GAMBLING GUIDE

Bookie Busters: The Astros, NBA, UFC and soccer

Lance McCullers (left) and the Astros should be easy money. Elsa/Getty Images

This weekend is jam-packed with action. Let's cash some tickets!

MLB

Astros vs. Padres
Date: Friday, April 6, 2018
Time: 7:10 PM
Minute Maid Park, Houston Texas
Projected Pitchers: Luis Perdomo vs.Lance McCullers

The DEFENDING, REIGNING, CHAMPIONS of the world Astros, start a three-game series with the Padres with Lance McCullers taking the mound in the opener. The visitors come into this game looking for a change after starting the season an abysmal 1-6. San Diego was hoping for a better start to the 2018 campaign and a seven-game homestand to begin the season was the perfect antidote. Instead, the team only managed to claim one victory, while possessing a -9 run differential. In five of the six Padres losses this year, they were defeated by 2+ runs, leading them to a 2-4 Run line record.

Houston has done the exact opposite this year and started scorching hot and sit 6-1 atop the AL West, and 5-2 on the run line. In all but one of the Astros wins, they have managed to pull away and win by +2 runs. The Astros come into this game averaging 5.8 runs per game, while the Padres are surrendering 5.5 runs a game. Another thing working in favor of the Astros is that although they strike out 9.43 times a game, San Diego's pitchers have been struggling with striking out batters this year (6.83).

The Pick

Friday Night we get a pitching duel, with two pitchers that started the season in different directions. McCullers was able to put together a quality performance fanning 10 batters while allowing two earned runs on four hits. McCullers was able to shake off a ball that hit him on the ankle, giving a scare to the hometown faithful. The pitcher said he was fine, just slightly sore and "lucky" the ball hit the muscle part in between the shin and ankle. His counterpart had a less than stellar first start and got knocked around for five runs on seven hits and four walks. He was taken out after 96 pitches in only four innings of work after struggling all game. A solid start at home and some wins is what San Deigo was hoping for as they are 28-59 in their last 87 games as visitors attached to a  3-10 record in Perdomo's last 13 road starts. McCullers ankle soreness is somewhat of a scare, but I think he will be fine and the Astros offense should be enough to get the win. TGIF because the Champs love playing Friday nights, and are 21-8 in the last 29 games doing so.

Astros-1.5
Astros Total Runs over 5

NBA

Pelicans vs. Suns        Pelicans -10.5 O/U 220

The Pelicans are in the middle of a dogfight for the final playoff spots and will be needing this game like blood. With no room for error, New Orleans will be focused after finally getting a win, following a treacherous four-game skid. With their final three games being vs. the Warriors, Clippers and the Spurs, this is a must win if they want to stay in the race. In both matchups this season, the Pelicans scored 115+ points and won decisively,  going into both fouth quarters with double-digit leads. In those contests, New Orleans lit up the scoreboard in the first halves, and we will look for more of the same in a "must-win" for the Anthony Davis led squad.

Picks:

New Orleans Team Total Over 115
New Orleans 1st half -6
New Orleans  First quarter -3
*Projected Lines

UFC 223

Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk    
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk -112

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway
Pick: Under 3.5  -135

Soccer

Sunday 4/8
Manchester Utd vs. Manchester City
Pick: Over 2.5 goals -120

Real Madrid vs  Atletico Madrid
Pick: Under 3 -152


Tuesday 4/10
Champions League
Roma vs. Barcelona
Over 3 -118

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on Twitter.









 


 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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