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NBA And NHL Playoff Preview And Picks For May 1

The incredible streak of 20 straight favorites winning in the NBA stopped with a thud Monday night. The Celtics toppled the Sixers 117-101 as 5-point underdogs. 

Faves are still profitable at 39-9 SU (+$743.97) and 32-16 ATS (+$1321.64). The money numbers are profit based on risking $100 per game. 

Still, I think oddsmakers will adjust and I think we can count on lines being a tad inflated over the next little bit.  

Let’s move on to tonight’s action with that in mind. Here’s a look at my record these playoffs:  

  • Now 16-12-1 in the NHL after a 3-2 weekend if you follow me on Twitter. I’m up $370 (based on $100/gm bets)
  • Now 12-15 ATS in the NBA. 

Join us every Monday to Friday at noon ET on Periscope on @OddsShark to give us your betting questions and check out our picks in more detail. 


Cavaliers at Raptors -7, 217 

The series price for the Raptors is -200 but the Game 1 moneyline price is as high as -280. I think that shows you what the impact is to the odds for a team coming off a Game 7 because the series price and Game 1 price usually match up a lot better. 

The Raps are 5-0-1 against the spread in their last six home games while the Cavs continue to be one of the best fades in professional sports. The went 1-6 against the spread in Round 1 and they are the worst bet in the NBA this season. 

Oddsmakers have noticed. This is the most the Cavs have been underdogged this year and they are 12-6 against the spread as a dog overall. They are 0-11 straight up the last 11 times they’ve been a dog by this much though, for what it’s worth. One thing is for sure – the Cavs need to play tougher D though against a Toronto team that scored 122.7 points per game against them in the regular season. 

I’m really not so certain what to make of a sloppy Raptors team that struggled to find much rhythm in the first round. Can’t bet against them at home so going with a total play. Seven of the last 10 meetings have played OVER between these teams. They can both score and have a tendency to get lost on defense.  

Pick:  OVER 

Pelicans at Warriors -11, 226.5 

Steph Curry is expected to make his return in Game 2 for the Warriors. The Dubs are 7-9 against the spread since Curry sprained his ankle in March while going 9-7 straight up. Golden State is also just 15-22 against the spread with Curry out this season and the OVER/UNDER is 15-21-1. 

Curry’s return is helping to make this the highest total of the NBA playoffs – about three points higher than Game 1 of this series. The spread is also 3.5 points higher than Game 1 so you can see how oddsmakers value Curry. 

The question for bettors inevitably is: will Curry be rusty or do the Warriors just pick up right where they left off with him in the lineup? I think it’s probably the latter but this still might be too many points. 

Remember that Game 2 is a really big deal in the NBA playoffs. Teams that go down 2-0 in a series get knocked out almost 94 percent of the time. Compare that to the NHL where it’s 86 percent of the time and MLB where it’s 84 percent. 

Pick: Pelicans +11  


Capitals at Penguins -140, 5.5 

The Caps have won five of their last six games. They’ve also won 10 of their last 11 road games.  Makes this underdog line tempting tonight. 

But I said on Twitter the third period of Game 2 was an important one for Washington. With a 3-1 lead, they needed to prove to themselves they could put the Pens away when they needed to after so many playoff collapses to them over the years. They didn’t.

Ovechkin was invisible. They took bonehead penalties. Only a no-goal mystery call made this 4-1 score look better than it really was. 

What makes this series tough to handicap for me is the Penguins look tired. Maybe they’re running out of gas after a pair of Stanley Cup winning runs. And fatigue usually hurts defensive play the most at both ends. Six of the last seven meetings have played UNDER but I think that’s only working in our favor with a total that I feel should be at 6.  

Pick: OVER 

Predators at Jets -145, 5.5 

You could have gotten this line Monday morning at Jets -125, so that tells you where the money is going here. It also reminds us not to be afraid to lay our bets a day early these playoffs when we see a line we like. 

The money is on the Jets for good reason. They own the best record at home this season (57-21-11) and are the second-best bet there with a profit of $1,342 if you bet $100 on every game. Nashville was the second best bet on the road this season ($742) but the edge goes to Winnipeg. I think this one goes UNDER if I had to make a total pick but I like the Jets here. 

Pick: Jets