Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks 4/20

The Atlanta Hawks absolutely crushed the Bucks in the opening quarter of Saturday night’s series opener. Despite a seemingly narrow margin of victory, there is no doubt that the Hawks are the superior team. Without Andrew Bogut, the Bucks are gasping for breath. Even if the Bucks did have Bogut, the Hawks would still be quite a challenge. The Bucks should be happy to be in the playoffs, but they can’t honestly think they have a prayer in this series. Any team is going to struggle when they are void of a superstar player, and Milwaukee is no exception. A sweep in this series is certainly within the realm of possibility. Bet on the series and more at Sportsbook.

Atlanta and Milwaukee get a prolonged break after Saturday’s game. Where most of the series take a day break, the Hawks and Bucks got two days off. This should give both teams plenty of time to get back in proper shape. There are no unknown variables that should play a major role in this game, be it day-t0-day injuries or otherwise. Brandon Jennings stepped up big time in his first NBA playoff game, putting up over 30 points, but his teammates did not follow his lead. If the Bucks want a shot in this game, they will need to set up on both ends of the court. The Hawks have the Bucks outclassed in virtually every dynamic of the game, so they can’t allow for any edges to be exploited.

At -7.5, the Hawks are a great pick. They hovered around 8 for the first game of the series, but even this number is quite generous. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Bucks lose by 20 points, let alone 7.5. Take this bet and feel very good about it. The Hawks might lose one game in this series, but that’s about it.

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 4/17

The Heat and Celtics are set to battle in the first game of their series on Saturday. In earlier action, the Cavs (well, Lebron), were able to top the Bulls and Atlanta got off to a hot start against the Bucks. The home teams have been on fire, but Miami can dominate anywhere, the court’s logo is largely irrelevant. The Celtics have not live up to expectations in 2010, after being forced to ride out numerous injuries and general lackluster performances. Today’s game is the first game of meaning for the Celtics in quite awhile (though the same can be said for the Heat), and they will need to shake off the rust.

Dwyane Wade is one of the top players in the NBA, and he certainly is better than anyone that the Celtics have. He can dominate a game by himself, or he can work his teammates into the flow. Wade always finds a way to get it done. You know he wants this game bad. Boston has won a championship, but Miami has gone a few years since their last title. Without Shaq, Wade wants to prove he can win on his own. He has the weapons on his team, he is a force by himself, and he knows how to win.

The spread is around +4.5 for the Heat, but you have to figure they have a legitimate chance to walk away with the win today. In sacrificing 4.5 points, you can take the money line at +170. This is certainly a profitable bet in the long run, assuming that the Heat show up today. They are prone to some droughts in their games, but in the end, Miami is much better than +170 on the money line. Even if Miami loses today, they are not a long shot by any means.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox 4/17

The Rays and Red Sox played on Friday night, but the game was suspended due to rain. Tonight both teams will look to battle again, hopefully getting a full game in. While Friday brought a low scoring contest (it was 1-1 when the game was called), Saturday should be different. James Shields and Clay Buchholz are prone to giving up tons of runs, particularly Buchholz. Beyond this, both teams have very explosive offenses, even if Boston’s early 2010 record indicates otherwise. The Red Sox have been off a rough start (by Boston standards) and they are bound to turn it around.

We all know who the weapons are on Tampa Bay. Stars like Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, and Carl Crawford post runs like it is their job (because it is). On the other side, the Red Sox have the offensive firepower to crush any pitching, assuming that it wakes up. Victor Martinez was day to day, but beyond Martinez, the Red Sox have perennial powers like Jeremy Hermida, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. The pitchers in this game, however, are what will really allow for the offenses to breakout.

Any time that the Red Sox and Rays face each other, it is a tough game to pick when it comes to the run line or money line. Of course, if there is some great lines being spread, that is an exception to the rule. On Saturday, the lines for this game are quite tough. To help avoid a tough decision, instead take a look at the over/under. The offenses are both powerful, the starting pitchers are not elite by any standards, and 9 runs can easily be covered by one team, let alone two. Over 9.5 I would be hesitant to take this  line, but at 9, it should be a rather safe bet.

New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals 04/16

The Mets are coming off a rare win Thursday night. After dropping two games to the Rockies, New York battled back with a win of their own. Don’t get used to it, though, because the Mets are not as good as this one win might indicate. The Rockies pale in comparison to their foe on Friday night, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have added weapons to give Albert Pujols some backing in the batting order, not that they really needed it. Pujols can destroy virtually any pitcher he faces, but Colby Rasmus was an early surprise for St. Louis. Though he has cooled off a bit, Rasmus is still a bat to be feared. Toss Matt Holliday into the equation and you know that this offense is potent.

Chris Carpenter is taking the mound for the Cardinals. 2010 has not gone as planned for Carpenter, as he is working with an ERA that approaches 6. For the Mets, Oliver Perez gets the start. Perez 2010 has been even worse than Carpenter’s. He has never lived up to his potential from the days when he was a Pittsburgh Pirate, and it doesn’t seem like he is ever going to turn the corner. The Cardinals should destroy Perez more often than not. Carpenter, however, should work his way back to form and control a hampered Mets offense.

Considering Perez’s instability on the mound and Carpenter’s ability, the run line is the best bet. The money line is so high and it might be tempting to take the Mets, but the 2010 Mets are not the 2008 Mets. Bettors seem to be forgetting this. The Mets are not the Yankees and they are no longer a perennial power. Take the St. Louis Cardinals on the run line at even money (or even up to -110 or maybe even -120) and be very happy about it.

Florida Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies 04/16

The Marlins are looking to add another win to their resume after a thrashing of the Reds on Thursday night. Florida, however, will need to contend with Roy Halladay. Halladay has been on fire in 2010. He has been everything that the Phillies had hoped, and he will look to keep his ERA below 1 when he faces the Marlins on Friday. Halladay has not done particularly well against the Marlins in his previous starts, but Halladay can turn it around if anyone can. Opposing Halladay is Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez is one of the Marlin’s premier arms, but like Halladay, he has not faired well against the Phillies. While neither pitcher has great history against Friday night’s opponent, we know that Halladay has the edge. The Marlins might have a more rested bullpen, but the Phillies bats can make any bullpen wear out in a matter of a few innings.

The offensive side of this battle is not even up for debate. The Phillies are perhaps the most dominant offense in all of baseball, so there are few teams that will be able to hold them down. With Anibal Sanchez’s rough past against Philadelphia, it is certainly possible that he gets blown out early. It is not likely, because he is still a solid pitcher, but it is possible nonetheless.

Because the Phillies have such a massive advantage on offense, it makes much more sense to take the run line in this game instead of straight up on the money line. When the Phillies win, it is typically by more than 1 one, so you have to be willing to take your chances in this spot. The money line just has too much juice to make it profitable. If the Phillies money line is profitable, it isn’t  by much, and it’s not nearly as profitable as the run line at -130.

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