Monday is not usually a day most of us look forward to, but I’ve never been happier on a Monday in my life. From the perspective of my sports fandom, my weekend and most of the week before it sucked so damn hard. Sure, there was the high of the Chicago Bulls pulling off an upset over Milwaukee in Game 2 of their playoff series, but it was followed by them losing by 20+ in both home games over the weekend.
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As if watching the Bulls get their skulls caved in wasn’t bad enough, I also had the pleasure of watching the White Sox lose seven straight games while losing a different player to injury every day along the way. Also, Napoli, the Serie A team I root for, had a 2-0 lead over Empoli 80 minutes into their match Sunday morning. By the 88th minute, they trailed 3-2. It was an incredible collapse that eliminated them from title contention in Italy.
Oh, and my other favorite soccer team, Aston Villa, played in a dull 0-0 draw on Saturday, but at least it ended a four-match losing streak? Yep, a 0-0 draw was the highlight of my sports weekend.
Thankfully, a new week is here.
- Ryan Wilson’s two-round mock doesn’t have a QB going in the top 15.
- Here’s what our Jason La Canfora is hearing in the final days before the draft.
- It sounds like the Panthers are out on Baker Mayfield … for now.
- Let’s find out how far the White Sox fell in our latest MLB Power Rankings!
OK, time to bet some basketball.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
Latest Odds: Dallas Mavericks -3
- Key Trend: Utah is 6-19-1 ATS in its last 26 road games.
- The Pick: Mavs -3 (-110)
Does Luka Doncic make the Mavs worse? I mean, going off this series, Dallas is 2-1 without Luka and 0-1 with him, so you have to question it! Or you can be serious and realize that, while Utah is a flawed team, Dallas isn’t at the level where it was likely to win twice in Utah and end this series in five games. Plus, with Doncic playing for the first time in two weeks, the Mavs had to adjust a bit to having him back even if he played well. And they still nearly pulled off the win in Game 4.
They should get one tonight. Utah has been a much weaker team on the road this season. During the regular season, the Jazz were the best home team in the league with a net rating of +10.0, thanks to an offensive rating of 118.4. On the road, their net rating dropped to 2.4 as their offense and defense both got worse outside of Salt Lake City. Of course, that’s the case with most teams, but few had as drastic a drop-off as the Jazz did.
The Mavs are another one of those teams that performs better at home, but while the offense is still solid in both, defensively, the Mavericks take a big step forward in front of the home crowd. That defense is what makes Dallas the likely victor tonight. Criticize Donovan Mitchell for being an inefficient shooter all you want, but at least he’s Utah’s lone consistent performer offensively, no matter where they’re playing. You cannot say the same about the rest of the team, and unless Mitchell goes off with a superhero performance tonight, it’s hard to see the Jazz keeping up with a Dallas team as close to full strength as it’s been at any other time in this series.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn’t see any value at all in betting the spread, but it does see one side of the total hitting in 58% of simulations.
Celtics at Nets, 7 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Celtics (-105) — There was a big reaction on social media when it was discovered Scott Foster was scheduled to work this game tonight. Still, the truth is that while Foster has some eye-popping trends when officiating games featuring Chris Paul and James Harden, the narrative that he’s the NBA‘s top choice to extend a series is a lot more myth than reality. It turns out people remember the games where the team on the brink of elimination wins but forget about all the times it doesn’t. Human beings are strange.
Anyway, Foster or not, if there’s anything we’ve learned in the first three games of this series, it’s that the Celtics are a lot better than the Nets. The Nets are a team built around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving running isolation offense with some other dudes standing around for the most part. The problem here is that Boston is good enough defensively to take those two out (as much as any team can) and force the rest of the Nets to beat them. As we’ve seen, they can’t, nor do I expect them to tonight. Take the Celtics and the points if you want a little added insurance, but I’ll be on the Celtics to end this one outright and spare Ben Simmons the embarrassment of saying his back is still sore for the thousandth day in a row.
Key Trend: The Celtics are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games.
Raptors at Sixers, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Under 211.5 (-110) — The first game of this series was an offensive explosion. The Sixers won 131-111, and at that point, both teams decided they’d stop scoring for the rest of the series. The last three games have all finished under the total and have seen an average of 208.7 points. I expect tonight’s game to follow a similar script to those three.
Toronto is banged up, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to continue this series much further, but I’m not comfortable taking the Sixers to cover since Joel Embiid is dealing with a thumb injury and James Harden has played poorly in the first four games. I’d rather rely on this game being ugly than exciting, and there’s more value to betting the under than anything else.
Key Trend: The Under is 3-1 in this series and the last three games have averaged 208.7 points.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model and Sportsline experts Micah Roberts and Matt Severance are all in agreement about tonight’s game between the Sixers and Raptors, though they’re going about it in different ways.
Tonight’s Birdwatching Parlay
A simple MLB parlay for the night paying +333.
- Blue Jays (-130)
- Cardinals (+145)