Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 5/25/15

  • May 25, 2015

Lots of controversy coming out of the Sunday night OT battle between the Hawks and Cavaliers. Cleveland ended up with the exciting 114-111 win, and they’re now in possession of a series stranglehold, up three games to zero.

The big buzz coming out of Game Three is being focused on the Flagrant 2 and therefore automatic ejection of Atlanta’s Al Horford. Obviously, this was a huge call that Hawks fans, and perhaps lots of neutral observers, will insist determined the outcome of the game. That we’ll never know, but it’s safe to say it had to have some impact on how things played out.

I’ll preface this by saying I don’t like the rule the way they’ve got it set up, but according to the actual rule as it is, the refs got it right. Horford caught Matthew Dellavedova in the back of the head with an elbow. While Dellavedova might well have richly deserved some kind of payback for his own actions throughout this series, retaliation of this type is strictly prohibited in the NBA. Again, I’m not saying I like the rule the way it is, but there’s very little room for interpretation here. Even Horford admitted after the game that he “could have handled it differently”.

Losing a key player hurt the Hawks, but they also did some things to beat themselves in this game. I thought the end of regulation possession was terrible. But this is evidently what happens when a team lacks that true go to superstar. Much has been made of how much that matters in the NBA, but I think the evidence speaks for itself. Championship teams are blessed with at least one legit superstar, and that’s something the Hawks just don’t have.

The flip side is LeBron James, who had a rough time getting untracked but was money when it mattered. James was 0/10 to start this game. But he finished with 37 points, along with 18 boards and 13 assists, and was immense at the most crucial moments. It’s beyond me how some observers continue to question this guy. Here’s how vital James is. With him, the Cavs are heading to the Finals. Without him, they might have been viewing the draft lottery earlier this week with more than a passing interest. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

I’m thankful we at least got a corker of a game here between the Hawks and Cavaliers. This has not been what I’d call a riveting playoff to date, and it looks even worse when compared to the amazing duels that have been taking place in the NHL. Let’s hope the likely Cavaliers/Warriors championship series turns out to be something a little more memorable.

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1-1 on Sunday, with the Marlins producing and the Mariners failing to do so. Get the lowdown on my guaranteed monthly offer by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net. All correspondence is confidential, as I don’t peddle or trade names with anyone.

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The Cubs fell short against the suddenly surging Diamondbacks as the Sunday free play. I’ll got the small road dog route for the holiday comp.

(965) ROYALS (Guthrie)  @  (966) YANKEES (Eovaldi)

Take: ROYALS +115 (DonBest Consensus at time of publication)

UPDATE: Sal Perez will sit this one out for KC and the Yankees have eight lefties in the lineup today against Guthrie. I will therefore not be using this as a personal play. (Source I use for starting lineups is baseballpress.com, great resource.

I’ve already accepted the inevitable as far as one of my pre-season win total plays in concerned. My Under wager on the Royals is toast. I thought this team was one of the ultimate flukes last season, and I was wrong. Simple as that. Maybe the Royals enjoyed some good fortune last season, but there’s nothing phony about this KC edition right now. They’re good and they know it, and they play virtually every day with tremendous energy and confidence. I’ll look for more of the same today as the Royals open a set with the Yankees.

The home team is in awful form right now. The Yankees have lost six in a row, and 10 of their last 11. They haven’t been hitting much and when the bats have managed to produce, the pitching has come up short. This seems to be an issue throughout the AL East, thus every team in the division is still pretty much ion the thick of things. But at least at the present time, this is a bad Yankees team.

The Royals also tasted defeat on Sunday, but they haven’t been doing much of that all season. This team still doesn’t walk much and is not blessed with big power. But they sure do make contact, they’re very aggressive, and there’s dynamite defense nearly everyplace.

Jeremy Guthrie is strictly a back end starter, but he’s been good enough to keep the Royals in games long enough to turn things over to that spectacular bullpen. The Royals have been winners in 10 of Guthrie’s last 11 starts away from home. If you’re looking for some team data, just check out KC’s record as an underdog. Put it this way, if you’ve been laying any prices against the Royals, you’re probably not very happy about the results.

Nathan Eovaldi will throw for the Yanks today and he remains an enigmatic talent. Watch Eovaldi pitch and you’ll see a guy who certainly looks like he has the stuff to be a big league winner. But when Eovaldi makes mistakes, they’re frequently right in the hot zones for opposing hitters and that’s when bad things happen to the fireballer. Simply stated, I think that has much to do with Eovaldi’s .352 BABIP. He also has been very shaky at home, and that 36% hard hit rate is at least a mild concern.

I’ll also toss the peculiar scheduling into the mix here. The Yankees played the Sunday night game against Texas and now are first to take the field in a series opener the next day. I’m not sure who approved that deal, but it’s not something I’d consider advantageous for the home team. At plus money, I see the Royals being a very playable side today.

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FanDuel Value Play, Monday 5/25/15

Adrian Beltre, 3B $2900

His best offensive days might now be in the past, but Adrian Beltre is showing he’s still capable of plenty of production. He’ll have a decent chance to post some numbers on Monday squaring off against Shaun Marcum and the Indians. Overnight weather conditions indicate a nice breeze out to left field at the Jake by the Lake. Beltre has really picked things up recently following a subpar start to the season. He’s well down the price list among eligible 3B on Monday, so I’ll recommend Beltre as a good potential fit on your DFS card.