|35-year vet Larry Ness has opened the NBA playoffs by going 7-3 (70%). Saturday, his LONE release is a “signature” 10* LEGEND Play. Larry ‘battle’ against MLB’s money and ov/under lines continues with 3-GM card!|
| MLB | Apr 19, 2019 |
Giants vs Pirates
| Giants |
+100 at betonline
| Lost |
|Play Type: Free|
My 1* Free Play is on the San Francisco Giants (7:05 EST).
The Pirates return home primed for a classic “letdown” here in my estimation after a successful 5-3 road trip. And would anyone fault Pittsburgh either for coming out “gassed,” as it’s gone to extra innings six times over its first 16 games, which is now a franchise record.
The hungry visiting side will look to take advantage. The Giants go with veteran Madison Bumgarner (1-2, 3.12 ERA), who most recently earned his first win of the year vs. the Rockies on Saturday, giving up two runs, but walking none and striking out seven over seven innings.
Bumgarner has seven career starts vs. the Pirates and he’s posted a very respectable 2.84 ERA.
The home side counters with Jordan Lyles (1-0, 0.82) who has been fantastic for his new team to open the young season. Last year though he was a pedestrian 3-4 with a 4.11 ERA and in 19 appearances vs. the Giants he owns a ballooned 5.85 ERA.
I think Lyles and the Pirates come back down to Earth here in their first home game after their lengthy and highly satisfying road trip. Consider the Giants on Friday night.
| MLB | Apr 19, 2019 |
Braves vs Indians
| Indians |
-141 at 5Dimes
|Play Type: Premium|
My 8* Pitching Mismatch of the Week is on the Cle Indians at 7:10 ET.
Things are looking up for the Cleveland Indians, who return home off a three-game sweep in Seattle over the Mariners. The 11-7 Indians open a five-game homestand with this three-game interleague series Friday against the Atlanta Braves. Cleveland leads the AL Central and one of its star players is close to making his season debut. SS Francisco Lindor (38 HRs and 92 RBI in 2018) has been sidelined with a strained right calf and an ankle injury since spring training but is scheduled to rejoin the team after three Triple-A rehab games and could be activated as soon as this weekend. The 9-9 Braves limp in after getting swept in a three-game home series against Arizona. Atlanta’s bullpen allowed 11 runs (nine earned) in the series with 10 walks over 10 innings (9.00 ERA).
The staring pitching matchup for Friday’s game is Touki Toussaint (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Corey Kluber (1-2, 6.16 ERA). A poor spring led to Toussaint starting the season in Triple-A. However, he bailed out the Braves with six innings of scoreless relief in his season debut this past Saturday against the Mets, striking out seven while allowing one unearned run on four hits in earning the victory in Atlanta’s 11-7 win. He takes over the spot in the Atlanta rotation for demoted Sean Newcomb. Two-time Cy Young winner Kluber has battled inconsistency through his first four starts, with two outings of six-plus innings and two games where he has lasted 3.1 and 2.2 innings. He’s off a no-decision in his last start Sunday at Kansas City, when he allowed six runs on six hits with five walks over just 2.2 innings.
Kluber has faced the Braves just once in his career, beating Atlanta in 2016 while surrendering two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts across eight innings. Meanwhile, Toussaint will make his first start of 2019 and only the SIXTH of his career, In comparison, Kluber has piled up 56 wins over the past three seasons, while winning two CY Young awards. Off an embarrassing outing, expect a bounce-back effort from Kluber and note that here at home, the Indians are 5-1 in 2019, holding opponents to 2.83 RPG.
| MLB | Apr 19, 2019 |
Blue Jays vs A’s
| A’s |
-126 at pinnacle
| Lost |
|Play Type: Top Premium|
My 10* Situational Stunner is on the Oak A’s at 10:07 ET.
Khris Davis just signed a two-year contract for a reported $33.5 million heading into the Oakland Athletics’ opener of a three-game series vs the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. He led the majors with 48 HRs in 2018 and holds an early lead in 2019 with 10, to go along with 20 RBI. Davis has hit 143 HRs since being acquired in a trade with Milwaukee in 2016, with his three seasons of at least 40, tying him with Mark McGwire and Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for the most in Athletics’ history. However, it was Mark Chapman who launched his third HR in six games, as Oakland posted its fifth win in seven outings with 2-1 triumph over Houston on Wednesday. The 11-10 A’s will welcome the 8-12 Blue Jays to Oakland tonight, after Toronto recorded its third win in four contests with a 7-4 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.
Friday’s pitching matchup will feature Marcus Stroman (0-3, 1.99 ERA) of Toronto and Aaron Brooks (2-1, 4.24 ERA) of Oakland. Stroman is winless in four 2019 starts, despite a 1.99 ERA. He was done in by an error from second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the third inning, as well as his own throwing error in the fourth to go along with four free passes, in his last outing. After getting a no-decision in his first start of 2019, he’s now lost three straight outings. Oakland’s Brooks rebounded from a poor outing at Houston on April 6 (5 IP / 9 hits / 5 ERs) with a strong one in Baltimore five days later, allowing three runs on as many hits in six innings of an 8-5 win. Brooks has worked himself back to the majors after a 3 1/2-year absence due to injuries and poor performance. In his two 2019 wins, he’s allowed just three ERs on five hits in 12 innings (2.25 ERA).
Stroman will be making his fifth attempt at a first win of the season against the A’s, against whom he’s 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in four career starts (Jays are 1-3). Brooks not only owns a 2.25 ERA in his two wins this season but he’s gotten 15 runs of support in those wins. He should expect excellent support here, as the A’s were 35-15 (+$1,950) at home vs righties in 2018, including going 21-6 in night games, averaging 5.3 RPG. The A’s have opened 7-3 at home in 2019 (no counting those two ‘home’ games in Japan) and Brooks will face a Toronto team averaging 3.75 RPG (22), batting just .217 (24th) with an OPS of .648 (24th) in 2019 and one which went 33-48 on the road in 2018.
| NBA | Apr 19, 2019 |
Blazers vs Thunder
| Thunder |
-7½ -107 at pinnacle
| Won |
|Play Type: Premium|
My 9* Weekly Wipeout Winner is on the OKC Thunder at 9:35 ET.
The Portland Trail Blazers were able to edge the OKC Thunder 103-99 in Game 1 and then had little trouble going up 2-0 in their first-round series by routing OKC 114-94 in Game 2. It will come as no surprise that the Blazers have been led by their dynamic guard duo of Lillard (29.5-4.0-5.0) and McCollum (28.5-7.0-4.0). On the OKC side, Paul George has led the Thunder by averaging 26.5 & 9.0, while PG Westbrook has added 19.0-9.5-10.5. That said, Westbrook made just 5 of 20 shots in Game 2 has been soundly outplayed by Lillard.
“I know how quickly things can change,” Lillard told reporters. “I know that a series doesn’t start until you win a game on the road. I also know how capable their team is. So, we’ve just got to maintain our focus, stay sharp in the things we’ve been sharp in and understand how well we played in the first game and the second game is not going to be good enough in the third game, especially on their home floor. We’ve got to keep our heads down and keep working.” Lillard and McCollum have led the way but Enes Kanter (13.0 & 11.5) has been HUGE for Portland, as he’s played OKC center Steven Adams to a standstill.
Here’s what OKC must change in Game 3. The Thunder have made only 10 of 61 shots (16.4%) from three-point range. Paul George is 6 for 22 on his three-point attempts and Russell Westbrook is 1 for 10 in the series. Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder are both 0 for 8 and Terrance Ferguson 2 for 7.It’s hard to make up numbers that bad! What’s more, OKC has committed 16 turnovers in each of the first two games, with Thunder head coach Billy Donovan has pointed toward the miscues as one reason for the team’s stagnant offense.
OKC returned from the All Star break to go 7-13 and seemed headed for the West’s No. 8 seed and a first round meeting with the Warriors. However, the Thunder won their final FIVE regular season games (4-1 ATS) to earn the No. 6 seed. OKC got what it wanted (avoiding Golden St). Tonight, the Thunder need to “step up” and avoid falling down 0-3 vs the Blazers. My bet says Westbrook responds and the Thunder do just that!
| NBA | Apr 19, 2019 |
Celtics vs Pacers
| Pacers |
-3 -103 at pinnacle
| Lost |
|Play Type: Top Premium|
My 10* PERFECT STORM is on the Ind Pacers 8:35 ET.
Kyrie Irving is making the most of his first playoff series with the Boston Celtics. He scored 20 points and helped lead a dominant defensive effort in a series-opening 84-74 win and then finished with 37 points, six rebounds and seven assists in Wednesday’s come-from-behind 99-91 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup.
Boston trailed by 12 points with 11 minutes remaining in Game 2, before putting together a 16-0 run during a fourth quarter in which the Celtics would outscore the Pacers 31-12 for a 99-91 win. In Game 1, the Pacers led 45-38 at the half but then got outscored 26-8 in the quarter. “It’s always been one quarter that kills us in the second half,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young told reporters of his team, after Indiana fell behind 2-0 in the series. “We’re getting good looks and shots are not falling. … We gotta put together a 48-minute game and we haven’t been able to that.”That pretty much sums it up.
Jayson Tatum scored 26 points in Wednesday’s win and was the catalyst in a game-ending 10-0 surge by producing six points and one assist. Tatum is averaging 20.5 points on 54.8 percent shooting in the series but Boston could use more balanced scoring. Kyrie is averaging 28.5-5.5-7.0 but Boston needs more from the rest of its players. Indiana knows all to well about players underachieving in the series, so far. Big men Sabonis and Turner, who averaged 14.1 & 9.3 and 13.3 & 7.2 during the regular season, respectively, have been playoff “no-shows.” Sabonis is averaging a woeful 4.0 PPG (7.0 RPG), while Turner has hardly been much better (6.5 & 6.5). Shooting guard Wesley Matthews (10.9 PPG in the regular season) was held to six points in Game, his second straight single-digit effort.
Boston has won five straight meetings overall with Indiana, the last four of which have come in a 20-day span. The Pacers have shot 39 percent in the series, including 31 percent on three-pointers and have totaled just 165 points in the first two games. Considering that Indiana has lost its last 10 games when the team has failed to reach triple digits (note: The Celtics have won five in a row when holding opponents under 100), the Pacers have to find a way to “score the ball.” Consider this. Remember that the Celtics went up on Milwaukee with two series-opening wins at home in the first round last year, only to lose two straight on the road to let the Bucks right back in that series. Boston did go on to win that in seven games but the Celtics finished a pathetic 1-7 on the road in the 2018 postseason. Pacers get back in it here.
| NHL | Apr 19, 2019 |
Avalanche vs Flames
| Flames |
-167 at pinnacle
| Lost |
|Play Type: Premium|
My 7* play is on the Cal Flames at 10:00 ET.
The Colorado Avalanche went 8-0-2 over their final 10 regular season games to clinch the second wild card in the Western Conference. The eighth-seeded Avalanche lost Game 1 of their series to the West’s No. 1 seed Calgary but then rebounded from a 4-0 shutout loss at Calgary with a 3-2 OT victory on Saturday night in Game 2. The Avs were just ‘warming up,’ as they returned to Colorado to win Game 3 (6-2) and Game 4 (3-2 in OT), to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Calgary Flames are on the ropes, after losing three consecutive games to the Colorado Avalanche. The top-seeded Flames look to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to be ousted from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs when they return home to face the Avalanche in Game 5 on Friday night.
Colorado erased a two-goal lead by scoring twice in the third period and the Mikko Rantanen scored his second goal of the game by converting in overtime for a 3-2 victory. Rantanen (87 points) finished second in points to Nathan MacKinnon (99 points) in the regular season despite missing the final eight games due to an upper-body injury and he has provided an offensive jolt in the playoffs, leading Colorado with six points on three goals and three assist. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer owns a 2.10 GAA and .933 SP in the series (has played all games), after splitting time in net during the regular season with Varlamov.
Speaking of goaltenders, Calgary’s Mike Smith posted a 1.94 GAA over his last 11 regular-season appearances to earn the starting job for the playoffs and has responded by making 161 saves, 28 more than any other netminder through four games. Smith hasn’t been the problem for Calgary, as after the team’s 4-0 Game 1, the Flames have scored just TWO goals in each of the last three games. The team’s leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau (99 points) has been limited to one assist in the series.
The Avalanche have peppered Smith with a staggering 108 shots on goal in the past two games but he’s stood tall. A return home should spark Calgary’s offense and while a 3-1 deficit may be too much to overcome, a Game 5 win is hardly a stretch. Let’s NOT forget that Calgary had 107 points inn the regular season, 17 more than Colorado’s 90. The Flames went 26-10-5 at home this regular season, giving them more home wins than all teams save Boston (29) and Tampa Bay (32). This series is headed back to Colorado for a Game 6.
|PREMIUM PICK STREAKS|
Age: 63 (turns 64 in November).
Years in handicapping: Larry entered his 34th year in the industry in August of 2017.
Achievements in handicapping: 1985 Castaway’s Pro Football Challenge Champion, then the most prestigious handicapping contest in Las Vegas; 1999 Stardust Invitational semi-finalist.
A member of the original cast of Proline, the nation’s longest running pre-game handicapping show on the USA-TV network (also hosted Sports Desk on the same network). Although well-known on TV for his expert game analysis and no-nonsense handicapping style, Larry may be best known for his radio work. He hosted his own syndicated call-in radio show, Sports Central. It aired live from Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas in the early to mid-90s and at one time was heard in more than 100 markets.
Systems used for handicapping a game: Fundamental and statistical analysis. “I’m not typically a trend and system kind of guy,” Ness says. “I look at team strengths and weaknesses and compare them. It’s an all-encompassing thing and over 30-plus years, you get good at it.”
34-Club Play: It represents Larry’s 34 years in the business and gets his highest star rating (10*s). Expect no more than one of these plays per month, per sport during the regular season.
LEGEND Play: Larry’s often been referred to as a Las Vegas legend and he’s ‘borrowed’ the title for his other “signature play.”. Larry’s LEGEND Plays were previously available to only a select group of private clients but they are now available to all, through the internet. Like his 34-Club plays, expect no more than one play per month, per sport (rated 10*s).
PERFECT STORM: Larry just added these plays the last few years and his accompanying expert analysis makes these popular plays self-explanatory (rated 9 or 10*s).
Situational Stunners: Larry’s a fundamental handicapper at heart but he does pay attention to team and situational trends (especially in MLB). When his fundamental handicapping and a strong trend or situation match up, he releases a Situational Stunner. He just started releasing these plays in MLB ’09 and he’s expanded them since, to all sports (rated 8, 9 or 10*s).
Las Vegas Insider: Throughout his 34 years, Larry has become known as “the ultimate Las Vegas insider.” The contacts he’s developed over more than two decades (on both sides of the ‘counter’), are arguably “unmatched!” He confers daily with ‘his friends’ and when “all the stars align on the same game,” Larry releases an exclusive Las Vegas Insider (rated between 8 and 10*s).
Oddsmaker’s Error Plays: Larry uses this term with “great respect” (and not very often), as he counts among his very closest friends many of Las Vegas’ most famous and respected Sport Book directors (past and present). However, when Larry feels “the line is significantly off,” he’ll release one of these “not to be missed” plays (rated between 8 and 10*s).
Weekly and Weekend Wipeout Winners: Larry added this self-explanatory moniker just a few years ago. They’ve become immensely popular and why not? Who wouldn’t want a game that has “blowout written all over it,” supported by Larry’s expert analysis (rated between 8 and 10*s).
Late-Breaking Plays: Larry will always go back and take a “second look” at each day’s card, after posting all his games. When he finds something he missed the first time around, he’ll release a Late-Breaking Play. These plays are more prevalent in sports like baseball and basketball than football (typically rated at 8 or 9*s).
Superstar Triple Play: Over the years, many of Larry’s regular clients have clamored for more three-game reports. You asked for it and Larry’s responded. Back in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s, 900-numbers became “the rage.” While a panel member of Proline (see above), Larry created the Superstar Triple Play. One call got you three Superstar Triple Plays (in a particular sport). For almost a decade, anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 callers responded each weekend, when Larry offered his famous “Superstar Triple Play” pitch on Proline. Starting in 2009, Larry began going “Back to the Future!” Almost every Saturday (college) and Sunday (NFL) this football season, get three plays on a single report from Larry (many will be TV games), the originator of the “Superstar Triple Play!”
Release Times: Larry likes to release his picks early so that clients have as much time as possible to shop around. NFL and College Football plays are posted very early in the week (sometimes almost up to a week in advance.) NBA, College hoops and NHL are all posted the day before the game goes off. And the same goes for MLB, with selections posted the night before the game. Sometimes life gets in the way and Ness won’t release until the morning of the game, but for the majority of the year Larry likes to say: “The earlier the better!”
Sports and conferences he excels at handicapping: MLB is Larry’s favorite sports to handicap, saying the money is in the statistics. He ‘loves’ the daily action and the long season. “If I had to pick one sport, I would chose baseball because you’re playing pitchers, streaks, teams that are hot and cold,” Ness says. “I also love the NBA and NFL playoffs, the college bowl games plus the college basketball tourneys, which are seasons unto themselves.”
Quote: “No one works any harder and my work-product speaks for itself,” Ness says. “I have a no-nonsense style and my logic is easy to follow. Anyone buying my plays will know exactly what I was thinking when I made the selection. After 34 years, the Larry Ness brand is instantly recognizable and my analysis ranks with the best in the industry.”