Saturday, May 21, 2022

Jayson Tatum’s PAR total is set too high for Game 4, plus other best bets for Monday

I hope you enjoyed your weekend because you’re about to be smacked in the face with a bunch of takes and arguments. It’s being reported that, as has been expected for a while, Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic has won the NBA MVP Award. This was already a hotly-contested debate between Jokic, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. It’s a debate that was split along the usual factions.

If you thought Jokic should win, you’re a stat nerd. If you think Embiid should’ve won, you wanted to respect the mixture of talent, performance and value to his team. If you think Giannis should’ve won, it’s because he had a great season and is the best player in the league.

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Nobody is right, nobody is wrong, but everyone who thought it should’ve been Embiid or Giannis will be twice as loud now that Jokic is the winner… yet he’s the only one of the three not to get his team out of the first round of the playoffs. I don’t know about you, but I hope both the Bucks and Sixers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, and the NBA holds a ceremony before Game 1 of the series to give Jokic the trophy as Embiid and Giannis stand on the sideline watching.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

The Hot Ticket

Celtics at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT

  • Key Trend: Tatum has averaged 29 PAR in this series and hasn’t gone over this total once in six games against Milwaukee this season.
  • The Pick: Jayson Tatum Under 40.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-115)

The Miami Heat aren’t involved, but we’re still on that PAR money train. I was surprised to see Jayson Tatum’s PAR total set this high for a few reasons. The first is that Tatum is coming off a terrible Game 3 in which he finished with 10 points, three assists and a rebound. Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday shut him down the same way he’s been shutting everybody he’s defended down in these playoffs.

The second reason is that, even though Game 3 was Tatum’s worst performance of the playoffs, he hasn’t gone over 40.5 PAR in any game this series. He came closest in Game 2 when he scored 29 points with three rebounds and eight assists. If we look at the three regular-season games Tatum and the Celtics played against the Bucks, he went over it once in three games, so we’re currently at one in six.

If we focus solely on this postseason and include the first round against Brooklyn, Tatum finished over 40.5 in two of the four games, so it’s twice in six playoff games. This total is an unreasonable expectation of Tatum in a road playoff game against one of the league’s premier defenders. That doesn’t mean he’s incapable of meeting it or flying past it — he is. But we shouldn’t bet on him to do it. Not unless you’re reading this while wearing a Celtics jersey with a shamrock painted on your cheek, anyway.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you aren’t about that PAR lifestyle and want to go with something more traditional, the Projection Model has a good feeling about tonight’s total.

The Picks




Grizzlies at Warriors, 10 p.m. | TV: TNT

Latest Odds: Under 223

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: Under 223 (-110) — Memphis announced following Game 3 that Ja Morant is likely out for tonight’s game, but you know what? I don’t believe them. It’s nothing Memphis has done, but I’m paranoid about injuries in the NBA Playoffs. Remember when Devin Booker was going to miss a lot of time, and then he came back? How about when the Sixers ruled Joel Embiid out for Game 3 against Miami, and he suddenly showed up able to play?

The league fined both teams for “violating league injury reporting rules,” but the fines were nothing. Phoenix paid $25,000 and Philadelphia paid $50,000.

I might be crazy, but I think Memphis is doing something similar and is ready to eat the fine. Maybe it’s trying to make a point to the officials and get Ja a friendlier whistle if they think he’s playing through an injury, or maybe they’re just playing mind games. Or maybe Morant misses tonight’s game, and I’m in denial because I don’t want him to be hurt. Either way, I’m avoiding the spread because it feels like a trap. Instead, I’m going to bet the under because I was leaning that way with both teams at full strength, and if Morant is out, Memphis’ offense gets worse, and its defense gets better.

Key Trend: The under is 9-4 in the last 13 meetings.


Brewers at Reds, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Cincinnati Reds +155

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: Reds (+140) — We haven’t dipped our toes in the MLB underdog waters much this season, but aside from unders, they’re my favorite MLB bets because the dogs are often undervalued. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find an underdog more undervalued than one entering the night with a record of 5-23. Seriously, Cincinnati is 5-23, but even though the Reds are bad, no baseball team is ever as bad as 5-23. So tonight feels like a good time to back them for a few reasons.

First of all, Luis Castillo will make his 2022 debut tonight. Castillo is the best pitcher Cincinnati has, and this is an excellent time for him to show up because he’s notoriously bad in cold weather. Now he’s skipped past all that to a lovely night with clear skies and temps near 80 at first pitch. Second, the Reds are at home. While they’re only 3-8 at home, they’ve gone 2-15 on the road. Finally, while Milwaukee is the superior team, Brandon Woodruff will start for the Brew Crew, and he’s been pretty mediocre to start the year. He has an ERA of 5.18 and has allowed seven runs over 9.2 innings in his last two starts.

Woodruff gets plenty of strikeouts and misses bats, but when hitters have made contact, they’ve smoked him. Despite all the losses, the Reds offense has performed much better in recent weeks, and I think Cincinnati has a much better chance tonight than the price suggests.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model’s favorite play of the night in any sport is on the spread in Game 4 of the NHL’s playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

Tonight’s Parlay

It’s a simple two-leg parlay tonight with two favorites who should be favored, but aren’t favored by enough. It pays +193.

  • Tigers (-125)
  • Padres (-160)

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