Can Giannis Antetokounmpo save the Bucks? Plus, other best bets for Thursday night

It’s been a rough week for Joel Embiid. In Game 4 of the series between the Sixers and Atlanta Hawks, Embiid went 0-for-12 in the second half as the Sixerws blew a 13-point lead, and the Hawks tied the series 2-2. Then, last night, things somehow managed to get worse.

The Hawks came back from a 26-point deficit to beat Philly, outscoring the Sixers 40-19 in the fourth quarter. Embiid went 1-for-5 in the fourth (the Sixers made five shots as a team, and Seth Curry was responsible for the other four) as the world collapsed around him.

But I want to make Joel’s day a little brighter, so I’m here to thank him. Thank you, Joel, for going over the 41.5 points and rebounds prop before the third quarter ended. By doing so, you allowed me just to sit back and watch the fourth quarter in bewildered amusement without having to worry about whether or not our bet was going to win.

So, while you woke up this morning the butt of a lot of jokes in the NBA, and with a lot of Sixers fans angry with you, just know that to me and the readers of this newsletter, you’re still a hero.

And now let’s get to tonight’s picks, which begin with another large NBA player dealing with some on-court adversity these days.

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Nets at Bucks, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo Under 18.5 Rebounds & Assists
 (-125): It’s difficult to know what we should expect tonight. James Harden played in Game 5, but he was far from 100%. There’s a part of me wondering if Steve Nash might consider taking his chances without Harden tonight in hopes of having him closer to fully healthy for a possible Game 7. I don’t think that’s what will happen, but I can’t rule it out, and that makes everything else in this spot a bit more complicated.

It wreaks havoc with spread and total projections, but it was this Giannis prop that stood out to me when going through my options. I don’t know what we’ll see from Giannis and the Bucks tonight. But, I know that good or bad in this series, Giannis’ final stat lines have looked similar.

He’s averaging 15.4 rebounds and assists per game. In Milwaukee’s wins (both at home), he’s averaged 15.5 per game, and in losses (all on the road), he’s at 15.3. In addition, Giannis has not finished any of the games with more than 14 rebounds or more than four assists. All of which makes this total of 18.5 seem a little too high.

Key Trend: Giannis has not finished a single game in this series with more than a total of 16 rebounds and assists.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine’s Matt Severance has gone 80-38 in his last 118 NBA money line picks, for a return of 19.89 units. His latest NBA money line play just happens to be for tonight’s game.

💰 The Picks


Yankees at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Blue Jays (+101) — 
More than anything, I’m betting on the Blue Jays offense here. T.J. Zeuch will start for Toronto, but he’s not likely to get deep into the game. Neither of his previous two starts for the Blue Jays lasted longer than four innings, and coincidentally (or maybe not!), both of them came against this Yankees squad. His results in the first two have been pretty average, but the Jays won both games.

As for Yankees starter Michael King, he’s pitched nine innings against this Toronto team and only allowed a run, which isn’t great news for us, but he doesn’t miss many bats. There’s a voice in my head screaming regression is coming to any pitcher who doesn’t miss bats against an offense as potent as this Toronto unit.

Key Trend: The Yankees are 1-4 in their last five divisional games.

White Sox at Astros, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Astros (-125) — 
I never enjoy betting against my beloved White Sox, but it’s hard to pass up the Astros at this price. The Sox just took two of three from Tampa and now have the best record and run differential in baseball. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, considering all the injuries they’ve suffered to key players, but the team’s pitching has been so dominant that it hasn’t mattered.

The reason I worry about the Sox tonight is that Dylan Cease is starting for them, and, while he’s made huge strides this season, he still has a walk rate of 10.1%. He’s also going against one of the more patient offenses in baseball. Cease hasn’t been made to pay for his walks, but I think this is a Houston lineup capable of capitalizing. Plus, while the White Sox offense is still top five in many major categories, they’ve been trending the wrong way lately due to all the injuries to pivotal bats.

Key Trend: The White Sox are only 8-21 in their last 29 games as an underdog.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Both SportsLine’s Advanced Computer Model and expert handicapper John Bollman have A-graded money line plays on one of the two teams in tonight’s game between the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds.

💸 The DFS Rundown


Top Three Starters

  • Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
  • Shohei Ohtani, Angels
  • Joe Musgrove, Padres

Value Starter

Tonight’s Top Stack

  • Brandon Lowe, Rays
  • Ji-Man Choi, Rays
  • Austin Meadows, Rays

Value Hitter

🏒 Stanley Cup Parlayoffs

How about a little parlay for tonight’s NHL playoff action? It pays (+198).

  • Lightning (-140)
  • Over 5 (-135)

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