The Breakfast Spread: NBA Playoffs Commence, Tiger in the Hunt, Diamond Notes
The NBA kicks off the 2018-2019 playoffs on Saturday with underdogs hoping for road upsets. The Masters did not disappoint with several players atop a packed leaderboard and Tiger Woods lurking in close proximity. The MLB kept busy on Friday night and will complement a crowded Saturday in sports. Here’s a sports betting recap from Friday and a preview of Saturday’s action.
NBA Playoff Series Take Stage
Today, the NBA offers plenty of action for fans from afternoon to night. The Brooklyn Nets tip off their series in the early game against Philadelphia while Denver will host San Antonio late at night.
The 76ers host the 76ers in a series dominated by youth. The Sixers are favored by 5.5 points at the time of this writing with bettors able to get a -230 ML price on the home favorites.
The line opened at 7.5 points and has already moved a full two points — likely due to the injury concerns of center Joel Embiid whose status remains in doubt.
The Nets are led by their All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell who finished the season averaging 21.1 points and 7 assists per game. For the Nets to upset a potentially Embiid-less Sixers team, Russell will need to be at the top of his game.
Up next, the Orlando Magic travel north to start their series versus the Toronto Raptors as 8.5-point underdogs. The Raptors are a massive -380 ML favorite to take the first game at home in what FanDuel Sportsbook projects to be a low-scoring affair with an O/U at 213.
The Magic needed every bit of their four-game winning streak to get into the playoffs as the seven seed. Orlando closed the season with two road victories in Boston and Charlotte propelling them to this opening series against the second-seeded Raptors.
The Raptors are built this year to undo the disappointments of years past. Last season, as the top seed, the Raptors were ousted in the semi-finals by the Cavaliers. Now, with Kawhi Leonard in the fold, Toronto enters the playoffs ranked 5th in offensive rating and 6th in defensive rating. Magic fans waited a long-time for this playoff berth but might be running into a mountain too tall to climb.
The Warriors are next — hosting Game 1 of their series versus the Los Angeles Clippers as a humongous 12.5-point favorite.
The O/U on FanDuel Sportsbook is set at 232 with the Clippers visiting as +660 underdogs on the road. Draymond Green is questionable with left knee soreness but the Warriors are plenty loaded with or without their star forward.
In the playoffs, when rotations tighten, opponents will be hard-pressed to find a tougher matchup than the Warriors’ starting five. The Warriors cruised to 57 wins this season and have rattled off three straight victories against the Clips — the most recent two being 18 and 27 point drubbings.
The Clippers seemed to be letting go of hopes at the trade deadline — moving both Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley. The Clippers lowered their average roster age precipitously in the process — landing the services of Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac. Shamet holds a 17-point performance against the Warriors in Oracle Arena — mostly because of a 5 for 6 shooting night from 3-point range. If the aforementioned Orlando Magic are facing a mountainous climb in the first round, the Clippers are starting at Mount Everest.
Finally, the opening day of the NBA Playoffs culminates in the Rockies as the Nuggets host the Spurs as 5.5-point favorites. FanDuel Sportsbook projects another low-scoring affair with the O/U sitting at 211 at the time of this writing.
The Nuggets finished three games behind the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference — making the playoffs for the first time in six years. The Spurs needed to wait 11 months. The favored Nuggets are young and clearly more talented than their counterparts but must face a team of veterans with plenty of playoff experience.
The Spurs have reached the postseason in 22 consecutive years but needed every one of their 48 wins to avoid an opening matchup with Golden State in round on. San Antonio will be led by two veterans — LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan who led the Spurs with 21.3 and 21.2 points per game respectively.
The Nuggets — amid chatter of end-of-season chicanery for playoff positioning — are powered by a host of players all averaging double-digit points per game this season. While the Nuggets spread the wealth, they feature a young star at center in Nikola Jokic who could be one of the more versatile players in the league. Jokic averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game this season and will look to fill up the box score at home to start the series.
Prop Shop: Series Prices on FanDuel
FanDuel Sportsbook currently has odds for each of the aforementioned playoff series. The 76ers are instilled at -550 to win their series while the Nets offer a +390 price for those willing to speculate on the Embiid injury.
The Raptors price is pretty steep at -1200 while the Magic offer +700 for those willing to wager on an upset. The longest odds in the playoffs rest with the Clippers, of course, as they are +5500 to win the series. Bettors need to lay -20000 to place a bet on the favored Warriors.
Finally, FanDuel clearly believes experience has some value with the Spurs featured at a +190 price versus the Nuggets at -240.
Keep an eye on the injury report with your phone in hand as the Nets price could be a bargain if Embiid cannot give it a go throughout the whole series.
The Masters Recap
With softened greens from the rain, Friday promised to be a low-scoring affair for the field at The Masters. Xander Schauffele led scoring with a 7-under performance followed by Louis Oosthuizen at 6-under. Jason Day and Francesco Molinari went 5-under to join a five-way tie atop the leaderboard. That said, only one golfer will be the talk of Augusta when Round 3 opens on Saturday.
Tiger Woods energized the gallery on Friday — going four-under for his round and landing in a four-way tie for second place as we enter Saturday’s third round. Woods scuffled on the front nine — shooting one-under with a couple of bogeys. He came back with a clean card on the back though registering three birdies to get to six-under for the tournament.
Despite the exciting round, Tiger left strokes out there — struggling with his putting within 5 feet. Despite the crowd above him, Tiger is +750 to win the tournament on FanDuel Sportsbook — tied with Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Francesco Molinari as current favorites. The aforementioned Louis Oosthuizen and Xander Schauffele both sit at +1300.
Despite being the final pairing at the 2017 Masters and going to a playoff, both Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia headlined the list of players that did not make the cut at the tournament. This is the first time Rose missed a cut at Augusta.
The Chicago Cubs cashed -179 ML tickets versus the Los Angeles Angels in a windy affair at Wrigley Field to open up MLB action on Friday afternoon. Every run in the game came from the long ball with Wilson Contreras homering twice, David Bote adding a long ball, and Anthony Rizzo going yard in the first inning. Despite the impromptu home run derby, the game’s final 5-1 tally stayed under the 10.5 total.
Otherwise, over bettors finished with a great day — going 8-4 on the day including a couple of high-scoring affairs. The Rays-Blue Jays game finished 11-7 in favor of Tampa Bay (-156) while the Astros (-140) hung 10 runs on the Mariners powered by a Yuli Gurriel Grand Slam. The White Sox upset the Yankees as a +175 underdog in a 9-6 rain-shortened affair.
Today, Justin Verlander toes the rubber on the road against Seattle with the Astros instilled as a -194 favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook projects the Red Sox-Orioles and Athletics-Rangers games as the highest scoring affairs with both games offering an 11-run O/U. Andrew Cashner and Marco Estrada — pitching for the road teams — both boast massive FB% against opposing hitters — probably one of the many reasons both games project for plenty of runs.
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