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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
Basis Function: Daubechies4

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 11th, 2009 Picks

Oh man, my 5 streak went down the drain as I followed the herd and took the Lakers. I mean I knew the Rockets could play competitively without Yao or Mutumbo, but I thought the Lakers would at least play a tiny bit of defense. Magic Johnson put it best when he said it was embarrassing for a Lakers team to put forth that kind of defensive performance.

I avoided Rashard Lewis afterwards, NBA having shafted me and all, and took the Tampa Bay Rays. Papelbon was a whiz after allowing batters on 1st and 3rd with no outs. He struck out Carlos Pena, who found it prudent to swing the bat with the count 1 and 3. Upton and Crawford fared no better, getting balls when they rested the bat and strikes when they swung it. Bitterness aside the Red Sox did well to get 3 runs off of Garza and their relief pitching was 100% solid. Ah well, on to the picks. It's only going to get better.

1) Deccan Chargers vs. Rajasthan Royals – Rajasthan
2) Middlesbrough @ Newcastle United – Middlesbrough win or draw
3) Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh
4) Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians – Cleveland
5) Delonte West vs. Josh Smith – West pts. and ast.
6) Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets – New York
7) Vancouver Canucks @ Chicago Blackhawks – Vancouver
8) Denver Nuggets @ Dallas Mavericks – Denver
9) Cincinnati Reds @ Arizona Diamondbacks – Cincinnati
10) Washington Nationals @ San Francisco Giants – Washington

1) Hyderabad Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals are tied in the standings with 5 wins apiece and the Chargers with a game in hand. You can find the standings for the Indian Premier at www.iplt20.com. Deccan lost to Rajasthan on May 2nd, the last time they played. It was a very close game, however, with Rajasthan winning by 3 wickets with 2 innings, out of 120, left. Since then Rajasthan have continued their good form, winning by 78 runs over a Kings XI Punjab team who have allowed 138 runs per match so far this season. They also won by 7 wickets with a full 30 innings remaining over Bangalore Royal Challengers. Deccan Chargers have continued to lose a series of close games, most recently by 3 wickets with 1 inning remaining to the same Kings XI Punjab team Rajasthan beat so soundly. As usual Cricinfo have a terrific preview of the match. Another nice preview can be found at The Hindu. The consensus seems to be that Rajasthan have superior bowling ability and that will give them the edge in this match. If Deccan are to win they will need big performances from Gibbs, Gilchrist, and especially Symonds with Dwayne Smith being tied to his West Indies side for a test match. You can check each sides homepage for stats and news by clicking on their logos. I think Deccan Chargers have a good shot to win this match, they should not be losing so many matches so closely, but I will go with the team with the better recent form. Of course, we all know how quickly teams can go from hot to cold in baseball, and I expect it's much the same in cricket.

2) Widely considered one of the biggest relegation battles of the season and one of the most important Tyne-Tees 'derbys' ever. Both Newcastles United and Middlesbrough would catch Hull City for the last safety position in terms of points, though Middlesbrough would need a 2-0 victory to catch Hull in terms of goal differential. Still, both teams are battling to avoid relegation and I expect they will give it their best. Both teams have been in rather poor form recently, with Middlesbrough going 1-1-3 in their past 5 matches, and 0-0-5 in their past 5 away matches. Newcastle United are 0-2-3 in their past 5 matches at home, and overall with one of those draws being against Everton. There is a good preview from goal.com who predict a 1-1 draw out of this match. The EPL webpage also carries a preview of the match. They point out the injury concerns and suspensions for each side very clearly. Middlesbrough is missing captain Pogatetz and Riggott on defense, and Newcastle United is missing Joey Barton at midfield, Enrique on defense, and Ameobi at forward. The odds on a Newcastle United win are around 45.8% to 47.4%. The draw gets the next best odds, around 27.3% to 28.6%, and a Middlesbrough win around 24.7% to 25.8%, though the injuries to Riggott and Pogatetz hurt 'Boro's chances. If I had to guess the score it would be 0-0, a draw.

4) Both the White Sox and the Indians are coming off of poor series, with the White Sox going 1-2 against Texas and scoring 4 runs in those three games and the Indians going 0-3 against Detroit while scoring 3 runs. Both teams batted under .200 and slugged under .225 in those series. The starting pitching for tonight's game is cause for hope in both teams. Gavin Floyd has an ERA of 6.29 and a WHIP of 1.75 this season and is coming off a 6 run, 6 hit, 5 inning outing against the Royals. Carl Pavano has a 6.61 ERA and 1.53 WHIP this season, but has been doing rather well lately. His first start of the season put his numbers in a hole when he pitched 1 inning and gave up 9 runs against Texas. In his past 131/3 innings pitched he's given up only 4 runs on 11 hits. Cleveland and Chicago have each enjoyed success against the opposing pitcher, with Chicago batting .268 in 41 at bats against Pavano and Cleveland batting .323 in 62 at bats against Floyd. With both teams due to rebound in the hits department I would give the advantage to Cleveland who have better overall batting numbers this season than the Sox and who have a pitcher on the mound who has been successful recently. Their bullpen won't help out any, but I think they'll have a large enough lead after 6 to get the win.

5) The Cleveland Cavaliers look to sweep the Atlanta Hawks and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. It's nearly assured with the way the Cavs have been playing in these playoffs and so the matchup today pairs Delonte West's points and assists on the road against Josh Smith's points at home. Looking at the two it appears to be a very even matchup. Delonte West has averaged 14 points and assists on the road during the season and through the playoffs while Smith has averaged 15.8 points at home. Looking at their numbers facing the opposition, however, the advantage goes to Delonte West with their numbers being switched. In Atlanta this season West has had 14, 16, and 14 points and assists, while Smith has had 12, 8, and 18 points against the Cavaliers at home. Looking at their histograms it appears that each player is about as likely to score above or below their average as they are to score right at their average. If Josh Smith puts in an inspired performance in this elimination game he should win easily, but Delonte West has been pretty steady in netting 15 assists and points. It's very close, so bet on Smith if you believe he will pull out his best game of the year against Cleveland tonight.

8) The Denver Nuggets are also looking to sweep their opponents, the Dallas Mavericks. Game 3 ended with the Nuggets winning after a controversial finish, where Antoine Wright attempted to foul Carmelo Anthony intentionally. When the foul was not called Anthony continued to get in position and sink a game winning three-pointer with 1 second remaining. The Dallas Mavericks played their guts out in that game, with strong defense helping the Nuggets along to 6 of 24 shooting (.250) in the first quarter. They did a terrific job playing with the Nuggets on the fast break, limiting their chances at open layups or dunks. It would be understandable if the Mavericks came out a bit deflated and were unable to match that intensity from Game 3, but that wouldn't befit a playoff basketball team. The Mavericks should come out with just as much, if not more intensity that the Nuggets will be hard pressed to match. We all saw what happened to the Lakers when they played the Rockets without Yao Ming, and they weren't even in as secure a position with the series 2-1 instead of 3-0 as it is here. Still, I think the Nuggets will play better offensively than they did in Game 3 and that should at least partially make up for the drop off in defense I see coming from the Nuggets. What it adds up to is another close game that will come down to the wire. I have Denver winning here by putting faith in their killer instinct. If they drop off on the defensive end by much they won't be able to pull off another miracle win like they did in Game 3. If you think the Nuggets will be satisfied with a series win in Denver in Game 5 then you would do well to take the Mavericks here.

10) The Washington Nationals still have the worse record in baseball, but after wins against the Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks are only a game or two behind Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Oakland. A big part of their recent success has been a surge of offense from Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Cristian Guzman. For the season the Nationals are batting .274 and slugging .438 which is significantly better than the Giants' numbers, .247 batting and .354 slugging. San Francisco is 2-1 in their last three games, and even though they have been batting well they really haven't been able to get any extra bases out of their hits. They will be facing Daniel Cabrera who has a 4.85 ERA and 1.82 WHIP so far this season. Cabrera has a tendency to walk batters and it gets him into trouble and keeps him from going past 5 innings many times. I can see the Giants finding some long balls against Cabrera and scoring 4 or 5 runs before Cabrera is relieved before the 6th inning. The big question for this game is which Randy Johnson will show up. He pitched against Colorado in his last two starts, pitching 7 scoreless innings in one start and then giving up 7 earned runs in 52/3 innings in his very next start. If Johnson shuts down the Nationals it will be a win for the Giants, but if Zimmmerman, Dunn, and Guzman can swing at the right pitches the Giants will find themselves in a difficult hole to climb out of. Even if Johnson does not give up 7 earned runs, if he is unable to pitch late into the game the Nationals will have the advantage batting against the bullpen.

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