According to census data from 2015 I found with a quick Google search, roughly half the population of the United States resides in the Eastern Time Zone. That means roughly half of you reading this newsletter live in the Eastern Time Zone, and you know what?
I have no idea how you do it.
As you may be aware — and according to emails and direct messages I’ve received, plenty of you weren’t — I was on vacation last week. I spent the week with my lady and my dog in the woods of western Michigan, along Lake Michigan. It was great, except for watching sports. Everything starts so late! Not only do you have to wait the entire day for something to start, but by the time you reach the latter portion of any game, you’re fighting the urge to fall asleep.
Seriously, three days into the vacation and I was exhausted. I suppose that you grow accustomed to it after living there, but friends, you shouldn’t have to. It solidified my belief that the Mountain and Central time zones are the sweet spots for sports fans. Nothing starts too early, and nothing ends too late.
- These six NFL players are poised for a breakout season.
- The Miami Heat won’t have Tyler Herro tonight.
- I don’t think Deandre Ayton will be back in Phoenix next season.
- Former Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler is looking for a second chance at South Carolina.
Now let’s get to tonight’s picks before trying to catch up on any sleep I lost on vacation.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Heat at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
- Key Trend: The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle is 12-2 this postseason.
- The Pick: Jayson Tatum Under 38.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (+100)
Friends, I hope you continued to follow The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle while I was on vacation because it has continued to be an excellent source of income. It doesn’t matter the series or player; the principle only knows victory. It has gone 2-1 in the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals, meaning it is now 12-2 this postseason.
Jayson Tatum broke through in Game 1 of the series, finishing with 43 PAR when his total had been set at 40.5. He followed it up with 37 PAR in Game 2 and 20 PAR in Game 3. As a result, the total is dropping, but there’s still value on it at 38.5 tonight, especially with the even odds.
I’ve gone over it numerous times, but for those uninitiated, the principle is simple. Miami’s defensive philosophy in the playoffs is to take away their opponent’s best player and force the rest of the team to beat them. It’s an effective one, judging by Miami’s long run of postseason success through different eras of players. In Game 1, the Heat couldn’t stop Tatum from surpassing his number, but it was an inefficient night for Tatum’s teammates as well. Miami won. In Game 2, not only did Tatum play well, but his teammates shot 16-for-34 from three, and Boston won by 25. In Game 3, Tatum struggled mightily, and not even an outstanding performance from Jaylen Brown was enough to help Boston overcome it. Miami won again.
See how simple it is? If you take the opponent’s best player away, even if some of his teammates have great games, it might not be enough to beat you. Miami will be back at it again tonight. While Tatum or Boston have rarely had bad performances in consecutive games this postseason, Tatum can still finish below this total even if they play well.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: I know a lot of you aren’t as comfortable betting player props as you are the traditional plays, but I think you might want to try it tonight. The Projection Model doesn’t see much value on either the spread or total in Game 4.
💰 The Picks
Rockies at Pirates, 6:35 p.m | TV: MLB.TV
Latest Odds: Colorado Rockies +120
The Pick: Rockies (+120) — The Rockies are the better team in this game, but Pittsburgh is favored, and I can only imagine it’s because the Rockies have been much better at home. On the season, Colorado is 14-11 at Coors Field but 5-10 everywhere else. This isn’t new for Colorado, but whether the Rockies are worse on the road or not, it doesn’t change the fact the Pirates stink everywhere.
Pittsburgh’s only 9-13 at home and 16-24 overall. Tonight’s pitching matchup isn’t great on either side, but Colorado’s Chad Kuhl keeps the ball in the park. Pittsburgh’s JT Brubaker gives up an alarming amount of hard contact and dingers, and it’s hard to bet on a pitcher like that as a favorite. It’s even harder when he’s backed by one of the worst bullpens in baseball. Granted, Colorado’s bullpen is terrible too, so perhaps taking the over is a decent play, but then you’re depending on a Pittsburgh offense that’s one of the worst in baseball. So, to recap, the Pirates have a bad starter, a bad bullpen, and a bad offense. Does that sound like the kind of team you want to be betting as a favorite? I don’t!
Key Trend: The Pirates are 2-5 in their last seven home games.
Cubs at Reds, 6:40 p.m | TV: ESPN+
Latest Odds: Cincinnati Reds +110
The Pick: Reds (+110) — This game isn’t much different from what I discussed regarding the Rockies and Pirates. Neither of these teams is good, but the Cubs don’t deserve to be favored against anybody. I have more faith in Chicago starter Drew Smyly than I do Cincinnati’s Vladimir Gutierrez, but only because he does a better job avoiding walks. Like Gutierrez, he doesn’t strike anybody out, and the contact he allows tends to be loud.
Loud contact doesn’t work in the pitcher’s favor in a park like Cincinnati’s. Balls fly out of there with reckless abandon, and I think the Reds are slightly undervalued here. My numbers suggest this game is essentially a coin flip and that Cincinnati should be slightly favored. There’s too much value on the Reds here to pass it up.
Key Trend: Cincinnati has won five of the last seven meetings in Cincinnati.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Both the Projection Model and SportsLine expert John Bollman are in agreement on a money line play in tonight’s battle of the birds between the St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays.
🏒 Stanley Cup Parlay
I’ve found myself watching a lot more of the Stanley Cup Playoffs than I did the NHL regular season because so many NBA playoff games have been blowouts, so I’m enough of a hockey expert now to tell you that this two-team parlay paying +332 is a monster very much worth your faith in me, Tommy Pucks.
- Lightning (-125)
- Blues (+140)