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 2:
James Harden was the story of Wednesday’s enormous NBA card. The MVP candidate dropped 51 points and added eight boards and six assists on the Sacramento Kings in a 115-111 win for Houston. It completely overshadowed a dominant performance from DeMarcus Cousins with a quadruple-double with 24-21-10-6. What was most impressive about Harden’s performance, especially compared to Russell Westbrook’s past big games, is that Harden was extremely efficient. He was 16-of-25 from the floor, 8-of-9 from three, and 11-of-13 at the charity stripe.
Harden deserves more chatter for the MVP. What Westbrook has done without Kevin Durant and now Serge Ibaka has been impressive, but Harden doesn’t have a big supporting cast either and the Rockets have had injury problems all season long as well. Dwight Howard rested for this game. Harden is now averaging 27.6 points per game. If I had a vote, and I obviously don’t, mine would be going to Harden.
The Rest of the Night
It was quite an interesting night in the NBA with a lot of games that mattered. The Charlotte Hornets rolled the Detroit Pistons in a terrible letdown spot for Detroit. The Pistons beat the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night and responded by getting blown out by 24.
The Washington Wizards took a 31-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers and put it in cruise control for a 13-point win. Speaking of cruise control, the Brooklyn Nets nearly blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter against the lowly New York Knicks, but held on for a 100-98 win. The Indiana Pacers suffered a big setback in Boston as the Celtics won by 13.
A couple of track meets in the Western Conference deserve some extra attention. Russell Westbrook racked up his 10th triple-double of the season in a 135-131 loss at home to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks were 52-of-76 on two-point shots, that’s a 68.4 percent clip. The Thunder made 14-of-31 three-point shots and were outscored in the paint 72-46. This wasn’t a good showing for either team. Scoring points and shooting the ball well is great and it may work in the Western Conference playoffs depending on the opponent, but the Mavericks are not going anywhere if they can’t defend the perimeter. Similarly, the Thunder aren’t going anywhere if they can’t defend.
Not surprisingly, the worst shooter for Dallas was Rajon Rondo. Rondo has not fit into this offense at all. He dropped 10 dimes, but he only played 29 minutes of action. Rick Carlisle is clearly not a fan and Rondo needs a change of scenery after the season.
The other track meet was a potential first-round playoff matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. A 71-point fourth quarter drove up the offensive numbers in this one, but both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor and better than 50 percent from deep. Eight of the 10 starters finished in double figures on the night. This would be an exciting first-round series and hopefully that’s the matchup that fans get.
Gregggggggggggggg Marshall Stays at Wichita State
It’s impossible to add enough ‘g’s’ to Gregg Marshall’s name to properly illustrate the raise that he just received from Wichita State. With Alabama sniffing around for a replacement for Anthony Grant, the Shockers athletic department moved swiftly and gave Marshall a substantial raise. Marshall will make $3M per season. What’s interesting about this is that’s it’s similar to a thought that VCU’s athletic director had on Wednesday. He mentioned how not having a Division I football team allows for more flexibility for the one men’s revenue sport the school has.
It probably won’t be enough for VCU to keep Shaka Smart around because Texas is prepared to send a Brinks truck directly to Smart’s house. Texas never showed interest in Marshall, which probably made it easier for Wichita State to keep their bench boss. The difference between the two mid-major coaches is that Wichita State seems to still be in good shape. They’re in a weak conference and players know that they can appear in the NCAA Tournament. VCU moved into the much tougher Atlantic-10 Conference and there are no guarantees of a spot in the field of 68.
On Wednesday’s Handicapping the Hardwood, Adam Burke and Kyle Hunter covered the Final Four matchups, but they also ended the show talking about some of the coaching changes. Make sure to tune in.
MLB Spring Training Update
Teams are starting to head north, west, or east to wrap up the preseason and get ready for Opening Day. Exhibition games in Montreal featuring the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds have seen ticket sales of over 90,000 to fill Olympic Stadium. Other teams are playing other exhibition games in different places.
Some more roster battles were decided yesterday and earlier this week, along with some injury diagnoses. Anthony Rendon got a second and third opinion on his MCL injury, which is still considered to be a sprain. He’s one of the few baseball players to visit Dr. James Andrews and not return with awful news.
Dillon Gee has won the final starting spot in the New York Mets rotation. That spot was vacated when Zack Wheeler had to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Mets are a team with a lot of upside and a strong pitching staff. Jon Niese has already experienced some shoulder fatigue this season, so what was a position of depth is getting weaker by the day.
Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will miss the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It’s rare for a catcher to need the procedure, but Baltimore backstop Matt Wieters needed TJS last season. It’s a big blow for a Red Sox team with high expectations and a starting pitching staff that could use the help of a solid catcher.
In terrifying Spring Training news, reliever John Axford had to rush to a Scottsdale hospital because his two-year-old son was bit by a rattlesnake. Doctors were reportedly able to save the young boy’s foot, but there’s still a chance that some toes will have to be amputated from the toxic venom. Axford, who has a propensity for giving up home runs, is likely to make the Colorado bullpen. Best wishes to his son Jameson with the recovery process.
NHL News and Notes
Only four games were played in the NHL last night, but there was plenty of news from those games. As mentioned in our game preview yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers would find a way to get excited to play the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s just what they did in a 4-1 win. Sidney Crosby scored his 300th career goal, but the Flyers won the game and dealt a blow to the Penguins’ hopes of grabbing home ice advantage in the first round.
The Anaheim Ducks rolled to their third straight Pacific Division title. This was a formality because the Ducks had a huge lead in the division. It remains to be seen who will secure home ice advantage for the duration of the Western Conference playoffs, but the Ducks have a four-point edge on the Nashville Predators. The Ducks may start to rest some players, so they’re a team to avoid down the stretch.
Women’s Final Four
All four #1 seeds took care of business in their respective brackets in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame will take on South Carolina on Sunday at 6:30 and UConn will battle Maryland at 8:30. Notre Dame is a 3.5-point favorite against South Carolina for the game in Tampa, FL. UConn’s Lady Huskies are a 23-point favorite against Maryland.
Since losing to Stanford on November 17, the Huskies have won every game by at least 16 points. The Huskies beat South Carolina by 25 back in February and won by 18 over Notre Dame earlier this season.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.