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Dallas Stars vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Betting Odds & Pick: January 18th 2018

Dallas Stars vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
NHL Betting Pick: Blue Jackets -104 odds (January 18th 2018)

The Columbus Blue Jackets are just 3-6 in their last nine games and coming off back-to-back defeats, the most recent an embarrassing 5-2 loss to the lowly Vancouver Canucks Friday night.

I expect the Jackets to come out angry and motivated for this clash with the Dallas Stars Thursday night. Note that Columbus is 7-0 in its last seven games following a loss of three or more goals and 14-5 in its last 19 after scoring two goals or fewer in its previous game.

The Stars have won four of their last five, but this is a tough spot playing their fourth game in six nights. They’re just 3-11 in their last 14 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation and the Blue Jackets have claimed four straight head-to-head meetings. My free pick is on Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Over-Under Pick: January 17th 2018

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Over-Under Pick: Over 216.5 (January 17th 2018)

Of all the stats that I’ve researched in the NBA this season, perhaps the single most surprising numbers come from the LA Lakers; more specifically from Lonzo Ball.  Rookie point guards aren’t noted for their defense.  Rookie ‘one and done’ point guards coming out of college with a single year of playing time under a non-defensive minded head coach, in particular, are not noted for strong defense.

All of which makes the advanced metric stats stand out even more.  Ball rates as the #1 defensive point guard in the NBA (of players that average at least 20 minutes per game).   And those aren’t just some random, meaningless stats – the results show it very, very clearly.

Since Christmas, with Lonzo Ball on the court, the Lakers are 4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS and 4-1 to the Under.  Without Ball on the court, LA is 0-7 SU, 1-6 ATS and 6-1 to the Over.  That’s a meaningful dichotomy, not a random one, and Ball is listed as ‘doubtful’ again this evening, not likely to suit up against Russell Westbrook and company.

The point guard battle is likely to be a problematic matchup for LA again this evening.  Russell Westbrook and the Thunder have faced the Lakers once already this season, a game that Lonzo Ball didn’t play.  Westbrook carved up Luke Walton’s defense, as the Thunder generated 36 assists on their whopping 56 made baskets, shooting better than 60% from the floor in a 37 point blowout.

LA just hung 114 on Memphis, yet they lost at home by margin, a 123-114 shootout that FLEW over the closing total of 203.5.  OKC has cashed three consecutive Unders, helping to keep a lid on the total movement upwards tonight.  Look for LA’s defensive woes to be the difference maker here, in a game primed to be a high scoring affair from start to finish.  Take the Over

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