Orlando Is The Team
ORLANDO WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
WHAT DOES IT MEAN GAME-BY-GAME?
Winning Continues Every Single Day In Baseball
And Proves Again It Is The Investment-Grade Sport
See All The Money Won In Just The Last 4 Days
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By Kelso Sturgeon
I am sitting here 9-2 with my last 11 NBA playoff selections and on that record I am going to issue myself a temporary license to speak as if there might be a slight chance I know what I am doing. It is against this background I will state the Orlando Magic are the best no-questions-asked team in the NBA.
Bookmakers have Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers 7-5 co-favorites to win the NBA championship. My figures say the Magic are 1-10 to win it all and that Los Angeles will be life and death to get past the Phoenix Suns and, if they do, will get blown away by Orlando.
Disagree if you wish but I have never played the role of the shrinking violet or that of a little boy in short pants. When I believe I am right, I take a stand and never hedge, as in Orlando should win it “if”…..” I am declaring myself, with no fine print. The Magic will win their first ever NBA championship, period.
Orlando (67-23) and Boston (58-35) kick off their series Sunday in Orlando, with the Magic being offered as the -6.5-point favorite, with a total of 189.5. Los Angeles and Phoenix get into action Monday in with the Lakers a 6.5-point home favorite, with a total of 210.
I also want to remind you I am also delivering in a big time way in Major League Baseball, proving again it is the only investment-grade sport. I will address this, with supporting evidence, at the end of this column, but, first, back to the Orlando Magic.
There are many reasons I like Orlando to go the distance, crushing the Boston Celtics in the best-of-seven round for the NBA Eastern Conference championship. In another lack of respect bookmakers have made the Magic 5-2 to win the title and are offering Boston at 8-1. In the West, the Lakers are 1-3, the Suns 10-1.
Before making my case for Orlando, I must remind you that this is not an endorsement of the Magic to cover every point spread along the way. There will be spots when all teams are due for something less than their best effort, even at this round of the playoffs, and I have always specialized in understanding the yin and the yang, and knowing when to fade a team and when to come down strong. Furthermore, my study of not only the Magic, but of the Celtics and the Western Conference finalists have given me an astute understanding of exactly how high the number can go before it becomes bloated. Cultivating the correct balance--between a strong conviction on who will win in the big picture and how it will play out on a game-to-game basis against the point spread is the key to successful handicapping and I have walked the tightrope successfully for 38 years. I fully intend to do it again.
The Case For The Orlando Magic
Orlando is the ultimate example of “what you see is what you get.” I see it. The public does not see it, nor do bookmakers. When the NBA playoffs began Orlando was 6-1 to go the distance, compared to 11-5 for the Lakers.
But here is what Orlando brings to the table.
1. The Magic have the best regular season record among the remaining teams and have home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
2. The Magic are healthy and well rested having swept Charlotte 4-0 in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks 4-0 in their conference semifinal round. In those games Orlando beat the Charlotte Hornets by an average of 9.25 points per game and Atlanta by an average of 27.75.
3. The Magic are 14-0 straight up (SU) and 13-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 14 games.
4. The Magic are 28-3 in their last 31 games.
5. The Magic have not lost a single game since April 4.
It does not get better than this and my figures say Orlando still has an upside. For certain
the Magic are playing with a focus and intensity that dwarfs that brought to the table by the other three remaining playoff teams.
The record speaks volumes for just how good are the Magic and there is absolutely no doubt they want it and intend to get it.
A word of caution for those of you who have the bad habit of jumping the conclusions: I am saying Orlando is going to win it all; I am not saying the Magic will be covering in each game. I just had to get this in to avoid confusion.
I rest my case.
Going For 3rd Straight 25-Unit Winner Sunday
I will be going for my third straight 25-unit NBA playoff winner in Sunday’s Celtics-Magic game and it will be available on this site and toll free at 1-800-755-2255. It will cost you $50, charged to your major credit card.
As most of you know, I am making this a teaching season and am sharing with all column readers the reasoning behind each of my plays. It is my contribution to dispelling the popular thought I do this with a dartboard. Here are the last two 25-unit plays, with the comments I offered my clients when they received the games.
Read on and get two more good lessons in handicapping.
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Game #6 Of Best-Of-7 Series
Boston Leads Series 3-2
BOSTON CELTICS (57-35) -1.5 over Cleveland Cavaliers (67-25)
Prediction: Boston by 6-7
Boston 94, Cleveland 84 (W)
Comments: The challenges one faces in handicapping this game are many but one fact trumps all of them. While this is the sixth game of a best-of-7 series, it actually plays out as the seventh for both teams. A win by the Celtics sends them into the Eastern Conference championship round against Orlando. A win by Cleveland keeps them alive and sends them back home tied 3-3 and needing another victory to head for Orlando. In other words, neither team can afford to lose this one. In the end the decision to go with the Celtics rested on five factors—(1) they are playing at home, (2) smart offshore bettors got down early today on Boston, (3) the Boston defense showed in its last game, a 120-88 blowout win at Cleveland, that it could stop the Cavaliers LeBron James, (4) Cleveland Coach Mike Brown has been exposed as an empty suit with absolutely no ability to make in-game adjustments when things are not working on either/both offense or defense and (5) Boston obviously wants it far more than does Cleveland.
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Game #5 Of Best-Of-7 Series
Series Tied 2-2
Boston Celtics (56-35) +7.5 over CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (67-24)
Prediction: Cleveland by 2-3
Boston 120, Cleveland 88 (W)
Comments: Cleveland, the favorite to win the NBA championship, opened the semifinal round knowing it had to simply wear out three aging Celtics—Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen—and get the money. It has not quite worked out that way. A youngster named Rajon Rondo, a 6-1 guard from Kentucky who is in his third year in the NBA, is the man killing the Cavaliers. In Boston’s 97-87 win in game four, Rondo turned in a performance that was nothing short of amazing, scoring 29 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and dealing out 13 assists. That performance was no one-shot wonder. Rondo is average 21.8 points, 13.0 assists and 8.3 rebounds for the series and the Cavaliers simply can’t slow him down. It is against this background that I have handicapped this game, which is all-important for both teams, because the winner most certainly has the edge to advance to the Eastern Conference championship round. I have a feeling Cleveland is going to focus heavily on stopping Rondo tonight and in the process is going to leave the old guys open. Old or not, Garnett, Pierce and Allen can still get it done. My feeling is the game will bring out the best in both teams and that this one will go right to the money. Cleveland should win it but it won’t be easy.
That is what NBA handicapping is all about. Winning with me is never an accident. I certainly do not win them all but there are logical reasons I release the teams I use—but, yes, I do expect them all to win.
For the record, I have released one 100-unit game in the playoffs—on April 30—and got the money with the Utah Jazz (-6.0) in their 112-104 win over the Denver Nuggets. There are still two 100-unit and two 50-units plays to come.
You can play the NBA playoffs on a game-to-game ($25-$50 per game) basis or get on board for the rest of the season for a bargain price. Sign up for the rest of the playoffs on this site or toll free at 1-800-755-2255.
Investment Grade Baseball Just Keeps Winning
I sell and promote my baseball services—my Best Bets Club, my Chairman’s Club and my Personal Best Club—as investment plays, because they are, not because I am so brilliant but because of the nature of the sport.
If you are not betting baseball, I want you to look at the last four days play, read the comments for each game and then decide if baseball might not be a profit center for you. I do not win them all, but I win most of them.
Let me record speak for itself.
Friday, May 14, 2010
BEST BETS CLUB
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (11-24) -125 over Cleveland Indians (13-19)
Pitching for Baltimore: RH Jeremy Guthrie (1-4, 4.67)
Pitching for Cleveland: RH Justin Masterson (0-3, 5.23)
Baltimore 8, Cleveland 1 (W)
Comments: Baltimore certainly has not developed into a world-beater but the Orioles are starting to play better baseball and are making the breaks that have eluded them much of this season. They go for the third straight win tonight and their sixth win in their last seven home games. On the mound for the Orioles will be Jeremy Guthrie who has struggled but seemed to put things back together in his last game, a 7-3 win at Minnesota in which he gave up but three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Cleveland counters with Justin Masterson who is winless after six starts.
Philadelphia Phillies (20-13) +120 over MILWAUKEE BREWERS (15-19)
Pitching for Philadelphia: LH Jamie Moyer (4-2, 4.38)
Pitching for Milwaukee: RH Randy Wolf (3-2, 3.95)
Philadelphia 9, Milwaukee 5 (W)
Comments: This is as much a play against Milwaukee as it is a play on Philadelphia. The Brewers are very inconsistent and come into this off an 0-3 series against the Atlanta Braves. Even though Milwaukee is hitting .272 this season they managed but seven runs in the three losses. It also is of note the Brewers are a National League worst 4-11 at home. Tonight they face the best team in the NL and pitcher Jamie Moyer who comes into this off a shutout 7-0 win over Atlanta and one gets the impression the best is yet to come from the 47-year-old left-hander who has spent 24 years in the majors.
Oakland Athletics (18-17) +105 over LOS ANGELES ANGELS (15-21)
Pitching for Oakland: LH Dallas Braden (4-2, 3.33)
Pitching for Los Angeles: LH Joe Saunders (1-5, 6.19)
Los Angeles 4, Oakland 0 (L)
Comments: This selection is all about pitching. Oakland starter Dallas Braden comes into this game off pitching the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball history and obviously is at the top of his game. Not so, Los Angeles starter Joe Saunders who has struggled to find his form this season. For the record the last five pitchers to throw perfect games are 2-2 with an ERA of 4.85 in their next starts.
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ATLANTA BRAVES (16-18) -120 over Arizona Diamondbacks (14-21)
Pitching for Atlanta: RH Kenshin Kawakami (0-6, 5.73)
Pitching for Arizona: RH Ian Kennedy (2-2, 3.48)
Atlanta 6, Arizona 5 (W)
Comments: This is the perfect spot for Atlanta’s Kenshin Kawakami to get his first win. He certainly has struggled but now faces an Arizona team that has lost six straight and is fallen apart because of what may be the worst set of pitchers in the majors. The Diamondbacks’ starters have an ERA of 5.72, which means only Pittsburgh is worse at 5.80. Worse yet the bullpen—those guys who are supposed to be the stoppers—have baseball’s worst ERA at 7.37. This is a recipe for continued disaster and tonight Arizona Starter Ian Kennedy faces an Atlanta team that just swept a three-game series at Milwaukee and did it with booming bats. Against the Brewers, Atlanta hit .307 as a team, outscored Milwaukee, 28-7, and had 28 hits, half of them for extra bases, including five home runs.
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PERSONAL BEST CLUB
TAMPA BAY RAYS (-160) over Seattle Mariners (13-21)
Pitching for Tampa Bay: RH Wade Davis (3-2, 3.18)
Pitching for Seattle: RH Doug Fister (2-1, 1.71)
Seattle 4, Tampa Bay 3 (L)
Comments: There are two reasons Tampa Bay has the best record in the majors—great pitching and solid hitting night after night. One can expect more of the same tonight as the Rays take on a Seattle team that is 2-10 in its last 12 games and simply cannot seem to do much right. While Seattle starter Doug Fister has pitched extremely well this season, the Mariners don’t give him the run support it takes to win and that trend should also continue tonight. While Tampa starter comes into this off a 4-2 loss at Oakland he was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.96 in his three previous starts.
SAN DIEGO PADRES (22-12) -140 over Los Angeles Dodgers (17-17)
Pitching for San Diego: RH Jon Garland (4-2, 1.71)
Pitching for Los Angeles: RH Ramon Ortiz (1-1, 5.16)
Los Angeles 4, San Diego 3 (L)
Comments: There is no more surprising team in baseball than the San Diego Padres. This is a team that is a twin of Tampa Bay—one that does everything right behind outstanding pitching and a very solid offense. The Padres have won their last three, are 5-1 in their last six and have all the edges in this one as they send to the mound Jon Garland who is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.47 at home this season and is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.67 in his last four outings. Los Angeles, which just swept Arizona and which has won four in a row, will send to the mound relief pitcher Ramon Ortiz who will be making his first major league start since May 26 of 2007 when he was with the Minnesota Twins. He played in Japan in 2008 and in Triple-A last season.
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Thursday, May 13
BEST BETS CLUB
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (10-24) +125 over Seattle Mariners (13-20)
Pitching for Baltimore: RH Kevin Millwood (0-4, 3.26)
Pitching for Seattle: RH Felix Hernandez (2-3, 5.40)
Baltimore 6, Seattle 5 (W)
Comments: Baltimore starter Millwood is certainly better than his 0-4 mark and has the opportunity in this spot to get his first win of the season because he is facing a team that (1) is not playing well and (2) starts a pitcher who seems to have fallen off the edge of the world. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez has had back problems the team says are gone but his form does not show it. In fact it is in a state of free-fall decline. He has allowed 16 runs in his last 14 2/3 innings and in his last start lasted 3 ½ innings and allowed eight runs in an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Until Hernandez shows he’s physically right, he is a go-against pitcher.
DETROIT TIGERS (19-15) +130 over New York Yankees (22-11)
Pitching for Detroit: RH Justin Verlander (3-2, 4.50)
Pitching for New York: LH C.C. Sabathia (4-1, 3.04)
Detroit 6, New York Yankees 0 (W)
Comments: This game is absolutely dead-even, with Detroit being a little bit healthier than the New York Yankees. There is no question in my mind this one will be a pitcher’s duel and I do give the slow-starting Verlander the edge at home, where Detroit is 6-1 in its last seven games and 11-4 this season. Verlander began the season opened the season 1-2 with an ERA of 5.53 and in his last two starts is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.51.
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No Play Today
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PERSONAL BEST CLUB
San Diego Padres (21-12) +160 over SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (18-14)
Pitching for San Diego: RH Mat Latos (2-3, 4.19)
Pitching for San Francisco: LH Jonathan Sanchez (2-2, 3.00)
San Diego 1, San Francisco 0 (W)
Starting Time: 3:45
TV: Comcast Sports Network San Francisco Bay Area
Comments: San Diego is a team that is playing its best baseball right now and has a long history of dominating the Giants. The Padres took the first two games of this series and are 5-0 against San Francisco this season. In their last 12 meetings, San Diego is 9-3. Both starting pitchers are quite capable but the edge goes to the Padres’ Latos who is 1-1 with an ERA of 1.29 in his last two starts. San Francisco starter Sanchez is 0-1 with an ERA of 5.40. The only thing I do not understand about this game is that we’re getting $160 for every $100 bet.
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Wednesday, May 12
BEST BETS CLUB
MILWAUKEE BREWERS (15-18) -150 over Atlanta Braves (15-18)
Pitching for Milwaukee: RH Yovani Gallardo (4-2, 3.07)
Pitching for Atlanta: RH Derek Lowe (4-3, 6.16)
Atlanta 9, Milwaukee 2 (L)
Comments: This is a vote of confidence for the fast-improving Gallardo who in his last four starts has an ERA of 1.17. He should be the perfect tonic for Milwaukee to snap a four-game losing streak and improve on the Brewers major league worst 4-10 record. Gallardo, who is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.81 in three career starts against Atlanta, opposes struggling Braves starter Derek Lowe who has lost three of his last four decisions since starting the season 3-0. In his last start, a 7-0 loss at Philadelphia, he gave p seven runs and 11 hits.
MINNESOTA TWINS (21-12) -125 over Chicago White Sox (14-19)
Pitching for Minnesota: RH Carl Pavano (3-3, 3.43)
Pitching for Chicago: LH John Danks (3-1, 1.98)
Minnesota 3, Chicago White Sox 2 (W)
Comments: This one falls on Minnesota starter Carl Pavano who has been outstanding this season and should have a much better record than 3-3. He has lost his last two starts despite having an ERA of just 2.25 in them, falling victim to lack of run support. I believe he will get it today and get the best of Chicago starter John Danks in what should be a pitchers’ duel. Pavano is 3-2 with an ERA of 2.86 in five starts against the White Sox. Danks is 4-5 with an ERA of 5.13 in 14 starts against the Twins.
Toronto Blue Jays (19-16) +105 over BOSTON RED SOX (18-16)
Pitching for Toronto: RH Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.19)
Pitching for Boston: RH Tim Wakefield (0-1, 6.03)
Toronto 3, Boston 2 (W)
Comments: Boston is 5-0 against Toronto this season but the figures say that streak will end today. The Blue Jays will send to the mound Shaun Marcum who is just reaching peak form after coming off shoulder surgery. Marcum has thrown six quality games in seven starts this season and has limited opposing batters to a .219 average. In his only start against Boston this season, he gave up but one run in seven innings in a 2-1 loss. Boston will counter with Tim Wakefield who is coming out of the bullpen to start in place of Josh Beckett. Wakefield has allowed 11 runs in his last 7 2/3 innings.
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BALTIMORE ORIOLES (9-24) -110 over Seattle Mariners (13-19)
Pitching for Baltimore: RH Brad Bergesen (2-2, 7.36)
Pitching for Seattle: LH Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-2, 6.21)
Baltimore 5, Seattle 2 (W)
Comments: Whatever Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen needed to do to turn things around, he did it. Bergesen has won his last two starts and comes into this game off a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins in a game in which he went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just six hits. On the mound for Seattle will be a struggling Ryan Rowland Smith who is 0-1 with an ERA of 8.22 in his last three starts and in his last lasted but 4 ½ innings against Tampa Bay, giving up six runs and seven hits before being pulled in a game the Rays won 8-0. Neither of these teams is playing well right now but Bergesen gives the Orioles the edge to win.
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PERSONAL BEST CLUB
American League Game Of Week
Tampa Bay Rays (23-10) -115 over LOS ANGELES ANGELS (15-20)
Pitching for Tampa Bay: LH David Prince (4-1, 1.91)
Pitching for Los Angeles: RH Jered Weaver (4-1, 2.66)
Tampa Bay 4, Los Angeles Angels 3 (W)
Comments: There is little doubt in my mind this will be a showdown pitcher’s duel and I give a big edge to Tampa Bay and starter David Price. The latter may right now be the best pitcher in the American League. In two of his last three starts he has not given up an earned run and has an ERA of 0.79 in those games. In his last 22 1/3 innings he has recorded 16 strikeouts. Weaver also is pitching well but the combination of Price and a team the figures say is ready to explode offensively should put the Rays in the winner’s circle tonight.
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Tuesday, May 11
BEST BETS CLUB
Seattle Mariners (12-19) -155 over BALTIMORE ORIOLES (9-23)
Pitching for Seattle: LH Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.40)
Pitching for Baltimore: RH David Hernandez (0-4, 5.74)
Seattle 5, Baltimore 1 (W)
Starting Time: 7:05
TV: Fox Sports Northwest, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network2
Comments: The Orioles and Mariners are both suffering from a major lack of run production and that puts this game in the hands of the pitchers and in that element of the handicapping process it is no contest. Seattle starts Cliff Lee, one of the best pitchers in baseball, while Baltimore sends to the mound David Hernandez who is 0-10 in his last 15 starts dating back to August of last year. I rest my case.
Florida Marlins (15-17) +105 over CHICAGO CUBS (14-19)
Pitching for Florida: RH Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 4.08)
Pitching for Chicago: RH Randy Wells (3-1, 4.86)
Florida 3, Chicago Cubs 2 (W)
Comments: This is as much a play against the Cubs as it is a play on Florida. Chicago has gone 1-6 in its last seven games and in those games has been outscored 48-26. Take out the 14 runs the Cubs scored in a 14-7 win and the scoring slump is even more exaggerated. While Florida has not been an offensive dynamo the Marlins remain focused and should make it two in a row at Wrigley Field. For the record, the starting pitchers grade out as dead-even.
Toronto Blue Jays (19-15) +150 over BOSTON RED SOX (17-16)
Pitching for Toronto: LH Dana Eveland (3-1, 3.82)
Pitching for Boston: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-1, 9.90)
Boston 6, Toronto 1 (L)
Comments: Boston is 10-4 in its last 14 home games after starting the season 1-6 there but they still have an Achilles heel. The Red Sox pitching staff has an ERA of 5.16 and tonight starts a very inconsistent Daisuke Matsuzaka who started the season on the disabled list. Matsuzaka and been outstanding and absolutely terrible in his first two starts and is going to have to prove to me he can again get it done before I get on the bandwagon. Toronto starter Dana Eveland has had his troubles in the past against Boston but is right now pitching as good as we’ve seen him.
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Washington Nationals (18-14) +125 over NEW YORK METS (17-15)
Pitching for Washington: LH Scott Olsen (2-1, 3.54)
Pitching for New York: LH Jon Niese (1-1, 3.60)
New York Mets 8, Washington 6 (L)
Comments: The baseball world is aware of just how well Washington pitcher Livan Hernandez is doing this season but has missed the contributions made by Scott Olsen to the Nationals cause. Olsen gets better with each game and in his last three starts is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.44—and flirted with a no-hitter in his last outing. Olsen’s presence and the fact Washington is playing its best baseball right now should give the Nationals the edges they need to get it done against a New York Mets team that the figures suggest is on the downside of its form.
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PERSONAL BEST CLUB
National League Game Of Week
Cincinnati Reds (17-15) -125 over PITTSBURGH PIRATES (14-18)
Pitching for Cincinnati: RH Johnny Cueto (1-1, 5.18)
Pitching for Pittsburgh: RH Charlie Morton (1-5, 10.30)
Cincinnati 9, Pittsburgh 0 (W)
Comments: Cincinnati opened the season rather weakly because of a pitching staff that could not get it done. In the first 18 games the Reds played this season their starters went 1-7 and had an ERA of 6.55. But that is history. In their last 14 games, the starters have turned it around and gone 7-2, with an ERA of 3.83—and that is why the Reds are in second place in he NL Central, just three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. There is no question Cincinnati has a big pitching edge tonight with Cueto who is 6-2 with an ERA of 3.88 in nine starts against the Pirates and is 4-0 in his last four starts against them.
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That, my friend, is what I call investment-grade baseball. I hope you noticed all the big underdog winners that cashed during this four day period. As I said, winning is not an accident with me. Get on board and get your share of the money.
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