Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Cavaliers have something to play for vs. Magic, plus other best bets for Monday

So we’ve reached a Final Four of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Villanova. It isn’t much of a Cinderella story when the “Cinderella” of your Final Four is the little No. 8 seed with six national titles to its name, but I’m good with this year’s Final Four. 

Frankly, by the time we get to this point of the tournament, I don’t want any more upstarts.

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That’s not to say I don’t love the upsets that come with the NCAA Tournament. They’re a part of what makes the event so fun. I just prefer those upsets to take place on the first weekend. While I don’t mind a Saint Peter’s making the run it did, I don’t want three or four of them. We only need one Doug Edert at a time. Having too many only leads to boring Elite Eight games.

Let’s make some picks!

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

🏀 Magic at Cavaliers, 7 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

  • Key Trend: Orlando is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.
  • The Pick: Cavs -9 (-110)

Latest Odds: Cleveland Cavaliers -8.5

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

With so few games remaining in the regular season, we’ve reached the time of year when teams steer hard into “don’t care mode.” Orlando is one of those teams. The Magic are tied with Detroit and Houston for the worst record in the league and gain nothing by winning.

The Magic posted back-to-back wins over New Orleans and Minnesota earlier this month and then nearly pulled off a win against Philadelphia in overtime. They then came to their senses and have lost five of their last seven. They’ve lost to Brooklyn by 42, the Pistons by 14, the Thunder by 16 and Sacramento by four. The lone wins have come against Oklahoma City and a Golden State team without Steph Curry. The win over the Warriors is the only time the Magic have covered in that span, and they’ve failed to cover by an average of 15.4 points per game in the other five.

They’ve really turned it off.

Enter Cleveland. A team that has lost three straight itself and is falling further behind Toronto for the coveted six seed (the top six avoid the play-in). The Cavs need this win because they’ve got much tougher games remaining on the schedule and can’t afford to throw this one away. Let’s bet on the team with a purpose tonight.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn’t have strong feelings about anything in this game, and disagrees with me on which side of the spread to take.

💰 The Picks




Bulls at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

The Pick: DeMar DeRozan Under 23.5 points (+105) — 
Like the Orlando Magic shutting it down, we sometimes see players begin to shut it down in ways that aren’t as evident. DeMar DeRozan has been a monster for the Bulls all season long, but there’s been a pretty significant change to his game in March.

From the start of the season until the end of February, DeRozan averaged 7.97 free throw attempts per game. That number has dropped to 6.18 per game in March, largely because DeRozan is settling for more jumpers and not attacking the rim as often. In a way, he’s saving himself physically for the playoffs and has allowed Zach LaVine to take on a more prominent role in the Bulls offense.

Without those free throws, DeRozan’s scoring average in March is down to 24.3, his lowest month of the season aside from October (23.7 in six games), and even that number is skewed by a 36-point outburst against Detroit (which is also the last time he attempted more than 10 free throws in a game). DeRozan could get to 24 tonight, but he’s finished with 23 points or fewer in seven of the 11 games he’s played this month, so there’s some nice value on this prop.

Key Trend: DeRozan is averaging only 6.2 free throw attempts per game this month, the lowest rate he’s had all season.

Warriors at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA TV

Latest Odds: Under 221

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: Under 221.5 (-110) — Ja Morant is a human highlight reel and a must-watch any time you get the chance to see him, but his incredible offensive acrobatics overshadow something equally as important. The Grizzlies are pretty great on the defensive end too. Since the beginning of February, Memphis ranks third in the league with a defensive rating of 109.5. Only the Celtics and Heat have done better.

That defense will face a Golden State squad in the dumps since losing Stephen Curry. In five games without Steph, Golden State has an offensive rating of 112.7, which ranks 20th in the league in that time. While we risk Ja Morant clowning the Warriors and leading Memphis to ridiculous heights on the offensive end, I think it’s more likely that the Grizzlies smother the Warriors, build a big lead, and then put it on cruise control late.

Key Trend: The under is 7-2 in the last nine meetings.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Looking for some college basketball to bet tonight? The SportsLine Projection Model and two of SportsLine’s top experts are all in agreement on tonight’s game between South Alabama and Coastal Carolina.

🏀 NCAA Women’s Elite Eight Parlay

Here’s a very simple two-leg parlay for the Women’s Tournament Elite Eight tonight. Like the men’s tournament, we’re going with chalk winning in the end. It pays +119.

  • UConn (-190)
  • Louisville (-230)

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