Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NBA Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers - 10/22/2019 - 10:35 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers - Date: 10/22/2019 Oct 22, 2019A matchup of potential NBA title contenders tips off Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Clippers host the Los Angeles Lakers in a season-opening clash.The two teams, who made some of the league's most significant changes this offseason, play the first of four regular-season meetings.The Clippers added Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship, and All-Star forward Paul George, acquired in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, to bolster an already loaded roster. Sports Betting Leads. The results leave the Clippers among the favorites to capture their first NBA crown."We still have to find a rhythm with each other playing together, but I think we're going to do well," Leonard said. "That's my mindset on it. Come ou t and win ballgames." The Clippers will play Tuesday without George, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries and is not expected to return until November. However, they should have more than enough firepower to compensate for George's absence with guards Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Landry Shamet and center Montrezl Harrell returning. Best Free Sports Picks. Those four were among the key contributors to the Clippers' playoff appearance last season before the Golden State Warriors eliminated them in the opening round.The Lakers also expect to contend with the addition of All-Star center/forward Anthony Davis via an offseason trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis joins a team that features LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and a retooled roster.The addition of Davis, a six-time All-Star, is expected to boost the team's fortunes after the Lakers finished a disappointing 37-45 and failed to qualify for the postseason for the sixth season in a row. Health will be the foremost concern for Davis, who averaged 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 56 starts last season with the Pelicans.Staying healthy will also be crucial for James. He missed a career-high 27 games last season with a groin injury. Still, the 34-year-old superstar averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game."Opening night is great. For me, it's like the first day of school," James said. "I mean, I love to play the game and I obviously had the longest layoff of my career, so to be where I'm at physically (and) mentally no matter who we open up against ... Hot Sports Handicappers. Tuesday (will be) a great day." Kuzma won't play in the season opener. The third-year pro, who averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season and is considered pivotal in the Lakers' success, has be en sidelined for the entire preseason with a stress reaction in his left foot. His return date is unknown.Both clubs believe they will be improved by additional newcomers. Guard Danny Green, who contributed to the Raptors' title run with Leonard, and Quinn Cook will be relied upon to boost the Lakers' 3-point shooting. Green and guard Avery Bradley are also expected to deliver a stronger presence on perimeter defense.Eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard, limited to nine games because of injuries last season with the Washington Wizards, is expected to contribute off the Lakers' bench.The Clippers also added to their reserve unit, picking up forwards Maurice Harkless and Patrick Patterson.--Field Level Media


NBA Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors - 10/22/2019 - 8:05 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors - Date: 10/22/2019 Oct 22, 2019The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors will begin life without Kawhi Leonard on Tuesday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans, who no longer have Anthony Davis and will be missing injured future star Zion Williamson.Leonard, so dominant in the championship run, left as a free agent to join the Los Angeles Clippers. Free Predictions. The focal point of the Raptors will become Pascal Siakam, who signed a four-year, $130-million max contract extension Monday."I think people are done overlooking him," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Those days are done. Rightly so, he'll be a focal point for teams to scheme against. ... He's been blessed with an incredible motor. He's got a motor not only to play in games with tremendous energy but to do his day-lo ng work with conviction and pace." The Pelicans traded Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks. Jrue Holiday figures to be the only returning player in the starting lineup Tuesday that is expected to include Ball, JJ Redick, Ingram and Derrick Favors.The NBA debut of Williamson won't come for another 6-to-8 weeks after the No. 1 overall draft pick from Duke underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday.The Pelicans said Williamson went under the knife due to a torn lateral meniscus.Williams starred at forward in the preseason as he shot 71.4 percent while averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds."He's a smart enough player that whenever he comes back he will be fine," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said prior to the surgery. "I don't see him falling behind in a situation, where all of a sudden he's got all of this makeup work to do. ... It's a pretty simple system anywa y. He's a solid, solid guy and very mature for a 19-year-old." Without Williamson, the Pelicans will rely on Holiday, Ingram and Ball for scoring with starting center Favors and reserve forward Kenrich Williams helping with rebounding."We will move some guys around," Gentry said. "That's one of the things about having depth and players who play different positions. We can move guys around and put ourselves in a position where, from a rotation standpoint, we are still pretty solid." The Raptors are expected to have a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Siakam and Marc Gasol in most games. Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell also should get some starting assignments."Playing with Kawhi was an extreme luxury but it was very challenging," VanVleet said. "I've never played with a guy like that before who was just so good and just so dominant that you just have to get out of the way sometimes."When he didn 9;t play last year we had a lot of fun, I'll say that. Profitable Sports Handicappers. The ball moves, and obviously you want a guy like that when you're trying to win a championship but ... I think the ball moving, everybody sharing it, playing faster, it can be a little fun for sure." The Raptors are also without another key player from their championship team in Danny Green, who departed as a free agent for the Lakers."He's very vocal. Very positive. He doesn't take things personal," Gasol said of Green. "He's a veteran guy who has been around but has come up also through hard times and has been coached hard in his previous years (by Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs) and knows what it takes to play at the highest level. And he was very good for us." --Field Level Media


NHL Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins - 10/22/2019 - 7:05 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins - Date: 10/22/2019 Time: 7:00 PM EDT Venue: TD Garden , Boston, Mass., 02114 / The Boston Bruins will look to put their first losing streak of the season behind them when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the tail end of a home-and-home set Tuesday. Boston has dropped two straight, falling in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before a 4-3 defeat in overtime against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday. In the latter contest, Morgan Rielly scored the game-winner at 3:54 of the extra period. Since then, the Bruins have been off while the Maple Leafs fell in 4-3 overtime at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. Despite their short skid, the Bruins have picked up points in four straight games and seven of eight to begin the season. Still, the sting of two close losses is front of mind for the club, especially against two Atlantic Division opp onents and fellow playoff favorites." I thought we played well enough to get two points tonight," Boston goaltender Jaroslav Halak said after making 25 saves Saturday. "One of those games that we get some chances, they got some bounces their way and they won a game. Happy for the point obviously, disappointed at the same time. It is what it is. We have to turn the page and get ready for the next one." Tuukka Rask will return to the Bruins' net for the Tuesday contest, the 500th game of his career. Rask is 17-7-2 with a 2.13 goals-against average in 29 appearances against Toronto." Milestone game," Rask said. "It's good. It's fun. Played my first game against the Leafs, and now milestone game against them, kind of cool." Maple Leafs backup Michael Hutchinson is expected to get the nod after Frederik Andersen made 34 stops in the Monday defeat. Hutchinson, a Bruins draft pick in 2008, has allowed nine goals in two starts t his season. Good Return on Investment. Toronto's loss to Columbus was just its second in its past five games, and it came in unlikely fashion. Mitchell Marner was called for a hooking penalty on a breakaway at 1:57 of overtime, allowing Gustav Nyquist to score on a penalty shot and seal the victory for the Blue Jackets." It's unfortunate," Marner said. "We got sticks in their feet, their hands, and they called it. You want to have those ones back, but stuff happens." Auston Matthews scored his eighth goal of the season and added an assist in the defeat, leading the way for the Maple Leafs, whose 35 goals scored are tied for second in the league with Colorado, and just one behind Washington. Boston's David Pastrnak is tied for the league lead with nine goals, having scored seven in his last three games. He is riding a six-game points streak, with linemates Patrice Bergeron (two goa ls, six assists) and Brad Marchand (four goals, eight assists) each at seven straight games. Free Sports Handicappers. The Bruins will be without forward David Krejci (upper body) for the third straight game. Karson Kuhlman missed practice Monday and is questionable after getting injured on a blocked shot Saturday. Free Soccer Picks. The Maple Leafs are still without captain John Tavares, who has missed two games and is out at least two weeks with a broken finger.--Field Level Media


NHL Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers - 10/22/2019 - 7:05 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers - Date: 10/22/2019 Time: 7:00 PM EDT Venue: BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL, 33323 / The Florida Panthers got mixed news on the health front and added what they hope is a key player in advance of Tuesday night's game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. Center Aleksander Barkov -- Florida's team captain -- practiced in full on Monday and appears ready to return after leaving Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators due to a lower-body injury. Barkov played just 1:55 in that game -- all of that in the first period. However, second-line center Vincent Trocheck -- an All-Star in 2017 and the only successful scorer on either side of Saturday's shootout in Nashville -- is listed as questionable for Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Panthers on Sunday signed center Brian Boyle, a 34-year-old faceoff expert who finished last season with Nashville but had been unsigned for 2019-20 until Florida made this move. Boyle, who won the NHL's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2017-18 after his successful battle with leukemia, had 18 goals and six assists in 73 games last season, splitting his time between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville." Brian brings a wealth of experience to our club," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said of Boyle, who has played 880 NHL games, including playoffs. "He adds versatility and character in our lineup." On Tuesday, the Panthers are likely to start Sergei Bobrovsky in goal. So far, he has been outplayed by his novice backup Sam Montembeault, who is 1-0-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in two starts. Bobrovsky, who signed a seven-year, $70 million free-agent contract with the Panthers on July 1, is 2-2-2 with a 4.07 GAA and an .872 save percentage. Either way, the Panthers -- who have picked up at least one point in five straight games -- can expect a challenging game from Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and the rest of the Penguins. Pittsburgh has won five of its past six games. Crosby, 32, is still one of the NHL's few true superstars. He has missed a combined total of just three games the past two years and currently leads the Penguins with 12 points (four goals and a team-high eight assists). Letang, also 32, leads Pittsburgh's defense. He tied his career high last season with 16 goals. Free Sports Picks. This season, he has four goals and six assists. Money Cappers. The Penguins, however, are still without star winger Evgeni Malkin, who has a lower-body injury. Malkin, who has scored more than a point per game in eight straight seasons, skated with fellow injured forward Alex Galchenyuk prior to Monday's practice. Pittsburgh's top-pair defenseman Brian Dumoulin has been ruled out of Tuesday's game due to a lower-body injury. But the Penguins got good news on Monday when injured forwards Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad returned to practice for the first time since their injuries." We're still not sure of the timeline," said Bjugstad, who played the first six-plus years of his NHL career with the Panthers. "But I'm excited to be taking it day by day." Pittsburgh is expected to start goalie Matt Murray, who is 5-2-0 with a 2.56 GAA and a .914 save percentage. His backup, Tristan Jarry, is 1-1-0 with a 1.52 GAA and a .941 save percentage.--Field Level Media


NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Minnesota Wild - 10/22/2019 - 8:05 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Minnesota Wild - Date: 10/22/2019 Time: 8:00 PM EDT Venue: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN, 55102 / The Minnesota Wild will try to complete a sweep of their brief two-game homestand when they host the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night in Saint Paul, Minn. Sports Handicapping Software. The Wild capped a roller-coaster 72-hour span that started with a 4-0 blanking at Montreal and a closed-door, players-only meeting by rallying to defeat the Canadiens 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at home for just their second victory in eight games this season. Zach Parise scored what proved to be the winning goal midway through the third period off a nifty cross-ice pass by Jason Zucker, who also scored a goal. Minnesota, despite giving up two second-period goals just 16 seconds apart and a go-ahead goal to Phillip Danault early in the third period, won for just the third time in its last 10 home games dating to the end of the 2018-19 season." We need to be a good team here," Parise said. "We didn't give the fans a lot to cheer about last year. I think if we want to be a good team this year, we have got to play better in our own rink." Minnesota finished just 16-18-7 at home last season." We need to remember this feeling," said Zucker, who called out his team and head coach Bruce Boudreau after the meeting before later publicly apologizing to Boudreau for his comment. "This feels great. It's awesome to have a win, especially at home. And now come back Tuesday and playing another high-powered offense, we've got to remember this feeling and make sure we want to get it back." "It is a good group," Boudreau said, when asked about the response from his team following the meeting. "I always said it is a group that cares. Sports Free Picks. These guys care. It would be great if we could put a little string (of victories) together." To do that, the Wild will have to defeat an Edmonton team that started the season with five straight victories and has lost just once in regulation in nine games. Best Sports Picks Service. The Oilers come in off a 1-0 shootout loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. Goaltender Mike Smith finished with 23 saves in regulation and overtime but gave up goals to Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine in the shootout. Connor Hellebuyck finished with 28 saves for the Jets." It was kind of a murky game," Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. "Both teams had some chances and the goaltenders played well. We came in here wanting to play a hard road game and not give up any, and it would have been nice to get the one (goal) we needed to push us ahead. We just co uldn't get the extra point." "Last night was a hard game," Smith said after the team's optional skate on Monday morning. "It was kind of a playoff-like atmosphere. There wasn't a lot of room out there. You have to give credit to Winnipeg, too. They did a good job to clog things up and not give us a lot of really good looks. We had some chances, but they didn't go in for us. But I thought we did a lot of really good things and played a real tight game and got a big point. You've got to look at the positives in a game like that." --Field Level Media


NHL Game Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames - 10/22/2019 - 9:05 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames - Date: 10/22/2019 Time: 9:00 PM EDT Venue: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Canada, T2G 2W1 / The first chapter of the Washington Capitals' five-game road trip was a success. Beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 on Sunday before heading to Calgary to face the Flames on Tuesday has the Capitals believing great things can happen during their sojourn, which runs through Western Canada before ending in Toronto." It's a long trip, and if you lose the first one, you don't know what happens on the second one. It can make for kind of a tough one," forward T. J. Oshie told NHL.com after his club's victory over the Blackhawks. "It's nice to get the win in the first one. Obviously maybe not our best game, but we found a way to win. Inside Info. That's encouraging going forward o n this long trip." Sure, the Windy City win wasn't pretty -- Washington blew a two-goal lead in the third period before pulling away -- but the Metropolitan Division leaders have won four of five road games this season. Plus, the Capitals have a couple of big things going for them these days. Defenseman John Carlson has been an offensive force to start the season. Carlson, the league's second star of the week who is riding a seven-game point-streak, leads the NHL with 18 points -- becoming just the third defenseman in history to record 18 points in his team's first 10 games of the season (a feat reached twice by Bobby Orr and once by Paul Coffey). Also, No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby appears to have found his form. He has stopped 67 of 72 shots in last past two games, rebounding from a horrid performance a week ago against Colorado in which he surrendered three goals on three shots before being pulled." He's definitely got his calm demeanor back,&qu ot; Tom Wilson said of Holtby. "He's one of those guys where if there are pucks flying everywhere, he just seems to swallow them up and he's our rock. He's an extremely good leader on the ice, off the ice. I'm happy for him." The Flames arrive home after a tightly fought 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, a game in which backup goalie Cam Talbot made 29 saves, including several big opportunities in the final 10 minutes. Calgary has won three of four games, but the loss in that bunch -- Saturday night against the Kings in Los Angeles -- was one of the team's worst performances in years, and the lack of consistency remains a sticking point." We have to be realistic of where we're at," coach Bill Peters said. "We're still a little bit inconsistent ... there are a lot of things we can do better. We're well aware of that. Sports Handicapping Service Winning Streaks. The standards are pretty high, and we haven't played to those standards on a consistent basis." The Flames have been a middling club to this point, so everyone is well aware they must string together several victories to climb the standings." I thought everyone took accountability from (Saturday) night and came out played for each other tonight," Talbot said after the win in Anaheim. "There was a lot of good things that we did tonight and which we need to do moving forward. ... I liked our battle level, I liked our compete, our work ethic and our dedication in our own zone to get those pucks out when we needed them." --Field Level Media


MLB Game Preview: Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros - 10/22/2019 - 8:08 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros - Date: 10/22/2019 Nats hope to end Cole's roll in World Series Game 1FLMHOUSTON -- After stewarding his club past the exceptional bullpens of the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees en route to a second American League pennant in three seasons, Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch was asked if he preferred the Washington Nationals' more traditional approach.Washington starters Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin logged a combined 26 2/3 innings in the Nationals' four-game dismantling of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, leaving their bullpen just 9 1/3 innings to cover.The presumption is Houston will face more of the same when it hosts the Nationals in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday. Scherzer (2-0, 1.80 ERA this postseason) will start against the favored Astros in the Nationals' first-ever W orld Series contest."I'll believe it when I see it," Hinch said when asked if Washington will continue to be judicious with bullpen usage. "I think they should take their starter out after the third inning, to be honest." The Nationals' reliance on starting pitching is a byproduct of the abundant talent available. Washington's quartet of starters finished 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA against the Cardinals, producing 40 strikeouts against only six walks in the NLCS. Fighting Predictions. That dominating effort only continued what the Nationals accomplished during the season.Washington's starters ranked second in the majors in ERA (3.53), and fourth in WHIP (1.19), strikeouts per nine innings (9.68) and opponents' on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.685).The Astros also feature an exceptional rotation, with Houston starters pacing the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (10.5 4) while rating second in WHIP (1.09) and third in both ERA (3.61) and opponents' on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.672)."I personally am a big fan of starting pitching," said right-hander Gerrit Cole, the Astros' Game 1 starter. "I grew up wanting to become a starting pitcher, and I'm a starting pitcher now. And there are a lot of really good starting pitchers on the other side of the field, guys that kind of emulate the role in terms of longevity, durability, creativeness, tenacity, grit."And so just a pleasure to share the field with them on the greatest stage at this point. And best of luck to them." Cole is on an otherworldly run. He enters the World Series 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his past 25 starts, including victories in each of his three playoff outings. In his previous eight starts, he is 8-0 with a 0.77 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings."I've been in the situation, faced really good pitchers here in the Nationa l League over the years, (Clayton) Kershaw, (Jacob) deGrom, those guys," Scherzer said. "You just know you've got to come out there, you're going to be throwing up zeros. And you've got to try to match the intensity from your opponent."And Cole's had a terrific year. So obviously it's going to (be) one heck of a challenge." Secondary to the test Cole will provide is the ability of the Nationals to restart their engines. Washington capped its sweep of St. Louis on Oct. 15, and after riding an emotional wave to the NLCS, excessive downtime would seem a threat to the momentum established in the postseason.Washington overcame numerous obstacles to arrive in Houston, coming from behind to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card game before knocking out the league-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in a decisive Game 5 in the NL Division Series. What's one more?"I truly believe that these guys are fired up to be here," National s manager Dave Martinez said. "We played a lot of unbelievable games this year. We've come a long way." --Field Level Media


NHL Game Preview: Arizona Coyotes vs. New York Rangers - 10/22/2019 - 7:05 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Arizona Coyotes vs. New York Rangers - Date: 10/22/2019 Time: 7:00 PM EDT Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, N. Y., 10001 / The New York Rangers have yet to pick up the pace following a lull in their early season schedule. Best Sports Picks of the Day. The Rangers look to get it in gear and snap a four-game losing streak on Tuesday when they play the second contest of a season-long five-game homestand against the surging Arizona Coyotes. New York, which surrendered three first-period goals in Sunday's 3-2 setback against Vancouver, has been outscored 17-7 during its four-game losing streak. Sports Bettors Email Leads. Three of those losses were recorded over a four-day stint after the team played just three times in nearly two weeks. Sunday's setback didn't sit well with Mika Zibanejad, who saw his team outshoot the Canucks 17-6 in the third period as they pressed for the equalizer." It just means we dug ourselves a hole in the first," said the 26-year-old Swede, who boosted his team-leading totals in assists (seven) and points (11) after setting up Artemi Panarin's third-period goal." It just shows that you can't just play for 25, 30 minutes. Best Free Sports Picks. The whole game is not going to look perfect, it's not going to be all just good stuff, but we've got to learn to manage the game a little bit more when we don't feel like it's going our way." Obviously the good thing about it is the pushback, and that's what we'll try to take with us." While New York limps into Tuesday, Arizona aims to extend its point streak to six games and winning streak to four in the opener of a four-game road trip." I like the way our team's been playing all year," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "... We've got to be able to handle prosperity too. We can't get too high on ourselves. We're not that kind of team." Conor Garland has scored all four of his team-leading goals in a five-game stretch (4-0-1), including one in Saturday's 5-2 victory over Ottawa." We've been playing the way we wanted to play really since the start of the season," said the 23-year-old Garland. Garland recorded the first multi-goal performance of his young career last season on Jan. 6, tallying twice as Arizona completed a two-game season sweep of the Rangers with a 5-0 rout. Darcy Kuemper was in net for that contest, but former Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta could be in line to get the start Tuesday after turning aside 34 shots against the Senators. Nick Schmaltz is riding a career high-tying five-game point streak (three goals, five assists) entering Tuesday's tilt versus New York. The 23-year-old also has good memories of playing against the Rangers, as he had a two-assist performance and set up forward Derek Stepan's overtime goal in a 4-3 victory at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 14. Henrik Lundqvist yielded all four goals in that contest, although the former Vezina Trophy recipient sports a sterling 8-2-1 record with a 2.48 goals-against average in 11 career encounters against the Coyotes. Panarin has tallied in back-to-back games to tie Zibanejad for the team lead in goals. The 27-year-old Russian has registered 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in nine career contests at Madison Square Garden.--Field Level Media