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 Thursday April 9:
Bulls Stop and Smell the Roses
The return of Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls lineup is certainly a big deal for the postseason, but it was not enough to keep the Bulls from dropping Wednesday’s game to the Orlando Magic. In the process, the Bulls dropped to fourth in the Eastern Conference and allowed the Cleveland Cavs to win the Central Division. The Bulls were outscored by 10 in the fourth quarter to lose by a deuce. Five players were in double figures for the Bulls, though three of them came off of the bench. Was Tom Thibodeau simply spreading around playing time with the playoffs coming or does this speak to a bigger issue?
In looking at the box score, there are some things to worry about with the Bulls. Rose took six three-pointers on nine shots attempts, which suggests that it’s going to take him some time to get comfortable with the idea of going to the rim. Nikola Vucevic had 22 points as the Magic outscored the Bulls 42-34 in the paint. The Bulls may have just had a night off, but they need to get tougher on the interior before the playoffs begin. The Washington Wizards are suddenly putting it together and the Toronto Raptors have put their struggles in the past.
Other NBA Games
The Derrick Rose story was the big one, but there were others. I raved about the New Orleans Pelicans in yesterday’s Six Pack and they fell victim to the prototypical letdown spot on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Pelicans managed only 74 points in a 110-74 loss to the Grizz. After a solid first quarter, the Pelicans managed 50 points over the final three quarters. What does it mean? Well, it means that the Pelicans are still a few steps away from being a serious contender.
But, it also showed that the Memphis Grizzlies have some high upside when they want to play. The Grizzlies racked up 27 assists on 45 made shots, pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, and only turned the ball over eight times. Memphis pulled back into a tie with the Houston Rockets for the Southwest Division title. Also, as crazy as it is, the San Antonio Spurs are just a half-game back with their nine-game winning streak in tow.
Speaking of the Spurs, they continued to impress with a 110-99 win over the Rockets. It’s fair to be concerned about Tim Duncan, who had only six points, but Kawhi Leonard, Aron Baynes, and Boris Diaw are going to make life hell on the interior for the other teams in the NBA Western Conference playoffs. Tony Parker, not wanting to be overshadowed by James Harden, was 13-of-18 from the floor for a game-high 27 points. The only area the Spurs struggles was in transition, which will be a problem if they run into Golden State in the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks are a mess. Against a Phoenix Suns team that wanted to be anywhere but Atlanta earlier this week with a 69-point output, the Mavericks won 107-104. The Mavericks dominated the game in the paint and still narrowly won because of their lax defense on mid-range jumpers. The Mavs are a toxic team right now. Stay far, far away.
The NHL Stretch Run
There are 11 NHL games on Thursday night, two on Friday, and 15 on Saturday. These are the final 28 games of the regular season. The only game without playoff implications on Thursday night is San Jose’s visit to Edmonton. The other 10 games all have importance in the playoff picture, either for seeding or for playoff races for the final spots in each conference.
There is one line that jumps off the page to me and that’s the game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Calgary Flames. The Flames are +115 at home for this game, even though they lead the Kings by two points and are essentially in the same exact situation. The Flames can clinch the final spot in the Pacific Division with a win. The Kings still have work to do with a win, but it’s a must-win game for both teams. The stakes are higher for Los Angeles because the Flames have the tiebreaker, but the Kings have the tiebreaker over the Winnipeg Jets, who they trail by three points. The Jets play in Colorado and can lock up the second wild card with a win.
In the Eastern Conference, the playoff picture is far cloudier. There are five teams fighting for four spots. The New York Islanders have the inside track because they can lock up the final guaranteed spot in the Metropolitan Division with a regulation or overtime win on Friday. The Detroit Red Wings play at Montreal, the Boston Bruins play at Florida, and the Ottawa Senators play at the New York Rangers, who have nothing to play for because they have clinched the top spot.
These are some tough lines to set because most teams are going to show up with a max effort on Thursday. Follow closely on Thursday and Friday because it will have a major impact on Saturday’s betting card for the season finale.
College Basketball Coaching Carousel
After firing Herb Sendek and reportedly having interest in Jeff Capel, the Arizona State Sun Devils have turned their attention to Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley. Hurley would be wise to make the jump from the MAC to the Pac-12 and that could come soon. Chattanooga head coach Will Wade has a new title as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth. Wade employed a “chaos” defense, similar to the “havoc” defense that Shaka Smart had his players run at VCU. VCU reportedly targeted Wade because it would be a smoother transition, which is a brilliant move because recruiting could take a hit without Smart and now the Rams don’t have to rebuild from the ground up. Wade was a former assistant under Smart.
Larry Krystkowiak got a lengthy contract extension from the Utah Utes after his team’s nice run in the NCAA Tournament. It was missed earlier, but Avery Johnson, who spent some time coaching in the NBA, is the new head coach at Alabama. More coaching changes will be coming, so definitely keep an eye on the latest.
Around the Horn
A quick look around Major League Baseball begins with a plug for my new MLB betting podcast, The Bettor’s Box, which can be heard every Monday and Thursday at BangTheBook.com. The show will have talking points that will extend past the games on those specific nights, so be sure to tune in. Hit me up on Twitter @SkatingTripods to talk baseball, the show, or anything else you want to discuss.
How about the Atlanta Braves? The Braves, who traded away everything that wasn’t nailed down over the winter, are 3-0 with a sweep of the Miami Marlins. Not to take anything away from the Braves, but it’s entirely possible that the Marlins are a lot worse than anybody anticipated. Offensively, the Marlins were terrible. With the exception of the blowout loss in the middle game, the Marlins got good starts from Henderson Alvarez and Tom Koehler. The problem is that they scored three runs in two games. The Braves only scored two runs in two of their three wins. Look for some quick regression from the Braves.
Speaking of surprising results, the Colorado Rockies swept the Milwaukee Brewers on the road. The Rockies won 21 games away from Coors Field last season. The Rockies had two winning streaks of three games on the road last season. This is a dangerous lineup when healthy. Carlos Gonzalez hit a tape-measure job and Troy Tulowitzki had a huge series. Nolan Arenado is healthy and raking. The Rockies starting pitching was a lot better than expected through the first three games, but now they return home and the fun begins.
So Jack Nicklaus said this:
Jack Nicklaus had a feeling he was getting a hole-in-one today… https://t.co/rNMWLi5TnE
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 8, 2015
And did this:
The great Jack Nicklaus hit this #holeinone at Augusta yesterday. 4/5 there's another at #TheMasters https://t.co/GzCmKAYAwe
— William Hill Betting (@WillHillBet) April 9, 2015
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.