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 Friday March 6:
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the subject of a blurb in yesterday’s Six Pack and I expressed concern with the Thunder because they have become so dependent on Russell Westbrook and the only four starters played poorly against the Wizards on Wednesday night. If you followed along and took the Chicago Bulls, you cashed a nice underdog winner on Thursday night.
The spot was awful for the Thunder with a back-to-back with travel after an overtime game, but the same problems were on display again. Westbrook failed to post his fifth straight triple double, but his 43-8-7 line was not enough. Once again, Westbrook took a large percentage of the team’s shots. Serge Ibaka had a nice game on the inside with 25 and 9 in 46 minutes.
Regardless of the numbers that Westbrook is putting up, I wouldn’t touch the Thunder until Kevin Durant returns. That will likely be sometime next week, but this team is just standing around watching on the offensive end and Westbrook is using so much energy on the offensive end that the Thunder are suffering on the defensive end. Chicago outscored Oklahoma City 54-30 in the paint. Westbrook might be your MVP, but the Thunder are not a team to back right now.
Portland’s Achilles Heel
Well, in this case, Achilles tendon. Wesley Matthews is out for the rest of the season after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon and it’s an enormous loss for the Trail Blazers. The recipe for success in the NBA has been to have a “Big Three” and Matthews was the supporting cast for Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Matthews averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in his 60 starts this season and had made the fourth-most three-point shots in the league.
There are a lot of reasons that this loss hurts the Blazers. For one thing, Matthews has been a constant in this lineup and the team now has to adjust to playing without him. For another thing, the Blazers no longer have the drive-and-kick spot up shooter that every team needs to have in today’s NBA. The addition of Arron Afflalo for Denver at the Trade Deadline will help lessen the blow, but make no mistake, this cripples Portland’s playoff chances.
The injury also overshadowed what was an impressive win for the Trail Blazers. They were in a back-to-back, following an overtime game, and still crushed the Dallas Mavericks. The Blazers started slow, but out-physicaled Dallas all game long and ripped down 56 rebounds.
It will be interesting to see how much the books adjust to this injury. I think it’s going to have a much bigger impact than expected.
“Well, it could be a fractured ulna…”
And that’s exactly what it is for Hunter Pence. The Giants iron man right fielder suffered a fractured ulna when he was hit by a pitch in San Francisco’s Cactus League matchup against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Pence is the team’s leader in games played, hits, runs, home runs, RBI, and extra-base hits since his first game on August 1, 2012. Pence is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks.
The thing about this is that I was not high on the Giants to begin with, as you read about in my Season Win Total preview for the team. The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval and failed to adequately replace his offensive production and the starting rotation is full of older pitchers or guys with major mechanical inconsistencies. And Madison Bumgarner, who is elite, but is coming off of the highest workload of his career during the deep playoff run.
Pence’s loss is big. The Giants don’t have a whole lot of power, not that most teams would in that ballpark, but there’s not a lot of extra-base power on the team either. There’s decent outfield depth to hold down the fort while Pence is out, but if it’s closer to that eight-week projection, Pence will likely need a week or 10 days in the minors to get his timing down and that would put the timetable into mid-May. Six weeks without a top offensive contributor is a long time.
With a win total of 84, I still like the under and I like it even more now. I wouldn’t look at the Giants for futures until they play without Pence for the first three or four weeks of the season and then they could be re-evaluated. Overall, this is a big injury.
Virginia was excited to get Justin Anderson back. With Anderson out, the Cavaliers have really struggled on the offensive end of the floor, even though they have still been winning games. Anderson was set to return from a fractured finger this weekend against Louisville in order to help with the ACC Tournament run, but then appendicitis struck. Anderson’s out indefinitely now for the Cavaliers.
The good thing, obviously, is that this happened in time for him to possibly return for the NCAA Tournament and Virginia shouldn’t need him on the opening weekend against two lesser opponents anyway. However, what offensive rhythm the Cavaliers do have will need some adjustments when Anderson returns.
Virginia is still an underrated team in the futures market and this latest setback could make them even more attractive. Even if they get bounced fairly early from the ACC Tournament, they’re going to be no lower than a #2 seed and should have a decent path to the Elite Eight, so long as they don’t run into a really hot shooting team. I’d still look to them because, as I’ve said before, defense is consistent, whereas offense has some variance.
Neon Lights and NASCAR
The annual parade of NASCAR trailers went down Las Vegas Boulevard yesterday en route to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race. After a Ford sweep during Daytona week, Chevy took the top three spots at Atlanta. Jimmie Johnson was the winner, with Kevin Harvick in second, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in third. Joey Logano, who won the Daytona 500, added a fourth-place finish and led 84 laps last weekend.
Brad Keselowski was the victor last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in what was a very interesting race. Nobody led more than 53 laps and five different drivers led the field for at least 34 laps. Looking at some odds to win for this weekend’s race, Kevin Harvick is the favorite at Bovada.lv at 19/4. Jimmie Johnson is next at 5/1, with Dale Jr. coming in as the third favorite at 7/1. Denny Hamlin, the heavy favorite to win the XFINITY 300 on Saturday is 14/1. Could this be a good week for Ryan Newman or Tony Stewart, who are both listed at 33/1?
The race is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
The New College Football Market Inefficiency
Offensive genius Art Briles is without offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, who meant a ton to the team. Montgomery took the head coaching job at Tulsa and was one of the architects of Baylor’s incredible offensive attack. The Bears may have a new secret weapon this season. He stands 6’7”, weighs 410 pounds, and could be catching passes for Baylor next season.
His name is LaQuan McGowan. McGowan has been lining up at tight end and H-back during Baylor’s spring practices. This isn’t a new development, because McGowan scored a receiving touchdown in last season’s Cotton Bowl. With the departure of Bryce Petty, the Baylor offense is in good hands with Seth Russell, but Baylor is always trying new things and McGowan is the latest experiment.
It should be a lot of fun to watch a 5’10” DB try to tackle McGowan in the open field.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.