If you are a sports betting enthusiast like all of us at BangTheBook.com are, then you probably start thinking about the betting impact of the day’s top stories. Not every top story has a relevance to betting, but you probably try to connect the dots anyway. In a new feature each weekday, we will take a look at the top six sports stories of the day in an article titled the Daily Six Pack. They say that an apple day keeps the doctor away. Well, we like to think that a six pack a day keeps the bookie away.
With that, let’s take a look at the six top stories for Tuesday April 14:
The Night That Was
Monday’s NBA schedule was packed with important outcomes for all sorts of reasons. We’ll start with the clinching of a playoff berth. The Brooklyn Nets were crushed by the Chicago Bulls and their loss put the ‘x’ next to the Boston Celtics to signify that they have qualified for the NBA playoffs. Even though it’s kind of embarrassing that teams make the playoffs in the NBA with a sub-.500 record, the Celtics won four straight to take charge, while the other teams from the ninth-place team on down struggled and fell out of the race. The Celtics are not locked into the #7 seed, however.
Kudos to the Milwaukee Bucks for finishing the season with no worse than a .500 record. They’re likely to get blown out by the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but it’s been a very impressive turnaround for the Bucks this season. They’ve rattled off three straight wins and have the opportunity to clinch a winning season on Wednesday.
The NBA rescinded Russell Westbrook’s 16th technical of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder stayed alive in the Western Conference playoff chase. The New Orleans Pelicans also took care of business by downing the Minnesota Timberwolves to set up a winner-take-all on Wednesday. The problem for the Pelicans is that they play the San Antonio Spurs, who have a ton to play for, while the Thunder play the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.
The New York Knicks hurt their Draft Lottery chances by beating the Atlanta Hawks 112-108. The Knicks can fall down to the sixth pick now depending on how the lottery shakes out. After losing Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire, and struggling with the triangle offense earlier in the season, it would be very Knicks-like to be that awful and wind up picking sixth.
The Golden State Warriors played a wounded animal on Monday night in a 111-107 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies that was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate. The Warriors led by 27 entering the fourth quarter. In their final tune-up for the postseason, the Warriors passed with flying colors, despite the dicey moments late.
The Night Ahead
There are only three games on tap in the NBA for Tuesday night, but there’s some interest in these games. The Boston Celtics host the Toronto Raptors in a big game for both teams. The Celtics are in the playoffs, but they would like to sustain their momentum. A win would guarantee a series against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs. As for the Raptors, third place is still a possibility, though the Bulls are playing very well right now. The Raptors have won three straight and will host their first-round opponent, but they’d still like to play well in these final two games.
The biggest game on the card features the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers. Everything is coming up gold for the Pacers right now. Paul George returned from his horrific leg injury and has played well and the Pacers got some help to control their destiny in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Nets were hammered by the Bulls on Monday, which means that the Pacers are in if they win out. The Pacers opened a 4.5-point favorite and jumped to -7 with Brooklyn’s loss.
The Los Angeles Clippers still have a good shot at the #3 seed in the West. Three teams are tied with identical 55-26 records, with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets sharing the same record as the Clippers. The Clippers have won nine of 10 and six straight, while the Spurs have rattled off 11 straight wins. The Phoenix Suns have rolled over and the Clippers should win big in that game.
Looking For A Link
On Saturday, Jenrry Mejia became the fourth player in 16 days to be suspended for a positive test for stanozolol, a banned steroid. Mejia joined Ervin Santana, David Rollins, and Arodys Vizcaino on the suspension list. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league will investigate any ties between the cases, though he acknowledged that the league is operating under the assumption that the only link is that all four players used the same banned substance.
It’s hardly a coincidence, however, that three of the players are Latin American. This has been an ongoing problem in Major League Baseball. There’s a lack of communication between the league and the players on what is safe to use and what isn’t. Whether the language barrier has something to do with it or not, players do not seem to be properly informed. Not to mention, in some of these Latin countries, the players have no idea what is being placed in the supplements, or even the food, that they are ingesting.
By no means should the players be exempt from blame, but the frequency of positive tests from Latin American players should raise some sort of red flag. Mejia was already on the disabled list, so his suspension likely won’t have too much of an impact, but the Ervin Santana suspension has already impacted the Twins. The Twins are off to a 1-6 start and Ricky Nolasco is on the disabled list with a bad elbow.
Everybody is raving about the Royals, who improved to 7-0 on the season with a blowout win over the Minnesota Twins in the Home Opener at Target Field. The Royals are certainly hitting the cover off of the ball right now and got another quality effort from a starting pitcher as Danny Duffy went 6.1 innings with three runs allowed. Look to start fading the Royals once they get out of Minnesota. Their true talent level is definitely not this high and they’re going to come back to earth in a big way. The Twins are awful, so they cannot be trusted to start the slide.
There were 18 errors in the big leagues last night and 10 of the 14 games went over the total after a barrage of overs on Sunday. Offense is usually slow out of the gate with some bad weather in a lot of cities and the way that pitchers are ahead of hitters early in the season. Defense is something that oddsmakers do not account for in most cases and it can be exploited by bettors that are paying attention. There could have been a lot more offense on Monday, but several teams, namely the Giants and Cardinals, were terrible with runners on base.
Gerrit Cole was excellent against the Detroit Tigers over six innings with eight strikeouts and just one run allowed. Against Corey Kluber on Saturday, the Tigers got a leadoff home run from Anthony Gose and scored another run on a Victor Martinez double play. They had two runs on four hits off Kluber in the first. In Kluber’s next 5.1 innings of work, the Tigers scored zero runs on three hits and struck out nine times. The Tigers offense is great, but good pitching has shut them down. Don’t let the hype get out of hand.
A Bit of a Shocker
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker are both returning to Wichita State for their senior seasons. That means that Gregg Marshall, who recently signed a huge contract extension, will have a top-10 team to open up the season and the Shockers will be a popular futures pick for handicappers entering the 2015-16 college basketball season. VanVleet and Baker likely would have left if Marshall had, but the fact that Marshall stayed was probably a determining factor in their decisions.
Demetrius Jackson, who helped the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to a deep tournament run, is also staying in school. The junior was projected to be a first-round NBA pick, but he will come back and look to improve as a player. Jackson shot 43 percent from deep and played very well during the ACC schedule.
Perry Ellis is returning to Kansas for his senior season, giving Bill Self a rare senior in a big role on the team. The Jayhawks had a disappointing run in March Madness, eliminated by Wichita State. They should return to prominence in the Big 12 this season with another top recruiting class and a veteran leader.
Urban Meyer Cashes In
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the inaugural College Football Playoff and have now extended their head coach through the 2020 season. Meyer will average $6.5M per season over the length of the deal and the Buckeyes are building a dynasty in Columbus. They were a year ahead of schedule with this season’s championship team and are the favorites to win the College Football Playoff for the upcoming season. Only Nick Saban makes more money than Meyer.
Meyer has a long summer ahead of him while trying to decide between Braxton Miller, JT Barrett, and Cardale Jones for the starting quarterback job. Jones is the only healthy one of the three for Ohio State’s spring game on Saturday. Barrett will not play and neither will Miller. Redshirt freshman Stephen Collier will quarterback the other team.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.