April 24, 2023
Three suggestions for early-in-the-week action
New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
7:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: New York -155
The Devils were able to get one in overtime on Saturday to make this series somewhat interesting, but it feels like New Jersey is just delaying the inevitable. They were badly outskated in Games 1 and 2 at home, losing both by scores of 5-1. They were outshot 36-28 in the Game 3 victory, and it took an absolutely fantastic performance by Akira Schmid in net to earn even just one win in this series.
Schmid had played only one game between Saturday night and March 24, so it’s painfully obvious how desperate Devils coach Lindy Ruff was for a spark. But there’s no chance the 22-year-old Schmid can recreate that performance in Game 4, as he played in just 16 regular season games.
Oh, by the way, in the other net is perhaps the greatest goalie on the planet. Igor Shesterkin has been excellent through the first three contests, surrendering just one goal in regulation in all of them. He’s faced 80 shots in this series and just four have found the back of the net.
New Jersey had a very nice regular season, but like real life, New York simply has more stars. Chris Kreider already has five goals in this series, including the team’s lone tally in Game 3’s 2-1 loss. Superstar defenseman Adam Fox leads the team with six points, all assists, while trade deadline acquisition Patrick Kane has five points. Another deadline acquisition in Vladimir Tarasenko also has two goals, plus he has championship experience with the Blues.
The Rangers will ride those stars to get back on track in Game 4. They will earn a win and will be well on their way to a gentleman’s sweep.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: New York M/L (-155)
Colorado Avalanche at Seattle Kraken
Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle, WA
10:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Colorado -155
Through the first four periods of this series, something strange was going on. Seattle had outscored Colorado 5-1 and looked to be on the verge of taking a 2-0 series lead. It would have laid the groundwork for perhaps the most-stunning upset of round one, with a second-year team knocking out the defending champions.
But that didn’t happen, as the Avalanche scored three straight goals to claim Game 2 by a final score of 3-2 and then had no problem finding the back of the net on Saturday night in a 6-4 drubbing that wasn’t even that close. Colorado outshot Seattle 33-29 as Philipp Grubauer allowed five goals and the Avs added an empty netter for good measure.
The stars showed up in a big way for the Avalanche on Saturday. That’s something they possess in this series, as the Kraken simply don’t have big-time players.
Nathan MacKinnon scored twice, Mikko Rantanen scored twice and Cale Makar added a goal. Those are arguably three of the 10 best players on Earth, something Seattle simply can’t keep up with.
So, forget that fast start by the Kraken; they’ve been outscored 9-4 ever since and could be on summer vacation in just two more contests. The Avs won a franchise record 29 road games this season, so they’re extremely comfortable playing away from home.
That trend continued in Game 3. It’ll be more of the same in Game 4. Take Colorado to cruise with plenty of confidence.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Colorado M/L (-155)
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers
crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
10:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Los Angeles -4.5
Could Dillon Brooks possibly take any more “Ls” in this series? It doesn’t seem like it.
First, he can’t stop talking about LeBron James, which appears to be a massive mistake. James is in the conversation for the greatest basketball player of all-time. Brooks is just a guy. Then, in Game 3, he decides to hit “The King” in the groin and get himself ejected early in the third quarter.
Brooks is very lucky he reportedly dodged a suspension, but it might not matter. He was good for just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting before hitting the showers early.
The Lakers completely punked the Grizzlies out of the gate, outscoring them 35-9 in one of the most-dominant first quarters in playoff history. The final score of 111-101 made things look a little prettier, but there was absolutely no doubt who was winning the game.
Los Angeles was clearly the better team, as James went for 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Anthony Davis was dominant in the middle, going for 31 points and 17 rebounds.
Don’t forget, while Memphis was a very good home team this year, they were flat out bad on the road. The Grizzlies finished just 16-25 away from home and are now 10 games under .500 if you count the Game 3 undressing.
Brooks poked the wrong bear, and despite Ja Morant pouring in 45 points on Saturday night, the Grizzlies appear to be running out of steam. The NBA looks like it’s going to get what it wants, and that’s the star-studded Lakers winning at least one series in the playoffs.
They’ll take a commanding 3-1 lead and cover this relatively low spread.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Lakers -4.5 (-110)
Today’s best packaged deal
- Miami Heat +5.5 (-110)
- Los Angeles Lakers M/L (-190)
Jason Schlefsky’s Two-Leg Parlay = +191
After dropping Game 1 of their series against the Bucks, the Heat have cruised to two-straight victories. They’ve taken advantage of Giannis Antetokounmpo being sidelines. Milwaukee’s star is doubtful for tonight, making it an easy decision to take the home team and the points. As for the Lakers, just play it safe in this combo that they’ll get the home W to take a 3-1 lead.
Three Things We Learned…
Takeaways from a weekend full of great games and performances
It’s hard to knock out the champ
A week ago, the Kings were riding high after taking a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Warriors. But after playing two games in San Francisco, things are knotted at 2-2. Golden State clawed back into the series, hanging on for dear life in a 126-125 win in Game 4. Now, the Kings are going to have to make sure they protect their home court, as it’s down to a best-of-three. Sacramento had a chance to put the champs down. Now they’re in for a brutal fight to the finish.
The Prime effect is real in Boulder
Last season, Colorado was one of the worst teams in college football. The Buffs finished the season 1-11, getting their lone victory in overtime. That makes the scene on Saturday afternoon in Boulder even more incredible, as 47,000-plus packed their way into Folsom Field for the Buffaloes’ spring game. Despite there being four inches of snow on the ground that morning, CU fans came out in droves to see their new-look team. Why? Because Deion Sanders is at the helm. His impact on the program is already immeasurable, just five months after getting the job.
Focusing on the wrong things
Sometimes, NFL teams need to study the history. Over the weekend, videos surfaced on social media of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis throwing a 50-yard pass from his knees and hitting the crossbar. It’s an impressive feat, one that definitely showcases the QB’s arm strength. But it’s also meaningless. He’ll never have to make that throw in a game, obviously. It’s part of the reason why Levis’ stock is rising however. He could go as high as No. 2 in the draft on Thursday night. For long-time NFL fans, it feels a lot like Kyle Boller 2.0. The Ravens fell in love with his arm in 2003, but the Cal prospect turned into nothing more than a journeyman quarterback in the NFL.