According to a report, the Nets are no longer willing to offer a long-term contract extension to Kyrie Irving. I know, I’m shocked too. For some reason, the Nets look at a player who was only available to play in 29 games this season due to his COVID-19 vaccination status and injuries and are hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal. Irving can opt-out of his deal and become a free agent this summer, but I don’t know how wise a decision that would be. If the Nets aren’t willing to offer him a long-term deal, I’m not sure how many other franchises are. At least, not at the level of the $36.5 million he would make next year if he doesn’t opt out.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Of course, this is the NBA, and these are the Brooklyn Nets, so I suppose anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe the Nets and Lakers can work out a sign-and-trade involving Kyrie and Russell Westbrook. Kyrie can be reunited with LeBron, and Kevin Durant can be reunited with Russ!
- Unsurprisingly, the AFC West is atop Jason La Canfora’s NFL division power rankings. Where is everybody else?
- Aaron Judge’s decision to bet on himself is paying off.
- We now have college athletes being paid for political endorsements.
Now for tonight’s picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle is 12-3 this postseason.
- The Pick: Jayson Tatum Under 39.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-115)
There have been plenty of words written about it elsewhere, so I won’t belabor the point too much, but can we get one entertaining NBA Playoff game? Multiple teams seem capable of winning the whole thing, but in the micro sense, the games have been terrible.
Thankfully, we have our principles to rely on, and even though we lost in Game 4, we’re not abandoning things in Game 5. Jayson Tatum is establishing himself as a true superstar in the league based on nothing but going 2-2 against the Miami Heat Under PAR Principle. That said, while Tatum is one of my favorite players in to watch, he finished with 43 PAR Monday night, thanks primarily to 16 free throw attempts. He struggled from three, going 1-for-7, and is now 8-for-29 (27.6%) from three in the series.
That bodes well for the principle, as does the fact tonight’s game is in Miami, and Tatum isn’t going to receive as friendly a whistle as he does in Boston. The home team has averaged 31 free throw attempts per game through the first four games of the series, while the road team is shooting only 20.75. That’s a significant difference! Regardless of the free-throw disparity in the series, Tatum is averaging 36.0 PAR per game. The odds are strong he’ll finish below 39.5 tonight — no matter the game’s result.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: For those of you without principle who prefer the more traditional bets, the Projection Model sees a lot of value on the total tonight.
Cubs at Reds, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
Latest Odds: Under 8.5
The Pick: Under 8.5 (+105) — The Great American Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, but conditions tonight should be more beneficial for the pitchers. First of all, while temperatures will be in the upper-70s, the current forecast has winds howling in from right field at over 10 mph, which should put the damper on fly balls. Furthermore, there’s a chance of rain, which means the air density will add even more drag to the ball and help keep them from traveling too far.
As if the science isn’t enough, tonight’s pitching matchup works in our favor. Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks doesn’t strike batters out, but he doesn’t walk them, nor does he allow a lot of hard contact. Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo also limits hard contact and adds a high groundball rate to the mix. Finally, there are the offenses themselves. The Cubs rank 17th in MLB in wRC+ while Cincinnati is 28th. A big reason they struggle to create runs is a lack of power, as they rank 17th and 27th respectively in slugging and 17th and 23rd in home run rate.
Key Trend: The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Cincinnati.
Guardians at Astros, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
Latest Odds: Under 8.5
The Pick: Under 8.5 (-110) — I’ve mentioned it in this space before, but Houston’s Minute Maid Park is roughly neutral when it comes to being a pitcher’s park or hitter’s park overall. However, there’s a significant difference in how the park plays based on the time of day. According to Statcast’s Park Factors, Minute Maid is the fifth-most hitter-friendly park during the day. At night, it drops to 20th, as the ball doesn’t carry nearly as far when the sun goes down.
That certainly plays a role in this pick for tonight, as does the pitching matchup. Houston’s Cristian Javier sometimes walks a tightrope due to his propensity for walks, but his home run rate is only slightly worse than league average and isn’t as big a concern for me with this being a night game. Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill’s home run rate allowed is well below the league average.
Key Trend: The under is 17-5-1 in Houston’s last 23 home games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Want to bet some hockey tonight? Both the Projection Model and SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh see value on the total in tonight’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues.
⛳ Charles Schwab Challenge Top 10s
A funny thing happened during the PGA Championship last week. I was on vacation, so I didn’t include any top 10s for it in this newsletter, but I still bet them on my own like I always do. Well, my five plays included Justin Thomas, Mito Pereira (a regular in this space) and Matt Fitzpatrick. All three finished in the top 10, meaning it was a wonderful week for me, but you know what? It was bittersweet because it was the first big weekly hit I’ve had doing this all season, and it wasn’t in this newsletter, so the rest of you couldn’t take advantage of it with me. So let’s try to get it done this week too.
- Justin Thomas (+150)
- Sam Burns (+300)
- Sungjae Im (+330)
- Daniel Berger (+350)
- Mito Pereira (+450)