Good afternoon sports fans, it’s Chris Bengel back with you for the final time this week. Wednesday’s action certainly didn’t disappoint us, and we’ll be looking for more of the same tonight.
I’m still trying to recover from the high-scoring affair that we saw between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. It’s not every day that you see teams combine to score 15 goals in an NHL game, let alone a postseason matchup. The Flames scored two goals in the first 51 seconds and even took a 5-1 advantage in the second period. Still, the Oilers managed to tie the game early in the third period and it was a furious finish that saw the Flames come out on top. It was one of the more insane Stanley Cup Playoff games that I’ve ever witnessed, so I can’t wait to see more of that series.
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We’ve got more NBA and NHL postseason action on Thursday, so let’s dive right into the picks!
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
Latest Odds: Miami Heat -3.5
- Key Trend: The Heat are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as a home favorite
- The Pick: Heat -3 (-110)
The Celtics were hampered by the fact that they were without the services of guard Marcus Smart and center Al Horford in Game 1. Boston will likely have Smart back in the lineup, as he’s currently listed as probable for Game 2. In addition, Horford is also available for Boston.
But even with getting that pair back, I’m still confident that the Heat will be able to secure a 2-0 series lead.
The Heat have been thriving when playing on their home floor as of late. Miami has a 5-0 mark ATS in their last five games when facing a team that has a winning road record. The Celtics have accumulated a 27-20 record when playing on the road this season. In addition, the Heat are also 7-2 ATS over their last nine games when facing a team that has an above .600 winning percentage. Oh, and they’re 9-3 ATS over their last 12 Eastern Conference Final contests. The trends are certainly in Miami’s favor.
Miami’s balanced scoring effort has been the story throughout the majority of the postseason. In Game 1, five Heat players finished in double figures, including Tyler Herro chipping in 18 points off the bench. The Heat just have too much firepower for me to go anywhere but their side of spread until I’m proven wrong.
One more Celtics-Heat pick
The Pick: Jimmy Butler Over 26.5 Points (-105): — The Heat have gotten some tremendous production from several members of their rotation throughout the playoffs, but no Heat player has been more lethal than Jimmy Butler. Butler is coming off a 41-point performance in which he connected on 12 of his 19 field goal attempts — and that’s without drilling a single three.
Over his last five games, Butler has registered at least 27 points in four of those contests. During the 2021-22 postseason, the veteran swingman has eclipsed the 27-point mark in six of 11 games, and he’s topped the 30-point plateau ins all six of those games. Butler has been extremely aggressive on both ends of the floor and can easily turn defense into offense. I expect that trend to continue and Butler should clear this number.
Key Trend: Butler has scored at least 27 points in four of his last five games
Lightning at Panthers, 7 p.m. | TV: TNT
Latest Odds: Florida Panthers -170
The Pick: Panthers (-170) — I’m going back to the well with this one. Despite taking a 1-0 lead in Game 1, the Panthers faded down the stretch and the Lightning stole one on the road. They were able to do so even without the services of star winger Brayden Point, who missed Game 1 due to a lower-body injury. Point will be out again for Game 2.
First of all, the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers can’t afford to fall into a 2-0 hole with the series shifting to Tampa Bay after Game 2. With a team as deep and talented as the Lightning are, it would be quite the uphill battle if the Panthers fell behind 2-0. In addition, Florida has been an absolute juggernaut at home throughout the 2021-22 season. The Panthers have won four of their last five games when they’re favored at home. Florida also has a 48-12 record in their last 60 home games.
The story for Game 2 is going to have to be whether or not the Panthers can be more disciplined. In Game 1, the Panthers racked up 14 penalty minutes and, as a result, the Lightning scored three of their four goals on the man-advantage. During the regular season, the Lightning have the second-most penalty minutes (882) while the Panthers registered the sixth-most penalty minutes (822). Game 2 could come down to which team’s special teams unit rises to the occasion, but I’ll take the Panthers to bounce back.
Key Trend: The Panthers are 4-1 in their last five playoff games as a favorite