Welcome to SportsGrid’s new, daily feature, where we tell you what sports are on TV tonight. Then, I do my best to help you win some money while watching. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing, and gambling is legal in your jurisdiction. Feel free to tweet hateful things at me if my advice moves you to do so. TV games are often the toughest games to find an edge on, so don’t go crazy, people. If I do recommend a bet, I’ll keep track of it, so you can tell me how awful (or wonderful?) I am. For record-keeping, we’ll assume a standard bet is $10. Occasionally, there will be 2x or 3x bets, maybe 4 or 5 if I’m feeling spunky. Good luck, America!
NBA: Rockets at Lakers (-2.5) (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
If the Lakers win, they are the No. 7 seed. If the Lakers lose, and the Jazz lose to the Grizzlies, the Lakers are the No. 8 seed. If the Lakers lose and the Jazz win, the Lakers do not qualify for the playoffs. If the Rockets win, and the Warriors lose to the Trail Blazers, the Rockets are the No. 6 seed. If the Rockets win, and the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers, the Rockets are the No. 7 seed. This is a very meaningful game for both teams.
David Stern would be a very happy man if the Lakers made the playoffs. People think the game will be called heavily in LA’s favor, and that isn’t an absurd conspiracy; it’s very reasonable. The Lakers are 1-2 against the Rockets this year, winning at home, but losing twice on the road. LA is 14-6 in their last 20 games, but 9-11 ATS in those games.
I only see one option here, and that is the Lakers moneyline. Ignoring Stern-assisted, win-and-get-in circumstance, the line isn’t even ridiculous. When you factor that in, it’s hard to pick against the Lakers. Don’t bet against David Stern’s iron will.
Lakers ML (-135), $5 to win $3.70
NHL: Sabres (+215) at Bruins (-235) (7:30 p.m., NBCSN)
This is another game with odd context. This is the Bruins first game after yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon, playing at home in front of loud, impassioned fans. This line has moved 14 cents in Boston’s favor, and according to statistics (of uncertain validity), 92% of bettors are on the Bruins. Whether that’s accurate or not, everybody assumes: Boston is the better team and they’ll refuse to lose, playing with heavy hearts in a booming arena.
That’s obviously somewhat reasonable, but is it overstated? Is there value on Buffalo? or am I overthinking this?
Ignoring the emotional angle, this line is definitely inflated. Buffalo had an awful start to the season, but they’re playing well lately. They’re still just mediocre, but this line is priced as if they’re the worst team in the NHL. Ignoring the emotional angle, I’d make this line something like Bruins -180. Boston is much better, but a -235 line implies a ~70% chance of victory, which is a bit extreme for a low-scoring team. The Bruins have also been struggling a bit. Also, Boston’s biggest strength is their unreal penalty kill, but Buffalo has the worst 5-on-4 play in the league, so their biggest strength is almost superfluous in this game.
Even with the emotional angle factored in, this line is inflated. The Sabres are fighting for a playoff spot, and they understand that the game will be tough, emotionally. I don’t necessarily think the Sabres will win, but at this price, I’m willing to take a flier. I also like a flier on a similarly-inflated overtime prop. If either wins, we profit. And, of course, both could potentially win.
Sabres ML (+215), $5 to win $10.75 AND Game GOES TO OT (+315), $5 to win $15.75
NHL: Penguins ML (-131), $10 to win $7.63
Penguins/Canadiens UNDER 5.5 (-120), $10 to win $8.33 AND Canadiens team total UNDER 2.5 (-115), $10 to win $8.70
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 117-86 (+$105.67)
What else is on:
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
7 p.m. | ESPN2
Philadelphia at Cincinnati
8 p.m. | WGN
Texas at Chicago Cubs
8 p.m. | ESPN
Utah at Memphis
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu (with reduced juice) and betonline.ag