play at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday at 8 PM in the fourth game of their opening-round West Division playoff series. NBC has the broadcast. The Golden Knights won the third game of this series on Thursday by a 5-2 score. Vegas trailed after the first period, 2-0, yet almost dug themselves into a deeper hole. The Wild opened the scoring 2:16 minutes into the first period with Ryan Hartman beating Marc-Andre Fleury. Joel Eriksson Ek made it 2-0 a little over five minutes later. Eriksson Ek then appeared to score a third goal at the 13:05 minute mark of the period. Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer risked a delay of game penalty by challenging the goal, a big gamble since if the review confirmed the scoring play, Minnesota would go on the power play with a 3-0 lead. But the scoring play was called offsides to give the Golden Knights a reprieve.Mark Stone got Vegas on the board 8:39 minutes into the second period. Patrick Brown evened the score almost seven minutes later. The Golden Knights took the lead at the 17:37 mark with Reilly Smith beating the Wild’s goalie Cam Talbot off his own rebound. William Karlsson scored the team’s fourth goal with only about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third period. Stone added an empty netter with just over a minute left for a 5-2 final score that obscures how close the game was. Fleury had his least challenging night so far in the series despite giving up the two first-period goals. He only faced 16 shots after making 34 and 29 saves in the first two games. Fleury has stopped 77 of the Wild’s 81 shots for a .951 save percentage. Talbot made 35 saves in the losing effort. The Minnesota goaltender has stopped 102 of the 109 shots he has faced in this series for a .936 save percentage. Talbot made 42 saves in the Wild’s 1-0 overtime victory in the opening game of this series on Tuesday. He allowed three goals on 28 shots in the Golden Knights’ 3-1 win on Thursday in Game Two. Minnesota left win Marcus Johansson left the game at 6:55 in the first period after crashing into the nest. The third-line left wing is out indefinitely with a broken arm. Johansson had seven goals and eight assists in 36 games in the regular season playing with center Nick Bonino and Kevin Fiala. The Golden Knights’ Max Pacioretty missed his ninth straight game with an injury after being a game-time decision. The left wing led the team in the regular season with 24 goals. Fourth-line center Tomas Nosek also missed the game as a game-time decision. He left Game Two midway through the first period after taking a hit from Marcus Foligno. Minnesota won five of the eight games between these two teams during the regular season. Vegas’ victory on Thursday was just the third time in the franchise’s nine games played at Xcel Energy Center, where they defeated the Wild. BetAnySports lists the Golden Knights as a -110 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.Prediction:  Minnesota Wild 4 Vegas Golden Knights 1

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Big Al's Daily Angle: WNBA, NBA, MLB and NHL Previews and Odds - 05/22/2021

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Saturday sports card has action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the WNBA.The NBA playoffs begin with four games. Milwaukee hosts Miami on ESPN at 2:05 PM ET. The Bucks had their three-game losing streak end with a 118-112 upset loss at Chicago as a 7.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Heat have won five of their last six games with their 120–107 win at Detroit as a 3-point favorite on Sunday. Milwaukee is a 4.5-point favorite with the total set at 227 (all odds from BetOnline). The Los Angeles Clippers play at home against Dallas on ESPN at 4:35 PM ET. The Clippers have lost two in a row after their 117-112 upset loss at Oklahoma City as an 8-point favorite on Sunday. The Mavericks had their two-game winning streak end with a 136-121 upset loss at Minnesota as a 7-point favorite on Sunday. Los Angeles is a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 218.5.Brooklyn is at home against Boston on ABC at 8 PM ET. The Nets have won five in a row with their 123-109 win against Cleveland as a 13-point favorite on Sunday. The Celtics won their play-in tournament game with a 118-100 victory against Washington as a 1.5-point favorite on Tuesday. Brooklyn is an 8-point favorite with a total of 229. Denver hosts Portland on ESPN at 10:35 PM ET. The Nuggets had their three-game winning streak end with their 132-116 loss at Portland as an 8.5-point underdog on Sunday. The Trail Blazers have won six of their last seven games with that victory. Denver is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 227.5. Four games take place in the NHL playoffs. Tampa Bay plays at home against Florida on CNBC at 12:30 PM ET. The Panthers won their seventh game in their last nine with a 6-5 victory in the third game of this series on Thursday. The Lighting holds a 2-1 lead in the series. Tampa Bay is a -135 money line favorite with the total at 6. The New York Islanders are at home against Pittsburgh on NBC at 3 PM ET. The Penguins took a 2-1 lead in this series with a 5-4 victory on Thursday. The Islanders are a -109 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Toronto is at home against Montreal on CNBC at 7 PM ET. The Canadiens won the opening game of this series by a 2-1 score on Thursday. The Maple Leafs are a -167 money line favorite with a total of 5.5. Vegas visits Minnesota on NBC at 8 PM ET. The Golden Knights took a 2-1 lead in this series with a 5-2 victory on Thursday. The Wild have lost four of their last five games. Vegas is a -113 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Fifteen games are on the MLB slate. The New York Yankees host the Chicago White Sox at 1:05 PM ET as a -190 money line favorite with the total of 7.5. Arizona visits Colorado at 3:10 PM ET as a -112 money line road favorite with an over/under of 11. Houston travels to Texas at 4:05 PM ET as a -185 money line road favorite with the total at 9. Washington is at home against Baltimore as a -152 money line favorite with an over/under of 9. Cincinnati plays at home against Milwaukee as a -135 money line favorite with the total at 8.5. Kansas City hosts Detroit as a -145 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Cleveland is at home against Minnesota as a -168 money line favorite with a total of 7.5. The New York Mets visit Miami. Pittsburgh travels to Atlanta. Fox broadcasts three regional games at 7:15 PM ET. St. Louis plays at home against the Chicago Cubs as a -107 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Boston visits Philadelphia as a -130 money line road favorite with a total of 9. The Los Angeles Dodgers plays at San Francisco. Toronto hosts Tampa Bay at 7:37 PM ET as a -114 money line favorite with a total of 9.5. Seattle visits San Diego at 8:40 PM ET. Oakland travels to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers at 10:07 PM ET. One game takes place in the WNBA. The Seattle Storm visits the Dallas Wings at 8 PM ET.

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WNBA Early Season Shootaround

by Sean Murphy

Friday, May 21, 2021

We're one week into the 2021 WNBA season and we've already seen plenty of surprises across the league. Here's a quick look at some key situations to keep an eye on heading into the second weekend of the season.Minny-slumpThe Minnesota Lynx are off to an improbable 0-3 start after a complete fourth quarter collapse against the Seattle Storm on Thursday. While the schedule-makers haven't been overly kind to the Lynx in the early going with two of their three games coming against title contenders in the Mercury and Storm, both of those games came at home and they also had a winnable road game against the Liberty which they lost 86-75. The good news is, reinforcements are on their way with two-way star in the making Napheesa Collier set to return from Covid quarantine. Note that the Lynx are in for an extended layoff as they won't take the court again until next Friday when they head to Seattle for a rematch with the Storm. Aces are wildWhile the Las Vegas Aces only managed to earn a split in a two-game season-opening set in Seattle, they still managed to put on quite a show, scoring 179 points led by 42 points from A'ja Wilson. Going back to the brief preseason, the Aces rank second in the WNBA in pace rating but they've been anything but careless, also checking in second in the league in fewest turnovers per game. Off Tuesday's blowout win over the Storm, the Aces have the opportunity to go on a run with four of their next five games coming at home, beginning with a date with the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night. It's early but the Aces certainly look the part of a title contender - this time with a big chip on their shoulder after last year's Finals disappointment.Unpleasant Dream?The Atlanta Dream started the season completely out of sorts after head coach Nicki Collen surprisingly bolted for Baylor just weeks before the 2021 campaign began. They're off to a winless start through two games, checking in 10th in the league in defensive rating and 11th in offensive rating. Things don't figure to get a whole lot easier as they'll play their next two games on the road. The good news is Friday's opponent, the Indiana Fever, are in complete disarray having dropped their first three games this season. Dream first round draft pick Aari McDonald has yet to find her way, contributing just a single point in 27 minutes of action so far. Atlanta does have high hopes for a potential backcourt duo of McDonald and Chennedy Carter. For her part, Carter has accounted for nearly a quarter of the Dream's scoring output through two games. Mercury risingPhoenix is going to be a problem for many opponents this season with an explosive starting five that has seen all five players score in double-figures in two of three games so far (with four reaching the mark in the other). Having Brittney Griner back in the fold is obviously a major plus and she already appears to be in midseason form, contributing 47 points while grabbing 26 rebounds through three games. Along with Sue Bird of the Storm, Diana Taurasi is an ageless wonder, pouring in 50 points in her first three contests this season. Phoenix's tough early season schedule continues with consecutive home games against the undefeated Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces up next.

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NHL Hockey: Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets Series Preview and Odds - 05/21/2021

by Big Al Staff

Friday, May 21, 2021

NHL North Division First Round Playoff Preview: Winnipeg Jets versus the Edmonton Oilers.Edmonton took second place in the North Division, representing the Canadian teams. Their 35-19-2 record produced 72 points, five points shy of Toronto for first place. This regular season for the Oilers continued the promise this team demonstrated last year when they finished fifth in the Western Conference before the stoppage of play. Their defense and goaltending let them down in the play-in qualifying series as they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in four games. General manager Ken Holland bolstered the offensive attack in the offseason. He signed defenseman Tyson Barrie as a free agent from Toronto to quarterback the power play. He had 34 assists as a Maple Leaf last season. Holland took a flier on center Kyle Turris, with the hopes that the 31-year old could resurrect his career away from Nashville. Holland was also able to convince Jesse Puljujarvi to return to the team after the former fourth pick in the 2013 draft left the club disgruntled after the 2019 season to return to his native Final to play professionally.Chronic shoulder issues kept Oscar Klebfbom, perhaps the team’s best pure defender, off the ice all season. Holland addressed that area of need at the trade deadline by acquiring Dmitry Kulikov from New Jersey. Edmonton will go as far as Connor McDavid can take them. He made his claim to being the best player in the world with 33 goals and 72 assists. His 105 points put him on a 154-point pace for a full regular season which would have put him in the rarefied air of Wayne Gretzky’s and Mario Lemieux’s best seasons. Leon Draisaitl anchors the second line at center with another 31 goals and 53 assists. These two play together on the Oilers’ power-play unit that led the league with a 27.6% success rate. That mark followed up a 29.5% conversion rate on the power play last season. Head coach Dave Tippet got better results when his team was playing at a man disadvantage this season. Edmonton was top-ten in the league in the fewest chances allowed, and they allowed the fewest goals when defending their opponent’s power play. Mike Smith rebounded from a .908 save percentage last season to post a .923 save percentage in 32 games. The 38-year-old posted a 21-6-2 record in his 30 starts with a 2.31 goals-against-average for the season. Winnipeg claimed the third seed in the North Division with a 30-23-3 record. Their 63 points were four points ahead of Montreal but nine points behind the Oilers. The Jets were in ninth place in the Western Conference when play stopped in March last season. Paul Maurice’s team returned in the bubble with a best-of-five qualifying series with Calgary, which they lost in four games. Injuries to Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine during that series left Winnipeg without two of their top forwards. Connor Hellebucyk was a bright spot, with a 2.57 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage last season. His +20.8 saves above his expected save metric helped him win the Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender in the NHL. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff traded for forward Paul Stastny in the offseason to play on the second line. He then pulled off a blockbuster trade in January by trading Laine and forward Jack Roslovic to Columbus for center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Cheveldayoff acquired Jordie Benn from Vancouver at the trade deadline to add depth on the blue line.Center Mark Scheifele leads the team with 63 points coming from 21 goals and 42 assists. Left wing Kyle Connor’s 26 goals are a team-high. Hellebuyck has been good once again, with a 2.58 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage. Edmonton dominated the regular-season series with seven wins in regulation in their nine meetings. McDavid was nearly unstoppable with nine goals and 15 assists in those nine games. However, Winnipeg upset the Oilers as a +145 money line underdog in the opener of this series in Edmonton on Wednesday.Edmonton hosts Winnipeg on Friday at 9 PM ET. BookMaker lists the Oilers as a -160 money line favorite with the total set at 5.5. The NBC Sports Network has the broadcast.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: MLB, NBA, WNBA and NHL Previews and Odds - 05/21/2021

by Big Al Staff

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Friday sports card has action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the WNBA.The play-in tournament for the NBA playoffs concludes with Golden State hosting Memphis in the final Western Conference elimination game on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Warriors had their six-game winning streak end with their 103-100 loss in Los Angeles against the Lakers as a 5.5-point underdog on Wednesday. The Grizzlies advanced to this game with their 100-96 victory against San Antonio as a 4-point favorite on Wednesday. Golden State is a 4-point favorite with the total set at 220.5 (all odds from BetOnline). The winner takes the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and a trip to Utah to begin a Western Conference quarterfinals playoff series on Sunday night.The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs continues with four games. Boston plays at home against Washington on the NBC Sports Network at 6:30 PM ET. The Bruins took a 2-1 lead in this series with their 3-2 victory at home on Wednesday. Boston is a -171 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Carolina travels to Nashville on the USA Network at 7 PM ET. The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead in this series with their 3-0 shutout win at home on Wednesday. Carolina is a -145 money line road favorite with a total of 5. Edmonton hosts Winnipeg on the NBC Sports Network at 9 PM ET. The Jets upset the Oilers in the opening game of this series with their 4-1 victory on Wednesday. Edmonton is a -162 money line favorite with the over/under at 5.5. Colorado visits St. Louis on the USA Network at 9:30 PM ET. The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead in this series with their seventh straight victory in a 6-3 win on Wednesday. Colorado is a -213 money line road favorite with the total at 5.5. Fifteen games are on the MLB docket. The New York Yankees play at home against the Chicago White Sox at 7:05 PM ET as a -108 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Washington hosts Baltimore as a -205 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Philadelphia is at home against Boston as a -152 money line favorite with an over/under of 8. Miami plays at home against the New York Mets at 7:10 PM ET as a -130 money line favorite with the total at 7. Milwaukee visits Cincinnati as a -113 money line favorite with a total of 9. Minnesota plays at Cleveland with both teams priced at -110 with an over/under of 8.5. Tampa Bay plays at Toronto at 7:37 PM ET as a -140 money line favorite with a total of 9.Houston visits Texas at 8:05 PM ET as a -123 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Kansas City plays at home against Detroit at 8:10 PM ET as a -151 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. The Chicago Cubs travel to St. Louis at 8:15 PM ET as a -115 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8. Arizona plays at Colorado at 8:40 PM ET. Oakland travels to Los Angeles to play the Angels at 9:38 PM ET as a -113 money line road favorite with a total of 9. The Los Angeles Dodgers visit San Francisco at 9:45 PM ET as a -149 money line road favorite with an over/under of 7. San Diego hosts Seattle at 10:10 PM ET as a -205 money line favorite with a total of 7.5.Four games are on the WNBA slate. Atlanta plays at Indiana at 7 PM ET. New York visits Washington. Connecticut travels to Phoenix at 10 PM ET. Los Angeles is at Las Vegas on the CBS Sports Network at 10:30 PM ET.

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NHL Hockey: Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Preview, Odds and Prediction - 05/20/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, May 20, 2021

NHL First Round Playoff Preview: Montreal Canadiens versus Toronto Maple Leafs.Toronto cruised to first place in the Canadien North Division with a 35-14-7 record and 77 points. The Maple Leafs enter the postseason with high expectations but the burden of a long recent history of playoff disappointments. The last time the organization won a playoff series was in 2004. They caught a break from the league when makeshift divisions were created with them separated from Atlantic Division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay, who have been thorns in their sides over the years. The pressure has only increased for the team to advance from the North Division playoffs to the Eastern Conference finals.The Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock after a 9-10-4 start last year. Sheldon Keefe was promoted from their minor league affiliate with the expectation that he would make better use of the core young talent on the team. The group responded by finishing in eighth place in the Eastern Conference while playing at a pace that would have generated 103 points during a full regular season. But losing to Columbus in the Stanley Cup qualifying round continued left more questions for the franchise. General manager Kyle Dubas was active in the offseason. He signed T.J. Brodie from Calgary to upgrade the blue line. Adding veterans Joe Thornton, Joey Anderson, Wayne Simmons, and Zach Bogosian offered the team more players with playoff experience to bolster the character in the locker room. Dubas continued this endeavor at the trade deadline by acquiring forwards Nick Foligno and Riley Nash from Columbus and defenseman Ben Hutton from Anaheim. Auston Matthews leads the team with 47 goals and 81 points as he continues to thrive after getting more minutes per game under Keefe. Mitch Marner has 67 points playing the top line partnered with Matthews. John Tavares added 19 goals and 31 assists anchoring the second line. Keefe will be giving Jack Campbell his first opportunity as the number one goalie in the postseason. Injuries to Frederik Anderson created the opportunity for Campbell to take the job. He responded with a 2.15 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage which helped him post a 17-3-2 record in his 22 starts. Anderson has a career 10-14 record in the playoffs with the Maple Leafs, and this is the final year of his contract after a disappointing 2019-20. Montreal held on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division despite losing their last five games. The Canadiens finished the regular season with a 24-21-11 record, good for 59 points. The team entered the year with momentum after upsetting Pittsburgh in the qualifying round in the bubble last year before giving Philadelphia a competitive series before losing in six games. All four of Montreal’s losses to the Flyers were by only one goal. The Canadiens started fast this season only to struggle with injuries and some disappointing performances from players they were counting on to continue their momentum after being the last team to qualify for the bubble last season. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the third pick in the 2019 draft, had a breakout postseason in the bubble last year, but the center has taken a step back this year. Shea Weber’s skills are deteriorating at 35-years of age. Top-line right wing Brendan Gallagher missed 21 games to injury. Jonathan Drouin, the number three pick in the 2013 draft, played 44 games before taking a leave of absence for a non-COVID illness that will keep him out of the postseason. The midseason slump was too much for the Montreal management, who relieved head coach Claude Julien of his duties on February 24th. Assistant head coach Dominique Ducharme took over on an interim basis. Forward Tyler Toffoli leads the team with 28 goals in 52 games. Defenseman Jeff Petry has added 30 assists. 21-year-old center Nick Suzuki had 15 goals and 21 assists after a breakout performance in the bubble. Goaltender Carey Price has struggled with post-concussion symptoms for much of the season, but he appears ready to be between the pipes for the Canadiens in this series. Price only had a .901 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against-average in 25 games. Price has not posted elite goaltending numbers since 2016-17, yet the Montreal faithful hope he can flip the switch just as he did last year. After a subpar regular season, Price had a .937 save percentage in his ten games in the Toronto bubble. Toronto won seven of the ten meetings between these two teams in the regular season. This showdown is the first meeting in the postseason for the two Canadian representatives in the NHL original six in 42 years. The opening game of this best-of-seven series begins on Thursday at 7:30 PM ET on the NHL Network and then on the USA Network at the conclusion of the Tampa Bay/Florida game broadcast. BetOnline lists Toronto as a -200 money line favorite with the total set at 5.5.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB and WNBA Previews and Odds - 05/20/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Thursday sports card has action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the WNBA.The play-in tournament for the NBA playoffs continues with the Eastern Conference elimination game. Washington hosts Indiana on TNT at 8:10 PM ET. The Wizards lost their play-in game in Boston, 118-105, as a 1.5-point underdog on Tuesday. Indiana has won four of their last six games after winning their play-in game against Charlotte, 144-117, as a 1.5-point favorite on Tuesday. Washington is a 3-point favorite with the total set at 238.5. The winner earns the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff and a first-round series with top-seeded Philadelphia, beginning on Sunday. The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with four games. Tampa Bay plays at home against Florida on the USA Network at 6:30 PM ET. The Lightning took a 2-0 lead against the Panthers with their 3-1 victory on Tuesday. Florida is a -136 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5.The New York Islanders are at home against Pittsburgh on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Penguins evened this series at one game apiece with their 2-1 victory on Tuesday. The Islanders are a -108 money line favorite with the total at 5. Toronto is at home against Montreal at 7:30 PM ET in the opening game of their seven-game North Division series. The Maple Leafs have lost two in a row after playing on Friday in a 4-2 loss at Winnipeg. The Canadiens have lost five in a row after their 4-3 loss to Edmonton last Wednesday. Toronto is a -200 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. The NHL Network begins the broadcast with the USA Network moving to the game at the conclusion of the Panthers/Lightning game. Vegas visits Minnesota on the NBC Sports Network at 9:30 PM ET. The Golden Knights evened this series at a game apiece with their 3-1 victory on Tuesday. Vegas is a -111 money line road favorite with a total of 5.5. Eleven games are on the MLB slate. The card begins at 12:35 PM ET with Cincinnati playing at home against San Francisco as a -137 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Tampa Bay visits Baltimore as a -159 money line road favorite with the total at 9. The New York Yankees travel to Texas at 2:05 PM ET as a -132 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5. The Chicago Cubs are at home against Washington at 2:20 PM ET as a -115 money line favorite. Houston plays at Oakland at 3:37 PM ET as a -117 money line road favorite with the total at 8.5. Minnesota visits the Los Angeles Angels at 4:07 PM ET in the opening game of their seven-inning doubleheader. Philadelphia hosts Miami at 7:05 PM ET as a -115 money line favorite with an over/under of 8. The second game of the Twins/Angels doubleheader is set for 7:07 PM ET. Atlanta is at home against Pittsburgh at 7:20 PM ET as a -191 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Toronto plays at home against Boston at 7:37 PM ET as a -122 money line favorite with an over/under of 10. The MLB card concludes at 10:10 PM ET with Arizona playing in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.One game is on the WNBA docket. Seattle visits Minnesota at 8 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA and EPL Previews and Odds - 05/19/2021

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Wednesday sports card has action in the NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, and the English Premier League.The play-in tournament for the NBA playoffs continues with a doubleheader on ESPN. Memphis hosts San Antonio at 7:40 PM ET. The Grizzlies had their five-game winning streak end after their 113-101 loss at Golden State as a 3-point underdog on Sunday. The Spurs have lost four in a row after their 123-121 loss to Phoenix as a 2-point underdog on Sunday. Memphis is a 4-point favorite with the total set at 222 (all odds from BetOnline). The winner of this game plays the loser of the Warriors/Lakers contest to determine the eighth-seed for the Western Conference playoffs.The Los Angeles Lakers play at home against Golden State at 10:10 PM ET. The Lakers have won five in a row with their 110-98 win at New Orleans as a 9.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Warriors have won eight of their last nine games after their 113-101 win against Memphis as a 3-point favorite on Sunday. Los Angeles is a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 219.5. The winner inherits the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The loser plays on Friday against the victor of the first game to determine the eighth seed. Five games are on the NHL schedule. Calgary and Vancouver conclude their seasons at 3:30 PM ET with the Flames hosting the Canucks as a -165 money line favored with the total at 6. Boston plays at home against Washington on the NBC Sports Network at 6:30 PM ET in the third game of their East Division playoff series. The Bruins evened the series at 1-1 on Monday with their 4-3 victory. Boston is a -165 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Carolina is at home against Nashville on CNBC at 8 PM ET in the second game of their Central Division playoff series. The Hurricanes won the first game of this series, 5-2, on Monday. Carolina is a -180 money line favorite with the total at 5.5. Edmonton plays at home against Winnipeg on the NBC Sports Network at 9 PM ET in the opening game of their North Division series. The Oilers ended a three-game losing streak with their 4-1 win against Vancouver on Saturday. The Jets have won two in a row with their 4-2 victory against Toronto on Saturday. Edmonton is a -155 money line favorite with an over/under of 6. Colorado hosts St. Louis on CNBC at 10:30 PM ET in the second game of their West Division series. The Avalanche won the opening game of this series with a 4-1 win on Monday. Colorado is a -307 money line favorite with the total at 5.5.Fifteen games are on the MLB slate. The Chicago White Sox travels to Minnesota at 1:10 PM ET as a -136 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5. San Diego plays at home against Colorado at 4:10 PM ET as a -237 money line favorite with a total of 7.5. Philadelphia is at home against Miami at 7:05 PM ET as a -120 money line favorite with the total at 7.5. Tampa Bay visits Baltimore. The New York Mets travel to Atlanta at 7:20 PM ET. Toronto hosts Boston at 7:37 PM ET as a -110 money line favorite with an over/under of 10.5. Washington visits the Chicago Cubs at 7:45 PM ET as a -147 money line road favorite.The New York Yankees travel to Texas at 8:05 PM ET. Cleveland visits the Los Angeles Angels at 8:07 PM ET. Milwaukee visits Kansas City at 8:10 M ET as a -175 money line road favorite, with the total at 7.5. Houston plays at Oakland at 9:40 PM ET as a -175 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5. Seattle hosts Detroit at 10:10 PM ET as a -135 money line favorite with a total of 8.5. Arizona plays at the Los Angeles Dodgers.Two games take place in the WNBA at 7 PM ET. Indiana visits Connecticut on the CBS Sports Network. Chicago plays at Atlanta. Six games take place in the English Premier League to conclude Matchweek 37. Everton plays at home against Wolverhampton at 1 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Newcastle United hosts Sheffield United as a -0.75 goal line favorite with a total of 2.75. Tottenham is at home against Aston Villa as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3. Arsenal visits Crystal Palace at 2 PM ET as a -1 goal line road favorite with a total of 2.75. Liverpool visits Burnley at 3:15 PM ET as a -1.75 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 3.5. West Ham United travels to West Bromwich Albion as a -1 goal line road favorite with a total of 3.

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