NBA Playoff Odds, Preview, and Predictions for April 27, 2018

After epic performances by LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in Game 5 of their respective best-of-seven first-round series, their teams enter April 27th with different goals in mind.

LeBron James’ spectacular game-saving block and game-winning three-pointer on Wednesday gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their first lead of their first-round series at 3-2. The Cavs hope to get an encore from King James on Friday as they try to eliminate the Indiana Pacers in Indiana.

While Cleveland is trying to move on to the next round, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to equalize their own best-of-seven first-round series against the Utah Jazz. The Thunder are riding high on Russell Westbrook’s 45-point effort during their Game 5 victory where they overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit.

Here are the odds, previews, and our predictions for the NBA Playoff games on April 27, 2018.

Cavs at Pacers – Game 6
Cavs +105, Pacers -125)

LeBron James was simply breathtaking in Game 5, doing everything on the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another monster night for the King, another victory for his Cavs. Really, Cleveland’s success in this series isn’t hard to decode. It’s just two words: King James.

James has scored at least 32 points in his team’s three victories, averaging 40.67 points per game in those games. Meanwhile, he’s averaged just 26 points per game in Cleveland’s two losses to Indiana this series. Save for Game 1, James’ FG attempts have almost been the same in the last four games. The only difference is that he’s shot above 54.5% during victories but not more than 45.5%.

Victor Oladipo’s playoff average is 3 points off his regular-season scoring average. That’s not too bad. But what is worrying is that Oladipo’s point output has steadily decreased from game to game: 32 to 22 to 18 to 17 to 12. Like James in Cleveland, Indiana’s regular-season success was because of Oladipo flourishing in their offense. If they want to see a Game 7, Oladipo has to pick up the pace. It’s now or never for the Pacers.

Both teams have won once each in the other team’s home court, so that won’t be too much of a factor in Game 6, as it hasn’t been all series long. Save for the Game 1 blowout, the average winning margin in this series (Games 2-5) has only been just four points, with Games 2, 3, and 5 decided by just one possession.

The Cavs and LeBron have the momentum here, but given how close the series has been despite LeBron’s superhuman effort, the Pacers aren’t goners yet. He may be the best today, but you can’t expect LeBron to put up the same numbers in Game 6 (or else he’s Superman). Meanwhile, Oladipo is due for an explosion after three straight off nights, and yes, Cleveland is winless in Indiana in four tries dating back to the regular season.

How Will the Smoking Ban Affect New Orleans Casinos?

The city of New Orleans implemented a full ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, casinos, and other public spaces in April of 2014.

The purpose of the law was to extend existing statewide smoking bans within the city limits. The new law means it is illegal to smoke within five feet of everything from public parks to colleges and even the city’s jails and prisons.

The use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers is also considered smoking. So that’s banned too.

How do the operators of gambling venues in New Orleans feel about it?

They’re upset.

The Louisiana State Police, which oversees gambling in Louisiana, predicted that the state could lose $104 million in tax revenue and fees from the implementation of this ban. That number came from the Gaming Enforcement Commission’s notes on a study done on smoking bans in Atlantic City and Delaware gaming properties.

That study, which you can read as a PDF file here, accurately predicted a 12% decrease in revenue for the state of Delaware after a smoking ban in gambling halls in that state. Another arm of that study predicted a huge decrease of 20% in Atlantic City’s profits across a two-year period after a smoking ban in South Jersey, though that prediction hasn’t been tested yet.

Their argument is simple enough. As the New Orleans advocate puts it, “[Casinos, restaurants, and bars] argue that tourists come to New Orleans because they like to gamble and drink. The city is one of the last to allow smoking in some public places.” To take that away will change people’s attitude about New Orleans.

How many will simply decide not to come back?

What have they done about it?

Opponents of the ban have been active.

First, Harrah’s tried to delay the ban, claiming they needed more time to help their employees and customers adjust to the new rules. New Orleans City Council saw through that smokescreen (pun totally intended), shaming Harrah’s for trying to amend city law to benefit their own interests. For their part, Harrah’s is currently involving New Orleans in a difficult and costly lease renegotiation which has to be seen as an attempt at revenge on the part of the casino.

What Harrah’s did next was brilliant. Before the ban went into effect, the property made a huge show of becoming “the first smoke-free casino in Louisiana.” At midnight two days before the ban went into effect, they ceremonially removed ashtrays, handed out lollipops for frustrated smokers, and made a big to-do of their early adoption.

It was a brilliant move because they were planning a counter-attack the entire time.

Next, Harrah’s joined forces with many other local businesses affected by the ban and filed a lawsuit in civil court to strike it down. This action was more effective. It included several large local businesses (including Pat O Brien’s, Broussard’s, and several other New Orleans landmarks) and focused on the potential loss of revenue facing the city.

The hearing was scheduled for May 21. That lease negotiation Harrah’s is forcing on the city? It could cost New Orleans anywhere from $4 – $30 million dollars, which Harrah’s says is the cost of forcing the smoking ban on their successful gaming enterprise.

Who benefits from the New Orleans smoking ban?

I’m cynical, but not too cynical. This might smarmy, too.

I’m okay with that.

Here’s who benefits from the New Orleans smoking ban:

The people who visit bars, hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other public spaces all benefit.

We know secondhand smoke is dangerous. The American Cancer Society says secondhand smoke kills 42,000 people a year. It’s bad and you probably agree that it should be banned, unless you’re a libertarian or anarchist or something.

But beyond that – people these days don’t like to go places where smoking takes place. Times have changed – gone are the days when going home from your waitressing job smelling like a cigarette was no big deal because everybody smoked. These days, fewer people smoke, and the ones who don’t simply don’t want to be around it.

City Council Member Latoya Cantrell, who sponsored the law and has been vocal about her support for it, points out that secondhand smoke exposure costs the state millions of dollars a year in healthcare costs. That’s another angle to consider. It might be fiscally irresponsible to continue to allow smoking in public, at least according to the ban’s proponents.

So what’s going to happen?

Harrah’s is trying to put its money where its mouth is, threatening to shrink its state-mandated work force from 2,400 to 1,500. They’ve got legislation under consideration which would allow them to do just that.

With pressure on the city council from judges more than ready to rule in favor of existing liberties, it’s not totally clear that the city will be able to maintain the ban as it exists now.

Bartenders and business owners continue to make the same point – you’ll read it in this article from VICE and in this from the Guardian. What is going to happen when neighboring businesses get sick of the smokers pouring out of bars, casinos, and restaurants every few minutes? That seems to be the real threat to shop owners concerned about their customers getting up and leaving to satisfy their nicotine habit.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d say that the ban is here to stay. I can’t find a single example of a city getting rid of a smoking ban once it’s been put in place. It just doesn’t happen. As for how the city will be affected, I’d predict that Harrah’s is going to continue making a stink until they earn an exemption from the New Orleans City Council.

That means the city will rule in favor of the civil rights of customers at a single business. That will be a weird day, indeed.

Homeowner’s guide: common boiler faults and problems

The process of installing a boiler includes various tasks that require time and attention, from exploring multiple local boiler installer companies along with their quality of workmanship, guarantee and price to disposing of the old boiler properly. Apart from these two important steps, you have to assess the need of new thermostats, pumps and programmers, protect the new boiler with corrosion inhibitor chemicals and make sure that your installer flushes the system to remove debris and sludge. However, you cannot overlook probably the most important step of all, namely inquiring about follow-up care and annual servicing. Such useful pieces of information will give you the certainty that you will enjoy your freshly installed boiler for years to come without worrying about repairs or even replacements. Unfortunately, many homeowners make the terrible mistake of neglecting this crucial task, probably because they are satisfied about successfully completing the boiler installation process and forget about long-terms needs.
Regardless of their lack of attention when it comes to boiler servicing, all homeowners must know the most common boiler faults and issues that they will probably face over time, which include the lack of hot water and heat, loss of pressure, leaking and dripping, weird banging noises and thermostat problems. Thus, when dealing with a boiler emergency, instead of panicking, they act accordingly. Every person out there arrived home after a long and tiring day eagerly heading towards the bathroom for a warm and relaxing bath or shower only to face a cold disappointment, literally and figuratively. Most people just sit down and wait for their boiler to heath the water, but this luxury might take a few minutes or longer, depending on the age and efficiency of the boiler. The main causes leading to such an unpleasant situation refer to low water level, airlocks or motorised valve failure. In such a case, grabbing the phone and contacting a professional company for a close examination, maybe the one who installed the boiler in the first place, might be the best solution.

In what concerns the loss of pressure, you should know that in order to function properly, a boiler needs constant water pressure. Pressure drop might occur for various reasons, from a leak in the boiler system to bleeding radiators. This probably represents the most silent issue of all because if you are dealing with a tiny water leak, you might not even notice it at first. Of course, it will become a nuisance on the long term and you must take action in order to solve the problem. The worst-case scenario that you could face refers to a leaking or dripping boiler that requires urgent repairs or even a replacement. In regards to the latter, you should start considering boiler rental. Under no circumstances, you should attempt repairing the boiler on your own because you do to have the knowledge or experience of tackling a possibly broken valve. In fact, the truth is that, as a homeowner, you do not even have to because you can just call a specialist.