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 April 17:
NBA Implements HGH Testing
Some news came down around the NBA yesterday that had nothing to do with the playoffs. The biggest blurb from Thursday’s off day is that the NBA, in conjunction with the NBA Players’ Association, is going to begin HGH testing next season. The league will do blood testing and the punishments are pretty strict, all things considered. A first offense will result in a 20-game suspension, which is nearly a quarter of the season. A second offense will cost a player 45 games and a third offense would lead to a dismissal from the NBA.
During CBA negotiations back in 2011, players and owners agreed to figure out a way to test for HGH usage and it has taken four years for the league and the players to agree on this course of action. Each player can expect three random, unannounced tests, with two during the season and one in the offseason.
It’s good to see this policy implemented in the NBA since it was one of the few leagues that did not have a concrete policy on the use of substances like this. Most of Adam Silver’s changes to the league have been met with open arms and it’s not hard to say that he’s the “best” (subjective, of course) commissioner of the major sports leagues.
NBA Playoffs News
On the eve of the NBA playoffs, there’s a bit of news that could impact the results of the postseason. Houston Rockets reserve point guard KJ McDaniels has a fractured left wrist and his postseason is over. Listeners of Betting the Buckets, Cole Ryan’s excellent NBA betting podcast, were treated to an interesting upset pick on the show (spoiler alert) and this injury certainly hurts the Rockets’ depth. McDaniels averaged 21.8 minutes over the course of the season, but he only played 15 minutes over the team’s last five games because he missed three of them due to injury.
Paul Pierce gave the Toronto Raptors some bulletin board material before their series begins on Saturday. Pierce said that the Raptors don’t have “it”, as in the “it factor”. The Raptors weren’t concerned with Pierce’s comments, though it seems odd that the veteran forward would give the opposition any motivation whatsoever. The Wizards did not play very well in the second half of the season. Pierce is a noted trash talker and vocal player, so the Raptors may just shrug it off altogether.
NBA Non-Playoffs News
Could the axe be coming for Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City? Rumors were swirling on Thursday that Brooks could be out and that Florida head coach Billy Donovan would be a candidate for the job. Brooks did a tremendous job getting Oklahoma City close to the postseason this year. The Thunder were without Kevin Durant for the majority of the season and both Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook missed time.
Following exit interviews, Brooks said he wasn’t concerned about losing his job, but Brooks was on the chopping block at various points throughout the season. The Thunder have had the talent to win an NBA title in the past, but have failed to get the job done. If Brooks does not sign an extension, he is under contract for this season with a team option for the following season. Most coaches will not work under a one-year deal because there’s no job security in that. Brooks won’t have a choice, so it could be a make or break season for him in 2015-16, assuming that he is still around.
NHL Playoffs Recap
For the second straight night, it was a pretty good thing to be the road team. The Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild each stole Game 1 on the road, while the New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks held serve in their home buildings. The Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins and held on for a 2-1 victory. The Ducks got four points from Corey Perry in their 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
The Detroit Red Wings had some major goaltending questions entering the playoffs. Head coach Mike Babcock opted to go with Petr Mrazek and Mrazek repaid his coach’s trust with a spectacular 44-save performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Red Wings were outshot 46-14 in the game and won 3-2 thanks to Mrazek’s heroics and two goals from Pavel Datsyuk. Tampa Bay was 0-for-7 on the power play.
In the other game, the Minnesota Wild continued their torrid play with a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota scored two of their four goals on power play attempts and outshot the Blues 29-21 for the road playoff win. Two goals in the final 59 seconds burned under bettors, but the Wild picked up a nice underdog victory to set the tone for the postseason.
The Disabled List
The MLB injury list grew with a couple of big names on Thursday. Jose Reyes is, not surprisingly, hurt again for the Toronto Blue Jays. After struggling through some leg issues in his first couple of seasons north of the border, Reyes is now sidelined with an oblique injury. Reyes is going to sit out the three-game series against the Atlanta Braves and then be re-evaluated. It’s entirely possible that Reyes ends up on the disabled list.
It has nothing to do with Reyes’s injury, but there have been some concerns about the new playing surface in Toronto. Players and coaches have expressed concern over some bad bounces on the new artificial playing surface. Playing on the artificial surface is always tough on the legs of the players, but hits are being taken away by the slow surface.
Anyway, back to injuries, with some bad news for the Washington Nationals. The Nationals cut into their bullpen depth by trading Tyler Clippard to the Oakland A’s prior to the season. Now, they’ve lost a key piece of their bullpen. Craig Stammen was diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow and will require season-ending surgery. Stammen had pitched in five of Washington’s nine games with no runs allowed.
Start Your Engines
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway is coming up on Sunday afternoon. Jimmie Johnson is hoping to build off of last week’s victory at Texas Motor Speedway, his first of the season. In the first race at Bristol last season, Carl Edwards took the checkered flag as Ford took the top three spots and four of the top five. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola finished second and third. Matt Kenseth led 165 of the 503 laps, but finished in 13th.
This week, the odds shakedown like this: Kevin Harvick is the 9/2 favorite off of last week’s second-place finish. Brad Keselowski is next at 11/2, with Joey Logano at 6/1, and Jimmie Johnson at 7/1. Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth are also below 10/1, so this projects to be a very wide open field at Bristol.
Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are the heavy favorites for the XFINITY 300-lap race on Saturday.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.