Forums

Forums
Where sports bettors talk!

PB: At home the Pacers can set the pace

Thread Starter PB: At home the Pacers can set the pace
David Malinsky
Joined: 08/11/2014
Posts: 12615
Rank NA
Top 50 Contributor

Point Blank – April 20, 2017

At home, the Pacers can set the pace…Aaron Nola has been better than the markets seem to think…

We have the first of the shifting of venues for the opening round of the NBA playoffs at hand, with Indiana aiming to turn the momentum against Cleveland, Toronto and Milwaukee arm wrestling for control of their matchup, and the question of whether Memphis can put enough consistency together to win a single game. Let’s get to it…

CLEVELAND/INDIANA – If the Cavaliers couldn’t stop the Pacers in Cleveland…

One of the prime questions surrounding these playoffs was just how much we could attribute the poor overall play by the Cavaliers over the latter portion of the regular season, in particular on defense, to them not playing at full speed, and holding back for another run at the Finals. The eye test for me did not show a team coasting, but instead one that has real defensive issues, and so far in this series it is difficult to find evidence that they have stepped back up with their efforts either at guarding, or working harder on the boards.

To set the perspective, let’s look at the Indiana regular season rate on offense, and rebounding, compared to the first two games of this series, both with a Cleveland home court advantage –

                  PP100       Reb%

Regular      106.2         48.7

Playoffs      115.3         51.0

The Pacers have been able to attack, and of course it does not hurt to have Paul George as a part of your arsenal, with 61 points and 14 assists through the first two games.

   

If all that leads to being down 0-2 it means that there is a problem at the other end, and there certainly is, the Indiana defense has consistently been a step late to find Cleveland shooters, the Cavs knocking down 24 triples in those wins.

Indiana Defense PP100

Regular      106.3

Playoffs      119.6

The change in venue will help the Pacers on defense, though perhaps not enough to win. But considering how well they were able to score at Cleveland, the heightened energy from being in front of what should be a frenzied crowd may make their offensive forays even more aggressive. With 104 available in the early Thursday trading, I will have #710 Indiana Team Total Over (7:00 Eastern) in pocket.

TORONTO/MILWAUKEE – The Bucks missed better shots than the Raptors made down the stretch in Game #2, but…

One of the narratives that it would be easy to come away with after Toronto’s win in Game #2 is that the veterans stepped up, which they did, and the younger Bucks failed to hold up. I am not sure the latter take is correct. Let’s go deeper, while also establishing a particular perspective that matters.

First, with the game on the line after Milwaukee whittled to 13-point deficit into a single-possession scoreboard by the closing sequences, it is not difficult to claim that the Bucks got better shots than the Raptors. But before going forward with that, an * needs to be presented – for those that do not watch Toronto play often, what looked like tough shots for the Raptors down the stretch really weren’t; it is who they are.

Via Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Toronto has been one of the most effective offensive teams in the league in each of the past three seasons, but understanding how it happens matters -

Toronto PP100 / Assists

2015        #3       #22

2016        #5       #29

2017        #6       #30

They simply have two of the best late-clock one-on-one players in the NBA on the same team, and what can look like difficult forced attempts really aren’t, especially from DeRozan. This is who they are, and while the conversions late vs. the Bucks in Game #2 were difficult, they are not uncommon.

  

What was intriguing to see is that a Raptors defense that has been solid since adding Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker got broken down late – Milwaukee did not just miss some open shots, there were some wide-open looks. Instead of wilting under the pressure the Bucks ran some rather good stuff, but didn’t get rewarded for it.

From Jason Kidd - "I think the guys fought. It would have been easy to let go of the rope. We got down, but they kept playing and we had an opportunity there, we got some great looks, the ball goes halfway down and then comes out, that's basketball."

Toronto evened the series on Tuesday, but I am not sure the Raptors turned the momentum. The poise with which Milwaukee ran end-game offense may have been meaningful, for a young team under that kind of game pressure. Tonight the eye test will be how they handle pressure from the opening tipoff, with heightened expectations now in play, after the opening road games were more like a free-roll in that regard.

SAN ANTONIO/MEMPHIS – “Take that for Data!” (the follow-up to Fizdale’s fulminations)

The post-game rant by Fizdale following another one-sided Memphis loss on Monday evening will go down in the sports annals as a classic, especially with the follow-up of it costing him $30K in a fine from the league, which shows that they certainly did pay attention. The question now becomes whether it can have an impact, whether in buying a close call or two tonight, or in keeping the competitive fires of his team involved in a series in which they have been out-scored by 43 points.

 “We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class and just plays the game, but I’m not going to let them treat us that way! I know Pop’s got pedigree and I’m a young rookie but they’re not going to rook us. That’s unacceptable, that was unprofessional. Our guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game and they did not even give us a chance. Take that for data…”

While the Grizzlies did not get the best of it from the officials in Game #2, it was not as egregious as the way Fizdale worked with the numbers, and some of that is merely a function of the way that the teams play – only Phoenix allowed the opposition to get to the FT line more than Memphis during the regular season. But in terms of keeping his team energized, Fizdale may receive a plus for that. The problem is that energy can only take you so far when there is a mismatch in terms of both talent and chemistry.

The shuffling of the rotation by Fizdale has been a prime topic here since the All Star break, and the Grizzlies have fallen to 9-17 in this cycle, 10 of the losses in double figures. One of the most curious moves was inserting Vince Carter into the starting lineup, which brought a spark the first night but flat-out has not worked since. Carter can still be effective as a scorer off the bench, especially if slotted into the #2 spot, but as a starting #3 there are major shortcomings, and in isolating his Monday contributions you can see how glaring it was –

Minutes      33:17

Rebounds     0

Assists          0

Steals           0

A team can’t afford to give that many minutes to a player that can’t contribute much more than scoring, and even the 12 points that Carter brought across those minutes doesn’t register as being effective. There is, of course, the simple fact that while few teams have any kind of defensive counter for Kawhi Leonard, the Grizzlies have none at all, which is why Leonard is having a historic series, 69 points in 72:27 on only 28 FG and 28 FT attempts. His True Shooting Percentage of 85.6 is simply off the charts.

Will Memphis play hard tonight? Yes, Fizdale may have pushed the right buttons on that front. But will the Grizzlies play well? That has been the problem all along in this series, and the answer lies more in clean basketball chemistry and execution than higher energy.

In the Sights, Thursday MLB…

The expectations before Aaron Nola ever threw a Major League pitch were that he could be special. So far those expectations are being met, and a key tonight is that his opening to the 2017 has been even better than the way it is being perceived. That opens the door for #903 Philadelphia Run Line (7:10 Eastern), the +1.5 now available at -140 in the Thursday morning trading, and value up to -150. Having a run in pocket is more valuable than the going cost in what shapes up as a classic pitcher’s duel.

The next out Nola records will bring him to 200 innings in the Majors, and while 13-11/4.24 may lack some sex appeal, the peripherals are exceptional. He not only throws strikes (2.3 BB/9) but gets the ball past hitters (9.1 K/9), and when contact was made it has been at a 52.6 GB%. Strike out more than a better per inning, while getting more than half of the contact to be on the ground, and you are set up for quite a career.

Which takes us to Nola’s 1-0/3.27 of 2017. That is good, but does not jump off the page, but perhaps it should. A 1.10 FIP shows what his first two starts could have looked like sans the outlier of a .433 BABIP – how about 10.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 63.3 GB% and 14.0 SWS%? But don’t stop there. Each of those outings were against the Washington Nationals. And how has that offense performed so far?

 AVG           OBP           SLG           OPS

.294 (1)      .363 (1)      .484 (1)      .846 (1)

Bryce Harper and the Nats have been rather good at stinging baseballs, unless they have been thrown by Nola, so add difficulty of opposition into the mix and you can see why I respect the numbers from the Phillie right-hander so much.

I can’t fault anything that Noah Syndergaard is doing, not having walked a single batter yet in a sublime opening to the season, but his performance and his profile help to set up the price point. And note that one of the enhanced keys to the Run Line when a Total is this low (6.5 Under -120 becoming common) is that Terry Collins is fully aware of how this matchup looks, which could mean a Mets offense that opts to play for a single run when there are opportunities, sacrificing outs to move base-runners, something that helps prevent a big inning from taking place. Against Nola, they may not get many opportunities.

  

The complete Point Blank Archive

 @PregamePhd (a work in progress, feedback appreciated)

aorphan67
Joined: 09/26/2014
Posts: 543
All American
Not Ranked

For Dave and all I had some observation and question about totals and live wagering....I have observed something thus far in the playoffs and wanted to see if this might be a trend, or the norm for in game as i have only dabbled with it some....... most all of these games (save for SA/mem and Utah/Lac series) are starting at a fairly large total ( historically the podcast covered this) and scoring (generally) has been up or on pace (for these numbers) during the first half of the games....... and when this is happening the total keeps climbing during the game.......my observation and history tell me that most all playoff games things tightened down the stretch. possessions get quite important, the tension rises which leads to more aggressive defense etc..... on more than a few occasions this playoff season I have been able to get a nice high number around mid 3rd quarter and hit it for the under and cash them easy, In Fact I have found games that I liked the over in placed that and then used this strategy to easily middle both wagers...I know this is a very small sample size so it may not mean a lot, but wanted to run it by the experts here to get any thoughts or comments......

I also had an observation about the Toronto/Mil series. I really hope i am wrong as I have some future Raptors tix, but I am having deja vu all over again. Back when i lived in the bay area and was a Dubs season tix holder during the RUN TMC era the 1991-92 season they had won 55 games and beat every team in the league at least once (the Bulls did as well they were the top dog then) they were the 3 seed and faced this upstart Seattle Supersonic team (payton kemp etc) and once the playoffs started this young freakishly athletic team took it to them and dispatched them in 5 games. It was so depressing as this was the best Warrior team we had since the 1976 team. I am blown away at how eerily this series reminds me of that one that I am a little gun shy playing on Toronto and just may just have to sit on this sidelines for this one....

BOARDMAN
Joined: 07/10/2016
Posts: 227
College Recruit
Not Ranked

aorphan67

For Dave and all I had some observation and question about totals and live wagering....I have observed something thus far in the playoffs and wanted to see if this might be a trend, or the norm for in game as i have only dabbled with it some....... most all of these games (save for SA/mem and Utah/Lac series) are starting at a fairly large total ( historically the podcast covered this) and scoring (generally) has been up or on pace (for these numbers) during the first half of the games....... and when this is happening the total keeps climbing during the game.......my observation and history tell me that most all playoff games things tightened down the stretch. possessions get quite important, the tension rises which leads to more aggressive defense etc..... on more than a few occasions this playoff season I have been able to get a nice high number around mid 3rd quarter and hit it for the under and cash them easy, In Fact I have found games that I liked the over in placed that and then used this strategy to easily middle both wagers...I know this is a very small sample size so it may not mean a lot, but wanted to run it by the experts here to get any thoughts or comments......

I also had an observation about the Toronto/Mil series. I really hope i am wrong as I have some future Raptors tix, but I am having deja vu all over again. Back when i lived in the bay area and was a Dubs season tix holder during the RUN TMC era the 1991-92 season they had won 55 games and beat every team in the league at least once (the Bulls did as well they were the top dog then) they were the 3 seed and faced this upstart Seattle Supersonic team (payton kemp etc) and once the playoffs started this young freakishly athletic team took it to them and dispatched them in 5 games. It was so depressing as this was the best Warrior team we had since the 1976 team. I am blown away at how eerily this series reminds me of that one that I am a little gun shy playing on Toronto and just may just have to sit on this sidelines for this one....

I'll be interested in Dave's response as he spotted the improvement of this youthful bunch early on and since early Feb. they have been a tough out . Tempted @ +165 to take a piece of the Bucks for the series .

David Malinsky
Joined: 08/11/2014
Posts: 12615
Rank NA
Top 50 Contributor

aorphan67

For Dave and all I had some observation and question about totals and live wagering....I have observed something thus far in the playoffs and wanted to see if this might be a trend, or the norm for in game as i have only dabbled with it some....... most all of these games (save for SA/mem and Utah/Lac series) are starting at a fairly large total ( historically the podcast covered this) and scoring (generally) has been up or on pace (for these numbers) during the first half of the games....... and when this is happening the total keeps climbing during the game.......my observation and history tell me that most all playoff games things tightened down the stretch. possessions get quite important, the tension rises which leads to more aggressive defense etc..... on more than a few occasions this playoff season I have been able to get a nice high number around mid 3rd quarter and hit it for the under and cash them easy, In Fact I have found games that I liked the over in placed that and then used this strategy to easily middle both wagers...I know this is a very small sample size so it may not mean a lot, but wanted to run it by the experts here to get any thoughts or comments......

I also had an observation about the Toronto/Mil series. I really hope i am wrong as I have some future Raptors tix, but I am having deja vu all over again. Back when i lived in the bay area and was a Dubs season tix holder during the RUN TMC era the 1991-92 season they had won 55 games and beat every team in the league at least once (the Bulls did as well they were the top dog then) they were the 3 seed and faced this upstart Seattle Supersonic team (payton kemp etc) and once the playoffs started this young freakishly athletic team took it to them and dispatched them in 5 games. It was so depressing as this was the best Warrior team we had since the 1976 team. I am blown away at how eerily this series reminds me of that one that I am a little gun shy playing on Toronto and just may just have to sit on this sidelines for this one....

There is the continual Good/Bad dilemma in terms of close playoff games in the latter stages - the good being that each possession can turn into a grind, the bad that when a playoff game is close, the final furlong opens up to a lot of scrambling. A good example would be the 9 points in the final 0:40 in Washington last night, including the Hawks fouling down by 8 with 0:25 left, a foul that would almost never be committed during the regular season. So the "grinder" element works, but does bring a prime end-game sweat cycle attached.

What I have looked for in the past, which sharper In-Running oddsmakers are taking away, are one-sided games in which one can anticipate the fourth quarter slowing to a crawl, the favorite content to work clock and the underdog saving energy instead of a futile chase.

Here are the 4th Quarter counts of games decided in double figures so far:

Saturday:

Bucks/Raptors - 35

Grizzlies/Spurs - 45

Sunday:

Thunder/Rockets - 42

Trail Blazers/Warriors - 54

Monday:

Grizzlies/Spurs - 38

Tuesday:

Bulls/Celtics - 47

Wednesday:

Trail Blazers/Warriors - 50

But again, the books are getting sharper in their pricing of this situation.

David Malinsky
Joined: 08/11/2014
Posts: 12615
Rank NA
Top 50 Contributor

BOARDMAN

I'll be interested in Dave's response as he spotted the improvement of this youthful bunch early on and since early Feb. they have been a tough out . Tempted @ +165 to take a piece of the Bucks for the series .

It is a case now of not only the Bucks having good basketball players, but of the Bucks playing good basketball. And keep in mind these guys are still just learning their way, Brogdon being a rookie and Middleton not available for much of the season. That is a lot of upside. Their poise under pressure in Game #2 was big-time, no forces down the stretch, just running good offense. But that does bring a question tonight - the pressure changes now, with far different expectations. If they stay composed and within their game they do have a very live chance in the series. And how damn refreshing is it to watch a guy like Antetokoumnpo, who does not have a Westbrook-ego attached, and just goes out and plays to win the game.

SportsHec8
Joined: 01/13/2014
Posts: 6237
All Pro
Top 150 Contributor

Dave and all, Clayton Richard fits the mold of the type of pitcher I love fading (doesn't strike out anyone, walks too many guys) but this article gave me some pause 

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/clayton-richard-the-fascinating-find/

Since this was posted he's lost his 2 decisions, but he posted a 58% and 74% ground ball rate, good lord!

how do you typically deal with guys that seem to have found a new weapon or enhanced weapon in their arsenal?

David Malinsky
Joined: 08/11/2014
Posts: 12615
Rank NA
Top 50 Contributor

SportsHec8

Dave and all, Clayton Richard fits the mold of the type of pitcher I love fading (doesn't strike out anyone, walks too many guys) but this article gave me some pause 

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/clayton-richard-the-fascinating-find/

Since this was posted he's lost his 2 decisions, but he posted a 58% and 74% ground ball rate, good lord!

how do you typically deal with guys that seem to have found a new weapon or enhanced weapon in their arsenal?

I am wondering if this might be yet another Ray Searage thing? Richard had tended towards being a good, but not great, ground-ball guy until almost all of 2014 was wrecked by injury, and in 2015 he got a chance to work with Searage and the Pirates organization in spring training, although never getting a call-up to the Majors until he was traded to the Cubs. Look at his GB% since then, at any stop in which he worked at least 40 innings - 

2015 Pittsburgh AAA – 55.6%

2015 Cubs – 59.3%

2016 Cubs/Padres – 65.1%

And now the current 71.0. If we track all pitchers from 2015-17 down to 120 innings or more, which is where we have to go to get Richard included, a sampling of 272, he is #5 in MLB in GB% at 63.9. It does appear that off of the 2014 injury season there was a genuine change. So for my tracking time begins for Richard from 2015 forward, the previous stats carrying far less relevance. His SWS% is still church-league softball, and part of his control issues stem from a velocity so low that hitters get a long time to read the strike zone, but a guy getting this many ground-balls can hang around and be competitive. What has penalized his outcomes so far is that while only allowing nine fly balls through three starts, four of them left the park.

OddsOnTR
Joined: 07/02/2016
Posts: 58
Practice Squad
Not Ranked

I just read up on more guys who seem way better.... Mariner's Paxton (not allowed a run in 21.0 innings this season) I read here has been terrifically outstanding (better health and mechanical adjustments) since his last several starts of last season...His mound opponent today, Cesar Valdez, has turned some corner last few years - he dominated the the offense-happy Mexican League and Pacific Coast League, even won MVP leading his team to the Dominican winter league championship!...most punters don't seem aware of Valdez' change, so seems to me the under in this game we might be getting spotted a couple extra runs by the unaware markets. Under 7.5 for the full game, and under 4 -125 for 1H... Does that sound plausible Dave?

SportsHec8
Joined: 01/13/2014
Posts: 6237
All Pro
Top 150 Contributor

OddsOnTR

I just read up on more guys who seem way better.... Mariner's Paxton (not allowed a run in 21.0 innings this season) I read here has been terrifically outstanding (better health and mechanical adjustments) since his last several starts of last season...His mound opponent today, Cesar Valdez, has turned some corner last few years - he dominated the the offense-happy Mexican League and Pacific Coast League, even won MVP leading his team to the Dominican winter league championship!...most punters don't seem aware of Valdez' change, so seems to me the under in this game we might be getting spotted a couple extra runs by the unaware markets. Under 7.5 for the full game, and under 4 -125 for 1H... Does that sound plausible Dave?

I love Cesar Valdez and have some Oakland in the pocket. But that under sounds really intriguing. 

David Malinsky
Joined: 08/11/2014
Posts: 12615
Rank NA
Top 50 Contributor

OddsOnTR

I just read up on more guys who seem way better.... Mariner's Paxton (not allowed a run in 21.0 innings this season) I read here has been terrifically outstanding (better health and mechanical adjustments) since his last several starts of last season...His mound opponent today, Cesar Valdez, has turned some corner last few years - he dominated the the offense-happy Mexican League and Pacific Coast League, even won MVP leading his team to the Dominican winter league championship!...most punters don't seem aware of Valdez' change, so seems to me the under in this game we might be getting spotted a couple extra runs by the unaware markets. Under 7.5 for the full game, and under 4 -125 for 1H... Does that sound plausible Dave?

I like this on the plausibility scale enough that a seeming "probability" of First Half Under went into pocket. Paxton got a lot of discussion time in these threads LY, when a 94.1 average fastball turned into 96.7, and SWS% went from 7.2 to 11.7. Now SWS% is up to 14.8 while BB/9 is down to 1.7, which means that Paxton is simply throwing strikes that batters are struggling to do anything at all with. There are 105 pitchers that have worked at the Paxton count of 142 or more innings since the start of last season, and the only ones below his FIP of 2.59 are Kershaw (1.94), Syndergaard (2.15) and the late Jose Fernandez (2.30). Valdez is a bit of a wild card, but his stuff at AAA was solid LY, as was his command through the first two starts this season, so I'll trust a guy that isn't going to walk batters to make a couple of good passes through a lineup that has no MLB experience against him.

Rate This
  • 20 replies
  • 4 subscribers
  • Posted10 days ago