There's nothing like a little playoff intensity to add some spice to your online sports gambling experience. The first round of the NHL postseason has gotten off to a very physical start, and Kevin Garnett did his best Gordie Howe impersonation by elbowing Quentin Richardson in the face on Saturday. While Garnett serves his one-game suspension, let's take a look at out latest weekly betting preview ? as always, all times are Eastern, and fresh lines are up and running at Bodog Sports.
1. NBA: Dallas at San Antonio, Game 4 (Sunday, 7:00 p.m.)
The opening salvo of the Battle of Texas went to the Mavericks (55-27 SU, 37-44-1 ATS). They put down the Spurs (50-32 SU, 44-37-1 ATS) 100-94 on Sunday to grab the cash as 4.5-point favorites and take an early 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal. George Hill (ankle) started at point guard for San Antonio and played 18 minutes, mostly in the first half, going pointless on just two shot attempts. Jason Kidd had 11 assists for the Mavericks, and Dirk Nowitzki killed San Antonio inside with 36 points on 12-of-14 shooting. Game 4 could be the last game of this series.
2. NHL: Boston at Buffalo, Game 5 (Friday, 7:00 p.m.)
This is supposed to be a showdown between two of the very best goalies in the NHL. But the red light was on all day Saturday as the Bruins (39-30-13, 4.71 units) exploded for a 5-3 win over the Sabres (45-27-10, -2.61 units) to even their Eastern Conference quarterfinal at one game apiece. Ryan Miller gave up four goals, including a pair to defenseman Zdeno Chara, while Tuukka Rask stopped just 26 of 29 shots for Boston. Buffalo may have lost leading scorer Thomas Vanek (28 goals in 71 games) after he got slashed in the left leg in Game 2; he's listed as doubtful for Game 3. The Stanley Cup odds at press time had the Sabres at 16-1 and the Bruins at 35-1.
3. NBA: L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City, Game 4 (Saturday, 9:30 p.m.)
The Thunder (50-32 SU, 48-34 ATS) went into the first round with a series price of +450 against the defending champion Lakers (57-25 SU, 33-46-3 ATS) at ?700. And Sunday's Game 1 did indeed end up 87-79 in favor of Los Angeles, which just barely covered as a 7.5-point chalk. Both Andrew Bynum and Nenad Krstic played in the series opener; as you may expect, Bynum was the bigger force with 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes of action. He reported feeling ?a couple little twinges, but nothing serious? in his right foot after missing 13 games with a strained Achilles tendon.
4. MLB: Philadelphia at Atlanta (Thursday, 7:10 p.m.)
This is shaping up to be a great battle for the National League East. The Phillies (8-4, 1.25 units) and the Braves (7-5, 1.01 units) meet at Turner Field for a three-game set starting on Tuesday; the finale will see Roy Halladay (three starts, three earned runs) and Derek Lowe (three starts, nine earned runs) in a matchup of two aces. The Phillies also lead the majors with 78 runs scored and a .488 slugging percentage. The Braves are No. 26 in slugging at .356, getting the job done instead with very good pitching ? except for that one unsightly 17-2 loss in San Diego last week. Halladay and Lowe have each earned three betting units for their respective teams with three victories.
5. Soccer: Barcelona at Internazionale (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.)
We've reached the semifinals of the 2010 Champions League, the most prestigious tournament in European club soccer. As with the earlier rounds in the knockout phase, this is a two-game, total-goal series with the second game taking place next week. Barcelona (first in the Spanish Primera Division with 26 wins, one loss and six draws) haven't lost a match anywhere since February 14. Inter (second in the Italian Serie A at 21-5-8) have five victories and a draw after losing a pair of Serie A matches in March. Thanks to the Icelandic volcano, Barcelona was forced to travel by coach (a glorified bus) to Milan, stopping overnight in Cannes on Sunday. Barca is priced at +130 on the long and winding road with Inter at +210 and the draw also at +210.
NBA: Phoenix at Portland, Game 4 (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
NHL: Montreal at Washington, Game 5 (Friday, 7:00 p.m.)
MLB: Chicago Cubs at N.Y. Mets (Thursday, 7:10 p.m.)
Soccer: Lyon at Bayern Munich (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.)
NASCAR: Aaron's 499 (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)