Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Celtics are still going to be a serious problem for the Heat, plus other best bets for Wednesday

It’s no secret that the quarterbacks available in the NFL Draft this year aren’t rated very highly. All you have to do is look at a mock draft and see all the players who aren’t quarterbacks going in the top 10 to figure that out. What hasn’t been talked about nearly as much is that there are plenty of good players available — particularly at offensive tackle and edge rushers — but there is no clear-cut No. 1 option.

And teams are letting you know they feel the same way. The Jacksonville Jaguars have not made a secret that they’re open to trading the No. 1 pick for the right deal, and now the Detroit Lions are letting us know that the No. 2 pick could be had too.

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It makes sense. While I have disagreements with other evaluators about our No. 1 player at a position, we all agree there isn’t much of a drop-off between any of the top options. If you’re the Jaguars or Lions, and you have a lot of holes to fill, trading down and acquiring more picks is the right move if you aren’t in love with anybody. You just have to hope you find somebody else desperate enough to move up.

The fact both teams have been open to the availability of their picks suggests that team doesn’t exist yet.

OK, let’s make some money.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

🏀 Heat at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Under 213.5

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  • Key Trend: Miami has scored only 170 points in two games against Boston this season.
  • The Pick: Under 213.5 (-110)

We’re entering some uncharted territory here. The Celtics were The Official Darkhorse Sleeper according to all the NBA nerds, due to the way they’ve performed over the second half of the season. The offense was efficient and reliable, and the defense was incredible. But then a crucial part of that defense, Robert Williams, suffered a meniscus tear and is out four to six weeks. His absence puts a severe damper on their potential in the postseason.

I don’t think it’s as big a deal from a game-to-game basis, so I’m still taking the under tonight. Part of the reason is that Miami has really struggled against Boston this season. In two games, the Heat have managed only 170 points against Boston in 186 offensive possessions, for a lovely average of 0.91 points per possession. That might be enough to win an NIT game, but it doesn’t work in the NBA.

Also, while two games is a very limited sample size, the only team with a lower net rating against Boston than Miami’s -24 is Sacramento at -43.2. So, yeah, the Celtics have been a serious problem for the Heat so far, and I expect that to continue tonight. Also of note is that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are listed as probable tonight, and I still like the under if both play. That said if you know the status of either player by the time you read this, and the total has plummeted because of it, I’d avoid it altogether.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model has healthy leans on both the spread and total tonight.

💰 The Picks


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Suns at Warriors, 10 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Phoenix Suns -4.5

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The Pick: Suns -4.5 (-110) — At some point, the Warriors will figure out how to function without Stephen Curry. However, until they figure it out, I see no reason we shouldn’t continue to bet against them. The Warriors are 1-5 since Curry got hurt and in those games have a net rating of -6.5. Before the injury, the team’s net rating on the season was 6.1. That’s a pretty significant change!

Tonight they face one of the best teams in the West — one that recently got Chris Paul back from injury and picked up right where they left off. Frankly, the Suns have been the best team in the NBA this season. I don’t know if that means they’re going to win an NBA title or even the Western Conference, but they’ll win tonight, and they’ll do so by at least five points.

Key Trend: The Suns are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games and the Warriors are 1-6 in their last seven.

Pelicans at Blazers, 10 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

Latest Odds: New Orleans Pelicans -14.5

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The Pick: Pelicans -14.5 (-110) — Do you want to know how bad the Blazers have been this year? I am betting on the New Orleans Pelicans — a team that is 32-43 — to cover a 14.5-point spread on the road. I can guarantee that I’ve never bet an NBA road team favored by this many points. This bet is Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon for the first time.

And it is all because the Blazers are monumentally horrific right now. They were bad when Damian Lillard went down, but they turned it up another notch after trading C.J. McCollum to the Pelicans team they face tonight. Since that trade, the Blazers are 2-14 with a net rating of -20.6. Not only is that the worst rating in the league in that time, but it’s more than double the next worst (Oklahoma City is at -9.9 in 17 games). I don’t even know who half the guys playing regular minutes for the Blazers right now are or where they came from. But they’re playing in NBA games, and we’re betting against them because of it.

Key Trend: New Orleans is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 road games.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Feel like lacing up some skates? The SportsLine Projection Model’s favorite play of the night is on one side of the Buffalo Sabres-Winnipeg Jets moneyline.

⛳ Valero Texas Open Top 10s

  • Chris Kirk (+330)
  • Tony Finau (+330)
  • Luke List (+450)
  • Patton Kizzire (+450)
  • Ian Poulter (+700)

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