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MLB Expert Picks: Arizona Diamondbacks

Diamonback hottieThe Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off of a season in which they lost 98 games. They are also coming off of an offseason that was full of changes from the front office down to the manager and players. An immediate positive impact may not be felt, but it’s clear that the Diamondbacks are building for their future. New manager Chip Hale is in a position where he has a lot of young guys to coach up, while leaning on veterans like Paul Goldschmidt to keep them going if times get tough. Arizona is likely at least two or three years away from being relevant again, but it will be fun to watch how this team responds to the changes throughout the course of the season.

The front office addressed their rotation issues by bringing in a few guys via trades over the offseason. Rubby De La Rose, Allen Webster and Jeremy Hellickson are all guys that should be in the rotation when the season starts. Hellickson is one of the better acquisitions for the Diamondbacks since he has proven himself to be a viable starter in his young career. Josh Collmenter should be at the top of the rotation just because he is the most consistent pitcher out of anyone else that is competing for a spot in the rotation.

Mark Trumbo and Goldschmidt will be the anchors and biggest power sources for the Arizona lineup this season. Both are coming off of productive seasons, even though Goldschmidt’s was shortened because of an injury late in the season.

David Peralta will be a guy to watch this season. He had a great season as a rookie last season at the plate and in the field. If he can avoid a sophomore slump and continue to get better, then he could be another building block for the Diamondbacks.

Overall, the Diamondbacks have a roster full of average players, with the exception of a couple standouts. The sweeping changes that were made during the offseason may not make them much better this season compared to last, but they are putting themselves in a position to build for the future. With the Dodgers and Giants ruling the division over the past several seasons, and likely again this season, the Diamondbacks aren’t expected to be anywhere near the top of the NL West. Our MLB predictions have the Arizona Diamondbacks struggling again and winning between 60-67 games. They will be close to losing 100 games for the second year in a row, but they will see some bright spots along the way. Those bright spots will lead to some more moves being made in the offseason to hopefully get a little closer to .500.

 

2015 MLB Picks:

5th Place NL West

64-98 Record

NBA Expert Picks: Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers

GStwarrior hot cheer picsNBA Expert  Picks:  Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers

The two hottest teams in the NBA will meet in Los Angeles as the Clippers will host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. The Clippers enter the game as winners of seven games in a row, while the Warriors have won nine in a row. The way these teams are playing right now, there’s a chance that they could meet in the second round of the playoffs or later. The LA Clippers have played a lot of close games this season, but they have been dominating their opponents during the winning streak. Now they will face their toughest test when the team with the best record in the Western Conference comes to town.

No team will ever have to apologize for winning seven games in a row in the NBA. The Clippers certainly won’t be, but they haven’t exactly played the toughest competition during the streak. Five of those seven opponents have records that are below .500. You can’t fault the Clippers for winning games, though; especially as convincingly as they’ve been winning them.

Having Blake Griffin back on the court has made the Clippers a big threat. They did a great job without him, but now they have a chance to ease him back in before the intensity kicks up a notch in the playoffs. This game will likely create a playoff atmosphere in Los Angeles, so it will be a good measuring stick for the Clippers.

The Warriors have also dominated their opponent during their winning streak, but they have also done it against better competition. Five out of the nine opponents they beat had winning records. That’s nothing new for the Warriors, though. No matter the level of competition, they have proven that they can beat any team on any night.

Credit MVP candidate Stephen Curry for making the Warriors that dynamic. Golden State tends to elevate their level of play against contenders, so we expect the same thing to happen in this game. Even though the Warriors have the top seed in the Western Conference locked up, they will still be geared up for this one.

Golden State has been one of the safest bets against the spread this season. The LA Clippers have been anything but a safe bet for most of the season. However, the Clippers have been trending upward lately. We think the Warriors are clearly the better team, but we are going to take the Clippers to pull off the upset for our NBA picks for today. They will be out to prove that they can continue their winning streak against the best team in the NBA and will be able to pull off a huge win at home.

 

Point spread picks:

Warriors 106

Clippers 110

 

Sportsbetting Picks: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat

SpursAt this time last season, it was inevitable that the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat were heading toward a collision in the NBA Finals. A year later, the Spurs are sitting in the sixth spot in the Western Conference and Miami has been up-and-down all season to be in the seventh spot in the East. Both races are tight, so either team could move up or down a spot. Not many NBA experts will be predicting another collision course in the Finals between these teams this year, though. San Antonio won the first matchup earlier this year and appears to be the hotter team heading into the rematch in Miami.

The fact that the Heat are still in contention for a playoff spot with all they’ve been through is pretty impressive. Dwayne Wade has been hurt for a good chunk of the season, but Chris Bosh picked up his slack. Then Bosh suddenly was forced to miss the rest of the season after suffering a scary health issue. There have been plenty of chances for them to fold, but they’ve risen to the occasion each time.

Wade has been playing at a high level lately and the Goran Dragic acquisition happened at the right time. The Heat may not be able to contend with the top teams in the East, but they should be good enough to make the playoffs. NBA fans would love to see Miami play Cleveland in the playoffs, and that’s the current matchup if things stand how they are now.

It’s safe to say that the Spurs are playing with some confidence right now. They finished off a tough three game stretch against Western Conference contenders that could have set them back or pushed them forward. After winning three consecutive games by 39, 18 and 14 points, the Spurs are officially on a roll.

Now they begin a three game stretch against opponents with sub-.500 records before finishing with another tough slate of games. Coach Gregg Popovich knows that carrying momentum into the playoffs is important; so don’t expect the Spurs to slack off just because they are playing a weaker Eastern Conference opponent.

The Spurs have obviously covered the spread in their three straight wins over Western Conference playoff teams. Playing the Miami Heat in a NBA Finals rematch should be motivating, but it’s not the most important motivational factor. Moving up in the standings is more important for the Spurs right now. They also need to put together some big road wins since they have struggled on the road at times this season. We are taking San Antonio to continue rolling, so we think they are a good pick for your NBA picks against the spread.

 

Winning predictions against the spread:

Spurs 108

Heat 95

NBA Expert Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors

NBA Expert Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors houstonrocketscheerleaders

Not too long ago it seemed like the Houston Rockets were destined to be the third seed and didn’t have much of a chance of anything higher. Now they are right in the thick of things after they have strung together a few wins combined with a couple losses by the Memphis Grizzlies. Now the second seed is a distinct possibility, which should make the last several games of the regular season entertaining at the very least. The Toronto Raptors are in the mix for the third seed in the Eastern Conference, but they aren’t playing quite as well as the Rockets. Home court may help them out here, but a lot of things will have to go right for the Raptors to pull off the upset.

Not only are Dwight Howard’s minutes increasing after returning from his injury, but his production is as well. It’s a very encouraging sign for Rockets fans that Howard hasn’t appeared to disrupt any chemistry on the team. In fact, he has done what they have hoped, so far. He is one of the big reasons why Houston could make a late push to get the second seed in the West.

Another reason why Houston could make a push is because James Harden continues to play like an MVP. Howard returning hasn’t taken away from any of his production, so we don’t expect that to change any time soon. The Raptors have a pretty good offensive team, but the Rockets are pretty confident that they can score with just about anyone in the league.

Toronto is coming off of a division-clinching celebration, so now their focus will turn to their next goal. In order to achieve their goal of going deep into the playoffs, it would be a huge help if they were able to somehow get the third seed. That would ensure them at least one series with home court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The health of Kyle Lowry has Toronto a little concerned. He has had to miss several games recently because of a sore back. He is the driving for of the Raptors offense, so having him back at 100% for the playoffs is critical. If he is not able to play against the Rockets, then their chances of winning will decrease significantly.

Teams that are peaking when the playoffs start are generally pretty dangerous. If the Rockets continue their current pace, they will be that team. With James Harden and Dwight Howard playing well and healthy, they may be the best team that has a chance to beat the Warriors in a seven game series. Now that they have the second seed at the tips of their fingers, the Rockets are good picks for your NBA picks for today and until they lose a game or two. The Raptors will be able to score, but their lack of defense will doom them. Harden has a huge game and the Rockets continue to roll.

 

Sports Betting predictions:

Rockets 118

Raptors 107

NBA Weekly Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards

NBA Weekly Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards

The Houston Rockets and the Washington Wizards may both be firmly in the playoffs, but there’s no doubt which team has the most potential to make a run at the NBA championship. The Wizards have been up-and-down all season in a weaker Eastern Conference, while the Rockets have been pretty solid all season against the tough Western Conference. Possibly the most impressive thing about the Rockets success is that they’ve played a good chunk of the season without Dwight Howard. Now that he appears to be on his way back to returning, the Rockets could be getting even stronger at the right time.

As long as Howard doesn’t negatively affect the chemistry of the Rockets, he should be able to make them a better team on the defensive side. He was limited in minutes in his first action back in a couple months, so coach Kevin McHale will likely proceed with caution. In the meantime, expect James Harden to continue to light up the scoreboard.

Harden has the potential to take over a game and he has done it quite often lately. He has transformed into a legitimate MVP candidate this season. If nothing else, he is deserving of the award because he has single handily elevated the Rockets into a top team in the West, despite not having Howard for many games.

The Wizards haven’t been very consistent throughout the season, especially on offense. That may not fare very well against the high scoring Rockets. It will probably take 105+ points to beat Houston, but Washington hasn’t shown lately that they are capable of putting up that many points. John Wall will have to have a huge game and outperform Harden for that to happen.

The Wizards will want to make this a defensive game if they want to win. Teams that play at home generally have the advantage when it comes to controlling the tempo of a game. What makes the Rockets so tough is that they can get on fire shooting the basketball at any time. When they get going, it’s hard for any defense to slow them down.

The Rockets may go through some growing pains over their next few games as they adjust to Howard being back in the lineup. They still should be able to make adjustments quickly and improve before they get worse. Although Washington is a quality Eastern Conference opponent, the Rockets just have too much firepower. Our NBA expert picks have Houston winning this game big, despite playing on the road. Howard will still be easing his way back into the lineup, but the Rockets will win this one on a complete team effort.

 

Betting predictions:

Rockets 112

Wizards 98

 

Winning Point Spread Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz

Lion cheerThe Oklahoma City Thunder look to get back to their winning ways and continue their pursuit of making the Western Conference playoffs when they travel to play the Utah Jazz. OKC currently has a three game lead for the eighth spot in the West, but they are coming off of one of the most lopsided defeats that we’ve seen in the NBA this season. The San Antonio Spurs demolished the Thunder by 39 points, which was pretty surprising considering the way OKC has been playing. It’s hard to believe that the Spurs are that much better than the Thunder, so coach Scott Brooks is just hoping that it was a situation where they just weren’t ready to play for that one game. They will look to get back on track against the lesser Utah Jazz.

Russell Westbrook has been racking up triple doubles like they are no big deal, but he was completely shut down against the Spurs. With the unlikelihood of Kevin Durant returning this season, the Spurs may have laid out the blueprint for beating OKC. As long as Westbrook plays at an MVP level, the Thunder will be a dangerous team, but if he doesn’t, they are an average team at best.

OKC should be able to bounce back against a Jazz team that has been struggling to score lately. Utah has been playing pretty good defense, but it hasn’t mattered since the offense struggled to score more than 90 points. Look for Westbrook to find some holes in that defense and overwhelm Utah.

Injuries are a big reason why the Jazz have been struggling to score lately. Some of their key players have missed some time that has really affected the way they approach their gameplan. Relying on defense to win games is not a bad plan, but they’ve got to find a way to create offense against a potentially dynamic team like the Thunder.

If Gordon Hayward were able to play in this game, the Jazz would have a better chance at winning. Hayward can be dynamic at times and he forces the opposing defense to put an extra defender on him. When that happens, other players having more scoring opportunities. When he’s not in the lineup, we see a stale offense like we have over the past several games.

When a team gets beatdown as badly as the Oklahoma City Thunder did against the Spurs, the best thing they can do is get back on the court as soon as possible. Just because they took such a big beating, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take them for your NBA picks against the spread. In fact, we believe that makes it an even better reason to take them. They will be motivated to prove that it was a fluke and take out their frustrations on the Jazz. Utah may be able to keep it close early with their defense, but too much Russell Westbrook will bury them in the end.

 

Winning point spread predictions:

Thunder 105

Jazz 89

NBA Expert Picks: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies

  • We could be looking at a preview of the Western Conference Finals when the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies square off against each other. These teams have been the top two teams in the West for most of the season, so NBA fans are hoping that they can see them face each other in a seven game series. For now, though, we will have to settle with a regular season matchup in Memphis. The Grizzlies likely won’t be able to catch the Warriors for the top seed, but beating them will definitely go a long way for their confidence if they do in fact meet each other in the playoffs. The Warriors have the confidence already that they can beat anyone anywhere. This game should end up being a classic on Friday night.

    Golden State enters this game as the highest scoring team in the NBA and riding a seven game winning streak. They have also won 12 of their last 13 games. That only loss was a controversial one in which coach Steve Kerr decided to give many of his starters, including Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a night off.

    Don’t expect any star players to get a break in this game. Coaches sometimes like to give guys a break against quality teams, but that probably won’t be the case here. You definitely don’t want to give anyone confidence in a head-to-head matchup, especially when there’s a decent chance that you will meet them again in the playoffs. The Warriors will be looking to give Memphis a lot of doubt by beating them on their home court.

    The Grizzlies beat the Warriors 105-98 in Memphis the last time they played each other. Since Memphis thrives on their defense, it wasn’t a huge surprise that they held them under 100 points. It will be difficult to hold them that low again, though, considering they don’t score less than 100 points very often.

    If the Grizzlies are able to get another win over the Warriors, it will do a lot for their confidence in the playoffs. Holding the Warriors to around 100 points should be considered a success for the Memphis defense. The offense knows they will have to score at least that many points, so expect them to be aggressive under the basket and throw their weight around on the defensive end to try to get Golden State out of rhythm.

    The Grizzlies and Warriors are two of the best home teams in the NBA. That’s one big reason why people are salivating over the possibility of a seven game series between the two. If that’s the case, the first team to win a road game would probably win the series. That’s easier said than done, though. The Warriors are hot right now and the Grizzlies are playing pretty good as well. We are going to take the Warriors for our NBA picks for today, just because they know how important it is to win on the road. It will be a very close game that could even go into overtime. Take the Warriors to win this one in a nail biter.

     

    Point spread predictions:

    Warriors 109

    Grizzlies 107

MLB Expert Picks: Washington Nationals

If there’s been a single team that has underachieved in the National League over the past couple season, it has been the Washington Nationals. They are loaded with talent, yet they haven’t been able to get past the Division Series in the playoffs. With a lot of their key players set to become free agents at the end of this season, the Nationals likely will have one last chance to make a run this season before they will be forced to make some tough decisions. They largely stood their ground this offseason, with the exception of signing Max Scherzer to a big contract. Washington should be set up to make another run if injuries don’t play a big role.

The starting rotation for the Nationals has the potential to be the best in the majors. At least three of their starters could be ace pitchers on most teams in the league. Stephen Strasburg has the most talent of any of them, even though injuries have slowed him down in his career. Jordan Zimmerman is a solid starter as well as Gio Gonzales. Add in Scherzer and Doug Fister and this rotation could be unstoppable.

Pitching will be the strength of the team as long as they stay healthy, but they will also need to have some offense to go with it. Bryce Harper gets a lot of hype, but he has also been dealing with injuries in his young career. If he is healthy for an entire season, the potential is through the roof for him.

The Nationals will also be looking to get more out of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Both of them are veteran leaders to the clubhouse that they really need, especially when the playoffs roll around. The outlook for the lineup looks promising, as long as their key players are able to remain healthy for the entire season.

Sometimes when teams have a dominant pitching staff, the offense struggles because they think they only need a couple of runs to win. If this team takes that approach, then they will be in trouble. The Nationals could be a World Series contender this year, but they will have to come together as a unit for that to happen.

Despite the Miami Marlins making some big moves this offseason, the National League East should be relatively weak. There’s a good chance that this division will produce two playoff teams this year. Our MLB predictions experts believe that the Nationals will be a wild card team this year behind the Marlins. They will win 87-94 games and should be able to make a run in the playoffs if they stay healthy. Anything short of making the World Series will be considered a bust for this talented team.

 

2015 Baseball Predictions:

2nd Place NL East

92-70 Record

MLB Expert Picks: New York Mets

Mets cheelereThe New York Mets have been the bottom feeders of the National League East division for about seven years. They showed a little promise toward the end of last season, so the fans are optimistic that they can get back on track this year. They still may be a couple years away from being relevant in the National League playoff discussion, but getting closer to the .500 record mark won’t be out of the question this season. As long as they are able to stay healthy at key positions, we should see some progress with the Mets.

Probably the most important piece for the Mets this season is getting ace pitcher Matt Harvey back. Harvey missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery. A lot of pitchers come back better than ever after that procedure, so the Mets are certainly hoping that’s the case.

They do have some other young arms that have some experience now. Zack Wheeler could turn out to be a solid pitcher, and we all know what Jacob deGrom is capable of after winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. If he can avoid a sophomore slump, then look for the Mets pitching rotation to be a strength this season.

Injuries to their starting lineup also hampered the Mets last season. If they can get David Wright back to the consistent player that he has been his entire career, then there’s a good chance that other players will follow. Their lineup is full of proven veterans, so they have a good chance to make some noise this season if they remain healthy.

David Murphy and Curtis Granderson should be solid hitters in the middle of the Mets lineup. Even though they have had some power struggles lately, they should be able to improve their numbers with the shortened fence at Citi Field. Add in the consistent Michael Cuddyer and you may see the Mets put up some solid run production this season.

The future outlook for the New York Mets is as positive as it’s been in quite a while. Every rebuilding team has to go through some transition years before they become relevant. The Mets don’t seem like a team that will burst onto the scene and shock everyone with their high level of play this year. But they do look like a team that could be relevant for a good chunk of the season, before faltering down the stretch. This should be a year of positives for the Mets to build on for next season.  Our  expert MLB predictions have the Mets hovering around .500 and winning around 76-83 games. It won’t be enough for a wild card berth, but they will have plenty of reasons for optimism heading into the offseason.

 

2015 MLB Predictions:

3rd Place NL East

78-84 Record

Winning Sports Picks: Indiana Pacers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Girl with referere uniformThe lone matchup on Thursday night involves two teams that are headed in the wrong direction. The Milwaukee Bucks were a pretty consistent team for the first part of the season and were peaking right before the all-star break. Then the trade deadline happened and it’s no coincidence that they have struggled mightily since trading away Brandon Knight. The Indiana Pacers have taken a different route to get where they are. They have only had a consistent defense, but the lack of offense has hurt them. They peaked a couple of weeks ago after winning seven games in a row and climbing as high as seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but they have fallen back down since then.

The Pacers are only a game back of the eighth spot, so if they can go on another run to conclude the season, they may be able to sneak into the playoffs. Their chances of that happening would improve greatly if Paul George would return, but he is taking things cautiously and doesn’t know exactly when he will return to game action.

The schedule doesn’t set up very favorably for the Pacers, so they will definitely have to earn their spot in the playoffs. The last time Indiana played Milwaukee, it was their final win of the seven game winning streak. Now they are hoping that playing Milwaukee will be the start of something special to end the season.

Just a few weeks ago it appeared that the Bucks position was pretty secure in the Eastern Conference. It has started looking a little shakier, though. Their record has dipped below .500 and only hold a 2.5 game lead over the Miami Heat for the sixth spot. They have essentially eliminated themselves from contending for the fifth seed since they are five games back from Washington.

Coach Jason Kidd has the tough task of holding together a group of young players and try to end the season on a high note. The reality is that they just aren’t playing very well right now, so a veteran leader will have to step up on the court. Khris Middleton may have to be that guy as it seems like he is having a big game after big game. The Bucks are hoping they can continue their momentum after a dramatic win over the Heat in their last game.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the NBA against the spread at the all-star break. Since then, though, they have been unreliable at best. They have been a team that’s played up or down to their level of competition all season. They will hope to avoid that pitfall against a Pacers team that may even be struggling more than them. Both teams are in need of a kickstart, and the Bucks may have gotten that in their last game. We expect them to continue that momentum now that they have some positive vibes in the locker room. We are taking the Bucks for our NBA picks for today to win a big game at home. It won’t be a pretty game, but Milwaukee will win a low scoring game.

 

Point spread predictions:

Pacers 88

Bucks 95

 

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