Thursday, September 3, 2020 / by Ken Couture
The Golden Knights missed their first chance to clinch their Western Conference semifinal series against Vancouver, but they are again massive -240 favorites to get the job done Thursday.
The Knights, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders all held 3-1 leads in their series, but only Tampa Bay managed to finish off its opponent in Game 5. The Knights and Islanders play Game 6 on Thursday, and the Stars have been pushed to Game 7.
Meanwhile, defending NBA champion Toronto will try to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole against Boston, and the Los Angeles Clippers open their Western Conference semifinal series against Denver.
Here’s the betting menu for Thursday (overnight odds at the Westgate):
(All games at Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
Toronto (-2, total 217, -135 ML) vs. Boston (+115 ML), Game 3, 3:30 p.m.
Oddsmakers haven’t given up on the Raptors, who remain small favorites for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series despite losing the first two games. Toronto was a 2-point favorite in those two defeats (112-94 and 102-99). The total has dropped from 218½ in Game 2 after the first two games went under. The Celtics are now -550 to win the series (Raptors +425).
Line movement: Toronto up from -1. Total up from 215. Celtics series price up from -500 (Raptors +400).
Los Angeles Clippers (-8½, 223, -450) vs. Denver (+375), Game 1, 6 p.m.
The schedule certainly favors the Clippers here, as the Nuggets have to play the opener of the Western Conference semifinal series only two days after a draining Game 7 victory over Utah. Los Angeles hasn’t played since closing out Dallas in Game 6 on Sunday. The Clippers were 2-1 against the Nuggets in the regular season, including a 124-111 victory during the NBA restart. Los Angeles is -1,400 to win the series (Nuggets +800).
Line movement: Los Angeles up from -8½.
New York Islanders (-126, 5) vs. Philadelphia (+116), Game 6, 4 p.m. at Toronto
The top-seeded Flyers stayed alive with a 4-3 overtime victory over the No. 6 seed Islanders in Game 5, but New York remains in control of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. The price on the Islanders has dipped after they were -120 or better for the past three games (though back to -126 Thursday morning). The only two games in the series to go over the total have been Philadelphia’s two victories. The Islanders are -350 favorites to win the series (Flyers +290).
Line movement: New York up from -112. Total now 5 -110 after being under -115.
Golden Knights (-250, 6) vs. Vancouver (+220), Game 6, 6:45 p.m. at Edmonton, Alberta
The Knights peppered Canucks backup goaltender Thatcher Demko with 43 shots in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal series, but he stopped 42 of them to earn a 2-1 victory in his first career playoff start. Vegas outshot Vancouver 43-17 in the loss. The Knights are priced the same as Game 5 at -240, their highest price of the series. The Canucks’ two wins in the series have come in the games in which they were the biggest underdogs. Three of the five game in the series have gone under. The Knights remain -900 favorites to win the series (Canucks +600). Look for more analysis and a handicapper’s pick on the game below.
Line movement: Knights up from -240.
(Pitchers subject to change)
(Note: xFIP is an advanced stat that is a more accurate measure of a pitcher’s performance than ERA.)
Chicago Cubs (-145, 9½ under -115) at Pittsburgh (+135), 10:35 a.m.
Probable pitchers: Chicago’s Alec Mills (RHP, 3-2, 5.23 ERA, 4.59 xFIP) vs. Pittsburgh’s JT Brubaker (RHP, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 4.56 xFIP)
Texas (+150) at Houston (-160, 7½ under -120), 11:10 a.m.
Probable pitchers: Texas’ Lance Lynn (RHP, 4-1, 1.93 ERA, 4.16 xFIP) vs. Houston’s Zack Greinke (RHP, 2-0, 2.68 ERA, 3.93 xFIP)
Line movement: Juice on total moves from over -115 to under -120.
Washington (+164) at Philadelphia (-178, 10 over -115), 1:05 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Washington’s Anibal Sanchez (RHP, 1-4, 6.90 ERA, 5.37 xFIP) vs. Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin (RHP, 2-1, 4.10 ERA, 3.04 xFIP)
Line movement: Philadelphia up from -158. Total down from 10½ over -120.
New York Yankees (+103) at New York Mets (-113, 9 over -115), 1:10 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Yankees’ J.A. Happ (LHP, 1-1, 4.05 ERA, 6.10 xFIP) vs. Mets’ Robert Gsellman (RHP, 0-0, 5.19 ERA, 4.84 xFIP)
San Diego (-138, 8½ over -120) at Los Angeles Angels (+128), 4:10 p.m.
Probable pitchers: San Diego’s Mike Clevinger (RHP, 1-1, 3.18 ERA, 4.75 xFIP) vs. Los Angeles’ Andrew Heaney (LHP, 2-2, 4.62 ERA, 4.09 xFIP)
Toronto (-128, 10½ over -115) at Boston (+118), 4:30 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Toronto’s Taijuan Walker (RHP, 3-2, 3.27 ERA, 4.93 xFIP) vs. Boston’s Martin Perez (LHP, 2-4, 4.58 ERA, 5.40 xFIP)
Line movement: Toronto up from -120. Total now juiced to over after being 10½ -110.
Chicago White Sox (-132, 9½ under -120) at Kansas City (+122), 5:05 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Chicago’s Dylan Cease (RHP, 4-2, 3.00 ERA, 5.72 xFIP) vs. Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (LHP, 2-2, 4.11 ERA, 4.19 xFIP)
Line movement: Total now juiced to under after being 9½ -110.
Arizona (+250) at Los Angeles Dodgers (-290, 8½), 6:40 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Arizona’s Luke Weaver (RHP, 1-5, 8.23 ERA, 4.65 xFIP) vs. Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw (LHP, 4-1, 1.80 ERA, 2.64 xFIP)
Line movement: Los Angeles up from -270.
What happened Wednesday
Favorites went 1-1 straight-up but 0-2 against the spread. Totals split 1-1.
— Miami (+5½) again knocked off top-seeded Milwaukee 116-114 to take a surprising 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series. The game went over 223½. Jimmy Butler hit two free throws with no time left to earn the win. The foul was not egregious, but neither was the one with 4.3 seconds left that allowed the Bucks’ Khris Middleton to tie the game from the line. The Heat had seven players in double figures, topped by Goran Dragic with 23 points. The Bucks outrebounded Miami 50-38, but couldn’t match the Heat at the 3-point line. Miami made 17 of 45 3s (37.8 percent) to Milwaukee’s 7 of 25 (28 percent). Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks.
— Oklahoma City (+5½) covered but was eliminated in a 104-102 defeat to Houston in Game 7 of the first-round Western Conference series. The game stayed under 217. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander threw the ball away on an inbounds pass with 1.1 seconds left to end the Thunder’s season. The Rockets won despite James Harden scoring only 17 points while hitting 1 of 9 3-pointers and 4 of 15 shots overall. The Thunder had 21 turnovers to Houston’s 12. Luguentz Dort led all scorers with 30 points for Oklahoma City, but his 3-pointer to take the lead was blocked by Harden with 4.3 seconds left.
— Colorado (-115) forced Game 7 in its Western Conference semifinal series with a 4-1 victory over Dallas. The game stayed under 6. Third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson earned his second straight victory in net, stopping 27 shots. The Stars outshot the Avalanche 28-24. Anton Khudobin was back in net for Dallas after Ben Bishop’s disastrous appearance in Game 5, but couldn’t get the job done. The Stars were -600 to win the series with a 3-1 lead and -275 with a 3-2 lead but will likely be underdogs in Game 7.
Favorites went 12-2, with the only upsets coming from Tampa Bay (+115 at the New York Yankees) and Philadelphia (+105 vs. ace Max Scherzer and Washington). Totals went 8-6 to the under.
Hot Corner handicapper selection
Canucks +1½ (-130)
Dana Lane (@DanaLaneSports, 3-2, +1.0 units): If the Canucks want to force Game 7, they have to make sure the Golden Knights don’t dominate the physical battles and the puck battles like they did in Game 5. Vancouver has not officially named a goaltender for Game 6, but could go right back to Thatcher Demko, who made 42 saves in Game 5. I’m betting on the Canucks to reduce the Knights to a perimeter team and force Game 7 — or at least keep it close.
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