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June 16, 2016

There is one MLB and one NBA pick tonight.

1: Take Philadelphia Phillies (+120) on the ML against Toronto Blue Jays risking 3% to win 3.6%.

The Blue Jays are the better team but on this particular night, Philadelphia has several advantages and should win. This is what we call a 'False Favorite' situation as the underdog is more likely to come out on top than the team installed as 'chalk'. It all starts with the starting pitching matchup between the veteran JA Happ and the talented young Aaron Nola.

Short of one poor start in his last outing, Aaron Nola has been exceptional this season! Despite being only in his second year in the Majors, he's already established himself as Philadelphia's Ace! For such a young pitcher, he displays an abundance of composure and poise and very rarely gets rattled. That is important against a Toronto lineup that may put him in some jams but as we've seen all season, Nola has the ability to get out of such situations and leave runners stranded on base. Even after a rare poor start last time out, his ERA sits below 3.00 and shows just how consistent he's been this season.

JA Happ is another composed figure and an extremely experienced one. The 33-year old southpaw has re-invented himself somewhat over the past year but is still susceptible to the long ball and is coming off an outing in which he gave up 3 home runs! He got off to a terrific start this season but since that May 16 start in which he gave up 8 runs in just 2 innings, his ERA has risen back close to his career norm which is 4.18. He now faces a squad that has some prior experience against him and is better equipped to take advantage of the extensive scouting report, than the other way around. Maikel Franco missed the last 3 games but will start at 3rd base and bat 3rd in the Phillies lineup tonight. He's a threat to 'go yard' each and every time he steps up to the plate and might just give the left-handed pitcher some trouble.

The Blue Jays offense is definitely a dangerous one but the fact that they've never faced Aaron Nola before puts them at a great disadvantage. It'll likely take them a couple of orders through the lineup to try to 'figure him out' and by then it could be too late. Let's not forget that Nola has several good put-away pitches and has fanned 88 batters this season! He ranks #12 in the Majors in that category, having struck out nearly 27% of the batters he faces. The Toronto lineup can be a feast or famine type and having hit the ball well recently, they might be swinging for the fences and trying too hard. Not being patient at the plate and chasing pitches out of the strike-zone is a possibility tonight and one that gives the home side a big edge.

The Phillies already lost yesterday and will not want to be swept on the home side of this 2-and-2 interleague set. Having been embarrassed in each of the last two games including the final one in Toronto which was a big blowout, look for them to be focused and motivated in this matchup. The Blue Jays on the other hand head to Baltimore to face division rivals, Orioles, next. Some of the players will be looking ahead to that test against their AL East division rivals and might just look past this game against the lowly Phillies. The fact that this is an interleague contest makes the 'look-ahead' angle even more of a possibility. Don't be surprised if the underdogs surprise the visitors tonight and win this game. It might be a close game and if that's the case, the Phillies might just have the edge given their outstanding record in 1-run games compared to the Blue Jays.

2: Take Cleveland Cavaliers -2 spread against Golden State Warriors for 3% of the bankroll.

The Cavaliers managed to stave off elimination in Game 5 as they became just the 4th team this season to hand the defending champion Golden State Warriors a loss at Oracle Arena! With the series now sitting at 3-2 in favor of the Warriors and the venue once again shifting to Quicken Loans Arena, we believe this gives the Cavaliers a huge advantage in this contest. They saw the Warriors celebrate their championship at this arena last year in the NBA Finals, and will not allow that to happen again. At the very least, they will want to extend the series one more game and lose it in Oakland and not in front of their fans. Given the shift in momentum and the confidence gained by the likes of Irving and company in Game 5, we believe they'll be the team to beat tonight. The loss of Andrew Bogut shouldn't be underestimated either. He's the Warriors' main defensive anchor and rim-protector and as an experiencedand gritty veteran, knows how to position himself to block and alter shots. They'll miss the 7-foot frame of the Australian as going with a smaller lineup will have its weaknesses and allows the likes of Tristan Thompson to dominate the boards even more!

Cleveland will once again be in desperation mode for this matchup and when their backs were up against the wall in Game 5; they certainly delivered. Both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James put in masterful performances, accounting for 82 of the teams 112 points, while also becoming the first duo in league history to each top the 40 point mark in an NBA Finals game! While we don't necessarily see both of these guys dropping 40 points apiece again in this contest, we do believe they will both put in quality performances that will help guide their team to victory. We also believe that with this game now being played in Cleveland that more of the supporting cast, namely players like JR Smith, Channing Frye and others will step their game up in this contest and contribute more, now that they are playing in a more familiar atmosphere. We expect Quicken Loans Arena to be rocking tonight and the Cavaliers players will feed off of the energy of their fans. Let's not forget that Kevin Love had just 2 points in the last game! He's the X-Factor for the Cavs in this game and we believe he'll contribute much more. That was his first game back from the concussion protocol and he was not only rusty but a bit out of rhythm and got into early foul trouble. The Cavaliers are likely to get more production out of Kevin Love and JR Smith tonight and that gives them the edge. Especially since Golden State's 'X-factor', whom we believe is Harrison Barnes has yet to get going in this series and often doesn't play with the same confidence away from home, as he does in front of supportive fans.

The Cavs should also be the team that comes into this contest more motivated. Not only are they looking to once again stave off elimination and force a Game 7, but this is also the point last season where Cleveland's season came to an end. The Golden State Warriors managed to clinch their Finals Championship last year in Game 6 in Cleveland and you can bet that LeBron James and company do not want history to repeat itself! The Cavs put in a desperate and inspired performance Game 5 and we expect momentum to carry itself over in this contest. The Cavaliers defense also picked up its intensity in Game 5 as they forced the Warriors into contested shots and kept their access to the paint limited. Golden State put up 42 shots from beyond the arc and managed to only connect on 14 (33%)! For such a sharpshooting team that relies heavily on the 3-ball; that is well below their average, especially at Oracle arena and that has to be a testament (at least in part) to the defense of the Cavaliers. If Cleveland plays with the same defensive intensity and forces Golden State to settle for contested perimeter jump shots, they should be able to come away with the victory.

Draymond Green will be back in the lineup tonight and while he is certainly a force when he takes the floor, he will be playing with a ton of emotions. emotions can be motivational tools and used to fuel a player; however, being overly emotional will have a negative impact on his game and we wouldn't be surprised to see that happen tonight. There will also be a lot of eyes on him in this contest in what will be a hostile environment at the 'Q'! Draymond is the type of player that performs better at home than on the road because he feeds off the energy of the crowd as the Oracle Arena loves his hustle and intensity. Away from home, in Ohio, we don't expect him to be as dominant. The officials will also have one eye on him and we wouldn't be surprised to see them be quick with their whistle, especially given all of the outside criticism that has been surrounding the officiating of this series. There is no doubt that the league stands to make a ton of money if the two best teams in the league were to play in a Game 7 and while it may be a stretch, we wouldn't be shocked to see Cleveland be the beneficiaries of some 'questionable' calls that could alter the course of the game in their favor. We believe that this will be a close game, but Cleveland should do enough to come away with the victory and force a Game 7!

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Cavaliers are 11-3 at home when the total is set between 205 to 209.5 points!
  • Cavaliers are 8-1 at home in the playoffs with the average margin of victory being double-digits!
  • Home teams have won 68% of post-season games this year and covered the spread 61% of times!

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