NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (+7) @ SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Just as we saw in last night’s contests, while home-court continues to dominate the win/loss column, Vegas has overcompensated more than Pamela’s plastic surgeon for this and given a 2nd round playoff team tied 2-2 almost double-digit points. Watching Byron Scott’s youngsters destroy the Spurs in the 2nd half of Game 4 after trailing at intermission (57-32), I believe the Hornets 2nd trip to SA will have a different vibe. Since neither team has been able to stop CP3 or Tony Longoria, the biggest match-up in this series is veteran Timmy D versus David West. While Mr. Fundamental has become an even bigger part of Pop’s offense with his high/low post passing, if David West plays like he believes he’s the best frontcourt player in this series the Hornets will win tonight. On Tuesday, West dropped 38 pts, 14 reb, 5 blks, & 5 assists and used his combination of strength, quickness, and a better than advertised 12-18 foot jumper to make Oberto, Thomas, & Duncan play like their age. For all the amazing points in the paint by Longoria, he’s been extremely one-dimensional and doesn’t have the natural playmaking ability or athletic frontcourt to capitalize on overplays by the defense like Chris Paul. And for all the experts who call the Longoria/Paul match a wash, that’s like saying there’s no difference between the Olsen Twins...please everybody knows Mary-Kate is a MFin lefty! While CP3 is averaging 5 more ppg...
While CP3 is averaging 5 more ppg, the more important stats are that he’s averaging 5 more assists per game and almost half as many turnovers. And as mentioned at nauseam, the athletic bench of NO has made veterans Brent Barry, Michael Finley, & Robert Horry basically non-factors in this series. Sure, the Spurs faithful will say nobody on the Hornets can guard Manu, which is somewhat true, but he’s only caught fire once in this series and still looks less than 100%. Throw-in some better than advertised defense by Mo Pete on Ginobili, I expect the Hornets confidence from Game 4 to carry over to series victory tonight…Hornets in an upset
SAN DIEGO PADRES @ CHICAGO CUBS (-1.5 runs) (+130)
Besides the fact that the Cubs line-up is loaded and the Padres are the worst hitting team in baseball, the match-up versus former Cub Greg Maddux is what spurred my investment on the mini-Bears. While Maddux has been awesome in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park with a 1.42 ERA and holding hitters to .181 clip, on the road his ERA more than triples (4.94) and batters are hitting .294 against him. Throw-in the fact that some of the young Padres probably enjoyed their last night in Wrigleyville and cannot be looking forward to a long flight to Seattle for a cellar-dweller Interleague battle immediately after…which means Dempster (4-1, 2.76) continues to dominate, the Cubs bats catch-fire, and Maddux exits by the 5th…Cubs by 4-6 runs
NEW YORK YANKEES @ TAMPA BAY RAYS (-130)
Well, I’m going back to the well that kicked me in nutz yesterday, with lefty Scott Kazmir (1-1, 2.70) fresh-off a new contract and 6 innings of shutout ball in his last start I expect the Rays to win the series this afternoon. While the Yanks pulled out a 2-1 victory yesterday, they still look like a below average lineup without A-Rod & Posada and have had all kinds of trouble versus southpaws (Righties .269, Lefties .235). As for the Yanks starter Ian Kennedy (0-2, 8.37), the 23 year-old is under enormous pressure as they’ve only won once in his 6 starts and everybody knows ‘Development’ is not something NY is too patient with. Kennedy has actually faced the Rays twice this season throwing 8.1 innings and allowing 12 hits & 9 earned runs. What can I say…I have a halfie for the 1st place kids from Tampa Bay…Kazmir rolls easily