April 9, 2016 (5:28 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
1: Take Arizona Dbacks (-105) on the Money Line against Chicago Cubs risking 3.15% to win 3%.
(Greinke and Hendricks must start for wager to have action)
One bad performance and some are ready to write off one of the elite pitchers in baseball, Zack Greinke! That is a mistake. The crafty veteran has a history of bouncing back and proving people wrong. After an amazing season where despite being the statistically best pitcher not only in the Dodgers clubhouse but the entire MLB world and an All-Star game starter, he could not escape the shadow of Clayton Kershaw who continuously gets everyone's attention! After a blockbuster off-season move to NL West division rivals, we believe it is only a matter of time before he finds a home in Arizona where he is the true 'Ace' of this ambitious ball club. Given that he signed a massive contract for over $200 million to play for the Diamondbacks, his debut was always going to be a difficult one. The anticipation and pressure was immense at Chase Field by not only fans but media and pundits and to make matters worse, he was suffering from an illness and was not 100%. We believe after a very poor performance in his first start of the year, he'll have a much better outing tonight. And yet because the Cubs have been hot to start the year and Greinke is coming off an embarrassing game, he is being extremely undervalued in this matchup.
Much like their newly acquired All-Star arm, the Diamondbacks were suffering from a case of unnecessary pressure and expectation despite the baseball season being a true marathon and 162 games! The fact that Arizona lost two of its first 3 games to the Colorado Rockies has many wondering if they are legit. Those are valid concerns but we believe it is too small a sample size to conclude anything from and this is a team that'll only get better as its new moving parts gel and mesh together. The loss of AJ Pollock on the other hand is a big deal and one that'll prevent this team from fulfilling its potential. Nonetheless, Chris Owings has moved to the outfield and has done a reasonable job so far. He has good speed and while not a Golden Glover like Pollock, he may just do enough.
Now that the D-Backs have gotten that first 'W' at home, they can play a bit more loose and relaxed tonight. Last night night's game against the Cubs was a tightly contested one, much like this one might be, but the momentum shifted in the late innings when Pedro Strop took the mound for Chicago. His poor outing gave Arizona life and you could see it in the body language of Chip Hale and every member of the organization that they believed they were going to win that game, the moment they tied it up 2-2. They were correct. Yasmany Tomas hit a walk-off winner as the Diamondbacks tied the 4-game series against the Cubs and got a much needed win. The fact that it was such a narrow victory will help them mentally going into this matchup as they now have the belief that they can win those 'close' games.
It's also worth noting that with Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta taking the hill for the Cubbies tomorrow, Arizona realistically knows that it must win tonight's matchup if they want to at least split the series 2-2 and avoid another home series defeat, as they did against Colorado to start the season. The Arizona bats and bullpen regained some swagger and confidence after last night's game and may ride that momentum into another victory behind a bounce back poor performance from a truly quality hurler who normally is much more expensive to back. Take the home side at these short odds as they are now the ones exhibiting all the value at this short price.
2: Take Boston Celtics +6 spread (buy half a point) against Atlanta Hawks for 3% of the bankroll.
Two of the best teams in the Eastern conference face-off in what is an extremely important game for both. The Celtics and Hawks own identical 47-32 records on the season and have the Heat and Hornets lurking just a game behind! That means four teams are still hopeful of clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs by finishing as a top 4 seed. At the moment, Boston and Atlanta occupy those spots and this particular matchup will put one of them a huge step closer to achieving that target given that it is head-to-head and gives the victor a full game advantage over the other.
Neither club will be lacking any motivating for this contest as they both have a lot to gain or lose from it. However, in what is likely to be a closely contested affair between two evenly matched teams, the 6 extra points are extremely precious! We believe Boston is a live underdog in this game and can challenge for the outright win. Which teams ultimately walks out with a 'W' depends on late-game execution but neither are likely to have a huge lead in this game as it really should be an entertaining back-and-forth effort from two quality teams. Of course Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics have proven to be adept at 'closing out' games and that's partly thanks to Brad Stevens' genius play-calls at timeouts! That may give the C's an edge in this contest as the Hawks have shown a tendency to 'choke' late in close games against good teams. It wouldn't surprise us if they won this game but we don't believe it'll come easily or by a big margin. This is more or less a 50-50 game that either team can win, except one is laying 6 points and has to cover what we believe is an inflated spread. This also happens to be the Celtics' final game away from home in the regular season. If they fail to win this one, they'll finish with a losing road record (20-21) which is not the type of accomplishment this quietyly ambitious squad has in mind. And as if they needed any additional incentive to perform here, Boston needs to win this game to even up the season series against an Atlanta team that they could be facing in the playoffs and will not want to give a mental edge to.
The Celtics may have played last night but have been one of the best back-to-back teams in NBA this season having won twice as many (12) as they have lost (6) in this situation! Therefore they have won 12 of 18 times this season when they played the night before, now they don't even have to do that, they simply have to keep the game close. We believe this is a game that may go right to the wire and be decided on the final possession or two of the game. If that is the case, the points are likely to come into play even if the C's do fall short. It should also be noted that the Boston coaching staff managed the minutes of each squad member perfectly last night. No starter got more than 25 minutes and that means key players like Crowder, Thomas and Bradley will be fresh tonight. On the other hand, they did give fringe players like Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko some much needed playing time which should see them prove useful in this contest when called upon.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Celtics have covered 10 of 15 spreads when seeking revenge for a home loss!
- Celtics are 12-6 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points over the last 3 seasons.
- Celtics lead the Eastern conference in assist-to-turnover ratio with an impressive 1.75 mark!
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