Sportsbetting3’s Free Plays: Friday, April 6, 2012

Westwood leads the Masters, the Knicks spank the Magic, Caps claim final spot, Pitchers dominate Opening Day

Lee Westwood is perennial top ten finisher in golf’s majors but never seems to win. It was good news bad news for Westwood on Thursday. The good news is that the Brit blistered Augusta for an opening round five-under 67 to take a one shot lead over Peter Hanson and Louis Osthuizen. The bad news is that is the that only one Thursday leader in the last 25 years (Trevor Immelmann 2008) went on to win the Green Jacket.

Henrik Stenson led most of the early going shooting a 31 front nine that included two eagles but …. became the first player in 25 years to cart an eight on the final hole to finish with a 71. It was Stenson’s 36th birthday.

Tiger Woods shot even par 72 to finish T29 at five shots back. Tiger is a notorious slow starter at Augusta but has closes like a freight train. Today’s round at Augusta will be the 1000th of his PGA career. Rory McIlroy, last year’s leader after three rounds, opened with a one-under 71. Other notables include Jim Furyk (70), past winner Vijay Singh (70), Padraig Harrington (71), Hunter Mahan (72), Phil Mickelson (74), and Geoff Ogilvy (74).

The Stan Van Gundy/Dwight Howard circus continues

There was more drama in Orlando at the mid-day shoot around when Magic HC Stan Van Gundy leaked that he knew that Dwight Howard had asked that he be fired and that it had been confirmed by the Magic front office. Howard denies making the request. Check out this news conference.

On the court, the Magic promptly went out and got crushed at home by the Knicks 96-80. The Magic lost their fifth straight time for the first time in five years. Carmelo had 19 points and 8 rebounds for the Knicks. Jason Richardson led the Magic with 16 points. Howard returned after missing two games and was held to eight points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes of play.

In the rest of the abbreviated four-game NBA card, Chicago stopped Boston 93-86 behind 26/6 from Luol Deng. The Bulls were again without Derrick Rose who continues to nurse injuries. Chicago is 15-7 this year without last year’s MVP. The Detroit Pistons stayed on playoff life-support with a 99-94 win over the Wiz. The Clippers rebounded from their showdown loss with the Lakers by beating the Kings in Sactown. The Clips have now won seven of eight and five of six vs Sacramento.

The NHL’s Sweet 16 is set, seeding is very much up in the air

The sixteen teams that will advance to next week’s playoffs are set but with the seedings still very much up in the air. The Washington Caps clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with their 4-2 win over Florida. The Buffalo Sabres were eliminated when they lost 2-1 to the Flyers. Buffalo took a 1-0 lead into the third. Florida and Washington each have one game left and a Panther loss coupled with a Caps win would send Washington from the brink to the No.3 seed with home ice. The Playoff teams in the East will be the NY Rangers, Boston, Florida, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Washington.

By virtue of the Dallas 2-0 loss at Nashville and Colorado’s 5-2 home loss to Columbus, San Jose and Phoenix claimed the remaining two playoff spots in the West. Seeding and division winners will go down to the wire but the eight that have punched their tickets are Vancouver, St Louis, LA Kings, Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, and Phoenix. The Rangers and Canucks each have 109 points in the battle for the President’s Trophy. The Rangers finish with Washington, Vancouver hosts Edmonton in their final.

The Ferris State Bulldogs meet the Boston College Eagles for the Men’s Hockey National Championship on Saturday.

Pitching dominates Day One of the MLB

The Jay/Indians 7-4 16-inning affair may have been the longest opening day game in MLB history but the others were short and sweet as pitching dominated the day. Three shutouts in seven games plus 2-1 and 3-2 games led the under to a 5-2 opening Thursday. The Phillies (a 1-0 winner over Pittsburg) will have trouble scores runs but they won’t need many if Roy Halladay keeps throwing eight innings of two-hit shutout ball and Jonathon Papelbon slams the door. Tommy Hanson and Johann Santana traded blanks but the Mets broke through first to win their home opener 1-0. Jose Valverde vultured a win from Justin Verlander by blowing his first save opportunity since 2010. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead into the ninth but a Ryan Sweeney triple leveled things at two before Detroit scratched out a run in the ninth for the win. Johnny Cueto threw seven innings of three-hit shutout ball as the Reds whitewashed Miami 4-0. The Marlins now have two runs in two games. Matt Kemp hit a two-run bomb and drove in three as the Dodgers won their first game under new ownership 5-3.

Free Plays

(NBA) Oklahoma City -3.5 over Indiana

(NBA) Toronto -7.5 over Cleveland

(NBA) Charlotte/Milwaukee Over 202

(MLB) Minnesota(Pavano)/Baltimore (Arrieta) over 9 (First pitch at 3:05 PM EST)