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Biography

ASA, Inc.’s Lee Kostroski and Mike Merlet have a combined 50+ years in the handicapping profession, and are known for their “Big Game” prowess.

Active since:  1987

Location:  Madison, WI

The owners of American Sports Analysts (ASA), Lee Kostroski & Mike Merlet, have a combined 50+ years in the sports betting industry.  Both started with Doc’s Enterprises — Lee in the late 80’s and Mike in the early 90’s.  After learning the handicapping trade from one of the oldest firms in the business, they started ASA, Inc. in 1997 and have been going strong ever since.  They have especially been known throughout the industry for their success on BIG GAMES, and their Top Football plays have profited 16 of 23 seasons.  ASA is located in Madison, WI and a foundation of their handicapping prowess revolves around the heart of the country – especially the Big Ten.

ASA has appeared on numerous radio shows throughout the country as special expert football guests including Tampa, New Orleans, Madison, Milwaukee, Memphis, Las Vegas, and Denver just to name a few.  They were also featured on the ESPN website with gaming writer Chad Millman during the 2011 season.

ASA’s handicapping methods have evolved over the years, with hard work and research being the anchor of their success.  Rather than implementing one specific strategy as many handicappers do, they intertwine many different philosophies when it comes to making football, basketball, hockey, and baseball selections.  They utilize their massive database that goes back over 30 years, which gives them in-depth information on any situation you can think of when it comes to handicapping.  That’s not where they stop, however.  They also research stats and film each week to evaluate the upcoming match ups on the field along with speaking with their personal contacts throughout the country (especially in the Midwest).  On top of that, they analyze each point spread (and their movements), comparing them with their own power ratings to find an edge.  Lastly, their predictive analytics or math models forecast the outcomes of games based solely on numbers and statistics that aren’t swayed by the human element.  So, as you can see, just because a game may fall into a successful system or the scheduling looks good to go against or with a certain team, that doesn’t mean that ASA automatically uses it as a selection.  It must go through their in-depth process with all things considered before they give it the ASA stamp of approval.  Looking at games from all these angles gives ASA the best of all worlds when it comes to handicapping.  Their handicapping theories have proven successful over the years which has them as one of the more tenured experts in the industry.

Lee & Mike at ASA have stood the test of time in an industry that makes it very tough to do so.  Their 50+ years of experience will give you the winning edge you need.  Sports wagering is an investment and it’s time you invest in the known commodity of ASA!

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Big Ten Report: Week 1

Thursday, Oct 22, 2020

ILLINOIS @ WISCONSIN (-18.5 OPEN to -19.5 CURRENT) – Friday, Oct 23rd  ILLINOIS LAST YEAR – The Illini finished with a 6-6 regular season record in 2019 (4-5 in the Big Ten) and went to their first bowl game since the 2014 season (8-5 ATS).  They did lose last year’s bowl game getting beat 35-20 by California in the Red Box Bowl.  They return 14 starters this season including 9 on offense.  QB Brandon Peters returns who threw for 1800 yards and 18 TD’s last year.  They do lose 75% of their rushing yards from last year with RB’s Corbin, Brown & Bonner all moving on.  On defense they finished in the middle of the pack in Big 10 play in both PPG allowed (26) and YPG allowed (408).  The Illini have some key players back on LB and in the defensive backfield but lost some contributors up front.  Their 4 projected starting defensive linemen for this season had only 20 tackles combined last year.        ILLINOIS NEXT UP – Home vs Purdue   WISCONSIN LAST YEAR – The Badgers won the Big 10 West a year ago and lost 34-21 to Ohio State in the conference championship game.  Wisconsin then went on to lose to Oregon 28-27 in the Rose Bowl finishing with a 10-4 record overall (including bowl game) with a 7-2 regular season Big 10 mark.  They lose pretty much all of their key skill players offensively with starting QB Coan out with a broken foot, RB Taylor (now with the Colts), and WR Cephus (now with the Lions).  The new starting QB will be redshirt freshman Mertz who was one of the top rated QB’s in HS two years ago.  He played in 4 games last year and threw 10 passes.  Defensively Wisconsin should be very good again.  They finished 4th nationally in total defense and return 15 of their top 18 tacklers.  WISCONSIN NEXT UP – @ Nebraska   MOST RECENT MEETING – The Illini upset Wisconsin in Champaign last year as 30-point underdogs!  Illinois was 0-3 in league play entering the game and pulled the shocker winning 24-23 on a last second FG.  Wisconsin, however, outgained Illinois 420 to 315 in the loss but had 3 turnovers.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – The Illini are 13-7 ATS (65%) the last 20 times they’ve been a dog of 20 or more dating back to 2006.   PENN STATE (-7 OPEN to -6.5 CURRENT) @ INDIANA – Saturday, Oct 24th  PENN STATE LAST YEAR – The Nittany Lions finished with a very good 10-2 regular season record last year with their 2 setbacks coming @ Minnesota 31-26 and @ Ohio State 28-17.  That landed them in 2nd place in the Big 10 East and they went on to roll over Memphis 53-39 in the Cotton Bowl.  Starting QB Clifford is back under center after finishing 4th in the league in pass efficiency with 23 TDs and 7 interceptions.  He led an offense that averaged 36 PPG which was good for 2nd in the Big 10 and 15th nationally.  PSU also returns their top 3 RB’s who combined for over 1,600 yards on the ground (one of those players, RB Brown, now may miss the season).  WR Hamler is the biggest loss on offense (900 yards receiving).  They also will be working under a new OC who came over from Minnesota.  Defensively they allowed 16 PPG last year but lost their best player on that side of the ball LB Parsons who has opted out this season and is getting ready for the NFL draft.  The also lose their top 3 tacklers overall and 6 starters on defense have departed.          PENN STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Ohio State   INDIANA LAST YEAR – The Hoosiers 8 wins last season (8-4 in the regular season) was their most since the 1993 season and it was their first winning record since 2007.  That record allowed them the opportunity to face Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, a 23-22 IU loss.  They return the 2nd most starters in the Big 10 with 17 regulars back.  QB Penix was the starter to begin the 2019 season and is back this season.  Injuries derailed his effectiveness last season and he wound up playing in only 6 games.  His replacement was Peyton Ramsey who transferred to Northwestern and is slated to start for the Wildcats.  The Hoosiers return their top rusher (Smith – 845 yards), top WR (Philyor – 1,002 yards), and most of their offensive line.  Much is expected of this unit that finished 3rd in the Big 10 in total offense.  Defensively they held opponents to 24.4 PPG which was their best effort since 1993.  They return 9 starters on that side of the ball.  INDIANA NEXT UP – @ Rutgers   MOST RECENT MEETING – Penn State topped IU 34-27 last season in Happy Valley.  The Nits failed to cover as 15-point favorites and the Hoosiers actually had more first downs, a time of possession edge, and outgained PSU by nearly 100 yards.   POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Penn State is 20-12-1 ATS (62.5%) their last 33 games when tabbed a road favorite dating back to the start of the 2008 season.  RUTGERS @ MICHIGAN STATE (-15.5 OPEN to -13 CURRENT) – Saturday, Oct 24th  RUTGERS LAST YEAR – The good news is Rutgers returns 17 starters which is tied for the 2nd most in the Big Ten behind Northwestern.  The bad news is they stunk with those starters in the line up last season.  They were just 2-10 on the season with their only wins coming vs Liberty and UMass.  All of their 9 Big Ten losses (0-9 in conference play) came by at least 21 points.  QB Langan returns after starting the final 8 games last year and is not a good passer (50% completions with 4 TD’s and 9 interceptions) but brings a running threat to the position.  QB Sitkowski is also back and he started a few games last year and is the much better passer.  Noah Vedral, a grad transfer from Nebraska, will also get a shot to be the regular signal caller.  The Knights scored a TOTAL of 51 points in Big 10 play (5.6 PPG) with those 2 running the show last season.  Greg Schiano returns as the head coach after departing Rutgers back in 2012 to take his shot in the NFL as the head coach of Tampa Bay.  His final season at Rutgers in 2011 he led them to a 9-4 overall record.  They have had one winning season since Schiano left.  RUTGERS NEXT UP – Home vs Indiana   MICHIGAN STATE LAST YEAR – Long time head coach Mark Dantonio and MSU have parted ways despite his 114-57 record in his 13 years leading the Spartan program.  Melvin Tucker takes over after just one year as head coach @ Colorado where he finished with a 5-7 record.  He’s got some inexperience on his roster as MSU returns just 10 starters, the least in the Big 10.  QB is a big question as back up Rocky Lombardi returns but was ineffective when he did get a chance (33% completion rate with 0 TD’s and 2 interceptions).  The other 2 hopefuls at QB are freshman Thorne (never played in a college game) and sophomore Thorne (3 career pass attempts).  One would hope with severe inexperience at QB that MSU could take the pressure off by running the ball but they finished 13th in the Big 10 in that category last year.  The defense was always very good under Dantonio but they must replace most of their front 7 this season including 3 starters on the defensive line who all were regulars the last 3 seasons.   MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP – @ Michigan   MOST RECENT MEETING – The Spartans traveled to Rutgers last season and shut out the Knights 27-0 as 22-point favorites.  MSU’s defense held Rutgers to 83 yards rushing and 57 yards passing in the game.   POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since the beginning of the 2018 season, MSU has been a favorite of -14 or more 10 times.  They are 2-8 ATS in those games.   NEBRASKA @ OHIO STATE (-24 OPEN to -26.5 CURRENT) – Saturday, Oct 24th  NEBRASKA LAST YEAR – Believe it or not, the Huskers have had just ONE winning season since 2014.  That’s it.  Last year was not that winning season as they finished 5-7 and failed to make a bowl appearance.  Head coach Scott Frost was brought in from UCF to be this program’s savior and thus far he has a 9-15 record in 2 seasons.  His predecessor, Mike Riley, was fired after 3 seasons with a 19-19 record which doesn’t look so bad right now.  Adrian Martinez is back at QB for the third season.  After his freshman year there was talk about him being the next great QB at Nebraska.  Last year he took a step back with a lower completion percentage, fewer yards passing, fewer TD’s, and more interceptions when comparing it to his freshman year.  He returns with 10 starters on an offense that averaged 415 YPG last season but lost his top WR Spielman who transferred to TCU.  The Husker rush defense has been a major problem the last three seasons as they allowed 215, 195, and 188 YPG on the ground.  They lose 3 starting defensive lineman who have been starters and major contributors over the last few seasons.  The defensive backfield looks to be a strength with all upperclassmen in the starting line up.  NEBRASKA NEXT UP – Home vs Wisconsin   OHIO STATE LAST YEAR – OSU was a perfect 13-0 last season before losing to Clemson in the National Semi Final game.  A game they led 16-0 midway through the 2nd quarter.  The Buckeyes have the 2nd fewest starters returning in the Big 10 with 11 although that never seems to matter as they just reload with superior talent.  One player the does return is QB Fields who is currently one of the favorites to win the Heisman (+250 to +600 range) despite not playing a game this season.  Fields threw for over 3,000 yards last year with 41 TD’s and only 3 interceptions.  They lose all everything RB Dobbins, who had over 2,000 yards rushing last season, but they pick up Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon (over 2,000 yards rushing in 3 years with Sooners) and last year’s back up RB Teague had 800 yards on the ground.  The WR’s are young but 3 deep at each spot and the offensive line should be very good.  The defense, which led the nation in YPG and YPP allowed, will potentially start 10 upperclassmen including first round talent DB Wade who opted back in to play this season after opting out during the COVID uncertainty.         OHIO STATE NEXT UP – @ Penn State   MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU blasted Nebraska in Lincoln last year as a 17.5 point favorite.  The 48-7 final score was no fluke as the Bucks outgained the Huskers by 350 yards and scored points in each of their first 8 possessions.  OSU has won 5 straight in this series by an average score of 53-19!  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Nebraska has been an underdog of 24 points or more just 3 times in their HISTORY!  They are 2-1 ATS in those games.  Their only spread loss in that situation was against this OSU team in 2017 where the Buckeyes covered the 24 points spread by blasting the Huskers 56-14.  IOWA (-4 OPEN to -3.5 CURRENT) @ PURDUE – Saturday, Oct 24th  IOWA LAST YEAR – Iowa finished the 2019 season with a 10-3 record which included a blowout win over USC in the Holiday Bowl.  The Hawkeyes 3 losses to Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin came by a combined 10 points.  The offense returns their top RB (Goodson) and top WR (Smith-Marsette), however who will be running the show at QB is the biggest question mark.  Nate Stanley threw for over 8,000 yards and 68 TD’s as a 3-year starter for Iowa.  The Hawkeyes had a 25-11 record with Stanley as their starter.  Stepping in for Stanley will be sophomore QB Petras who was highly regarded coming out of HS but has attempted just 10 passes in his career.  On defense Iowa loses nearly everyone along the defensive line and their top LB Colbert, who was their 4th leading tackler last year, is opting out of this season due to COVID concerns.  The defense, which finished 12th nationally in YPG & 14th in YPP allowed last season, must replace more than half of their starters (6).  IOWA NEXT UP – Home vs Northwestern   PURDUE LAST YEAR – Head coach Jeff Brohm enters his 4th year as head coach at Purdue.  After raising the excitement level in West Lafayette his first 2 seasons, making a bowl game in each, his Boilers dropped back to 4-8 last year.  Word is that Brohm has tested positive for COVID and may not be on the sidelines for this game.  Although we know that can change (see Nick Saban!).  Many of their problems on offense last year stemmed from injuries at QB (they had 3 different starters throughout the season) and an injury to their top offensive threat WR Moore.  He had 344 yards receiving in their first 2 games alone but played in only 4 games total last year due to an injury.  Moore is back this year and will play after opting out a few months ago.  His QB will be either Plummer or O’Connell, both who played a lot last season and each had over 1,000 yards passing.  The defense was one of the worst in the league last year allowing 31 PPG (12th in the Big 10) and 436 YPG (13th in the conference).  The Boilers do have a lot of experience returning with 17 starters back from a year ago.  They closed out 2019 on a sour note allowing 40+ points to Wisconsin & Indiana – both losses.   PURDUE NEXT UP – @ Illinois   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 met last season in Iowa City with Purdue as a 17.5 point underdog.  The Boilers hung tough and picked up the cover but lost 26-20.  Iowa held Purdue to just 33 yards rushing on 18 carries.  The Boilers were -3 turnovers in the game.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since 2013, Iowa has been a road favorite 21 times.  They are in impressive 17-4 ATS in those games.  MICHIGAN (-3 OPEN & CURRENT) @ MINNESOTA – Saturday, October 24th  MICHIGAN LAST YEAR – The Wolverines finished last regular season with a 9-3 record with losses to Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State.  They were then beaten badly by Alabama in the Citrus Bowl.  So when all was said and done, the Wolverines won the games they were supposed to win (won all games as a favorite) and lost the 4 games in which they were underdogs.  You’ll be seeing lots of new faces on the Michigan offensive side of the ball this year as they lost many key players, including QB Shea Patterson.  His replacement is still up in the air according to head coach Jim Harbaugh, however it looks like junior Joe Milton will get the nod as he’s been running with the #1’s in practice for the most part.  He’s attempted 11 passes in his career at Michigan.  He’ll be operating behind an offensive line that lost 4 of 5 starters and his top WR, Nico Collins (730 yards receiving last year), reportedly signed with an agent last month and is no longer no the team.  The offense will be a work in progress.  On defense they should be very good again this season.  They finished 11th in total defense nationally last season and held 6 of their 9 Big Ten opponents to 14 points or less.  Michigan does lose their top 3 tacklers from last season and has 2 new CB’s starting, but many of the other replacements have decent experience.    MICHIGAN NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan State   MINNESOTA LAST YEAR – The Gophers ended last season ranked in the top 10 after winning 11 games for the first time since 1904.  Their only losses came at the hands of Wisconsin & Iowa and they topped Auburn in the Outback Bowl to complete a great season.  The offense should be very good in 2020.  Last year they averaged 34 PPG which was their best production since the 2005 season.  They return QB Morgan, who led the conference with 250 YPG through the air and was the 2nd most efficient signal caller in the league, and he will operate behind an offensive line that returns all 5 starters.  His top WR target, Bateman, opted out during the COVID uncertainty, but has now decided to play this season.  The Gophs did lose their offensive coordinator to Penn State but replaced him with Mike Sanford who has been the OC Notre Dame, Utah State, and head coach Western Kentucky.  Defensively this team was top notch last season ranking 10th nationally in total defense but they did lose 4 key players to the NFL.  They bring back just 4 starters on the defensive side of the ball and lost both LB’s and their top pass rushers up front.  This will be an inexperienced defense that we won’t know a lot about early in the season.  MINNESOTA NEXT UP – @ Maryland   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season.  Michigan played host to the Gophers that year and blasted them 33-10 as 16.5 point favorites.  The Wolverine defense held Minnesota to just 164 total yards on that day.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Since 2007 Minnesota has been a home underdog 36 times.  They are 23-13 ATS in those games.  MARYLAND @ NORTHWESTERN (-10.5 OPEN to -11 CURRENT) – Saturday, October 24th  MARYLAND LAST YEAR – The Terps started last year OK winning 3 of their first 5 games vs marginal competition.  However, they followed that up by losing their final 7 games to finish 3-9 on the season.  Their wins were against Howard, Syracuse & Rutgers who finished last season with a combined 9-27 record.  Head coach Mike Locksley, who took over prior to last season, has his work cut out for him with a program that has a 14-34 record since joining the Big 10.  The offense returns 7 starters but lost top RB McFarland who now plays for the Steelers.  There is some buzz on that side of the ball as Alabama transfer Tagovailoa (yes Tua’s brother) will be the starter at QB to begin the season.  Redshirt freshman Legendre, who saw action in 3 games last season, will also get a shot at QB.  On the other side of the ball Maryland finished dead last in the conference and 109th nationally in total defense.  They were also last in the conference and 116th nationally in pass defense.  They lost 3 key regulars from their defensive backfield, however their top DB Richardson returns after missing last year with an injury.       MARYLAND NEXT UP – Home vs Minnesota   NORTHWESTERN LAST YEAR – Believe it or not, the Cats won the Big 10 West back in 2018 in the season with an 8-1 regular season conference record.  They reversed those numbers last season finishing 1-8 in Big 10 play and 3-9 overall.  There is hope for Northwestern this year as they return the most starters in the conference (19) and add a new QB and offensive coordinator in hopes of reviving their stagnant scoring numbers.  Last year they finished 13th in the league in total offense and scoring.  Through their first 6 Big 10 games last season, the Wildcats averaged only 6.8 PPG but improved late in the year.  Transfer QB Ramsey was the starter @ Indiana last year and should drastically improve their passing game.  New OC Bajakian come over from Boston College (was with Tampa Bay Bucs prior to BC) where the run heavy Eagles offense averaged 250 YPG rushing in 2019.  Defense held 8 of 12 opponents to 24 points or less and only won 3 games which tells you how bad their offense was.  They return most of the back 7 but have some holes to fill up front.  Top pass rusher Ernest Brown is back and healthy after an injury filled 2019.     NORTHWESTERN NEXT UP – @ Iowa   MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 haven’t met since the 2017 season when Northwestern went to Maryland as a 2.5 point road favorite and came away with a 37-21 win.  That’s the only meeting between these two programs since the Terps joined the Big 10 in 2014.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Northwestern has been a terrible double digit home favorite throughout the years with a 14-29 ATS record in that situation dating back to 1980.  More recently, they are 4-11 ATS in that spot since early 2013.

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NFC East Division: NFL's Worst Division in 2020

Saturday, Oct 17, 2020

For years the NFC East was considered a well-rounded division with the Eagles and Giants both winning Super Bowls in recent memory. The Cowboys always have high expectations but cannot get over the hump in the playoffs when the pressure is on. Even the Washington Football Team has been a contender multiple times in past years. Unfortunately, that has all changed and now the NFC East is the worst division in the NFL and might make a push to finish as the worst division in the history of football.  Current NFC East Odds by Bovada:Cowboys          -120Eagles              +135Washington     +1000Giants              +2500The Cowboys did just squeeze by the Giants on Sunday afternoon but lost a major piece in Dak Prescott to a gruesome ankle injury. It was comparable to Gordon Hayward's ankle injury, so he will surely miss the remainder of the year. That leaves Andy Dalton to step into an offense with arguably the best weapons in football. Dallas does sit at the top of the NFC East at 2-3 yet the overall division has a horrid record of 4-15-1.The good news is that there are still 10 total division games to be played within the NFC East. That leaves 10 wins up for grabs that must stay within the division. Theoretically the worst the NFC East could finish would be 14-49-1. That would by far be the worst division record in modern NFL history. In 2014 the NFC South went 22-41-1 and the Panthers snuck into the playoffs with a record of 7-8-1. Last year the NFC East finished a total 24-40 and the Eagles were gifted a playoff spot in week 17 with a 9-7 record. Inevitably, the NFC East will pick up a few wins along the way outside of the division but all 4 teams are in serious personnel trouble moving forward. Dwayne Haskins was just benched in Washington, throwing Alex Smith into the fire fresh off his return. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants have all lost key contributors on offense. The good news for the Giants is that they have the best scoring defense in the division, currently ranked 19th in the NFL. That tells you all you need to know about how the NFC East plays defense. 

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Aaron Rodgers: NFL MVP Futures Wager

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

There is no question the Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur relationship has taken a step in the right direction this season. The Packers have scored the most points in the NFL so far over the first four games and Rodgers seems to be back to his old self. Even without Davante Adams for 7 quarters this season Rodgers has had no trouble finding open targets. LaFleur’s offensive scheme has been able to get players like Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan open this season, when it struggled to do so at times last year. Rock-solid offensive line play has also provided time for Rodgers to stretch the field and showcase his usual arm strength and pinpoint accuracy.   Through 4 games, Rodgers is on pace for 4,856 yards and 52 Touchdowns with an astounding 0 interceptions. Current BetOnline Odds for MVP: Russell Wilson +125 Aaron Rodgers +375 Patrick Mahomes +650 Josh Allen +900 Lamar Jackson +1200   If Rodgers puts up numbers like that it is hard to see him not walking away with the MVP. That is of course unless Russell Wilson keeps his current pace that would put him at 5,140 yards and 64 with 8 interceptions. Those numbers do seem unfathomable and would smash the current record of 55 touchdowns in a single season. Unfortunately, 64 touchdowns is not achievable no matter how you spin it. Moving forward, Russell Wilson’s current numbers will be very hard to sustain. He has an insane touchdown rate of 11.7% this season. Never in his 8 year career has he ever had a TD rate over 8.2%. During that year in 2018 Russ threw for a career high 35 touchdowns. Those 64 touchdowns he is in on pace for will begin to drop each week to a more realistic number. Aaron Rodgers has a TD rate of 9.4%. This number is much easier to preserve as it is very similar to his 2011 MVP season. During that season he had a TD rate of 9.0%. Rodgers threw 45 touchdowns and finished with 6 interceptions as the Packers went 14-1 with him under center. Expect the MVP odds to continue to slide more toward Rodgers in the coming weeks. With a healthy Davante Adams back after the week 4 bye, Aaron Rodgers looks poised to make another run at the MVP and carry the Packers to a high seed in the NFC. A repeat of last season’s Divisional Round matchup between Rodgers and Russ would be an absolute treat in early 2021.  With the Packers sitting at 4-0 and set to be favored in all but one game moving forward, Rodgers will be a prime candidate for the MVP award barring injury.  Even though we’ve lost some value, getting nearly 4/1 odds at BetOnline is worth a look.

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MLB Futures Betting: 2020 World Series Prediction

Sunday, Jun 21, 2020

Chicago Cubs +2200 (odds found at MyBookie)We think we’re getting tremendous value with the Cubs at 22/1 to win the World Series.  After making it to the post-season 4 straight years, Chicago dropped to 3rd in the N.L. Central with an 84-78 record last year and we expect a bounce back in 2020.  They were right in the thick of the playoff race late last season but finished with only 2 wins in their last 12 games.  Poor time for a cold streak to say the least.  Their numbers last season tell us they were better than an 84 win team.  The Chicago offense was 8th in Majors in OPS and 6th in home runs.  They also averaged just over 5 RPG which put them in the top 10.  Their pitching numbers were very solid as well ranking 7th in MLB in ERA, 10th in FIP, and 8th in runs allowed.  They struggled in close games which really played a huge part in their sub par record.  The Cubs were just 43-54 in games decided by 3 runs or less and only 19-27 in one run games.  We like them to improve drastically on those numbers this season.  The Cubs had a +0.6 RPG differential which was the 8th best in all of baseball.  To put that number in perspective, Atlanta, St Louis, and Cleveland had the exact same RPG differential as the Cubs (+0.6 per game) yet won 97, 91, and 93 games respectively compared to 84 for Chicago.  The only teams that finished with a better RPG differential in 2019 were Washington, LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Houston, and Minnesota.  All 10 of the teams mentioned above won more than 90 games and made the playoffs.  Chicago did neither.  We have no doubt the Cubs were better than their record last season.Chicago’s line up basically returns intact with the exception of INF Addison Russell, who missed 40 games last season due to a suspension.  That could be addition by subtraction as Russell had a poor season hitting just .237 with an on base percentage of just .308.  The Cubs cut him in December and he is now playing in the Korean Baseball League.  The top of their line up with Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber, Heyward, and Contreras is one of the best in the Majors.  Their starting rotation should be one of the best in the National League with Darvish, Hendricks, Quintana, and Lester.  We think the loss of Cole Hamels in free agency sounds bigger than it really is because of his name.  Hamels was just 7-7 last season and has a losing record over his last 3 seasons (25 wins and 31 losses).  As we stated earlier we think the value with Chicago is solid here.  Last season they were 10/1 to win the World Series entering the year and now we’re getting them north of 20/1.  We’ll take the Chicago Cubs at +2200 to win it all this year.  

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Major League Baseball: NL East Preview

Monday, Apr 13, 2020

2020 ATLANTA BRAVES PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 99 wins / 68 losses (includes playoffs)OVERALL MONEY +$1,600 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT +7.1%HOME RECORD – 51 wins / 33 losses (+$510)ROAD RECORD – 48 wins / 35 losses (+$1090)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 75 wins / 43 losses (+$1220)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 24 wins / 25 losses (+$380)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 81 Overs / 78 Unders / 8 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .258 (9th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .789 (7th)HOME RUNS – 249 (8th)RUNS PER GAME – 5.28 (7th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.20 (10th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.34 (13th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.36 (18th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.54 (20th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.59 (12th)ATLANTA ANALYSIS – The Braves won the N.L. East last year but were bounced in the playoffs by St Louis.  Their pitching numbers were pretty average with their WHIP and FIP numbers not in line with a team that won 97 regular season games.  They brought over starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel from Houston mid-season last year and he gave them 8 wins and a 3.75 ERA.  Keuchel has moved on to the White Sox and the Braves brought in Cole Hamels from the Cubs to replace him.  They also lost starter Julio Teheran, who ate up 174 innings last year (most on the Braves), to the Angels.  Opponents hit .256 against this staff (19th in MLB) and it looks like it got weaker in the off season.  Offensively they lose starting 3B Josh Donaldson to the Twins along with his 37 home runs.  They did add outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Cards who has decent power numbers (52 HR’s over the last 2 years) so that should help.  Last year their win total was set at 86 so they outperformed expectations by a 11 games.  The total win number set on this team for this year was 90 so a regression is expected.  We would agree with that assumption.2020 MIAMI MARLINS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 57 wins / 105 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$1,500 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -9.2%HOME RECORD – 30 wins / 51 losses (-$820)ROAD RECORD – 27 wins / 54 losses (-$680)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 3 wins / 2 losses (-$50)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 52 wins / 101 losses (-$1450)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 77 Overs / 73 Unders / 12 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .241 (25th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .673 (30th)HOME RUNS – 146 (30th)RUNS PER GAME – 3.80 (29th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.74 (20th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.89 (25th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.35 (17th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.24 (26th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.99 (19th)MIAMI ANALYSIS – Only Detroit and Baltimore had fewer wins than Miami last season.  They won 63 games in 2018 and regressed to 57 a year ago.  Their pitching wasn’t terrible as starter Sandy Alcantara has a chance to be very good despite his 6-14 record last year.  His 3.88 ERA suggests he was much better than his record and if he can slow down on his walks (81 last year) he should be their ace.  The Marlins did very little in the free agent market especially pitching wise where they will basically have the same rotation as last season.  It could be argued this was the worst offensive team in baseball last year as they finished near or right at the bottom in a number of key categories.  They have very little power hitting only 146 HR’s last year which was worst in MLB and just 128 the year prior which was also last in the Majors.  The centerfield and right centerfield wall at Marlins Park will be moved in this season which may help come but we’re not counting on it.  Hoping to help their lack of power issue Miami added Jesus Aguilar who hit 35 HR’s for Milwaukee 2 years ago (but just 12 last year) and Jonathan Villar who hit a career high 24 dingers for Baltimore in 2019.  Other than that we’re basically looking at the same team from last season.  As expected they struggled in close games (16-28 record in 1-run games) so if they can improve upon that they should top 60 wins this season.    2020 NEW YORK METS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 86 wins / 76 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$640 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -2.9%HOME RECORD – 48 wins / 33 losses (-$50)ROAD RECORD – 38 wins / 43 losses (-$590)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 60 wins / 38 losses (-$120)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 25 wins / 38 losses (-$530)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 79 Overs / 70 Unders / 13 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .257 (11th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .770 (11th)HOME RUNS – 242 (11th)RUNS PER GAME – 4.88 (13th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.24 (11th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.10 (6th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.30 (13th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 3.04 (7th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.55 (10th)NEW YORK METS ANALYSIS – New manager Luis Rojas has been with the organization since 2007 and while he’s never been the head man in the Majors, he has multiple years of managerial experience in the minor leagues.  He inherits a team that should have some solid momentum coming into 2020 as they finished with a very good 46-26 record after the All Star break.  While their bullpen struggled last year, the Mets starters were outstanding last year especially at the top with Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard.  DeGrom had only 11 wins but the Mets offense and bullpen let him down often.  His numbers were superb with a 2.43 ERA and a 2.67 FIP to go along with a 5 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.  Unfortunately they lose Syndergaard this year as he is undergoing Tommy John surgery and won’t be available until 2021 at the earliest.  They also lose Zach Wheeler (11-8 record) which will put another dent in their starting rotation.  Their relief pitching was poor as they had 32 bullpen losses (8th most in MLB) and a save percentage of 58% (24th worst in MLB).  Their only key loss offensively was 3B Todd Frazier who is now with the Rangers.  Their offense was near or in the top third in most key MLB categories so they should be fine there.  They added a few relievers via free agency and if the bullpen improves this team could be OK.  In a tough division the losses they have to overcome with their starting pitching might be too much.   2020 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 81 wins / 81 lossesOVERALL MONEY -$870 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT -4.3%HOME RECORD – 45 wins / 36 losses (-$130)ROAD RECORD – 36 wins / 45 losses (-$750)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 58 wins / 40 losses (+$40)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 23 wins / 41 losses (-$910)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 76 Overs / 80 Unders / 6 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .246 (22nd in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .746 (17th)HOME RUNS – 215 (22nd)RUNS PER GAME – 4.78 (14th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.53 (17th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.88 (23rd)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.37 (19th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.55 (18th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.90 (18th)PHILADELPHIA ANALYSIS – New leadership takes over in Philly where Gabe Kapler was fired and Joe Girardi takes over as manager.  He’ll have some serious pressure to win right away as GM Matt Klentak expects them to win right now.  The Phillies have spent enormous amounts of money on free agents over the last 3 seasons, hello Bryce Harper, but haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.  The total set on Philadelphia back in February was 86 wins which seems a bit much for a team that hasn’t topped 81 wins since 2011.  The fact is this team was below average both offensively and defensively.  Their pitching numbers (ERA, FIP, and WHIP) were all below the league averages and their hitting numbers (OPS, on base percentage, and RPG) were also all under the league average.  Their starting rotation remains the same with one addition.  Zach Wheeler (23-15 record last 2 seasons combined) one of the top starters on the free agent market last year comes over from the division rival Mets.  Aaron Nola, who has 41 wins his last 3 seasons, remain their ace.  The Phillies are hoping CF Andrew McCutcheon comes back from ACL surgery and adding Yankee SS Didi Gregorious (.270 BA & 97 HR’s in 5 years with New York) should help.  When all is said and done, we expect this team to be right around .500 again in the tough NL East that has 3 teams that finished with 86 or more wins last season (Braves, Mets, and Nats). 2020 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PREVIEW2019 STATISTICSRECORD - 105 wins / 74 losses (includes playoffs)OVERALL MONEY -$1450 (based on $100 wagered per game)RETURN ON INVESTMENT +5.5%HOME RECORD – 54 wins / 35 losses (+$390)ROAD RECORD – 51 wins / 39 losses (+$1060)RECORD AS FAVORITE – 73 wins / 47 losses (-$20)RECORD AS UNDERDOG – 32 wins / 27 losses (+$1470)OVER/UNDER RECORD – 87 Overs / 83 Unders / 9 Ties2019 OFFENSIVE STATSBATTING AVERAGE - .265 (7th in the Majors)OPS (on base + slugging) - .796 (6th)HOME RUNS – 231 (13th)RUNS PER GAME – 5.39 (6th)2019 PITCHING STATSERA – 4.27 (13th)FIP (fielding independent pitching) – 4.14 (7th)WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning) – 1.29 (8th)STRIKEOUT to WALK RATIO – 2.92 (9th)RUNS ALLOWED PER GAME – 4.47 (9th)WASHINGTON ANALYSIS – After a disappointing 2018 finishing just 2 games above .500, the Nationals bounced back in a big way in 2019 beating Houston as a +180 underdog in the World Series.  Amazingly this team won the crown despite facing elimination 5 different times in the playoffs.  This team won 93 regular season games in 2019 which didn’t seem likely after their 24-33 start over the first 2 months of the season.  Washington was actually tied with Miami, a team that went on to win only 57 games, for LAST place in the NL East in late May.  Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin are arguably the best top 3 starters in MLB.  However, Scherzer was limited at times last year with back & neck problems while Corbin and Strasburg both threw over 200 innings.  Because of that, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a cumulative drop off from the big 3 this season.  Offensively the Nats landed in the top 10 in most key statistics but they have to replace their top offensive player as 3B Anthony Rendon moved on to the Angels.  Rendon, who finished with a .319 batting average, 34 HR’s, and 126 RBI, had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.33 last season which was the 2nd highest rating on the free agent market.  They really didn’t add anyone near his ability and his loss is big to say the least.  Despite winning the World Series, their win total prior to the MLB shutdown was 89.  While we expect Washington to be very good again, we think it will be tough for them to get back to 90+ wins this season.

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NBA Futures Betting: NBA Western Conference Playoff Predictions -- 2020

Thursday, Apr 09, 2020

We’ve put together a hypothetical scenario if the NBA Playoffs started today and who we would be betting on in the first few games of each series. These predictions are based on current records and standings as of the Covid-19 shutdown on March 11th. If the NBA were to cancel the rest of the regular season and seed teams for a playoff format this is how it would look in the West. Enjoy and stay safe!#1 L.A. Lakers vs. #8 Memphis GrizzliesRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Feb 29 @ MEM           L 88-105          L -11                U 228.5Feb 21 MEM                W 117-105      W -10.5           U 234Nov 23 @ MEM           W 109-108      L -8                  U 225.5Oct 29 MEM                W 120-91        W -11.5           U 215If the Playoffs started today the Lakers would host the young Grizzlies in the opening round and make quick work of Memphis in a four-game series. The Lakers have been the second-best team in the league behind Milwaukee with the second-best player this season in LeBron James behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Lakers are a top 5 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, 2nd in average point differential at +7.4PPG. The Lakers beat Memphis 3 of four meetings this season by an average of +6.3PPG. L.A. won big in both home meetings by 29 (early in the season) and 12 in late February. The games in Memphis were much more interesting as the Lakers won by 1-point and lost by 17 most recently on Feb 29th. One interesting number that stands out to us is the Lakers 3-point shooting percentage which was below 30% in the season series. Memphis is a bottom 10 team in the league in 3-point percentage defense which doesn’t explain the Lakers poor perimeter shooting in the four meetings this season. Memphis has a bright future with Ja Morant and a solid young roster but a team that is in the bottom half of the league in both O.E.F.F. and D.E.F.F. is not going to win a game against this Lakers team which was red hot going into the time off with an 11-2 SU record. The Lakers will be double-digit favorites at home and potentially on the road as Memphis was just 18-15 SU at home this season with the 18th average differential at +0.6PPG. We’ll plan to bet Memphis is Game 3 if they are getting 10 or more points. #2 L.A. Clippers vs. #7 Dallas MavericksRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Jan 21 @ DAL           W 110-107      W 2.5   U 231.5Nov 26 @ DAL           W 114-99        W -1.5 U 225.5This is going to be a fun first round matchup with the young guns in Dallas of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis going up against Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The difference is the Clippers have a long list of talent after the Big Two and the Mavericks just can’t match that depth. In my opinion the Clippers are the best team on paper in the NBA and their ability to defend the perimeter with multiple players is their greatest attribute. Size in the post could pose a problem as they advance. In any case, the Clippers will win this series, but the Mavericks are a dangerous team with a pair of young superstars in Porzingis and Doncic. Dallas is a few pieces away from being a contender in the West, but it won’t happen this year. These two teams met twice this season with the Clippers winning both games in Dallas. In breaking down the games the Clippers held the Mavs to just 28.4% shooting from beyond the arc which is significantly lower than their 36.9% season average (8th best in NBA). The Clippers are the 2nd best team in the NBA defending the 3-point line, allowing just 34.1% on the season. Los Angeles won without Paul George in the 3-point win and had him in the lineup when they won by 15. Both Luka and Porzingis played in both losses. The Clippers outrebounded the Mavs by an average of 9 per game which is a considerable margin considering the Mavs are 6th in the NBA in total rebounds (Clippers 4th). Dallas was the 3rd best team in the NBA in not turning the ball over at 12.8 TO’s per game but the Clippers forced them into an average of 16.5 per game in the two meetings this season. On a neutral court we would have the Clippers favored by -4.5-points so at home we expect L.A. to be laying an inflated number in Game #1 of -8.5-points, minus 8-points in Game #2 and then a slight favorite in Dallas in Games #3 and #4. We would back the Mavs in Game #1 as an inflated Dog and in Game #3 at home where they had the 8th best average point differential in the NBA at +6PPG. The Clippers move on in five games. #3 Denver Nuggets vs. #6 Houston RocketsRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Jan 26 HOU                W 117-110      W -2.5             O 226Jan 22 @ HOU          L 105-121        L 10.5              U 227Dec 31 @ HOU          L 104-130        L 6                   O 225Nov 20 HOU               W 105-95        W -1                U 221.5These two teams were projected by some experts to come out of the West this season, but we don’t see that happening considering they have to go through Los Angeles to get there. With that said the Rockets clearly have the star power with Harden and Westbrook and either can carry a team through a 7-round series. The Nuggets aren’t star driven but have put together a roster that is solid and deep enough to give anyone a run for their money. This shapes up to be a very good series as suggested by the regular season meetings which were split 2-2 with the home team winning all four games. The Nuggets won at home by 10 or less points in both, while the Rockets won by 16 and 26 in Houston. Each team held the other under their season scoring averages with the Rockets shooting better overall and from beyond the arc than their season average. That could be a deciding factor in this series as the Nuggets are the 8th best team in defending the 3-pointer but didn’t do it well against Houston this season. When it comes to efficiency ratings these two teams are similar with Houston averaging 1.138 points per possession offensively and allowing 1.102PPP defensively. Denver isn’t as good offensively, averaging 1.125PPP but does hold a slight advantage defensively allowing 1.095 points per possession. We project this as a 7-game series with the Rockets coming out on top as the Nuggets don’t have a game finisher or options like Houston does. Denver as a low favorite in Game #1 would be a solid option but then we’re probably betting Houston in the next two games as a dog in Game #2 and a home favorite less than 7-points in Game #3. #4 Utah Jazz vs. #5 Oklahoma City ThunderRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)Dec 9  OKC   L 90-104          L -8.5               U 206.5Oct 23 OKC   W 100-95        L -9                  U 221These are two very even teams on paper and this should be a slugfest first round series with the Thunder advancing, narrowly! The two regular season meetings between these teams doesn’t tell us much as they were both played early in the season with each team winning one game apiece. The Thunder are one of the better stories of the NBA this season as not many experts felt they’d be as good as they are with the trade of Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul and draft picks. Last year on March 11th the Thunder were 41-26 SU with Triple-double machine Russell Westbrook and this year on essentially the same date they are 40-24SU. There seems to be some internal issues going on with Jazz and their All-Star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Since the All-Star break the Jazz have not been nearly as good defensively allowing 1.156 points per possession compared to the 1.094PPP they allow on the year. Both teams are top 11 in the league in defensive efficiency and top 14 in offensive efficiency with an average point differential of +3.1PPG (Utah) and +2.5PPG (OKC).  Looking at the series the team that moves on will be the team that wins on the road, and once again, the road statistics for both teams are very even when it comes to differentials, efficiency numbers, wins and losses. Because of the rumors we hear regarding Utah’s locker room we like Oklahoma City in a 7-game series. We predict the home teams will be favored by 4-5-points in most games and would bet the home team in the first four games of the series. So, there you have it, the first round of the NBA Playoffs if it were to happen today and who to bet in the first few games of each series. Stay tuned for our hypothetical round two synapses coming in the ensuing weeks. 

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NBA Futures Betting: NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions -- 2020

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

We’ve spent the last 12,045 days or 33-straight years watching, analyzing, breaking down and handicapping sports on a daily basis. We certainly miss it and can’t wait for this pandemic to subside so we can get back to what we love, sports betting! Like us we’re sure you are “jonesing” for some basketball so we’ve put together a hypothetical scenario if the NBA Playoffs started today. This is based on current records and standings as of the Covid-19 shutdown on March 11th. The rumors are the NBA will not abandon this season and will play games as soon as it’s safe to do so. Some speculations are the games will resume in June but we don’t exactly know if they will play out the regular season or just go straight to the Playoffs? We do know one thing for sure, it can’t get here soon enough!#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #8 Orlando MagicRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UFeb 8 Mil -8.5 @ORL W 111-95 W U 221.5Dec 28 MIL -6.5 vs. Orl W 111-100 W U 216.5Dec 9 MIL -13 vs. Orl W 110-101 L U 217.5Nov 1 Mil -4.5 @ORL W 123-91 W P 214Series Preview: The Bucks and Magic first round match up will be a quick one with the Bucks sweeping the Magic in four games much like the regular season. Milwaukee beat this team by an average of 17PPG this season and one of those wins came without Giannis suiting up for the Bucks. Milwaukee dominated the Magic on the boards with a plus +17 margin of  total rebounds per game and shot 37.2% from beyond the arc which was better than their season average of 35.6%. Orlando is one of the better defensive teams in the NBA allowing just 107.3PPG which is 4th in the NBA but the Bucks averaged just under 114PPG against them this season. The Magic have the 7th worst offensive efficiency (.983PPP) numbers in the NBA this season and will have a hard time scoring against the Bucks #1 ranked defensive efficiency unit allowed just 1.019 points per possession this season. The Bucks will be 13-point favorites at home in the opening two games and be favored by 8-points on the road. Milwaukee 4-0 and advances by double digit wins in three of 4 games. #2 Toronto Raptors vs. #7 Brooklyn NetsRegular season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UFeb 12 Tor -4 @ BKN L 91-101 L U 224.5Feb 8 TOR -6.5 vs. Bkn W 119-118 L O 218Jan 4 Tor +1.5 @ BKN W 121-102 W O 217Dec 14 TOR -7.5 vs. Bkn W 110-102 W U 218.5Series Preview: The Raptors have quietly flown under the radar all season long and you’ll be surprised to know that last year on March 10th, with Kawhi, they stood 49-19 SU compared to 46-18 SU currently this season. Brooklyn made some changes before the stoppage with a coaching change as Jacque Vaughn took over for since departed Kenny Atkinson. The Nets are 3-1 SU their last four games with quality wins over the Celtics and Lakers which were both on the road. In the four regular season meetings the Raptors won 3 of four games, going 2-2 against the spread, but the two most recent clashes in February give us a good indication this could be a longer series than expected. The two games played in February saw the Nets win by 10-points at home and lose by just 1-point in Toronto. The overall margin of victory for the Raptors in the four games with the Nets was just +4.5PPG. The Raptors are a below average shooting team at 45.6% on the season which is 20th in the NBA but the Nets stifling defense (ranked 8th in defensive efficiency) held Toronto to 42.4% shooting this season. We predict this series will go five games with the Raptors coming out on top but it won’t be easy. Toronto will be favored by 7.5-points at home and the games in Brooklyn a pick’em. #3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 Philadelphia76ersRegular Season meetings: (Home team in CAPS) S/U ATS O/UFeb 1 BOS +1.5 vs. Phi W 116-95 W U 212Jan 9 Bos -1 @ PHI L 98-109 L U 218Dec 12 BOS -1 vs. Phi L 109-115 L O 212.5Oct 23 Bos  +5.5 @ PHI L 93-107 L U 215.5Series Preview: This could be one of the best first round matchups of the entire playoffs as this old-school rivalry is going 6 or seven games. If right, either of these two teams could come out of the East but there are some concerns, especially for the Sixers. Philly’s two superstars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, seem to have a problem coexisting on the floor with each other and it has led to a below expectations 39-26 SU record. The Sixers road struggles of 10-24 SU with a negative differential of minus -5.2PPG is by far the worst of any playoff team, but they did win a game in Boston this season. The Celtics roster is one capable of winning it all and Jayson Taytum has certainly picked up his game of late by scoring 30+ points in 7 of their last ten games. Boston’s net average point differential per game though has dropped by -3.8-points per game since the All-Star break but a lot of that is due to recent injuries (Walker, Brown, Smart). In the four meetings this season the 76ers dominated the glass with a +12 total rebound margin in winning 3 of the four games. The winning team won by double-digits in 3 of the four with three of the spreads being less than 2-points. Based on recent trending numbers, coaching advantage and road differentials we have to side with the Celtics in this series. Since the All-Star break the Celtics are drastically better than the 76ers in both offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. In fact, the Sixers have been dreadful in both with the 28th ranked O.E.F.F and 26th D.E.F.F. Boston is 20-12 SU on the road this season with the 5th best point differential of +4.2PPG and the coaching advantage is clear with Stevens over Brown. Boston will be a slightly bigger favorite in Game 1 of the series (-6.5) and a play on team but the line will dip slightly in Game 2 (-5.5). When the series goes to Philly we will see the 76ers favored by roughly -3.5-points. We would bet on Boston in Game 1 and Philly in Game 3. #4 Miami Heat vs. #5 Indiana PacersRegular Season meetings: (Home team in CAPS)S/U ATS O/UJan 8 Mia +1.5 @ IND W 122-108 W O 210Dec 27 MIA -5 vs. Ind W 113-112 L O 211Series Preview: I was very high on the Pacers before the season started with the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and the eventual return of Victor Oladipo, but this team hasn’t been quite as good as I thought they would be. Oladipo has played in just 13 games this season and struggled with his shooting at 39% and just 13PPG. Brogdon’s scoring went up slightly and he’s averaging 4 more assists per game than he did last year, but his EFG percentage has dropped significantly. This layoff might be just what the Pacers needed to get Oladipo up to speed, and get Brogdon healthy from his hip injury.  The Pacers rely on their 7th best defensive efficiency that is allowing 1.083 points per possession. Indiana was picking up steam before the break by winning 7 of their last ten games and they have an 18-15 SU road record which is crucial in the playoffs. The Miami Heat have the veteran leadership and a proven go-to guy in Jimmy Butler along with playoff extraordinaire Andre Iguodala. The young players (Adebayo, Jones Jr and Herro) are talented but can they rise to the challenge in the postseason? Miami had the 13th best defensive efficiency numbers and the 7th best offensive efficiency along with a 28-10 SU record against the rest of the Eastern Conference. The Heat beat the Pacers twice this season by 14 in Indy and by 1-point at home but the Pacers were without Brogdon and Oladipo in both contests.  Miami was 27-5 SU at home this season and gaining the 4th spot in the East will prove to be the difference between them advancing and not moving on. We expect the Heat to be 4-point favorites at home and the Pacers favored by 3-points when they are hosting. The way to go here is the Underdogs in Games 2 and 4. The Heat in 7-games. So there you have it. If the NBA Playoffs started today we have the Bucks in a sweep over Orlando, Toronto moving on against Brooklyn, Boston narrowly over Philadelphia and the Heat in a grueling series over Indiana. We will be breaking down the Western Conference first round series next then move on to the next round predictions. 

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