World Cup: Can England Solve Sweden’s Stalwart Defense?

England vs. Sweden, 10 a.m. ET, Fox

  • England -112
  • Sweden +390
  • Draw +225

Bet to Watch:

England To Win By 1 Goal +246 

After England won only their second of eight major tournament penalty shootouts, and first at a World Cup, the English media are starting to believe that anything is possible. “Football’s coming home” as far as fans of the Three Lions  are concerned, but if their team is to lift the trophy for the first time in more than 50 years, there are a few roadblocks still to overcome.

Sweden are, without question, a favorable quarterfinal opponent, but that’s not to say Saturday’s match in Samara will be plain sailing for Gareth Southgate’s men. It never is as far as England are concerned, nor is it when they come to blows with this weekend’s challengers.

England have, after all, won just one of their last eight competitive meetings with the Swedes, who have developed a liking for what has become a familiar underdog status under coach Janne Andersson. Indeed, since exiting Euro 2016 and waving goodbye to their greatest-ever player in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there has been a realization that without a star name to call upon, the players have needed to accept their limitations and, in a roundabout way, turn that into a strength.

The Scandinavians have shown this summer and well beforehand just how difficult they are to break down, simply by sticking to their rigid positions when out of possession and sitting deep. In the past 18 months, they’ve beaten Portugal, France and Italy, so they aren’t to be underestimated, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches.

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It’s relatively clear how the pattern of this match will play out, with Sweden having had a lower possession share (36%) at this World Cup than any of the remaining teams. Plus, they’re well-aware that England are struggling to create meaningful chances from open play.

England have the tournament’s top scorer in their ranks, and Harry Kane will know that if he can add to his six-goal tally, he may well wrap up the Golden Boot. While there are those who will point to his duties as the penalty-kick taker as the main reason for his success this summer, he’s taken the chances that have come his way. Plus, his performance against Colombia was arguably the Tottenham star’s best all-around display of the tournament.

Sweden may have conceded only twice, but they have allowed their opponents the most shots on goal (61) of the quarterfinalists, and Kane doesn’t need a second invitation to shoot or indeed score. With odds over evens on the striker to do so at any time, that’s a bet that’s well worth considering, but I like the winning margin odds for England in this one.

It’s never straightforward when they are involved, after all, and Southgate’s charges are the only side remaining that are yet to keep a clean sheet. While their quality should win out, you can bank on a tight result, so England to win by exactly one goal would be my tip.

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Thursday’s MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: Fade Domingo Germán in Return to Yankees’ Rotation (April 22)

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With a small slate of games on Thursday, there aren’t many props to choose from. However, there are two I like: an over and under tied to starting pitchers.

For this article, I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what my model likes and what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The Action Labs Player Prop tool grades each bet on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade. I will be adding my own personal grades as well.

Below, I have laid out two prop bets that I am playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.


2021 MLB Pitcher Prop Record: 16-10, +3.73 Units, +14.3% ROI (My action can be followed on the Action App at BoogieDownPicks).


MLB Player Props & Picks

Domingo Germán (NYY) — Under 4.5 Strikeouts (+120)

Yankees vs. Indians Yankees -110
Time  6:10 p.m. ET
Best Book Bet365

After missing the 2020 season due to a suspension, Domingo Germán has returned to the New York Yankees’ starting rotation.

In the past, Germán has been a relatively average pitcher with a respectable strikeout rate of 10.08 strikeouts per nine innings. In his last full season in 2019, he could be relied upon to pitch for around 5 2/3 innings per start. This season, Germán has seen a decrease in usage, which is why I like his strikeout total under, particularly at plus money.

In two starts this season, Germán has pitched only seven innings. What is most worrisome for the Yankees is that he’s given up four home runs and 12 hits. Even if he pitches a good game, I don’t have faith that New York will keep him in the game long enough to get five or more strikeouts.

The Yankees’ starting pitchers average fewer than 4 2/3 innings per outing, which is the third-fewest number of innings in the league. Germán might be decent at striking batters out, but he needs at least five innings to reach his strikeout total. Based on his lack of usage this season and the Yankees being cautious with their starters, the under is a good bet today at +120 odds.

Pick: Under 4.5 Strikeouts (+120); up to -105.

  • Action Labs Score: N/A
  • Kevin Davis Score: 5

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Aaron Sanchez (SF) — Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+120)

Marlins vs. Giants Giants -150
Time  9:45 p.m. ET
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As a starting pitcher, Aaron Sanchez is awful and his strikeout rate is mediocre. Despite Sanchez’s lack of reliability despite his solid start to the 2021 season, I like his strikeout total going over the number because of how San Francisco uses its starting pitchers.

While many teams use their starters sparingly, the Giants rely on them more than most teams. That’s why I am betting he has more than 4.5 strikeouts in this spot.

Action Labs projects Sanchez to have 4.5 strikeouts, while my model projects 4.87. While I don’t know what variables the Action Labs model accounts for, I know mine heavily weighs projected innings.

Currently, the average San Francisco starter pitches for almost 5 2/3 innings per game, which is the third most in the league. My model projects Sanchez to pitch for 5 1/3 innings, which I believe is a reasonable estimate given the club’s tendencies.

The Marlins’ lineup averages 9.25 strikeouts per nine innings, which translates to a little more than a strikeout per inning. If Sanchez pitches his usual five to six innings, he should have around five strikeouts.

Pick: Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+120); up to -105.

  • Action Labs Score: 7
  • Kevin Davis Score: 4

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If you’re tuning into UFC 261, which you should be, you’re probably pretty pumped to watch Kamaru Usman defend his title vs. Jorge Masvidal.

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NBA Odds & Picks for Pelicans vs. Magic: Big Money Backing Zion, New Orleans On Road (Thursday, April 22)

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NBA Odds: Pelicans vs. Magic

Pelicans Odds -9
Magic Odds +9
Over/Under 222
Time | Channel 7 p.m. ET | BSFL22
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The New Orleans Pelicans, who have have been struggling immensely as of late, are looking to secure a spot in the NBA play-in tournament. New Orleans has lost four consecutive games, including two tough matchups that went to overtime.

Orlando has actually been better than expected following its “tear-it-all-down” rebuilding trade at the league’s deadline. The Magic are surprisingly seven games back of the last spot and the 10th seed for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Of course, it’s not likely the Magic go on some insane run and lock up a play-in spot. The biggest takeaway from their place in the standings is that this Steve Clifford-led Orlando squad will still try to win every night, even to their long-term detriment.

With that in mind, you would expect the Magic to put up a tough fight in Thursday’s game. However, with Stan Van Gundy hell-bent on getting this young Pelicans team some postseason experience, the potential is there for a blowout win.

Our latest PRO Report shows that sharp bettors are expecting big things from New Orleans, with the Pelicas having a clear edge. Let’s take a look.

NBA Picks: Pelicans vs. Magic 

Sharp Action

The line for Pelicans vs. Magic opened at Pelicans -7.5 before it was pushed up to -9 ahead of the Southwestern vs. Southeastern Conference showdown.

Since this morning, there have been two Action Labs Bet Signals triggered on the Pelicans. This action is an indicator of the sharp action driving up the spread for the contest.

Big Money

At the time of this writing, the 46% of bettors backing New Orleans have generated 96% of the money wagered on the game. This is a sign of the sharp action backing Stan Van Gundy’s squad.

PRO Report Pick: Pelicans -9

2021 Academy Awards Betting Odds: Who Is Favored To Win the Oscar for Best Picture, Actor, Actress & More

2021-oscars-academy awards-odds

The 2021 Academy Awards, which usually take place in February, were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, nominations for the 93rd iteration of Hollywood’s Biggest Night made a late mid-March debut with the awards show set to take place on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Below are betting odds for the Academy Awards as of April 19 and via DraftKings.


New to betting? Favorites have a minus (-) sign and the number indicates the money you would need to risk to win $100, whereas underdogs have a plus (+) sign while that number indicates the money you would win for every $100 bet.

Example: The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a +550 underdog for Best Picture, which means you would net a $550 profit on a $100 bet if it wins. Learn more here.


Best Picture

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Nomadland -670 87%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +600 14.3%
Minari +1400 6.7%
Promising Young Woman +1700 5.6%
Mank +3300 2.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah +3300 2.9%
The Sound of Metal +5000 2.0%
The Father +10000 1%

Best Director

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) -3335 97.1%
David Fincher (Mank) +1000 9.1%
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) +1700 5.6%
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) +2000 4.8%
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) +2500 3.9%
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Best Actor

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) -1667 94.3%
Anthony Hopkins (The Father) +700 12.5%
Riz Ahmed (The Sound of Metal) +1400 6.7%
Steven Yeun (Minari) +2500 3.9%
Gary Oldman (Mank) +3300 2.9%

Best Actress

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) +125 44.4%
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) +200 33.3%
Frances McDormand (Nomadland) +400 20%
Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) +600 14.3%
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) +2000 4.8%

How do I interpret betting odds? At +400 odds, Frances McDormand has a 20% implied probability to win Best Actress for her performance in Nomadland. Convert more using our Betting Odds Calculator.


Best Supporting Actor

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) -2500 96.2%
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) +1200 7.7%
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) +1200 7.7%
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami) +1700 5.6%
Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) +3300 2.9%

Best Supporting Actress

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) -500 83.3%
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) +375 21.1%
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) +1000 9.1%
Olivia Colman (The Father) +2000 4.8%
Amanda Seyfried (Mank) +3300 2.9%

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Best Original Screenplay

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Promising Young Woman -455 82%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +275 26.71%
Minari +1400 6.7%
Sound of Metal +3300 2.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah +3300 2.9%

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Nomadland -400 80%
The Father +300 25%
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm +800 11.1%
One Night in Miami +1400 6.7%
The White Tiger +3300 2.9%

Best International Feature

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Another Round (Denmark) -1250 92.6%
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) +650 13.3%
Collective (Romania) +1200 7.7%
Better Days (Hong Kong) +2500 3.9%
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia) +2500 3.9%

Best Documentary Feature

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
My Octopus Teacher -500 83.3%
Time +400 20%
Collective +800 11.1%
Crip Camp +2000 4.8%
The Mole Agent +5000 2%

Best Documentary Short Subject

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
A Love Song for Latasha -250 71.4%
A Concerto is a Conversation +350 22.2%
Colette +1000 9.1%
Hunger Ward +1200 7.7%
Do Not Split +1400 6.7%

Best Animated Feature

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Soul -5000 98%
Wolfwalkers +700 12.5%
Onward +2500 3.9%
Over The Moon +2800 3.5%
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon +4000 2.4%

Best Animated Short

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
If Anything Happens I Love You -335 77%
Opera +450 18.2%
Burrow +650 13.3%
Genius Loci +1000 9.1%
Yes People +2500 3.9%

Best Cinematography

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Nomadland -400 80%
Mank +350 22.2%
News of the World +1400 6.7%
Judas and the Black Messiah +1700 5.6%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +2000 4.8%

Best Costume Design

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom -500 83.3%
Emma +350 22.2%
Mank +1000 9.1%
Pinocchio +2500 3.9%
Mulan +3300 2.9%

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom -670 87%
Pinocchio +550 15.4%
Hillbilly Elegy +1200 7.7%
Mank +2000 4.8%
Emma +2500 3.9%

Best Original Song

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Speak Now (One Night in Miami) -155 60.8%
Io Sì (Seen) (The Life Ahead) +225 30.8%
Husavik (Eurovision Song Contest) +350 22.2%
Fight for You (Judas and the Black Messiah) +2500 3.9%
Hear My Voice (The Trial of the Chicago 7) +2500 3.9%

Best Sound

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Sound of Metal -2500 96.2%
Soul +1000 9.1%
Mank +1000 9.1%
Greyhound +2000 4.8%
News of the World +3300 2.9%

Best Visual Effects

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Tenet -560 84.9%
The Midnight Sky +275 26.7%
Mulan +1700 5.6%
The One and Only Ivan +2500 3.9%
Love and Monsters +2500 3.9%

Best Original Score

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Soul -1667 94.3%
Mank +800 11.1%
Minari +1700 5.6%
Da 5 Bloods +2500 3.9%
News of the World +2500 3.9%

Best Film Editing

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Sound of Metal -118 54.1%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 -110 42.4%
Nomadland +650 13.3%
The Father +2000 4.8%
Promising Young Woman +4000 2.4%

Best Production Design

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Mank -560 84.9%
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom +650 13.3%
Tenet +800 11.1%
News of the World +2000 4.8%
The Father +2000 4.8%

Best Live Action Short

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
The Letter Room -167 62.6%
Two Distant Strangers +150 40%
Feeling Through +1200 7.7%
The Present +1200 7.7%
White Eye +3300 2.9%

 

Angels vs. Astros Odds, Picks & Predictions: Sharp, Expert Bettors Aligned on Thursday’s MLB Matchup

angels-vs-astros-odds-picks-predictions-expert-betting-thursday-april-22

Angels vs. Astros Odds

Angels Odds +110
Astros Odds -126
Over/Under 9 (+100o/-120u)
Time  8:10 p.m. ET
TV YouTube

All is quiet so far this morning when it comes to Thursday’s betting market, especially baseball.

MLB has a short, eight-game slate, six of which are scheduled for Thursday night.

According to our MLB PRO Report, there isn’t much to glean just yet in terms of market-based betting opportunities, but per usual that can certainly change as limits increase and more respected action comes in.

Still, there is one game in which sharp and expert bettors are already aligned: Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros.

Let’s take a more detailed look at this Thursday MLB matchup and the bet attracted attention from both pros and experts.

Angels vs. Astros Pick

Sharp Action

According to Action Labs’ Bet Signals, wiseguys have already taken a position on the Astros, which has posted the opener of Houston -125 up to -129 at DraftKings Sportsbook and to -130 at FanDuel (click here for real-time MLB odds updates).

Big Money

With sharp action often comes lopsided money, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing so far with Angels vs. Astros.

Houston has landed just 47% of bets but 58% of dollars wagered on the moneyline.

This tells us that as of the time of writing, the Astros have attracted the bigger bets on this game.

Top Experts

And finally, one of The Action Network’s top MLB bettors has also jumped on the home favorite, aligning three of our PRO Report’s five value indicators with Houston.

PRO Report Pick: Astros -126

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Serie A Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Roma vs. Atalanta (Thursday, April 22)

atalanta vs roma-serie-a-odds-bets-pciks-april-22

Roma vs. Atalanta Odds

Roma Odds +260
Atalanta Odds -107
Draw +290
Over/Under 3.5 (+130 / -162)
Day | Time Thursday | 12:20 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

AC Milan’s loss on Wednesday opened the door for Atalanta to move alone into second place, if La Dea can beat fading Roma on Thursday in the Italian capital.

Atalanta picked up a crucial three points at home against Juventus on Sunday on a late goal from Ruslan Malinovskyi in an otherwise even game. The win pushed them four points ahead of Napoli, who sit in fifth place.

Roma’s quest for a Champions League place via the league ended last weekend with their loss to Torino. They sit in seventh place, 10 points off of Atalanta with seven matches to go. However, Roma is into the Europa League semifinals. Winning that competition is now their best chance to get into Europe’s elite competition.

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Roma

Injuries and regression has defined the second half of the Roma season. They’ve been successful in the Europa League but  have fallen out of the top-four race in Italy. Before discussing Roma, we have to discuss who won’t be playing in this matchup.

Leonardo Spinazzola, Chris Smalling and Amadou Diawara are all key players who will not be available for Roma in this game on Thursday. Their defense is really shorthanded and a major reason they’ve defended so poorly in recent weeks. Napoli, Sassuolo, Bologna, Ajax and Torino all ripped apart Paulo Fonesca’s team.

They’ve struggled all year against the other top teams in the league as well. Roma has taken three points from nine games against the top six in Serie A. No wins, three draws and six losses. They’ve only won the expected goals battle in one of those games too.

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Atalanta

Atalanta’s win against Juventus was historic for many reasons. One, it came on the same day that Juventus planned to join the European Super League, which has already come and left since those teams played on Sunday. Two, it was their first win in Serie A over Juve since 2001. Third, it pushed La Dea above the Old Lady in the standings.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s side won’t be winning the Serie A title, but their run over the last three seasons, given their budget and club size, is nothing short of remarkable. Atalanta is second in non-penalty xG difference, per Understat. They’re dominant in pressing statistics, create more big chances than any team in the league and average the second most shots and most shots on target in Italy.

Roma struggled to prevent Ajax from creating chance after chance in both leagues, and Atalanta is a much better version of the Dutch side. Roma’s pretty good at crossing defense, but they’ve vulnerable at being passed through. Atalanta is head and shoulders above the whole division in key passes, passes into the penalty area and progressive passes. Atalanta won the reverse fixture, 4-1 and won on xG 2.0-0.8 that day too.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Atalanta is focused on Serie A, while Roma will have one eye on its upcoming fixtures with Manchester United in the Europa League. This game is a much lower priority for them, and my numbers make this line Atalanta -125. For that reason, I’ll back the boys from Bergamo to take all three points away from home.

The away side is a nightmare matchup for Roma and should be able to easily pass through them and create big chances.  Given the defensive regression from Roma, Atalanta is the last team they’d want to play right now.

Pick: Atalanta money line (-110 or better)

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NBA Injury News & Starting Lineups (April 22): Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid Expected to Play Thursday

nba injury-news projected-starting-lineups anthony-davis april-22

Below are the projected starting lineups for each team playing on Thursday’s NBA slate, along with notable injury news for each squad. For real-time updates to these lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.

NBA Injury News

Anthony Davis said he plans to make his return to the lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers as long as he feels good Thursday morning. Davis went through full-contact work as part of a full practice on Wednesday and told reporters, “I feel 100 percent healthy.” He’s expected to be limited to around 15 minutes initially as he builds up his conditioning following an extended layoff.

Joel Embiid said he plans to play Thursday on the second night of a back-to-back for the Philadelphia 76ers. He appeared to tweak his knee during Wednesday’s loss and said he wasn’t even supposed to play heading in. Embiid added that he’s “not in the best physical shape at this point,” but feels obligated to play given how banged up the Sixers are at the moment. Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry all sat out on Wednesday night and are questionable for Thursday.

The Boston Celtics have both of their wing players listed on the injury report in advance of Thursday. Jaylen Brown is doubtful with a shoulder injury, Jayson Tatum is questionable with an ankle injury. Kemba Walker is probable and Marcus Smart is available to play, but Evan Fournier and Robert Williams remain out.

Be sure to check the Action Labs NBA page for real time updates.

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Projected Starting Lineups

Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics (7 p.m. ET)

Suns Projected Lineup

PG – Chris Paul
SG – Devin Booker
SF – Mikal Bridges
PF – Jae Crowder
C – Deandre Ayton

Injury news: Jae Crowder (Ankle) is questionable; Abdel Nader (Knee) is doubtful

Celtics Projected Lineup

PG – Kemba Walker
SG – Marcus Smart
SF – Semi Ojeleye
PF – Jayson Tatum
C – Tristan Thompson

Injury news: Kemba Walker (Illness) is probable; Jayson Tatum (Ankle) is questionable; Jaylen Brown (Shoulder) is doubtful; Evan Fournier (COVID Protocols) and Robert Williams (Knee) are out


New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic (7 p.m. ET)

Pelicans Projected Lineup

PG – Lonzo Ball
SG – Eric Bledsoe
SF – Brandon Ingram
PF – Zion Williamson
C – Steven Adams

Injury news: James Johnson (Adductor) is doubtful

Magic Projected Lineup

PG – Cole Anthony
SG – Gary Harris
SF – James Ennis
PF – Chuma Okeke
C – Wendell Carter Jr.

Injury news: Terrence Ross (Back) and James Ennis (Calf) are questionable


Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m. ET)

76ers Projected Lineup

PG – Ben Simmons
SG – Seth Curry
SF – Danny Green
PF – Tobias Harris
C – Joel Embiid

Injury news: Joel Embiid (Knee) is probable; Tobias Harris (Knee), Seth Curry (Rest) and Ben Simmons (Illness) are questionable

Bucks Projected Lineup

PG – Jrue Holiday
SG – Donte DiVincenzo
SF – Khris Middleton
PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo
C – Brook Lopez

Injury news: Nothing new


Detroit Pistons vs. San Antonio Spurs (8:30 p.m. ET)

Piston Projected Lineup

PG – Cory Joseph
SG – Josh Jackson
SF – Saddiq Bey
PF – Jerami Grant
C – Mason Plumlee

Injury news: Rodney McGruder (Elbow) and Dennis Smith Jr. (Knee) are doubtful

Spurs Projected Lineup

PG – Dejounte Murray
SG – Derrick White
SF – DeMar DeRozan
PF – Keldon Johnson
C – Jakob Poeltl

Injury news: Trey Lyles (Ankle) is doubtful


Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls (9 p.m. ET)

Hornets Projected Lineup

PG – Devonte’ Graham
SG – Terry Rozier
SF – Jalen McDaniels
PF – Miles Bridges
C – Vernon Carey

Injury news: Nothing new

Bulls Projected Lineup

PG – Coby White
SG – Garrett Temple
SF – Patrick Williams
PF – Daniel Theis
C – Nikola Vucevic

Injury news: Zach LaVine (COVID Protocols) is out; Troy Brown Jr. (Ankle) is doubtful


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks (9:30 p.m. ET)

Lakers Projected Lineup

PG – Dennis Schroder
SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF – Kyle Kuzma
PF – Anthony Davis
C – Andre Drummond

Injury news: Markieff Morris (Ankle), Anthony Davis (Calf), Andre Drummond (Toe) and Dennis Schroder (Foot) are probable; Marc Gasol (Finger) is questionable

Mavericks Projected Lineup

PG – Luka Doncic
SG – Josh Richardson
SF – Dorian Finney-Smith
PF – Kristaps Porzingis
C – Dwight Powell

Injury news: Kristaps Porzingis (Rest) and Maxi Kleber (Back) are questionable


Phan’s Bet to Watch

As of 9:30 a.m. ET, Justin Phan isn’t seeing betting value in any games. To get instant alerts when he sees an edge and his analysis on those picks, sign up for Action Labs.

NBA Odds & Picks for 76ers vs. Bucks: Bet the Total With Multiple Injury Concerns (Thursday, April 22)

76ers vs. Bucks Odds

76ers Odds +6
Bucks Odds -6
Moneyline +200/ -245
Over/Under 226.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet.

The Milwaukee Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night in the second of three meetings between these teams this season. The 76ers are coming off of consecutive losses to the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns; they will play two straight games in Milwaukee on tonight and Saturday.

The Bucks are also looking to snap their own two-game losing streak after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies and Suns, but they’ve had two days of rest while the 76ers are playing the second night of a back-to-back.

The 76ers sit in first place in the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks will most likely need to sweep them in the next two games if they hope to move up to first or second place before the playoffs.

This is one of the more important regular-season games for each team, but there are a handful of uncertain player statuses to monitor before placing your bets.

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Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers hope to get at least two of their three best players — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris — back in the lineup and playing at a high level. Embiid (left knee injury recovery) said that he plans to play in this game (and I would take his word). Harris (knee), Seth Curry (left hip flexor recovery), and Simmons (illness) are all questionable to play Thursday per our NBA Insiders tool.

Embiid is one of the few players left in the MVP conversation as he has been nothing short of dominant this season, and the Bucks, like everyone else, won’t have an answer for him if he is at his best.

The 76ers will also need Harris’s ability to create his own shot in the halfcourt to win. Harris scored a game-high 19 points in the previous matchup with the Bucks while also gathering nine rebounds.

Harris has the ability to generate his own shot from all three levels as he is shooting above-average percentages at the rim (67%), in the midrange (50%), and from beyond the arc (42%) among forwards. His 119.3 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 74th percentile among forwards, and his career-high 17.5% assist percentage ranks in the 87th percentile.

The 76ers would also love to have Simmons and Curry available. Simmons thrived as the 76ers’ main distributor in the previous loss to the Bucks as he dropped a game-high 12 dimes.

Curry’s shooting will also be important to provide spacing and scoring for the 76ers as their best shooters, but I trust Furkan Korkmaz enough to step up for him as Korkmaz has shot the ball well from beyond the arc at 43.9% on 6.9 attempts per game in 11 April games.


Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo left Monday’s game against the Suns with a leg cramp, and he is listed as day-to-day. That means the Bucks will need Khris Middleton to continue his hot shooting if the reigning MVP is limited or missing.

While teams have shown that the best way to stop Antetokounmpo is to build a wall to prevent him from getting to the rim, Middleton can counter that when defenders help on Antetokounmpo as he is making 43% of his 3s this season (ranking in the 88th percentile among forwards).

Middleton is also more than capable of getting his own shot at any time as his 118.9 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 72nd percentile among forwards (per Cleaning The Glass). He also distributes at a high level (his 23.3% assist percentage ranks in the 95th percentile among forwards).

Middleton is the key to this matchup as the 76ers will be able to slow Antetokounmpo with their elite defenders like Simmons, Harris, and Embiid (if healthy) by building a wall. Middleton’s shooting will determine whether the Bucks win and cover, and he shot 6-of-16 missing all four of his 3-point attempts in the first matchup as the Bucks failed to cover as six-point favorites.

Jrue Holiday’s two-way playmaking will also be important for the Bucks; shooters like him, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo’s 3-point accuracy will also be important for the Bucks to win and cover.

76ers-Bucks Pick

The 76ers would love to have Simmons and Curry available, but I will be comfortable betting the 76ers without them as long as Embiid and Harris are healthy and they remain underdogs by three points or more. I do not recommend betting on the 76ers until it is confirmed that Harris is playing.

If Harris is out and the Bucks are favored by seven or fewer points, I will bet on the Bucks (assuming Antetokounmpo is active). If you are really itching to bet on this game before these injury statuses unfold, I recommend betting under 226.5. This game should have a slower playoff-like feel to it, especially if some combination of Antetokounmpo and Simmons are out.

The scoring ceiling for the 76ers also will drop if any of their four uncertain players are out, and I believe there is value on the under regardless of if any combination of them plays or not.

Pick: Under 226.5 (bet down to 222)

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Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds, Pick, Betting Preview: Take L.A. In Anthony Davis’ Return (April 22)

los angeles lakers vs. dallas mavericks-nba-odds-bets-picks-april 22-2021

Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds

Lakers Odds -1
Mavericks Odds +1
Moneyline -110 / -110
Over/Under 222
Time Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet

The Lakers head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in the first game of a two-game mini-series between these two teams. Anthony Davis is expected to make his long awaited return to a Lakers team that has held its own in his absence.

The Mavericks played last night and defeated the Pistons, but they have struggled on no rest this season. Will they ruin AD’s return as they seek to avoid the Western Conference Play-In Tournament?

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Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ injury report is fairly lengthy but they expect Anthony Davis (calf) to play for the first time since February 14th. We expect him to only play about 15 minutes, so keep that in mind when assessing his impact. Additionally, Marc Gasol is listed as questionable, while Andre Drummond, Dennis Schroder and Markieff Morris are all probable.

The Lakers are still the owners of the best defense in the league, and they hold their opponents to just 107.3 points per 100 possessions. They’ve done this despite missing both Davis and LeBron James for a significant portion of the season. AD’s return can only help though, as he has a +8.7 point differential and is a plus on both sides of the court.

One thing I’m curious to see is how the Lakers manage the minutes and rotations with AD, Drummond, Gasol, and Montrezl Harrell. Someone is going to be losing a bit of playing time, but it should give the Lakers a bit more flexibility as they move towards the playoffs. I’d expect to see them stagger AD and Gasol so there are fewer minutes with just Drummond and Harrell on the floor, considering they are weaker defensive players. Regardless, the Lakers will be thrilled to have Davis back even in a limited capacity.

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Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have been sitting Kristaps Porzingis in back-to-back sets, but they have not been consistently doing so in every situation. Keep an eye on his status using our Labs Insiders Tool. If he does not play, and Maxi Kleber is unable to go after exiting Wednesday’s game due to a back injury, the Mavericks will be very thin in the frontcourt. Considering they both are listed as Questionable, there’s a decent chance one or both misses this contest.

When the Mavericks have played teams in the top 10 in overall and defensive point differential, they’ve struggled and are just 2-9 straight up, per Cleaning the Glass. Their offensive efficiency drops, and they have a -9.3 point differential in those games. They are unable to efficiently get to the rim and shoot just 34.7% from 3 point range.

This problem would only be exacerbated by the absence of Porzingis and/or Kleber. Both help the Mavericks stretch the floor and provide Luka Doncic the room to operate on offense while being adequate defenders in the paint.

Lakers-Mavericks Pick

The Lakers have been underrated without AD and LeBron — they’ve maintained an elite defense and a 6-4 ATS record. I expect this to continue against a Dallas team that has struggled on back-to-backs.

The Mavericks are just 4-7 ATS when playing in the second game of a back-to-back, which is worse than their 28-32 ATS record overall.

Given the Mavericks’ struggles in back-to-backs, and their difficulty playing elite defensives, I am comfortable backing the Lakers in this primetime showdown.

Pick: Lakers -11

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MLB Odds & Picks for Padres vs. Dodgers: Starters Should Shine in Rivalry Rematch (Thursday, April 22)

mlb-odds-picks-san diego padres-vs-los angeles dodgers-april 22

Padres vs. Dodgers Odds

Padres Odds +154
Dodgers Odds -184
Over/Under 8
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.

After a three-game series last weekend where the Dodgers took two of the three games in San Diego, the NL West rivals will now head to Los Angeles for a four-game set.

The defending champion Dodgers have performed as expected, getting off to a 14-4 start, the best record in the MLB. The Padres sit at 10-10 and are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. San Diego was most recently swept by the Milwaukee Brewers, scoring just three runs in three games.

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San Diego Padres

The Padres’ No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Ryan Weathers, will make just his second MLB start on Thursday against the Dodgers. Weathers made his first start against L.A. last Friday, and allowed one hit and no runs through 3 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three. After starting the season in the bullpen, the lefty has appeared in four games, allowing just one run and three hits, and striking out 10 batters through 9 2/3 innings.

Weathers was the seventh overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and due to the 2020 MiLB season being canceled, has never pitched above Single-A — with the exception, strangely, of a playoff appearance against the Dodgers last season when the pitching-deprived Padres called him up for his major-league debut in the NLDS. Weathers throws a 95.3 mph fastball, along with a changeup and a slider. Five of his 10 strikeouts have come with his slider and he has yet to allow a hit against it. So far, his 29.4 K% is excellent, but the 11.8 BB% is a concern.

The question with Weathers will be how long he lasts in the game. He has had success to this point, but Jayce Tingler has yet to leave the young arm in longer than four innings. This will be worth watching tonight, especially after the San Diego bullpen had to cover seven innings on Wednesday when starter Dinelson Lamet left with an injury after just two innings.

It’s fair to say we have not seen the fireworks we expected from this Padres lineup yet this season. San Diego ranks just 24th in runs per game, 14th in batting average, 27th in slugging percentage and 16th in wOBA.

Human highlight reel Fernando Tatis Jr. is batting just .143 with a .256 wOBA and has battled injuries early in the season. Manny Machado has been slightly better with a .273 average and .361 wOBA, but still a drop off from his .304 average and .391 wOBA last season.

Instead, it has been first baseman Eric Hosmer leading the way with a .311 average and .393 wOBA.

The Padres have been better against right-handed pitchers this year, sitting 11th with a .235 batting average and ninth with a .308 wOBA. Hosmer and Wil Myers have been especially good against right-handed pitching, with Homser batting .316 and Myers hitting .306.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

For the second time in his two career starts, Weathers will face Walker Buehler. Through three starts this season, Buehler has gone six innings each time and allowed a total of four runs. He has allowed 17 hits and has 12 strikeouts. Despite currently having a 2.00 ERA, Buehler also has a 4.02 xFIP.

While he has allowed just four runs, he has a 6.0 K/9, which is considerably lower than his career 10.13 K/9. He is also giving up more clean contact, with a 10.5 Barrel% more than double his career average, and a 49.1 Hard Hit% way up from his 35.1% standard.

Buehler’s average velocity is down on all his pitches and his slider has been hit especially hard, allowing a .422 wOBA and 62.5 Hard Hit%.

The Dodgers’ lineup would send a shiver down the spine of seasoned veteran, let alone a 21-year-old kid making his second career start. Los Angeles’ collection of All-Stars sits fourth with 5.22 runs per game, fifth with a .248 batting average, and third with a .340 wOBA.

The Dodgers will be without 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger but are expected to get Mookie Betts back in the lineup after missing a game.

Justin Turner has been stealing the show in Hollywood this season, off to a scorching start. The third baseman is hitting .381 and sits fourth in the league with a .492 wOBA.

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Padres-Dodgers Pick

It is going to be hard to find value on the side in Dodgers games all season long. They are going to be huge favorites in every game, sitting at -180 for today’s contest.

I am going to look to bet the total in this one. I have really liked what I’ve seen from Weathers in his few appearances this season. He throws hard and has a terrific slider. The only concern with him is how long he will pitch into the game.

On the other side, Buehler is one of the best pitchers in baseball and, despite giving up more hard contact than usual, he is a good enough pitcher to work out of trouble and keep runs off the board.

The Padres’ offense is struggling and with two good starting pitchers on the mound, I am going to look to back under 4.5 in the first five innings. Last time these two pitchers faced off, it was 2-1 after five before getting weird in the later innings and ending 11-6 in 12 innings. Stick with the starting pitchers and hope they shine in Hollywood on Thursday night.

Pick: First Five Innings Under 4.5 (-120)

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MLB Odds & Picks for Angels vs. Astros: How to Bet Series Opener Between Scuffling AL West Squads (Thursday, April 22)

mlb-odds-picks-houston astros-vs-los angeles angels-april 22

Angels vs. Astros Odds

Angels Odds +114
Astros Odds -134
Over/Under 9 (-102 / -120)
Time 8:10 p.m. ET
TV YouTube
Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.

The Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros limp into their second series this season. Both teams come in not only off a loss, but they also lost their most recent series played. The Angels have gone 3-5 in their last eight games while the Astros are on a three-game losing streak.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Astros did lose four starters to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols list, but the truth is, they were already in a funk before the outbreak. Houston now has three of those four starters back, with José Altuve expected to remain sidelined for the time being.

However, even with Houston closer to full-strength, can we really trust a team with just one win in its last 10 games?

Let’s dig into the details and see if there’s anything we can glean on a favorable side in this matchup.

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Los Angeles Angels

Alex Cobb will get the start for the Angels in the series opener. Through two starts, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA. However, his 2.04 FIP suggests that he’s performed at a higher level than his ERA shows. Cobb has a 13.11 K/9 rate which would be the highest in his career, and his 1.54 BB/9 ratio is also above average.

If you look at how he’s faired against contact, his 3.20 GB/FB ratio is superb. This makes sense because Cobb pitches low in the zone and is predominantly a split-finger (45.4%) and sinker (33%) pitcher who mixes in the occasional curveball (21.6%) from time to time.

Cobb is at his best when he’s able to keep the ball down. His best years early in his career occurred when he kept his HR/9 ratio below one. While it’s only been a small sample size thus far, he’s off to a good start with that number currently at 0.77 HR/9.

Houston’s lineup has 48 plate appearances against Cobb and has collectively yet to hit a home run off of him. Astros hitters have a .256/.312/.349 line with him on the mound and a below-average .093 ISO.

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Houston Astros

Houston will call up Cristian Javier from its alternate site to make his third start of the season on Thursday. Javier hasn’t pitched in the majors since Apr. 8. The reason for that isn’t performance-based but rather for scheduling purposes. With multiple off days built into Houston’s schedule to start the season, the Astros didn’t need another starter and optioned him to make room for another reliever between his outings.

When called upon, the right-hander has pitched well thus far in 8 2/3 innings. He’s 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, but while his FIP is even better at 1.57, his low GB/FB (0.67) ratio gives me a reason to pause.

Last year, Javier finished with a 0.56 GB/FB ratio but ended up with a 4.94 FIP, which was higher than his 3.48 ERA. He did manage to go 5-2 in his 10 starts, but he might have experienced some regression had the season been longer.

The sample size for Javier is still relatively small considering he’s only made 14 appearances in the big leagues. So it bears some watching to see if he can continue in this manner and still keep the regression gods at bay.

Angels-Astros Pick

One thing that makes this handicap particularly difficult is I’m not sure which Astros team will show up, even with Alex Bregman, Martín Maldonado, and Yordan Alvarez all returning from the COVID-19 IL.

It’s not clear if the Astros’ players actually contacted the virus, but if so, who is to say there won’t be some lingering effects? And how much do those players’ absences have to do with Houston’s scoring outage that’s led to just eight runs in the last four games? There is also uncertainty related to the Angels, as they only have 10 at-bats between four players against Javier.

With that said, if I had to pick a side, I would lean to the Angels.

I have more trust in Cobb based on what I’ve seen thus far as his groundball and home run rates mirror some of the best seasons he had earlier in his career.

Another reason to like the Angels is that they’re 4-1 when coming off a loss this season.

This is just a lean for me, but if I were looking to play this game, I’d consider placing my action at FanDuel, since they have the best price on the board at +114.

Pick: Lean Angels ML (+114)

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Avalanche vs. Blues NHL Odds & Pick: Colorado Has Value As Favorite After Layoff (April 22)

colorado avalanche vs st louis blues-nhl-odds-bets-picks-april-22

Avalanche vs. Blues Odds

Avalanche Odds -136
Blues Odds +116
Over/Under 6
Time Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
TV NHL.tv
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via DraftKings.

The NHL’s best team is back in action after over a week off the ice due to a COVID-related shutdown. After defeating the St. Louis Blues on April 14th, the Colorado Avalanche will return to the ice for the first time since then on Thursday against those same Blues. 

While Colorado will look to sharpen their game and get back in the swing of things before the playoffs, the Blues are in a dog fight just to get into the postseason. The Blues sit just behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes, but they do have four games in hand. 

Will the Avs be able to pick up where they left off, or are the desperate Blues worth a look as home underdogs?

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Colorado Avalanche

In the 20 games prior to being shut down, the Colorado Avalanche went 17-1-2. Many had the Avalanche pegged as Stanley Cup favorites prior to the season, and they were showing why they were so highly regarded. The week off might cool the team down a bit, but they aren’t a team I’d like to step in front of. 

The advanced metrics support the notion that Colorado is the best team in the league. Their 59.1% expected goal rate is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league with Toronto’s 55.3% rate being the second best. Colorado ranks first in shot attempt share and second in high danger chance percentage. 

The Avalanche lead the league in goals per hour at 5-on-5. Unfortunately, they will be without Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi in this game. However, with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri, Brandon Saad and Andre Burakovsky, there’s still plenty of forwards on this team who can do damage. 

Colorado is known for its offensive firepower, but the team defense might be its biggest strength. Colorado ranks second in expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5, and they are fifth best in terms of goals against at even strength. Cale Makar, Samuel Girard and Devon Toews are three elite two-way puck moving defensemen. 

Goaltending might be a short-term concern for the Avs as Philipp Grubauer has tested positive for COVID-19. Colorado will rely on the newly acquired duo of Devan Dubnyk and Jonas Johansson in the interim to backstop the team. Dubnyk struggled with the San Jose Sharks this season. However, there’s hope for a turnaround with his new team. Johansson posted an .884 save percentage with the Buffalo Sabres, but since arriving in Colorado, he’s posted a .929 mark. 

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St. Louis Blues

It’s been a disappointing season for the St. Louis Blues. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, the team had a poor showing in the bubble last season. Coming into this season, they were viewed as a clear top-three team in the division but that hasn’t come to fruition. St. Louis has a 19-18-6 record and sits on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Many across the hockey world still think the Blues will wake up and qualify for the postseason. Some even think they can make noise in the playoffs should they get there. However, if you look under the hood, there’s reason for concern. 

St. Louis’ 47.2% expected goal rate ranks amongst the bottom 10 of the league. They rank 21st in shot attempt share and 26th in high danger chance percentage. The Blues have not done a good job of playing with the puck or generating shot attempts. 

Defensively, the Blues rank seventh in terms of expected goals against per hour. Despite this, they rank 18th in goals against per hour at 5-on-5. They are giving up 10.4 high danger chances per 60, which is middle of the pack as well. Jordan Binnington has been unspectacular for the Blues in net, posting a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) of -2. 

Offensively, it’s been a real struggle for the Blues. St. Louis ranks dead last in expected goals scored and 24th in goals per hour at 5-on-5. They rank 28th in high danger chances created. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly have done their part, but the team has not gotten enough production from players such as Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn have slowed down tremendously after strong starts to the season. 

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Avalanche vs. Blues Best Bet

There’s a lot of factors to assess when handicapping this game. Many will point to the extended absence for the Avalanche as a potential negative, but the Blues have not played a game since Saturday themselves. Rust should be an issue for both teams in this contest. 

This is the sixth time these teams will meet this season, with the Avalanche winning four of the first five. St. Louis has not beaten Colorado since opening night. The Avalanche have had the advantage this season, but they’ll be shorthanded without a top line winger and starting goaltender. 

Colorado, in my opinion, is the best team in the league. We get them at a fair price here due to the uncertain circumstances and their key absences. The Blues’ desperation level is also priced in here. However, the Blues have been playing important games for a few weeks now and have not risen to the occasion.

It’s rare we see the Avalanche as reasonable favorites. At this price, I’ll back the best team in the league against a team that hasn’t put it together yet this season. 

Pick: Avalanche ML -136 (bet up to -140)

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NHL Odds & Picks for Senators vs. Canucks: Vancouver Is Likely For Let-Down Game (April 22)

ottawa senators vs vancouver canucks-nhl-bets-odds-picks-april-22

Senators vs. Canucks Odds


Senators Odds +130
Canucks Odds -155
Over/Under 6.0
Time | TV Thursday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM.

I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When things are normal, it’s certainly a great city to live in. Especially, if you’re not a Maple Leafs fan. When spring turns to summer you don’t usually have to worry about massive disappointment. In fact, there’s a sweeter smell in the air when the Leafs make their annual first-round exit. 

Unfortunately this year, for this season, we can’t even make jokes about the Leafs potentially heading to golf courses should they have their usual flunk out. For those unaware, as part of yet another full-scale lockdown, the provincial government has somehow concluded that golf courses can’t be open. Literally, the only thing that people should be able to do, we can’t. We’re not talking about parades here. That, I understand. Though after the Leafs lost to the Canucks in two straight games, following Vancouver’s three-plus week COVID hiatus, no one’s worrying too much about setting up the route at this point. 

Meanwhile the Canucks playoff chances have gotten a shot in the arm, not unlike, well… you know. In fact, while they’re not literally planning a championship celebration, the two wins over the Leafs certainly feel like the highlight of an otherwise lost season. Which might set up nicely for a spot to fade the Canucks on Thursday night. 

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Ottawa Senators

On Tuesday in Calgary, the Ottawa Senators did what they do when facing the Flames (or the Canadiens) this season. They won, improving to 6-2 against the Calgary. Combine that mark with their 5-3 record against Montreal, and you’d be hard pressed to believe they’ve only won five other games this season. 

The Senators have had five tries to knock off the Canucks, and they’ll get four more this week as the two teams meet for two in Vancouver and two more in Ottawa. It’s the closest either team may get to a playoff-format series. 

While the Senators’ win over the Flames wasn’t their best performance, my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, is still kinder to them than the market. While the Senators are literally never favoured against anyone, the model only makes them 4% below average at even-strength. When they get league-average goaltending, they’re capable of knocking off any team in the North Division. 

In the Senators’ visit to Vancouver in the season’s first few weeks, they did not get any semblance of professional goaltending, leading to the Canucks’ ability to convert 11 of their 35 even-strength High-Danger Chances in sweeping all three games. A HDC conversion rate of almost two-thirds is better than double the league average of 14%. 

In their return matchups in Ottawa in March, the Senators tempered the Canucks’ conversion rate to 17.6% in the two games, and both games were tied through regulation. While the Canucks won both coin tosses, one in OT and one in the shootout, the Senators were more than capable of winning both as they earned 4.92 Expected Goals at even-strength to just 3.64 for the Canucks. 

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks take a major change in role, going from the lovable underdog position that they had against the Leafs, to having the big minus next to their price against the Sens. 

While the Canucks took four points from Toronto to revive their season more than just returning to Rogers Arena ice ever could, they did so with some rough underlying metrics. Vancouver won the first game on Sunday in overtime, on the back of a 37-save performance by Braden Holtby, as they only mustered five even-strength High-Danger Chances on offence to the Leafs’ barrage of 14. 

Two nights later, the Canucks won a little more convincingly on the scoreboard, with a 6-3 win, on the back of a 37-save performance by Holtby, and while the HDCs were closer, the Leafs still won the 5-on-5 Expected Goal category 2.56-1.88. 

As clutch as Holtby was in a pair of really big results for the Canucks’ self-belief, they still are waiting for the return of their number-one netminder, Thatcher Demko. Whether he gets back between the pipes, or Holtby gets a third-straight start, we do have something of a sell-high situation with the Canucks’ goal prevention, especially considering they’re thin on the blue line with Alexander Edler suspended. 


Betting Analysis & Pick

Given the goaltending by Holtby was what allowed the Canucks to steal the games with Toronto, their chances of keeping their collective heads above water probably still rest on getting better-than-average goaltending. This of course, has been the story of the Senator’s season, so we’ve got a pair of teams that have questionable back-stopping.

If we want to add in the narrative element of a possible letdown spot here for the Canucks,  I think the Senators are worth a shot as underdogs. Given their star-crossed history of having the rug pulled out from under them, a Canucks first loss of the season to Ottawa would be a fitting result. I won’t be surprised if after the incredible high of knocking off the Leafs twice, and the Pacific Ocean air tasting sweeter than ever, that the Canucks drop an excusable stink-bomb on Thursday night. 

Pick: Senators (+130 or better)

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NHL Daily Odds & Picks (Thursday, April 22): Our Best Bets for Panthers vs. Hurricanes, Devils vs. Penguins, Canucks vs. Senators & More

Thursday night’s 10-game NHL slate has something for everyone. Looking to back a big favorite to throw in your “can’t-lose” parlay? The Boston Bruins are here for you. Looking to take a flier on a big underdog? Perhaps the Devils, Red Wings or Sabres suit your fancy. Looking to watch two evenly-matched teams jockey for playoff position? Try the Islanders-Caps or Canes-Panthers on for size.

Here are our favorite NHL bets on Thursday night:

Nicholas Martin: Carolina Hurricanes (-110) vs. Florida Panthers

Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

This ultra-talented and deep Carolina Hurricanes team took things to the next level over the past few games. The Canes went 3-0-1 and posted a 61.15 expected goals rate against the surging Predators and defending champion Lightning in the last week and now find themselves tied with the Florida Panthers (with two games in hand) at the top of the Central Division.

Carolina has continued to get better in every season under Rod Brind’Amour and 2021 is no different. Considering their depth and high-end talent I don’t see any reason to believe that the Hurricanes will be slowing down anytime soon.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Florida is certainly a realistic contender with some of the league’s top talent up front and a good supporting cast in behind, but I think that this Canes defense is significantly stronger than what the Panthers are rolling out, specifically more so now with Aaron Ekblad out for the year and the immensely underrated Mackenzie Weegar likely to sit again.

Carolina took two games from the Panthers in early April with a combined score of 8-2 and while I love to point out that previous results such as these often mean very little in hockey, the fact that it was so recent and were such dominant results that I do believe they hold some relevance in this spot.

Considering their recent form and deeper roster, I believe there is plenty of value of Carolina at this price.

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Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jared McCann

Mike Ianniello: Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5 (-112) vs. New Jersey Devils

Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

If you took the Penguins -1.5 on Tuesday, you deserve a hug, because that was an ALL TIME bad beat. Pittsburgh took a 6-0 lead and you were probably online shopping with the fat stacks of cash you thought you had coming your way. Then the Devils inexplicably score six goals in the third period to end up with a 7-6 loss.

Despite earning the two points, I’m guessing things were not pleasant in the Penguins locker room after that one. That is why I am banking on them keeping their foot on the gas for 60 minutes in the rematch on Thursday night.
New Jersey has been a mess as of late. In the last 12 games, New Jersey is 1-9-2, with the only win coming against Buffalo.

That is the worst record in the NHL over that time. Promising young goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood started the year off great, but has now lost his last eight starts. Blackwood has a -10.22 GSAx over that stretch, the worst in the league.

Scott Wedgewood is the other option and he has gone 3-6-3 this season with a .899 save percentage. Wedgewood got the start against the Pens on Tuesday but was pulled after allowing four goals in the first period.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are 10-3-2 over their last 15 games and as has become tradition in Pittsburgh, have two great goalies to rely on. Tristan Jarry has gone 19-8-3 with .906 save percentage and Casey DeSmith has a record of 10-6-0 with a .911 save percentage.  Jarry is 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

The Devils are very top heavy, with the line of Janne Kuokkanen, Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich being the only one to consistently drive play. The Penguins have gotten terrific play from the defense this season, with all three pairings posting a expected goals rate above 50%.

The Pens have been a different team with defenseman Brian Dumoulin in the lineup this year going 21-7-3 in the 31 games with him on their top pairing with Kris Letang.

Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 against the Devils this season and has won by at least two goals in three of their four victories, with Tuesday being the one exception. I am willing to bet they learned from that game and will make sure it doesn’t happen again on Thursday and will back the Penguins on the puck line -1.5.

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Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Larkin

Pete Truszkowski: Dallas Stars (-114) to win in regulation vs. Detroit Red Wings

Puck Drop: 7:30 p.m. ET

This will be the third straight meeting between the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings. The Stars took the first two games in Texas but now the series shifts to Detroit, where Dallas can climb into a playoff spot with a win.

Despite a slow start, Dallas has actually been one of the league’s most consistent 5-on-5 teams throughout this season. The Stars have the seventh-best expected goals rate in the NHL at 53.6% and also rank eighth in shot attempt share and fourth in high-danger chance rate.

Just like we saw last season during their trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the Stars’ defense is driving this bus. No team allows fewer 5-on-5 goals per 60 than the Stars, who also pace the league in terms of expected goals against.

The Stars are still struggling offensively, but they do have players who can get them on the scoresheet. Joe Pavelski is proving that age is just a number, while Roope Hintz is producing over a point per game and Jason Robertson has entered the Calder Trophy picture with 35 points in 40 games.

On the other side, Detroit is improved from last season but still not very good. The Red Wings rank 25th in expected goal rate, 30th in shot attempt share and 22nd in high-danger chance percentage. Detroit’s offense remains a problem as it is tied for last with Buffalo in terms of 5-on-5 expected goals. The Sabres are also the only team that has scored fewer 5-on-5 goals this season. Dylan Larkin is the Wings’ best point producer, but he has a measly 23 points in 44 games.

Dallas has won four straight games, eight of their last 12 and they have points in 11 of their last 13. This is a team that needs every point it can get in a heated playoff race. Compiling points against bad teams is their best chance at success.

Rather than lay -182 on the Stars moneyline, I’ll look towards Dallas to win in regulation to get the price down to -114 and hope the Stars get the job done in regulation.

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Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Thatcher Demko.

Michael Leboff: Ottawa Senators (+124) vs. Vancouver Canucks

Puck Drop: 10 p.m. ET

One of the cold-hard truths of betting is that there can, on occasion, be value in throwing on a black hat and betting against the good guys. The Vancouver Canucks are the nicest story in the NHL right now. After missing some 25 days because of a team-wide COVID outbreak, the Vancouver Canucks came back on Sunday night to beat the first-place Maple Leafs in overtime. Two nights later, the Canucks beat the Leafs again. All of a sudden Vancouver, which has basically been out of the playoff picture, is eight points back of Montreal of the final playoff spot and the Canucks have four games in hand.

While it is a nice little story, the Canucks were incredibly fortunate to beat Toronto as the Leafs won the xG battle 5.97 to 2.95 across the two contests at 5-on-5. Those kind of numbers are not all that uncommon for the Canucks, who rank 27th in the NHL with a 45.5% expected goals rate and are last in the NHL in expected goals allowed at 5-on-5.

Vancouver’s porous defense should leave the door open for a plucky Senators team that has some high-end skill at the top of their roster. Ottawa isn’t an offensive juggernaut, but does rank 16th overall in expected goals for per hour so it’s not like this offense will make life easy on the Canucks on Thursday night.

The goaltending battle could be a bit of a mess for the Sens with Thatcher Demko and his +9.57 Goals Saved Above Expectation set to take on Matt Murray and his -17.22 GSAx, but if the Canucks defense continues to bleed scoring chances that edge may not matter all that much.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype when a story like this unfolds (and if you want to go ahead and ride with the Canucks for the joy, by all means go ahead), but as bettors it’s best to separate yourself from the narrative and look at the numbers in a vacuum.

I don’t think there’s really that much that separates these two teams at the current moment. I like the Senators at any number better than +120, but I think there’s a chance this number will climb as people hop on the Canucks bandwagon.

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Matt Russell: Senators (+124) vs. Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks two wins over Toronto and the subsequent league-wide mocking of the Maple Leafs, certainly feel like the highlight of an otherwise lost season. Which given the underlying metrics in the two wins, might set up nicely for a spot to fade the Canucks on Thursday night.

The Senators have had five tries to knock off the Canucks, and they’ll get four more this week as the two teams meet for two in Vancouver and two more in Ottawa. It’s the closest either team may get to a playoff-format series.

While the Senators win over the Flames wasn’t their best performance, my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, is still kinder to them than the market. While the Senators are literally never favoured against anyone, the model only makes them 4% below average at even-strength. When they get league-average goaltending, they’re capable of knocking off any team in the North Division.

The Canucks take a major change in role, going from the “how can they possibly win this game?” heavy underdog position that they had against the Leafs, to having the big ‘minus’ next to their price against the Sens. Don’t be fooled by the wins over Toronto, the Canucks rate at 8% below average at even-strength by my model, and while the consideration of home-ice still makes them a slight favorite, not by the price that the market is asking us to pay. If we want to add in the narrative element of a possible letdown spot here for the Canucks, to the much higher price we’ll have to pay to back them, I think the Senators are worth a shot as underdogs.

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NHL Odds & Picks for Stars vs. Red Wings: Fade Dallas On The Road (April 22)

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Stars vs. Red Wings Odds


Stars Odds -190
Red Wings Odds +160
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM.

One game was up in the air to the bitter end, and the other was over before it really started. The Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings played the first half of their 4-game series in the Lonestar State earlier this week.

It’s time for “playoff hockey mode” for the Stars as they need to make a late-season push to get the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Meanwhile, the two games on the road followed by the two games at home, are the closest thing to playoff hockey that the Red Wings are going to see this season. 

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Dallas Stars

If this were a playoff series, the Stars would be up 2-0. Of course, the first game of this series wouldn’t have ended in a shootout if it was a legit playoff game. The Stars escaped with a victory in large part to a spectacular skate save on what would have been a game-winning shootout goal by Evgeni Svechnikov. In hockey parlance, using the word “escaped” means that they played better of the two teams but things got much closer than they should have been, relative to the metrics. 

The Stars were the better team at even-strength, earning one full Expected Goal at even-strength more than Detroit (2.33-1.33) and creating nine High-Danger Chances to the Wings’ four, at even-strength. The confusing part wasn’t that the Stars dominated play in regulation. They do that all the time. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, focuses on even-strength play, and considers the Stars just shy of 11% above average when all things are equal. That’s on par with the Hurricanes and Lightning, two teams who are chasing first place. 

What was shocking was that the Stars actually didn’t blow it in overtime or the shootout, as the win was just their third in 15 tries when the game gets past regulation time. 

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings were this close to taking that first game, as Svechnikov did everything but get the puck past Stars’ goalie Anton Khudobin which would have won the shootout. In game two however, the Red Wings came no where close.

In what would be the lamest sequel ever, there’s a strong possibility that Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss have bodied swapped Freaky Friday-style. After starting the season as the Red Wings’ only hope in net while Greiss struggled, Bernier has returned from injury struggling to find that early season form. This was evidenced on Tuesday, as Bernier gave up four goals on just 12 shots, including two in the first five minutes. Greiss came in and picked up where he left off on Monday, stopping every shot he faced the rest of the way. 

Greiss was un-betable to start the season, and now he’s the guy we need in net to back the Red Wings. They don’t have the talent and firepower to score with the best teams in the league. My model has the Wings as 8% below average at even-strength which is quite the discrepancy from the Stars. 


Betting Analysis & Pick

Naturally, everything comes down to price in sports betting. While the model acknowledges that the Stars are the better team, with the scene shifting to Detroit, it gives Dallas a 57% chance to win the game. That’s not factoring the Stars being without a couple of key pieces on Tuesday as Miro Heiskanen and Roopie Hintz missed the game.

While it factors in marginal home-ice advantage, the Wings have wider splits than most when it comes to their win percentage. The opening moneyline for the Wings is +160 which converts to a 38.5% implied win probability. That’s a 4.5% difference in comparison to my model which is good enough for me to take a shot with the underdog in Motown. 

Pick: Red Wings (+160 or better)

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MLB Odds & Picks for Marlins vs. Giants: How To Bet Series Opener at Oracle Park (Thursday, April 22)

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Marlins vs. Giants Odds

Marlins Odds +133
Giants Odds -145
Over/Under 8 (-109/-109)
Time 9:45 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Wednesday Night and via PointsBet.

After playing a three-game series in Miami last week, the Marlins and Giants are preparing to play a four-game series in San Francisco through this weekend. These two teams will have played seven times in nine days after this series concludes.

Miami took two of three in that series, but both teams have been red-hot recently. Both the Giants and Marlins are 7-3 in their last 10 games, as Miami is coming off a win against Baltimore, and the Giants almost swept Philadelphia.

As these two prepare for another cross-country series, let’s examine where the value lies in the opener.

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Miami Marlins

The Marlins are hanging around. As mentioned above, they are 7-3 in their last 10 games and just took two of three from the Giants, but they also are just one game back of the division lead.

However, the biggest storyline for the Marlins this season is newcomer Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Chisholm is a combination of speed and power like we’ve rarely seen. He ranks in the 92nd percentile of players in sprint speed and leads all qualified hitters in barrel percentage. He also walks 17% of the time and boasts a 1.077 OPS.

Plus, he hit this bomb off the best pitcher in the world:

And Wednesday against the Orioles, Chisholm went 2-for-4 with a stolen base in the win. Just another day for the talented young star.

Starting Pitcher: Daniel Castano (LHP)

Castano is 26 and entering his second season in the show. He’s coming off a decent 2020, where he posted a 3.03 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. He performed well for a first-year starter but definitely got a little lucky (4.81 FIP, 5.24 xERA).

The lefty had an excellent spring training and followed it up with an excellent 2021 debut against these Giants. Most notably, he’s struck out 13 batters while walking just three in his 18 innings pitched since spring began.

Castano’s got a four-pitch mix but primarily throws a four-seam and a slider. His slider last year was outstanding, as he recorded just a .149 wOBA on the pitch. His fastball that he barely throws 90 mph and allows a high exit velocity on was much-less successful.

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San Francisco Giants

I’d like to talk about how 2020 breakout star Mike Yasztremski is leading the Giants offense to an early-season surge that has them second in the division, but that isn’t the case. Yasztremski is slumping, as he’s batting just .197 and has already struck out 23 times on 73 early plate appearances.

Instead, the old-man duo of Buster Posey and Evan Longoria are turning back the clocks. The two have combined for eight home runs and 13 RBIs, and both boast a wOBA above .400.

In addition to Posey and Longoria, the Giants starting pitchers have been incredible. Specifically, the trio of Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Johnny Cueto are leading the charge, as the three have posted a 1.89 ERA, a .97 WHIP and 57 strikeouts over 62.2 combined innings.

Because of those three, San Francisco’s rotation currently ranks fourth in ERA (2.51), fifth in FIP (3.12) and 10th in WHIP (1.15).

Unfortunately for Giants backers, today’s starter is not one of those three guys.

Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez (RHP)

After not playing in 2020 and recording an impressive 14 losses in 2019 (T-3rd among pitchers), Sanchez is back in 2021 with a new team.

Sadly, he’s 0-1 this season, but he’s thrown well so far. Sanchez has allowed just four runs on 14 2/3 innings pitched while recording 12 strikeouts to just four walks.

His last start was against these Marlins, where he went 4 2/3 innings, struck out five and allowed just one run. However, he did allow five hits and walked three, so Sanchez wasn’t infallible.

Sanchez is a fastball pitcher who mostly throws a four-seam and a sinker. Sanchez has, unfortunately, lost a lot of velocity over the course of his career. His fastballs hovered around 98 mph in 2014 but dropped to just 93 mph by 2019.

So far this season his stuff has looked really slow. Both his fastballs are barely topping 90 mph, and he’s throwing his curveball more than ever, but his curveball has been good, as he’s posting a .194 wOBA on the pitch.

Marlins-Giants Pick

The Giants were an elite offense at home last season. This season, however, has not been the case.

The Giants are scoring just 3.5 runs per game at home this season, instead, relying on the excellent starting pitching to keep offenses at bay.

I give the advantage to Castano in this matchup, however. He’s in a great situation tonight, as the Giants have been pathetic against southpaws at Oracle Park. At home this season, the Giants boast just a .552 OPS and a 68 wRC+.

Moreover, the Giants should struggle against Castano’s slider tonight. The Giants are currently second to last in weighted slider runs created at -11.7, and Castano’s wOBA on the slider is still well below .200.

I also think this is a prime letdown spot for the Giants. San Francisco’s bullpen pitched a lot in their series against the Phillies, and Evan Longoria is out of the lineup on a rest day.

Some combination of Castano and the Giants’ fatigue factor pushes me towards Miami in this spot. I played the Marlins at +133 on PointsBet Wednesday night and would bet them at +120 or better.

Pick: Marlins ML (+133) | Play to +120

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2021 Zurich Classic Betting Picks & Predictions: Our Favorite Outrights, Longshots, Props & Matchups at TPC Louisiana

2021-zurich classic-picks-betting-outrights-matchups-predictions

The PGA TOUR brings bettors a different look this week at the 2021 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana.

Rather than a traditional stroke-play event, this tournament features pairings playing both best ball and alternate shot formats throughout the weekend. That’ll provide a different experience for both viewing and betting.

Teams will play best ball on Thursday’s opening round, which means both players will use their own shot throughout the round. However, only the lowest score on the hole will count for the scorecard. For example, if one player pars a hole and the other birdies, the birdie will go on the official scorecard.

On Friday for the second round the format changes to alternate shot. Players on each team will alternate who tees off on each hole with his partner taking the next shot and switching back and forth from there. For example, if one player tees off on the first hole, his partner will take the second shot and the player who teed off takes the third shot. On the next hole, whoever didn’t tee off will take the tee shot on hole No. 2.

The top 33 teams plus ties will make the cut. There are 80 teams in the tournament.

Saturday’s third round goes back to best ball. The final round on Sunday will be played as alternate shot.

Here are our favorite outright bets, sleeper picks, props and matchups for the 2021 Zurich Classic:

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Outrights

Jason Sobel

Bubba Watson & Scottie Scheffler (+1600)

When the pairings were first released, this is the one that struck me as a partnership with potential. There’s not much to say about Scheffler, who’s risen to 21st in the world ranking and appears on the verge of a first career win very soon.

Watson might have a reputation as “doesn’t play well with others,” but it isn’t a deserved one. In six stints on the U.S. Ryder/Presidents Cup team, he owns a 9-8-1 record in partnered matches, which isn’t remarkable, but supersedes that rep. In fact, while unquantifiable, Bubba owns the sort of personality which offers more motivation when alongside a teammate rather than competing as an individual.

For a couple of players who can ham-and-egg birdies for the 36 holes of best-ball format, this could be the team to watch all week.

[Bet Watson/Scheffler at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Sam Burns & Billy Horschel (+2500)

I noted this pairing in my lead-up article following the RBC Heritage and I am going to back them to win this week. Both of these players have shown to be streaky and while Horschel has a recent match play win, Burns is also showing some signs of bouncing back after missing three of the last four cuts.

They can really balance off of each other in the Four-Ball format, especially with Burns, who on his own has a tendency to run off a string of birdies then make a big mistake. Those mistakes won’t be as amplified in two of the rounds, and if they can combine well in alternate shot, they will be a tough team to beat.

They have the best value to me this week as the favorites are just too short to take before the event, and I believe this team has the upside to win.

[Bet Horschel/Burns at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Thomas Pieters/Tom Lewis (+5000)

Thomas Pieters is a mega-talented European with a lot to play for. The big-hitting Belgian is making a strong case to be a part of the European Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits and they could certainly use a bomber at such a long track.

Pieters is in great form with four consecutive top-15 finishes on the European Tour, and has finishes of 15th and 13th in his two 2021 PGA TOUR starts. With experience in similar formats at a previous Ryder Cup and a World Cup, he should not be overlooked as a force in this setup.

Tom Lewis is a nice compliment to Pieters, as he is a prolific birdie maker who is known for producing some very low rounds. This team of Euros is very talented and highly motivated which gives them a great shot this week.

[Bet Pieters/Lewis at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Landon Silinsky

Cameron Tringale/Roberto Castro (+5500)

Tringale is having a renaissance season in 2021, posting seven top-25s and three top-10’s in 15 starts. He’s also made the cut in 12 of those starts, including nine of his past 10. He’s shown exquisite ball-striking chops in this stretch, ranking sixth in SG: Ball-Striking in this field over his past 24 rounds. He also ranks seventh in total strokes gained in the same time frame.

As for Castro, he’s made each of his past two cuts at both the Puerto Rico Open and at Corales. This pair also has some history here, finishing fifth at this event back in 2019.

Being that this tournament is more fickle than others, I like chancing teams that have some built in continuity. Tringale has made 10 starts at TPC Louisiana and gains 1.879 strokes on the field tee-to-green per round, which ranks him third only behind Benny An and HV3.

We’ve seen Tringale knock on the door multiple times this season and I’ll gladly take 55/1 in this spot.

[Bet Tringale/Castro at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Brendon Todd & Chris Kirk (+2500)

Everything about this format screams, “Don’t pick a favorite!” However, while these fellow University of Georgia products aren’t tagged with the longest of odds, they’re hunters. Targets are on other backs. This gives them the space to do what they do best, which is to say that they really don’t need the room. They keep the ball in play and they complement each other well.

[Bet Todd/Kirk at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Bryan Berryman

Talor Gooch & Max Homa (+3100)

This is a tough week to pick a winner. Without a heavy dose of course-specific data to reference, I am forced to go off a generic model that focuses heavily on the key ball-striking statistics that are generally indicative of success.

Outside of the obvious favorites at the top of the board, this pairing provides the highest combined score in the model ranking third overall. The combination of Homa’s consistency and Gooch’s upside provides an interesting setup. One that I am willing to back at +3100.

[Bet Gooch/Homa at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Longshots

Jason Sobel

Justin Suh & Doug Ghim (+7000)

In the first year of this event’s team format, Blixt and Smith used a victory as motivation for a two-year exemption, the same one which comes with individual wins. Suh and Ghim should each have long tenures in the big leagues, but a massive week could help launch their careers a little quicker.

The combo of Ghim’s irons and Suh’s flatstick could work nicely.

[Bet Suh/Ghim at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Matthew NeSmith & Chase Seiffert (+8000)

The stats we have from this event show that ball-striking, with a heavy lean on the approach shot, is the key to success at TPC Louisiana. The one team with two players inside the top-20 in SG: Approach over the last two months is the NeSmith/Seiffert tandem.

Both of these players also putt better on bermudagrass and have the scoring upside to contend down the stretch.

[Bet NeSmith/Seiffert at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Matthew Vincenzi

Scott Piercy & Akshay Bhatia (+15000)

Bhatia is supremely talented but at 19 years old, lacks consistency. In this format, I like the idea of pairing Akshay with a reliable veteran like Scott Piercy who can help steady the ship for the tandem.

A previous winner here, Piercy loves this event and may be able to get the best out of Bhatia.

[Bet Bhatia/Piercy at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Landon Silinsky

Nick Taylor & Martin Laird (+7000)

I like this pairing quite a bit, as it features two former PGA TOUR winners, which is something not many other groups in this field can say. This twosome finished in a tie for ninth place in 2019 and both have been playing pretty decent golf this season.

Both Laird and Taylor gain strokes tee-to-green at this course on a per round basis in their respective careers. Laird also has an additional T-7 back in 2018 with a different playing partner, so it seems as though both these guys feel somewhat comfortable at this track, which is enough for me at these odds.

[Bet Taylor/Laird at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Roger Sloan & Aaron Baddeley (+15000)

If you’re keen on comparing odds at the various houses, I’ll do this homework for ya. Consider that street sweethearts Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein are on the board at +9000 at FanDuel, but at BetMGM, both the Sloan-Badds combo and the Werenski-Uihlein team are at +8000. Talk about value for the international duo at FanDuel.

Baddeley is fresh off a top-five finish on the Korn Ferry Tour in Vegas. Sloan recently connected a trio of top 25s on the PGA TOUR. They also happen to be one of my three Sleepers at PGATOUR.com.

[Bet Sloan/Baddeley at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Bryan Berryman

Charley Hoffman & Nick Watney (+7000)

If Hoffman was paired with someone who had been playing remotely decent in the last calendar year, this number would be closer to +2500. Referencing my same ball-striking model from the outrights section, Hoffman ranks first in this field while playing partner Nick Watney ranks 119th. Watney has missed the cut in his last 13 events. Hoffman has made the cut in his last seven events, a run that includes three top-10 finishes.

Clearly this is a pick based on riding Charley’s recent hot stretch. I’m hoping he can carry the team, while at the same time hoping Watney can just keep the ball on the course.

charles schwab challenge betting picks-preview -matchups
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Sepp Straka

Props & Matchups

Jason Sobel

Josh Teater & Sepp Straka First-Round Leader (+7000)

There are a whole lot of variables involved when trying to pick a two-man team for low score during the first round of the best-ball format, so let’s go with one that has a bigger price next to its name. Teater ranks 17th in R1 scoring average this season; Straka is 42nd. They can each make a handful of birdies, as well, without worry that a big number will hurt the team.

You’re going to have to take some chances this week and this feels like one worth pursuing, both for FRL and maybe top-20 props.

[Bet this prop at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Akshay Bhatia & Scott Piercy Top-20 Finish (+300)

It’s only an 80 team field this week, with the top-35 and ties making it through to the weekend. This makes the odds for everyone a bit shorter than normal, but +300 for a top-20 finish with all of those factors is a good-looking number on Bhatia and Piercy.

They are a bit of an odd team in this event, but there is no doubt that their ball-striking abilities should pair well, and give them a solid opportunity to play all four rounds. I’ll take the good number and look to bet this pair all the way up the board.

[Bet this prop at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Keegan Bradley & Brendan Steele Top-5 Finish (+650)

One thing I am looking for in this event is a pairing that has a similar skillset, and few in this field fit that better than Bradley and Steele. Both guys are elite ball-strikers who have a hard time making putts.

In the four-ball format, they will have double the chance of getting their putts to fall and should get themselves more opportunities than much of the field due to their outstanding tee-to-green prowess.

In the foursome format, making birdie putts won’t be so crucial, as scoring should be difficult; and the recipe of hitting greens in regulation as a pairing should be enough for them to contend.

[Bet this prop at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Landon Silinsky

Rahm/Palmer (-114) over Cantlay/Schauffele

There is just no way I could trust Patrick Cantlay right now. He’s looked completely disinterested these past few events, missing three straight cuts for the first time in his career. While Schauffele seemed to have found his game at Augusta, it’s still not enough for me to side with them at what’s basically a pick’em.

Rahm and Palmer won this event back in 2019 and both have been playing great this year. Rahm ranks fourth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 12 rounds and Palmer has two additional top five’s at this event with a different playing partner.

This price should be higher in my opinion and I like the defending champs to win this matchup quite handily.

[Bet this matchup at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Matthew Wolff & Collin Morikawa to miss the cut (+215)

Wolff needs this more than his fellow young stud because he’s been lost since suffering the injured right wrist at Torrey Pines early this year. Meanwhile, Morikawa proved how bad putters can hide at Harbour Town where he placed T7. (He co-led the field in GIR but ranked 57th in Strokes Gained: Putting.)

TPC Louisiana doesn’t offer the same curtain and this format demands that they go low to survive the cut. I’d tiptoe into this wager but it has merit rooted in quantifiable logic.

[Bet this matchup at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Bryan Berryman

Matthew NeSmith & Chase Seiffert Top-10 Finish (+500) 

Ranking sixth out of the 80 groups in my ball-striking stat model, NeSmith and Seiffert are definitely in position to compete this week. They both rank top-20 in SG: Approach in this field over the last 12 rounds, and have the upside needed in this team event structure to be a factor come Sunday.

I love the value at +500 for this pair to finish in the top 10, and definitely don’t hate a sprinkle on the outright if you’re feeling a little frisky.

[Bet this prop at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

MLB Odds & Picks for Mariners vs. Red Sox: Side With Boston’s Bats Against Justin Dunn (Thursday, April 22)

seattle mariners vs boston red sox-mlb-odds-bets-picks-april-22

Mariners vs. Red Sox Odds

Mariners Odds +153
Red Sox Odds -167
Over/Under 9.5
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Wednesday Night and via PointsBet.

Don’t look now, but the Boston Red Sox are top five in Offensive and Pitching WAR. They welcome the squints at computer screen first-place Seattle Mariners to Fenway. This would be a lot more interesting if the Mariners weren’t a fairly fraudulent 11-7 based on their 9-9 Pythagorean Win-Loss.

What may be less inspiring than the Mariners as a whole is the pitching matchup. Justin Dunn and Nick Pivetta use a lot of pitches to do little, making both better bets against than for.

That means all of this comes down to offensive production and bullpens. There’s a reason why the Red Sox are lofty favorites.

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Seattle Mariners

Hitting is down to start the 2021 season, so the Mariners sporting a -4.3 Offensive WAR (16th overall) is not bad for now. Despite the vanilla offense, Seattle has only lost one series this season, including wins over Minnesota and Houston, and a two-game split with the Dodgers. The Mariners head into Boston with a -3 run differential, second-worst among division leaders and have to slow down the Red Sox and their +30 run differential.

Justin Dunn is expected to do that. Do I have faith he will? No. Dunn enters the game with more walks than strikeouts (10/9) and a fortunate ERA. Dunn’s Expected ERA (xERA) and Expected Fielder Independent Pitching is two and three runs higher than his actual ERA. Boston does not walk a lot, but they also do not strike out often, boasting the third-best strikeout rate this season.

If you want to credit the Mariners offense for something, they walk more than the Red Sox.

Seattle’s bullpen is one of the worst to start the season. It is bottom five in strikeout rate and bottom 10 in xFIP and Hard Hit Percentage (Hard%). The Red Sox lead baseball in slugging percentage, OPS, and Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+).

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Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox offense has enjoyed a resurgence from J.D. Martinez. He is top five in the majors in home runs, runs, RBI’s, slugging, Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), wRC+ and Offensive WAR. Boston has the best team offense and leads baseball in batting average, slugging and OPS.

How can Dunn slow down the offense? He probably won’t. He needs Nick Pivetta to be Nick Pivetta.

Pivetta has a 14/11 K/BB ratio after three starts (14 2/3 innings) and has seen the exit velocity on balls in play against him rise 2 mph over that period. His xERA and xFIP jump nearly as much as Dunn’s.

Boston’s bullpen has rebounded after a disastrous 2020. Matt Barnes has returned to his 2019 form and has led one of the better bullpens to start the season. The Red Sox relievers have allowed 3.5% of flyballs to leave the yard and have allowed opposing hitters to reach via hit at a .211 clip. The bullpen’s xFIP is a full run higher than its ERA, a bit concerning but something that does not usually correct itself over one game (jinx). If Pivetta gets in trouble against the Mariners, the relievers have a better chance of stopping the bleeding than the Mariners with Dunn.

Mariners-Red Sox Pick

The Red Sox can start four left-handed hitters with confidence and take advantage of their short right field. I also doubt Taylor Trammell (Seattle’s current left fielder and a plus defender) has ever played in a unique place like Fenway and the Green Monster. The Red Sox should unleash on Justin Dunn, just as they have against much better pitchers such as Lucas Giolito and Jose Berrios. I think five runs is a good line, but one Boston will cross against inferior pitching.

Pick: Red Sox over 5 runs (-121, bet to -140).

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2021 Zurich Classic Sleeper Picks: Our Favorite Longshot Bets at TPC Louisiana

The PGA TOUR brings bettors a different look this week at the 2021 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana.

Rather than a traditional stroke-play event, this tournament features pairings playing both best ball and alternate shot formats throughout the weekend. The unique set-up for the Zurich Classic should provide some chaos, so it is not a bad idea to have a punt down the board at TPC Louisiana.

Here are our favorite longshot bets for the 2021 Zurich Classic:

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Jason Sobel

Justin Suh & Doug Ghim (+7000)

In the first year of this event’s team format, Blixt and Smith used a victory as motivation for a two-year exemption, the same one which comes with individual wins. Suh and Ghim should each have long tenures in the big leagues, but a massive week could help launch their careers a little quicker.

The combo of Ghim’s irons and Suh’s flatstick could work nicely.

[Bet Suh/Ghim at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Matthew NeSmith & Chase Seiffert (+8000)

The stats we have from this event show that ball-striking, with a heavy lean on the approach shot, is the key to success at TPC Louisiana. The one team with two players inside the top-20 in SG: Approach over the last two months is the NeSmith/Seiffert tandem.

Both of these players also putt better on bermudagrass and have the scoring upside to contend down the stretch.

[Bet NeSmith/Seiffert at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Matthew Vincenzi

Scott Piercy & Akshay Bhatia (+15000)

Bhatia is supremely talented but at 19 years old, lacks consistency. In this format, I like the idea of pairing Akshay with a reliable veteran like Scott Piercy who can help steady the ship for the tandem.

A previous winner here, Piercy loves this event and may be able to get the best out of Bhatia.

[Bet Bhatia/Piercy at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Landon Silinsky

Nick Taylor & Martin Laird (+7000)

I like this pairing quite a bit, as it features two former PGA TOUR winners, which is something not many other groups in this field can say. This twosome finished in a tie for ninth place in 2019 and both have been playing pretty decent golf this season.

Both Laird and Taylor gain strokes tee-to-green at this course on a per round basis in their respective careers. Laird also has an additional T-7 back in 2018 with a different playing partner, so it seems as though both these guys feel somewhat comfortable at this track, which is enough for me at these odds.

[Bet Taylor/Laird at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Roger Sloan & Aaron Baddeley (+15000)

If you’re keen on comparing odds at the various houses, I’ll do this homework for ya. Consider that street sweethearts Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein are on the board at +9000 at FanDuel, but at BetMGM, both the Sloan-Badds combo and the Werenski-Uihlein team are at +8000. Talk about value for the international duo at FanDuel.

Baddeley is fresh off a top-five finish on the Korn Ferry Tour in Vegas. Sloan recently connected a trio of top 25s on the PGA TOUR. They also happen to be one of my three Sleepers at PGATOUR.com.

[Bet Sloan/Baddeley at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Bryan Berryman

Charley Hoffman & Nick Watney (+7000)

If Hoffman was paired with someone who had been playing remotely decent in the last calendar year, this number would be closer to +2500. Referencing my same ball-striking model from the outrights section, Hoffman ranks first in this field while playing partner Nick Watney ranks 119th. Watney has missed the cut in his last 13 events. Hoffman has made the cut in his last seven events, a run that includes three top-10 finishes.

Clearly this is a pick based on riding Charley’s recent hot stretch. I’m hoping he can carry the team, while at the same time hoping Watney can just keep the ball on the course.

[Bet Hoffman/Watney at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

NBA Odds & Pick for Nuggets vs. Blazers: Be Contrarian in Crucial Game for Portland (Wednesday, April 21)

nuggets vs. blazers-betting-odds-picks-predictions-nba-april 21-2021

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Nuggets Odds -1.5
Trail Blazers Odds +1.5
Moneyline -125 / -104
Over/Under 225.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Wednesday morning via PointsBet.

Damian Lillard returns to the court Wednesday and that means everything for a game that feels like it could be Portland’s last stand.

The Trail Blazers are hanging on by a thread right now. They’re the No. 6 seed at the moment,  but slipping fast. And remember, it’s a big deal dropping even one slot this year because it would throw the Blazers into the play-in tournament.

The Denver Nuggets are holding fast to the No. 4 seed, going 3-0 since Jamal Murray’s season-ending knee injury. A victory here would put some real distance between Denver and the No. 6 seed, making it very likely it will stay in that No. 4 vs. No. 5 playoff matchup.

Lose this game and the battle for those three positions tighten up, which means teams could even end up meeting in an opening first-round series.

The Blazers gave all they had Tuesday, but came up a point short against the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland was missing Lillard and Jusuf Nurkić, but both return in this spot for what could be a tired team.

Is this Portland’s last stand? Let’s take a look at this matchup and see what might be in store.

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Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets remain top five in Net Rating and top three in Offensive Efficiency, per Basketball Reference. Denver has won 11 of its last 13 games, even despite missing Jamal Murray for seven of them.

The Nuggets are 6-3 now without Murray, though they’re just 4-5 against the spread. Amazingly, Denver has been favored in every game without its star. That’s in part because Denver of a pretty easy schedule in Murray’s absence. They’ve played Sacramento twice, Detroit, San Antonio’s (twice), Boston, Miami, Houston and Memphis. Going 6-3 sounds a little less impressive now.

Denver game overs are 7-2 in games without Murray, and they’re covering the total by almost 10 points per game. Nuggets’ games with Murray this season averaged 222.7 PPG, while games without him have totaled 232.5 points. Again, though, not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents or defenses there.

Nikola Jokić is the heavy Most Valuable Player favorite, continuing to put up absurd numbers even without Murray. He’s coming off 47 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in a double-overtime win over Memphis. Jokić is averaging 29.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 10.7 assists in nine games without Murray. He’s scored at least 25 in every one of those games and had recorded double-digit assists in all of them until the last two.

Michael Porter Jr. has also stepped up his game. He has scored at least 20 points in 10 of his last 11 outings, averaging 22.3 PPG during that stretch. He’s stepping up without Murray, finding a new role next to Aaron Gordon. Porter’s 3-point assists have gone from 5.4 per game to 7.8 per game over the last six contests, so that’s boosting his scoring.

The story of this game will likely come inside the arc, though. Denver’s offense ranks in the top 20% in made 2-pointers and 2-point percentage, plus the team is second in offensive rebounding. On defense, Denver is top 20% in 2-point attempts allowed, but bottom 20% in 2-point percentage.

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Portland Trail Blazers

We’ll see exactly what we get from Lillard in this one, but knowing him, it’ll be everything he’s got. Nurkić is back in the lineup as well. He’s been starting and playing around 22 minutes per game, though he has at least four assists in six of his last eight games.

The Blazers have actually hung tough at 3-2 without Lillard, and they should probably be 4-1 if they hadn’t blown that winnable game against the Los Angeles Clippers. However, they also benefited from a softer schedule without their superstar. One things is very clear, though. Portland isn’t the same team without its superstar.

Fortunately for the Blazers, Lillard is back. Although Portland’s offense is not quite as lethal as Denver’s attack, it also ranks near the top of the league. They don’t want this game to be played inside the arc. Portland attempts the second fewest 2s in the NBA, plus it ranks near the bottom in 2-point percentage.

No, the Blazers want to win this game from deep since they make the second most 3s in the league. That can make Portland very streaky, and it means the it could miss some easy scoring opportunities against Denver.

Defensively, Portland is bad. The Blazers are bottom 10 in the NBA in all defensive four factors. They’re not good on the glass, don’t force many turnovers, foul a lot and give up too many easy looks. Most worryingly, Portland ranks third worst in 2-point percentage allowed. And unlike the Blazers, Denver is built to take advantage of that lack of defense inside the arc.

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Nuggets-Trail Blazers Pick

I’ll be eyeing some props once the lines post. I’m definitely looking for a Jokić over here. He and Nurkić have history after playing together in Denver, but this shapes up as a game for the MVP favorite to slice up a terrible defense.

Portland’s big men don’t have the foot speed to defend Jokić’s shooting on the perimeter, and the minute they start to try, he will slice and dice the Blazers with his passing skills.

If I can play Jokić to go over 25 points or 10 assists, I’ll look hard at that line. I’ll also think hard about Porter going over 20 points if that line stays about where it’s been lately.

This feels like the Blazers’ last stand, and I expect a lot of money to come in on Portland due to the fact Lillard is returning. And I hate betting against Lillard. However, the 2-point advantage here is glaring in Denver’s favor, and while Portland is getting its superstar back, the Nuggets already have theirs and he’s healthy and absolutely balling at the moment.

I’m going contrarian here. Last stands are great, but MVPs are made for the moment and last stands have to end sometime. Jokić is the healthier, better standout with the better supporting cast even with Murray out for the season.

Pick: Nuggets -1.5

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NBA Injury News & Starting Lineups (April 21): Jaren Jackson Jr. Will Make Season Debut Wednesday

nba injury-news projected-starting-lineups jaren-jackson-jr april-21

Below are the projected starting lineups for each team playing on Wednesday’s NBA slate, along with notable injury news for each squad. For real-time updates to these lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.

NBA Injury News

8:30 p.m. ET Update: Jaren Jackson Jr. is available to make his season debut for the Memphis Grizzlies after being sidelined all season while recovering from left knee meniscus surgery.

Grizzlies head coach Tayler Jenkins revealed that Jackson Jr. will play off the bench and have his minutes monitored. Dillon Brooks has also been cleared to play tonight.


6:30 p.m. ET Update: The Sixers will be without Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons and Seth Curry on Wednesday. Harris is out for the third straight game due to a sore right knee, Simmons will miss his second game with an illness and is out with a hip injury. Joel Embiid has been cleared to play.


5 p.m. ET Update: Paul George and Reggie Jackson will rest in tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Rajon Rondo has been sidelined with inflammation in his right wrist.

Bam Adebayo is available to play Wednesday after missing the win on Monday due to a sore right knee. Jimmy Butler has been cleared to play after missing two games with a sprained right ankle. Andre Iguodala has been ruled out due to a hip injury.


3 p.m. ET Update: The 76ers have added Joel Embiid and Seth Curry to their injury report Wednesday for injury recovery on the first leg of a back-to-back. They now have four starters who are now questionable with Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris having been added earlier.

Kevin Durant has officially been ruled out for the second straight game due to a bruised left thigh. Danilo Gallinari has been ruled out for the  sixth game in a row as he continues to deal with a sore foot.

Alec Burks has been ruled out Wednesday for the third game in a row due to health and safety protocols.


The Portland Trail Blazers should get their leader back for tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Damian Lillard plans to return to the lineup and play Wednesday after missing the past three games due to hamstring tendinopathy, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes.

There’s been no word of any sort of minutes limit but this appears to have been the plan heading in with him sitting out the first leg of a back-to-back and playing the second.

The Miami Heat have listed Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Dewayne Dedmon as questionable ahead of Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Butler, Adebayo, and Herro all sat out of Monday’s blowout win and Butler and Adebayo were replaced in the starting lineup by Andre Iguodala and Precious Achiuwa. Dedmon is away from the team due to health and safety protocols.

Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons are questionable in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Harris is dealing with knee soreness and Simmons has been dealing with an illness. Both sat out Monday and were replaced in the starting lineup by Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott.

Kevin Durant, who suffered a thigh bruise Sunday against the Miami Heat and sat out Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, is doubtful to play Wednesday. With regard to Durant’s possible return, Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters “it’s more of a day-to-day thing. We’ll see if it’s in the next few days or more.”

Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as he continues to deal with a sore lower back.

Sabonis will miss his second straight game and it could leave the Pacers’ frontcourt extremely thin with Myles Turner out indefinitely and Goga Bitadze questionable.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is questionable to make his season debut Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Jackson has been sidelined all season for left knee meniscus surgery recovery and will likely have a minute limitation whenever he is cleared to play. Dillon Brooks is also questionable after missing the Grizzlies’ double-overtime loss on Monday due to a sore left thigh.

Be sure to check the Action Labs NBA page for real time updates.

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Projected Starting Lineups

Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Wizards (7 p.m. ET)

Warriors Projected Lineup

PG – Stephen Curry
SG – Kent Bazemore
SF – Andrew Wiggins
PF – Draymond Green
C – Kevon Looney

Injury news: Damion Lee (Toe) is out

Wizards Projected Lineup

PG – Russell Westbrook
SG – Raul Neto
SF – Bradley Beal
PF – Deni Avdija
C – Alex Len

Injury news: Chandler Hutchison (Ankle) is questionable; Rui Hachimura (Knee) is out


Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET)

Bulls Projected Lineup

PG – Coby White
SG – Garrett Temple
SF – Patrick Williams
PF – Daniel Theis
C – Nikola Vucevic

Injury news: Troy Brown Jr. (Ankle) is out

Cavaliers Projected Lineup

PG – Darius Garland
SG – Collin Sexton
SF – Isaac Okoro
PF – Kevin Love
C – Jarrett Allen

Injury news: Damyean Dotson (Knee) and Dylan Windler (Knee) are out


Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers (7 p.m. ET)

Thunder Projected Lineup

PG – Theo Maledon
SG – Lu Dort
SF – Aleksej Pokusevski
PF – Darius Bazley
C – Moses Brown

Injury news: Lu Dort (Hip) is questionable; Isaiah Roby (Toe) and Josh Hall (Knee) are out

Pacers Projected Lineup

PG – Malcolm Brogdon
SG – Edmond Sumner
SF – Caris LeVert
PF – Justin Holiday
C – Oshae Brissett

Injury news: Jeremy Lamb (Knee), Doug McDermott (Ankle), Goga Bitadze (Ankle) and Domantas Sabonis (Back) are out


Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers (7 p.m. ET)

Suns Projected Lineup

PG – Chris Paul
SG – Devin Booker
SF – Mikal Bridges
PF – Dario Saric
C – Deandre Ayton

Injury news: Dario Saric (Ankle) is active

76ers Projected Lineup

PG – Shake Milton
SG – Furkan Korkmaz
SF – Danny Green
PF – Mike Scott
C – Joel Embiid

Injury news: Joel Embiid (Knee) is active; Seth Curry (Hip), Ben Simmons (Illness) and Tobias Harris (Knee) are out


Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors (7 p.m. ET)

Nets Projected Lineup

PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Landry Shamet
SF – Joe Harris
PF – Jeff Green
C – DeAndre Jordan

Injury news: Kevin Durant (Thigh) and Nic Claxton (COVID Protocols) are out; Blake Griffin (Rest), Reggie Perry (COVID Protocols) are doubtful

Raptors Projected Lineup

PG – Kyle Lowry
SG – Fred VanVleet
SF – OG Anunoby
PF – Pascal Siakam
C – Chris Boucher

Injury news: Pascal Siakam (shoulder, Kyle Lowry (rest), Fred VanVleet (hip), and OG Anunoby (calf) are cleared to play; Rodney Hood (Knee), Paul Watson (Knee) and Jalen Harris (Hip) are out


Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets (8 p.m. ET)

Jazz Projected Lineup

PG – Mike Conley
SG – Joe Ingles
SF – Bojan Bogdanovic
PF – Royce O’Neale
C – Rudy Gobert

Injury news: Ersan Ilyasova (Hamstring) is questionable

Rockets Projected Lineup

PG – John Wall
SG – Kevin Porter Jr.
SF – Jae’Sean Tate
PF – Kelly Olynyk
C – Christian Wood

Injury news: Nothing new


Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks (8 p.m. ET)

Hawks Projected Lineup

PG – Trae Young
SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF – Kevin Huerter
PF – John Collins
C – Clint Capela

Injury news: Danilo Gallinari (Foot) is out

Knicks Projected Lineup

PG – Elfrid Payton
SG – RJ Barrett
SF – Reggie Bullock
PF – Julius Randle
C – Nerlens Noel

Injury news: Alec Burks (COVID Protocols) is out


Detroit Pistons vs. Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. ET)

Pistons Projected Lineup

PG – Cory Joseph
SG – Josh Jackson
SF – Saddiq Bey
PF – Jerami Grant
C – Mason Plumlee

Injury news: Dennis Smith Jr. (Knee), Rodney McGruder (Elbow) and Killian Hayes (Hip) are out

Mavericks Projected Lineup

PG – Luka Doncic
SG – Josh Richardson
SF – Dorian Finney-Smith
PF – Maxi Kleber
C – Kristaps Porzingis

Injury news: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Illness) is active


Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs (8:30 p.m. ET)

Heat Projected Lineup

PG – Kendrick Nunn
SG – Jimmy Butler
SF – Duncan Robinson
PF – Trevor Ariza
C – Bam Adebayo

Injury news: Jimmy Butler (Ankle), Dewayne Dedmon (COVID Protocols),
Bam Adebayo (Knee), are active; Tyler Herro (Foot) is questionable; Gabe Vincent (Knee) is probable; Andre Iguodala (Hip) is out

Spurs Projected Lineup

PG – Dejounte Murray
SG – Derrick White
SF – DeMar DeRozan
PF – Keldon Johnson
C – Jakob Poeltl

Injury news: Nothing new


Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers (10 p.m. ET)

Grizzlies Projected Lineup

PG – Ja Morant
SG – Grayson Allen
SF – Dillon Brooks
PF – Kyle Anderson
C – Xavier Tillman

Injury news: Dillon Brooks (Thigh) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (Knee) are active; Jonas Valanciunas (Concussion) is out

Clippers Projected Lineup

PG – Yogi Ferrell
SG – Terance Mann
SF – Luke Kennard
PF – Marcus Morris
C – Ivica Zubac

Injury news: Rajon Rondo (Wrist), Paul George (Rest), Kawhi Leonard (Foot) and Reggie Jackson (Rest) are out


Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings (10 p.m. ET)

Timberwolves Projected Lineup

PG – Ricky Rubio
SG – Anthony Edwards
SF – Josh Okogie
PF – Jaden McDaniels
C – Karl-Anthony Towns

Injury news: Jaylen Nowell (Tibia) is doubtful

Kings Projected Lineup

PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Buddy Hield
SF – Maurice Harkless
PF – Harrison Barnes
C – Hassan Whiteside

Injury news: Robert Woodard (Back) is doubtful


Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET)

Nuggets Projected Lineup

PG – Facundo Campazzo
SG – Will Barton
SF – Aaron Gordon
PF – Michael Porter Jr.
C – Nikola Jokic

Injury news: Monte Morris (Hamstring) is out

Trail Blazers Projected Lineup

PG – Damian Lillard
SG – CJ McCollum
SF – Norman Powell
PF – Robert Covington
C – Jusuf Nurkic

Injury news: Damian Lillard (Hamstring) is active; Derrick Jones Jr. (Hip) is probable


Phan’s Bet to Watch

As of 3 p.m. ET, Justin Phan isn’t seeing betting value in any games. To get instant alerts when he sees an edge and his analysis on those picks, sign up for Action Labs.

NHL Odds & Pick for Canadiens vs. Oilers: Which North Division Team Has Value? (Wednesday, April 21)

Canadiens vs. Oilers Odds

Canadiens Odds +106
Oilers Odds -125
Over/Under 6
Time Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET
TV NHL.tv
Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

You hear this phrase all the time, about everything. Especially when it comes to sports, and even more especially when it comes to the long, winding road of a regular season. Although this season, you would think that it would feel more like a sprint, with just 56 games on the docket for each team.

Nope, it’s still feeling pretty marathon-y. However, the Habs are in Edmonton desperate for a glass of water and a strong breeze at their back, in a matchup of teams where one has to feel like the legs are getting heavy after 20+ miles, while the other squad may have a second wind.

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Montreal Canadiens

Last Saturday afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens looked like they were headed up “Heartbreak Hill” (the famous finishing kick for the Boston Marathon, an event that was supposed to happen this past Monday), as they were shutout at home by the Ottawa Senators, in a game where both teams struggled to crack 20 shots on goal. The game came less than 24 hours after a semi-crucial win over the Flames, the team that’s trying to track down the Habs for the last playoff spot in the North Division.

It was also the 7th game in 11 days for Montreal, after their schedule had its own bit of condensing after a week-long COVID break. So, a lackluster effort could be written off as tired legs.

Unfortunately for the Canadiens, the finish line wasn’t anywhere in sight as they continued to play catch-up on the season. Outside of a quick jaunt down to Toronto, all of those games were at home, and then Habs had to travel half-way across the country in just 48 hours.

It’s not like the Habs had been playing all that great at the start of their recent densely scheduled stretch. Montreal started the season with an incredible 20+% rating at even-strength in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model. It’s dropped precipitously over the course of the season. In fact, in their last eight games the Habs are playing at a 15% BELOW average rate.

The even-strength metrics were pretty even through the first 40 minutes, as the Habs played a solid second period with four High-Danger Chances at even-strength to just one for the Oilers. They even caught one of the luckiest breaks of the season when Connor McDavid botched a 2-on-0 and the best offensive player in the game failed to get a shot off.

The Canadiens scored something of a lucky goal to take a 1-0 lead in Edmonton on Monday night, only to breakdown in the third period resulting in them crawling along the concrete while the Oilers ran past them.


Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Edmonton Oilers

The third period was where things turned for the Oilers, as Edmonton created eight even-strength High-Danger Chances to just one for the Habs. The Oilers also had 1.77 Expected Goals during 5-on-5 play to just .33 for Montreal. This is not all that surprising considering the Oilers had a week off to rest and prepare for a three-game stretch that included a game against a Jets team run ragged, and this Habs team that has had it even worse.

Give the Oilers credit, they’ve taken advantage of the weakened state of their opponents. Edmonton has racked up 24 High-Danger Chances at even-strength in their two games this week. The Jets and Habs have created just seven. It had been nine games since the Oilers had managed more than six High-Danger Chances at even-strength in a game, going 4-4 in that time.

Incredibly, the Oilers get another break after this game, before their schedule gets crazy next week. Banking a full six points in these three games would be a boost for the Oilers to secure their place in the standings for the final stretch of the season when they’ll be the team gasping for air.

Canadiens vs. Oilers Best Bet

The time when the Canadiens were playing good hockey is long gone. There’s enough evidence from an analytics standpoint that they’re not the same team that metrics-forward handicappers thought they were early in the year.

Unlike many teams who have kept a consistent rating, the Habs has plummeted and while they get credit for what they’re capable of, from the start of the season, this recent stretch is how we have to judge them for Wednesday’s game. While they might not be a 15% below-average team, they’re definitely looking for a shortcut Rosie Ruiz-style.

The Oilers’ rating in my model puts them as a purely average team at even-strength, but relative to their last two opponents, they’re nearly 20% above average. Obviously, that has more to do with some tired legs for the Jets and Habs. Since we can expect the Habs to still be that tired team, we can’t back them until they prove they’ve found their way. In a tightly lined game close to pick’em, I’ll be backing the Oilers at a short price in one final game before they get a chance to take another breath.

Pick: Oilers (-125 or better)

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NBA Odds & Pick for Grizzlies vs. Clippers: Side With LA’s Depth at Staples Center

clippers vs. grizzlies-odds-picks-predictions-nba-betting-april 21-2021

Grizzlies vs. Clippers NBA Odds

Grizzlies Odds +4.5
Clippers Odds -4.5
Moneyline +155 / -195
Over/Under 226.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV NBATV
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings.

The Memphis Grizzlies continue their road trip as they face off against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.

For once, we are receiving meaningful injury updates from the Clippers well in advance of their game, with the team announcing Kawhi Leonard will miss at least a week with a foot injury.

The Grizzlies will also be missing a key player in center Jonas Valanciunas, who is having an incredible season. However, the potential good news is that they may be getting Jaren Jackson Jr. back in the lineup for the first time this season. Jackson had a spectacular sophomore season last year but tore his meniscus and has been slow to recover back to 100%.

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Both teams have been playing well since the All-Star break, with the Clippers going 14-6-1 (70%) against the spread and the Grizzlies going 18-6 ATS (75%), per the Sports Data Query Language database. The Grizzlies are coming off a grueling overtime game, while the Clippers are on the second game of a back-to-back, so both teams are fatigued and something has to give.

This will be the third time these teams play this season. Both teams traded blowouts back in February, and both games went under the total. The Clippers were 7.5-point favorites in both of those games; however, now the Clippers only open up 5-point favorites in this rubber match.

I do not find much value in betting a game with so many injuries and uncertainty. However, I’ll explain below why I believe the Clippers may be a good look if you are digging for an edge.

Memphis Grizzlies

The scrappy Grizzlies continue to outperform market expectations, covering the spread in 16 of their last 20 games. Many folks immediately think of Ja Morant as the face of the franchise, but the Grizzlies’ most effective and valuable player is Valanciunas, who leads the team in Player Efficiency Rating (24.1) and Win Shares (6.0), according to Basketball-Reference.

Per NBA Advanced Stats, the Grizzlies lead the league in second-chance points (15.3) and points in the paint (56.3), mostly attributed to Valanciunas’s energy in getting offensive rebounds and his dominance in the post.

The Grizzlies should be happy to welcome Jackson back to the lineup after he hasn’t played a minute this season. He brings a dynamic skill set to the table as a big man who owns the ability to shoot 3-pointers and defend the paint.

He is a great complement to Valanciunas in the frontcourt, and the pairing should frighten opposing defenses. However, in his potential first game back, it takes time to integrate a player of his status back into the lineup. He will be rusty, and I anticipate it could throw off the chemistry for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are coming off a grueling double-overtime loss against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. The Grizzlies are 3-10 ATS when coming off an overtime game since the 2017-18 season, per the SDQL database.

They may have been able to hang without Valanciunas for one game against the Nuggets, but to expect them to survive another against a top team is a tough task.

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Los Angeles Clippers

Going into Tuesday’s games, the Clippers are currently sitting at third place in the Western Conference standings and only 3.5 games behind the top-seeded Utah Jazz. With Utah’s Donovan Mitchell suffering injuries, the first seed is wide open, and I expect the Clippers to continue their recent surge as they battle for better home-court position in the playoffs.

The Clippers are battling injuries, with Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka all out for Wednesday’s game. With Ibaka out, Ivica Zubac has filled in admirably as starting center. In fact, in games when 14-5 ATS. I think Zubac should be able to excel in the paint, especially with the Grizzlies missing Valanciunas.

The Clippers have acquired some additional depth that will be able to contribute. Although it’s no longer 2014, names like Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Nicolas Batum can still provide some minutes off the bench and use their experience to topple the young Grizzlies.

Without Valanciunas, who averages 12.6 rebounds and 4.2 offensive rebounds per game, I see the Clippers dominating the boards, as they are seventh in the league in rebounding percentage.

Finally, the Clippers are coming off a game against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday evening, so this will be the second game of a back-to-back. This season, they are one of the best teams in this situation, going 9-2 ATS on games with no rest, per the SDQL database.

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Grizzlies-Clippers Pick

With so many injuries to key players in this game, this is a tough and unpredictable game to handicap. Furthermore, with the Clippers being notorious violators of last-minute scratches, it makes this game even riskier to bet on.

If you are adamant about playing this game, I would side with the experience and depth of the Clippers.

Given the proficiencies the Clippers have shown on second game of back-to-backs this season and the Grizzlies’ history of struggling after overtime games, I think there is a slight edge with the Clippers. Also, I think that not having Valanciunas is simply too big of a hurdle for the Grizzlies to overcome, and even if Jackson returns to the lineup, I expect a few games before he is fully integrated into the rotation.

One bonus look is to look for an over on Zubac total rebound prop at 8.5 or lower.

Pick: Clippers -5

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Wednesday NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers & Hawks vs. Knicks (Wednesday, April 21)

It’s Wednesday night in the Association and there are a ton of games on tonight’s NBA slate, including the Phoenix Suns facing Philadelphia 76ers (7 p.m. ET) and the Memphis Grizzlies facing the Los Angeles Clippers (10 p.m. ET) on NBA TV.

But with so many games, our analysts are looking at two other pivotal matchups that could have an impact on the highly competitive playoff races in both conferences. They break down those games and their favorite bets for tonight below.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks
8 p.m. ET
Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET

Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks

Pick
Knicks +1.5
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Joe Dellera: The Knicks are red hot and have ripped off seven straight wins — which is the longest active streak in the NBA. If they continue that streak tonight, they will take control of the No. 4 spot in the Eastern conference. While the Hawks have also won eight of their last 10 games, I think this spot favors New York.

When examining both of these teams over the past two weeks, New York has a +8.6 point differential per 100 possessions and the third-best defense in the league, while Atlanta is +2.2 and they have the eighth-best offense in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. When the Hawks have played top-10 defenses this season, they are just 7-11 and the Knicks are 9-9 against teams with top-10 offenses.

In their previous two contests, the Knicks have held Atlanta to just 32.8% shooting from beyond the arc, a significant deviation from their 37.7% mark over the course of the season. If the Knicks can replicate this defensive performance, they should complete the season sweep of the Hawks.

When teams have played back to back sets, it is natural to expect a fall off due to the lack of rest; however, the betting market adjusts for this.

This season, teams playing at home on the second night of a back-to-back are 85-78-1 against the spread. In other words, rest has been overrated for home teams. The Knicks are 7-4 ATS overall and and 4-1 ATS at home playing on no rest. The Hawks are also playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but are just 4-5-1 ATS this season in that spot. I like the Knicks to cover here as dogs.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Pick
Over 229.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Raheem Palmer: This figures to be a high-scoring game, especially with Damian Lillard returning to the lineup. It goes without saying how much impact Lillard has on this team as they’re scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions with on him the floor vs 110.6 points per 100 possessions with him off the floor (+9.1 points per 100 possessions).

Like most Blazers teams in the Lillard era, they have a top tier offense and a piss poor defense. The Blazers are fifth in Offensive Rating (117.4) and 29th in Defensive Rating (117.5) in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Nikola Jokic comes off a game against the Grizzlies in which he scored 47 points on 20-of-31 shooting (64.5%) while adding 15 rebounds and eight assists. If that game didn’t solidify his MVP candidacy, things get a lot easier as they face a Blazers defense that ranks 22nd in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (65.1%), 25th in opponent field goal percentage in the mid-range (43.4%) and 23rd in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (38.1%).

Although the loss of Jamal Murray still hangs over this roster, the Nuggets are still scoring 117.5 points per 100 possessions over the last seven games without him. In the short term, the Nuggets can overcome his loss in the regular season, especially against this porous Blazers defense.

Defensively is where I have some concern for the Nuggets, though. Their metrics say they are seventh in Defensive Rating over the past two weeks (110.8), but they haven’t played an offense as good as the Trail Blazers.

Also while Facundo Campazzo is known for his energy and effort, at 5-10, there’s only so much he can do against the top point guards in this league. Ja Morant comes off a performance in which he scored 36 points and dropped 12 assists, essentially getting anything he wanted so I’m expecting a similar performance from Lillard and Cj McCollum.

The Nuggets are dead last in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (68.3%) so the the Blazers should have their opportunities to score. The Blazers are shooting the second-highest frequency of 3-point field goals (43.1%) against a Nuggets team which is 23rd in opponent 3-point shooting frequency (38.1%).

Overall, I think both teams should get theirs tonight so I look for this to be a high scoring game. I’ve already played the over 225.5, but at 229.5 there’s still some value and I would play this up to 230.

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2021 Zurich Classic Market Report: Bettors Trusting Australian Duo of Cameron Smith & Marc Leishman

2021-zurich-classic-market-report-marc leishman-cameron smith

As the PGA TOUR shifts to a team format for this weekend’s Zurich Classic, bettors are putting their wagers behind a pair of Australians.

The duo of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman (+1100) has taken the most bets to win this week at both PointsBet and BetMGM, according to data released by each sportsbook.

Both golfers enter with good form, as Leishman finished T-5 at the Masters and Smith has finished in the top 20 in each of his last five starts, including three top-10 finishes. Additionally, Smith already has a win here back in 2017 with then-partner Jonas Blixt.

The event features two rounds of best ball and two rounds of alternate shot. For best ball, each player will play his own ball each hole. However, only the lowest score on the hole will count. If Smith birdies the first hole and Leishman bogeys, only the birdie will go on the scorecard. For alternate shot, one player will tee off on each of the odd-number holes with his partner teeing off on even-number holes. They will then take turns on each shot after that.

Thursday and Saturday will be best ball formats. Friday and Sunday will be alternate shot.

The other popular pair at both books is Tony Finau and Cameron Champ (+1800). They’re the second-most popular team in terms of total bets and total money wagered at PointsBet and BetMGM. They’re the second-biggest liability at BetMGM.

The biggest liability belongs to Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who are second on the oddsboard at +650 to the +600 favorites of Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer.

Much of that liability is due to one large bet. A bettor has risked $30,000 on Schauffele and Cantlay for a chance to win $210,000. As a result, the two make up almost 60 percent of the book’s total handle.

The biggest liabilities at PointsBet feature some longshots with Jason Kokrak and Pat Perez (+4000) the biggest risk for the book, followed by Wyndham Clark and Erik van Rooyen (+6000).

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MLB Odds & Picks for Mets vs. Cubs: Underdogs Have Value in Battle of Scuffling Offenses (Thursday, April 22)

mlb-odds-picks-new york mets-vs-chicago cubs-april 22

Mets vs. Cubs Odds

Mets Odds -125
Cubs Odds +115
Over/Under N/A
Time 7:40 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via William Hill.

The Chicago Cubs weren’t expected to be all that good this season and have thus far met those expectations. However, I believed at the beginning of the season that the Cubs are undervalued, and I continue to hold that belief.

The Cubs have a strong lineup that has underperformed. Additionally, Chicago has a few talented pitchers, such as Thursday’s starting pitcher Trevor Williams.

Given that, is there value in them for their matchup against the New York Mets on Thursday night. My model believes so. Let’s take a look.

The . Currently at +115, my model gives them an edge, but I do not plan on betting on them until they reach a price of +125 or better.

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New York Mets

Despite the New York Mets having a winning record, they have an expected winning percentage of 47.4% because they have allowed more runs than they have scored so far. Over the course of a long season, a team’s winning percentage is often directly correlated with their run differential. While the Mets pitching has been strong, their hitting has been weak and that is why they are vulnerable against the Cubs.

Entering Wednesday, the Mets were averaging only 3.17 runs per game, which is the worst of any team in the league. This is because every single New York position player other than Luis Guillorme and James McCann has underperformed their pre-season expectations. Eventually, the Mets should perform better offensively, but their early season offensive struggles do not merit making them -125 favorites to beat the Cubs.

Another reason to bet against the Mets on Thursday is because of their starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi. Like a box of chocolates, with Joey Lucchesi you do not know what you are going to get.

Since 2020, Lucchesi has only pitched 10 2/3 innings. In the past, Lucchesi has been a solid pitcher who can be relied upon to pitch for about 5 2/3 innings per start. But with the Mets, he’s been used in a long relief/short starter role. I expect only four innings of relatively average pitching from Lucchesi on Thursday.

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Chicago Cubs

Like the Mets, The Cubs have a strong lineup that has underperformed this season. While New York is last in the league in runs scored per game, Chicago is right in front of them, averaging just 3.38 runs per game.

At full strength, the Cubs are an above-average offensive team. While third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are meeting their preseason expectations, other players are not. Ian Happ, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Joc Pederson and Jason Heyward are all performing worse offensively than they should be.

Outside of the lineup’s unlocked potential, the other reason to bet on them is because of Williams. Last season, he had a 6.18 ERA and this season he has a 5.02 ERA. However, in both this year and last, Williams has a lower xFIP than ERA, implying that his high ERA is due to bad luck rather than a lack of skill. Over the course of a full season, I expect Williams to have an ERA around four and that is why he is dangerous against the Mets.

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Mets-Cubs Pick

When the betting lines opened on Wednesday afternoon, I was disappointed the Cubs only opened as +115 underdogs. While my model gives Chicago an edge, I believe that I can get Chicago at +125 or better.

The Mets are relying on a back-of-the-rotation starter on Thursday and their lineup has performed poorly so far this season. All of this adds up to a bet on the Cubs. As I mentioned, +115 gives you a small edge, but I’d recommend waiting and getting them at +125 or better if you can find it.

Pick: Chicago Cubs Moneyline (+125 or Better)

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Thursday Serie A Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Napoli vs. Lazio (April 22)

napoli vs lazio-serie-a-bets-odds-picks-april-22

Napoli vs. Lazio Odds

Napoli Odds +100
Lazio Odds +255
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-159/ +128)
Day | Time Thursday | 2:45 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds updated Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

Napoli and Lazio are within two points of one another entering Thursday’s Serie A clash, turning their matchup into a Champions League six-pointer. If Lazio is able to win, they’d leapfrog Napoli into fifth with a game in hand as the closest challenger to AC Milan, Atalanta and Juventus for the top four.

A Napoli win at home would extend their gap over Lazio to five points and keep them within striking distance of all three teams above them. Lazio’s top four odds sit at 23%, while the hosts sit at 43%, per FiveThirtyEight. This game, if it has a winner, will be a huge pivot game with six matches to go after Thursday (seven for Lazio).

Lazio has the tougher run in of games on their schedule, but the sixth-placed side has been in excellent form in the league. Five consecutive wins and they’ve been impressive in most of them on expected goals, too. But they’ve benefitted from a weak schedule of opponents, while Napoli has been almost as good, albeit against much better opponents.

The hosts have been better than Lazio all year and are undervalued to take all three points on Thursday.

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Napoli

Napoli salvaged a point out of a pretty lackluster performance against Inter Milan in a game that didn’t have a whole lot in it at the weekend. 1.6 combined expected goals and a 1-1 draw is a pretty fair result. Playing the eventual Italian champions even is a good result and performance though, and it’s been a recent trend for Germano Gattuso’s side.

They were marginally better than Roma and Milan in wins over both. Napoli lost to Juventus in a pretty mediocre performance, but also handled Serie A bottom feeders Sampdoria and Crotone easily in the last month. The result is a pretty good team with good underlying metrics deserving of a top four spot.

AC Milan is maintaining its spot in the top four from a hot start to the year, but Napoli’s been one of Italy’s four best since the opening month of the campaign. Lazio is a good matchup for them generally because Lazio will cede possession and space to the hosts.

Napoli wants to keep the ball, pass it around and take shots from distance. They get most of their ball progression from the wings but don’t rely a ton on crosses into the penalty area for offense. Napoli’s attack leads the league in shots per match, even more than Atalanta.

The result is lots of patterns of possession for Napoli, which becomes a problem if the hosts get up early and force Lazio to come out of their countering style.

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Lazio

Lazio has done well in recent weeks to vault themselves back into the Serie A top-four race, but this is a tough matchup for a team that has struggled against the class of the division all year. Take away second-leading scorer Felipe Calceido, and it becomes difficult for Simone Inzaghi’s side to create chances against an excellent Napoli defense out of possession.

Lazio is great at quick strike transition and counters, but Napoli is pretty good at forcing teams to break them down and possess the ball. The White and Sky Blues are ninth in shots per 90, bottom half in xG per shot and allow plenty of shots themselves. They’ve had success at scoring off set pieces, but Napoli is among the best at set piece chance prevention because of elite center back Kalidou Koulibaly.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The current line shows Napoli at even money to take all three points, an implied probability of 50%. My Serie A projections suggest they are undervalued here, and should be -125, which is an implied 55.5%. That’s a 5.5% edge on the market. I’d play the home side to take all three points at -115 or better here as they chase the final Champions League place.

Lazio’s recent run of form has been good for their CL chances, but they’ve been running unsustainably hot and that’s unlikely to continue when they face a much better Napoli side on Thursday.

Pick: Napoli (-115 or better)

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Mets vs. Cubs MLB Odds & Picks: Expect Another Low-Scoring Game at Wrigley (Wednesday, April 21)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-new york mets-david peterson-wednesday-april 21

Mets vs. Cubs Odds

Mets Odds -137
Cubs Odds +118
Over/Under 7
Time 7:40 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Wednesday morning via DraftKings.

The Chicago Cubs took the first game of their series with the New York Mets, earning a 3-1 victory on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

Despite marquee names in both lineups, there wasn’t much offense on display. The Cubs scored their runs on the backs of an Eric Sogard single, an error by J.D. Davis and a Willson Contreras walk. On the other side, the Mets’ lone run came via a fifth-inning solo home run from Davis.

With the win, the Cubs moved to 7-9 and the Mets sunk to 7-5 this season.

Can the offenses pick things up in this latest meeting or will we see another low-scoring pitcher’s duel?

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New York Mets

David Peterson will make the start for the Mets. While Peterson’s season numbers aren’t great (4.89 FIP, 2.70 HR/9), so far they’re a bit misleading.

He had a particularly difficult time in his season debut against the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing six earned runs (including two home runs) over just four innings, but rebounded nicely in his last outing against that same lineup. In his last start, he went six innings, allowing just one run and struck out 10 batters.

If he’s going to improve his home-run ratio, he’ll need to lower his Barrel percentage, which currently measures at a very high 20.8% thus far.

However, his latest matchup won’t be the easiest. The Cubs have been strong against left-handed pitching , collectively hitting to a .341 wOBA and .257 ISO in such situations.

As for the Mets’ bullpen, it has been lights out in the early going, compiling a 3.21 FIP, 10.8 K/9 and just 0.6 HR/9 on the season.

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Chicago Cubs

Zach Davies will take the hill for his fourth start. Davies has struggled, pitching to a 6.04 xFIP and allowing a 38.1% Hard Hit rate. Over his first three starts, he’s lasted a total of just 11 1/3 innings and allowed a high .386 BABIP to opposing batters.

Overall, the Mets have found some success against right-handed pitching, accumulating a .310 wOBA so far, good for the eighth-best mark in baseball. Lead-off hitter Brandon Nimmo has been particularly strong, hitting to a .393 wOBA against righties.

If Davies struggles, the Cubs will feel comfortable turning to the bullpen early on. It has been strong this season, collectively pitching to a 4.01 xFIP and a 0.82 HR/9 rate thus far. The bullpen’s 12.0 K/9 is also the best among all big-league clubs.

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Mets-Cubs Pick

While neither Peterson or Davies have been overly steady, both of teams have struggled to score runs as of late. If you exclude their 13-run outburst against the Braves on Saturday, the Cubs have averaged just 2.4 runs per game over their past five outings.

The Mets have not been much better. Despite the winning record, they have also found it difficult to run up the score, averaging just 2.8 runs per game over their past five contests.

If the starters can avoid the big inning against these struggling offenses, the bullpens have proven more than capable of shutting the door.

Despite the low total of seven runs, I’m taking the under in this one as my top pick. I’d prefer to play it at the current mark, but I would bet it up to -110 odds.

Pick: Total Under 7 Runs (+100)

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Hawks vs. Knicks NBA Odds & Picks: New York Will Continue Its Run (April 21)

nba-betting-odds-picks-knicks-hawks-april 21

Hawks vs. Knicks Odds

Hawks Odds +2
Knicks Odds -2
Moneyline +110 / -130
Over/Under N/A
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via FanDuel.

With the clock winding down on the regular season, the battle for seeding in the Eastern Conference is intensifying.

Entering Tuesday night’s slate, Atlanta holds the fourth seed but is just two and a half games ahead of Charlotte for the eighth seed. The new rules placing the seventh- through 10th-seed teams in play-in games makes keeping a top-six spot even more important.

The Knicks are also a team in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff cluster as the sixth seed. New York has worked hard to get to this spot recently, too. It has won six straight, and the two losses before this run came by a total of four points. 

This game carries a lot of leverage as the winner will boost itself while knocking one of its competitors for seeding down. Let’s look further to see which team walks away with a win and more and makes itself more secure in its playoff position.

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Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have been on a hot run similar to the Knicks, as they have won eight of their past 10.

The wins may keep coming, but unlike New York, the numbers may say they are doing better than expected. Atlanta’s Net Rating in its past 10 has been a respectable 5.6, per NBA.com. While this number is nothing to scoff at, it still sits just 10th in the NBA during that time. 

Adding to the word of caution, all eight of Atlanta’s wins have come against teams at or below .500. Its two losses? You guessed it. Both came against teams over .500.

One point of optimism to the Hawks’ run, though, is that it came without their second-best scorer, John Collins. The player who would fill in the vacated scoring spot was Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic has fully taken advantage of all the opportunities, scoring 22.5 points per game on 50.9% shooting. 

Defensively, during their 10 game run, the Hawks have stepped it up a notch. Their Defensive Rating has risen to rank 14, up from 23rd, on the year. This may not be anything to write home about, but it shows that as the moments are getting bigger, so are their efforts. 

Against the Knicks’ tough defense, Atlanta will need all the help it can get. The return of Collins should help give its offense variety, but it will need Bogdan to continue looking as good as he has.

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New York Knicks

New York has taken its game to a new level recently, as it’s 7-2 in its past nine. The Knicks have been barely escaping with wins either, as their Net Rating is up to 10.8 in those games, per NBA.com. Their defense continues to smother opponents, as its 105.6 Defensive Rating is at the top of the league in that span.

The big improvement for New York has come on the offensive end, though. On the year, New York’s Offensive Rating is 109.4, which sits way down at 22nd in the league. During this stretch, though, its Offensive Rating soared to 116.4, which ranks sixth. The difference has been its willingness to turn to the 3-point shot.

New York has shot well all year, making 38.0% of its 3s. However, it’s been reluctant to shoot from deep, taking a mere 29.4 per game. During their run, however, the Knicks are up to 41.8% from deep and 31.7 attempts per game. 

The player leading this offensive revival has been Julius Randle. His 28.2 points per game in the past nine have him ranked ninth in that span. In addition to his scoring this year, Randle has rounded out his game and been a facilitator for the Knicks. He averages 6.1 assists per game on the year, which nearly doubles his 3.2 career average.

Facing the Hawks’ 23rd-ranked defense by Defensive Rating may be harder than it sounds, though. While on a whole it struggles, Atlanta’s defense guards the 3-point line very well, allowing a 3-point percentage of just 34.7%. New York will need its 3-point attack to overcome the tight defense to help it climb the East standings.

Hawks-Knicks Pick

The Knicks’ recent run has helped them both gain victories and reward backers. During its nine-game run, New York is 9-0 against the spread. This has propelled it into a tie for the second-best record against the spread at 36-21-1.

A major factor for this game will be that both teams are on the second leg of back-to-backs. With minimal rest between games, a team that relies on defense should have the edge. An offensive-minded team will have the challenge of overcoming tired legs, particularly late in the game.

New York should bring the toughness and intense style expected of Tom Thibodeau-coached teams. Do not forget when Thibs had Jimmy Butler play 55 minutes on the first game of a back-to-back and 33 in the second, per basketball-reference

With the Knicks also finding their offense recently, an alternative route to covering exists even if the defense does struggle.

Back the Knicks to continue their run and climb up the Eastern Conference playoff ladder.

Pick: Knicks -2 (Play to -4)

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Hurricanes vs. Panthers NHL Odds & Pick: Back Hurricanes to Stay Atop the Central Division (April 22)

carolina hurricanes vs florida panthers-nhl-bets-odds-picks-april-22

Hurricanes vs. Panthers Odds

Hurricanes Odds -118
Panthers Odds -104
Over/Under 5.5
Time Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings

The Carolina Hurricanes will travel to Sunrise Florida to take on the Panthers for a massive two-game set which will go a long way in determining who claims the first-seed from the Central Division. These clubs have been two of the league’s most consistent this season and have continued that form of late with Florida owning a 6-3-1 record over their last 10, and Carolina at 6-2-2.

Although Dallas and Nashville are playing well in a fight for the four seed, winning the division and avoiding a very tough 2 v.s 3 matchup, quite possibly with the defending champion Lightning certainly holds a ton of weight.

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Florida Panthers

The Panthers enter on a three-game winning streak, finding success while dealing with very meaningful injuries to Carter Verhaeghe, and Mackenzie Weegar, on top of Aaron Ekblad who is out for the season with a gruesome leg injury sustained in early March. Newly-acquired forward Sam Bennett has stepped in the second line centre role for the time being and has immediately rewarded GM Bill Zito with five points over his three games with the club.

Highly-touted goaltending prospect Spencer Knight made a very solid debut Tuesday night, stopping 33 shots on route to a 5-1 win over the scuffling Blue Jackets. It will be interesting to see how many starts he is able to manage for a Panthers team with an already crowded cage between Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger.

The Panthers have controlled play to an xGF% of 56.01 over their last 10, and unsurprisingly with the kind of scorers this group possesses up front have turned that control of play into some great results.

This is a very talented Panthers roster, without a lot of knocks. Mackenzie Weegar is possibly the most underrated defensemen in the NHL right now, and it will be interesting to see if he returns. I believe that although this defensive core has managed well the last two vs. lowly Columbus, without Weegar and already missing Ekblad, it could possibly be exposed moreso against a Carolina club that will control a great deal more of the possession and play.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina enters this one off a huge 4-1 statement win over Tampa Bay in which they greatly controlled much of the play. The Lightning went with Andrei Vasilevskiy on back-to-back days for the first time all year for the crucial clash, but Carolina created a ton of chances and managed to get three past the likely Vezina winner.

The Hurricanes have been outright dominant their last four times out, going 3-0-1 to cool off red hot Nashville and claim three out of four points in Tampa Bay to greatly boost their chances at claiming the division title and avoiding Tampa or Florida in round one. Certainly fitting the eye test over the spell, Carolina has skated to an xGF% of 61.15 over the four games and allowed just five goals against.

Carolina has three strong defensive pairings, including three superb defensemen in Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Dougie Hamilton. There is a ton of depth up-front, including an elite top-six group led by an excellent first line centre in Sebastian Aho. Andrei Svechnikov has the talent to be amongst the league’s top scorers, and he’s a guy I think can show more than he has so far this year down the stretch and into the playoffs.


Betting Analysis & Pick

This Canes club has continued to get better every year under coach Rod Brind’Amour, and with the immense depth on this roster at every position I like their chances to keep trending in the right direction and hold onto their lead atop the division for a big first-round advantage.

Florida are certainly a realistic contender with some of the league’s top talent up front and a good supporting cast in behind, but I think that this Canes defensive core is significantly stronger than what the Panthers are rolling out, specifically more so now with Aaron Ekblad out for the year and the immensely underrated Mackenzie Weegar likely to sit again.

Carolina took two games from the Panthers in early April, with a combined score of 8-2. While I love to point out that previous results such as these often mean very little in hockey, the fact that it was so recent and the results were so dominant leads me to believe they hold some relevance.

The matchup currently sits as a pick-em on DraftKings, and I believe backing Carolina at -110 to take this crucial clash holds some strong value given their recent form and a roster that by all means is capable of continuing such results.

Pick: Carolina Moneyline  (-110)

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Blue Jays vs. Red Sox MLB Odds & Picks: Back Garrett Richards and Boston’s Bullpen (Wednesday, April 21)

mlb-odds-picks-boston red sox-vs-toronto blue jays-april 21

Blue Jays vs. Red Sox Odds

Blue Jays Odds +112
Red Sox Odds -120
Over/Under 9.5
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Wednesay morning and via PointsBet.

The battle for the current top of the American League is a grueling one. The Boston Red Sox currently maintain the best run differential — which is usually indicative of future success — in all of baseball.

The Toronto Blue Jays have somehow finagled themselves into the third-best run differential in the AL with half of their lineup refusing to hit. Will that trend continue on Wednesday night?

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Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays’ lineup has been subpar relative to the expectations coming into the season. Only Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette post strong xwOBA’s at .350 or above. Teoscar Hernández, Cavan Biggio, and Marcus Semien are some notable names who have yet to hit up to their own standards. Toronto does have 16 homers off of right-handed pitching, but its .370 overall slugging percentage as a team has not turned around yet.

The Blue Jays have an over-performing bullpen with a 2.24 combined ERA and 4.26 xFIP, and that will be a crucial inflection point in Wednesday’s matchup, since they start Trent Thornton in a likely bullpen day. Fortunately, for Toronto, Ryan Borucki, Tim Mayza, and Tommy Milone did not throw in Tuesday night’s loss to the Boston, so the Blue Jay hurlers should have plenty of available options, even with Tyler Chatwood and Julian Mayweather sidelined.

Some teams, like the Rays are Brewers, are built to withstand bullpen days. The Blue Jays are not, generally speaking, as while the bullpen has been a bright spot so far, regression is likely coming, given the group’s overall BABIP luck. If it hits on Wednesday night, the Red Sox hitters should have a field day against Thornton & Co.

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Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have been the most successful offense in MLB with a 128 wRC+ thus far, and continued that success on Tuesday when they put up four runs and eight hits on Hyun-jin Ryu in five innings.

They have seven players over a .340 xwOBA, so this is no mistake. There are not too many holes in the lineup. They murder righties with a .299 average against, so this plays into their hands Wednesday with Thornton starting and only a few lefties available for the Blue Jays. Even still, they should have plenty of success against a variety of throwers.

The Boston bullpen ranks in the top 10 in xFIP, but has been slightly lucky with a 2.91 combined bullpen ERA. This will come back to earth a little, but as of now, Tanner Houck, Matt Barnes, Garrett Whitlock and Adam Ottavino are all fantastic options for needed relief. Eduardo Rodríguez logging six innings Tuesday definitely helped, too.

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Blue Jays-Red Sox Pick

Outside of his first outing of the season, Garrett Richards has only allowed two earned runs in 10 innings. He has also limited barrels to 4.8%, per Statcast. Facing a Blue Jays lineup that has not quite put it together yet should play into his hands. Bear in mind, Richards ranks in the 13th percentile in the league in chase rate, but the Toronto lineup will do him some favors, since they only walk 7.4% of the time. They also only hit .224 off of righties so far this season

The flexibility of Richards to go five-plus innings with strong bullpen options following him should negate the chance of a rebound for the Toronto lineup. Boston’s bats will continue to hit, especially if they see plenty of right-handed pitchers out of the Toronto ‘pen. They have very few weak spots in comparison to the Blue Jays. Take the Red Sox to -130.

Pick: Red Sox -120 (play to -130)

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NBA Odds, Projections & Picks: Betting Analysis for Suns vs. Sixers, Warriors vs. Wizards and More (Wednesday, April 21)

nba-odds-picks-projections-betting warriors-vs-wizards suns-vs-sixers wednesday-april-21

For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on the Wednesday and Friday slate. Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.

Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.

I’ll also be highlighting some of the slate’s most intriguing matchups with in-depth, game-level analysis that goes beyond the numbers.

NBA Projections Model

NBA Odds & Picks

 

Click on a game to skip ahead
Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m. ET
Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Wizards
7 p.m. ET
Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trailblazers
10 p.m. ET

Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us.

Check out my analysis for tonight’s 12-game slate.

Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Pick
Over 219.5 (PointsBet)
Gametime
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBATV

This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the night. The Suns are no stranger to beating top tier teams as they’re 19-7 against teams above .500 and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 120-111 on Feb. 13. Phoenix has out-performed the market all season long going 41-16 straight up and 36-21 against the spread. Traveling hasn’t been an issue for this team either as they’re 17-8 on the road.

The Suns are top-10 in both Offensive Rating (116.7) and Defensive Rating (109.7) in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning The Glass. Outside of Saturday night’s debacle against the Spurs where they scored just 85 points, this offense has been all but unstoppable, scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes.

Although they’ve improved offensively, they have slipped on the defensive end of the floor as they’re just 15th in Defensive Rating over the past two weeks, allowing opposing teams to score 114.5 points per 100 possessions.

If there’s a weakness for this Suns team, it’s protecting the paint. They are allowing teams to shoot 64.6% at the rim and 42.1% in the mid-range, which rank 19th and 15th among NBA teams. These are areas of the floor where Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris should be able to capitalize on.

The last time these two teams played the Suns won 120-111 in a game that was essentially decided by the benches with nearly all of the 76ers bench having negative plus minus scores. Embiid was in MVP caliber form, scoring 35 points on 12-of-23 shooting while going 9-of-10 from the free throw line and grabbing eight rebounds and dishing two assists.

Harris also added 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Their last game was a slow paced game at just 92 possessions with both teams playing very efficient basketball as the 76ers putting up an Offensive Rating of 119.7 and the Suns putting up an Offensive Rating of 129.5. With the way the Suns are playing lately and the 76ers advantages inside, you have to expect more of the same.

Unfortunately for the 76ers, Seth Curry, Embiid, Harris and Ben Simmons are questionable for this matchup, according to our NBA Insiders tool. If they can’t play the Suns would have an edge.

As a whole, these are two equally matched teams, however the 76ers are 53-10 over the past two seasons at home so if Harris and Simmons can play I’d look toward the 76ers.

I’m going to pass on the side here but I think there’s some value on the total. My model makes this game 220 but we saw these two teams score 131 points in a slow paced game back in February.

The 76ers have gone under the total in eight out of their last 10 games while the Suns have gone over in seven out of their last 10 but based on the first game between these two teams, I believe both offenses have advantages that will allow them to score efficiently.

Assuming injuries don’t factor in here, I’ll take the over 219.5.

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Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Wizards

Pick
Warriors -1.5 | Over 238.5 (FanDuel)
Gametime
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Is there anyone more exciting than Stephen Curry right now? We’re essentially watching Curry play like the 2006 version of Kobe Bryant night after night. He’s playing just as well as he did during his unanimous MVP season in 2016 — and he may be even better than that.

This season without the spacing of Klay Thompson and a championship level bench, Curry is averaging 31.4 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds on 49.1% shooting while making 43.1% of his 3-point attempts.

Here are his scoring numbers over the past 11 games: 40 PPG | 54.1 FG% | 49.7 3FG%.

If that’s not impressive enough, Curry has made 36 3s over the last seven days, more than the Portland Trail Blazers (35), Los Angeles Lakers (35), New Orleans Pelicans (31) and Washington Wizards (30). He also has six games this season with 10-plus 3pointers while no other player in NBA history has more than five. 

Although cupboard is pretty bare for the Warriors offensively, they are scoring 118.9 points per 100 possessions over the last five games so it’s clear that as long as Curry is shooting as much as possible, this team can score.

They’re closing out their five game east coast road trip against a Washington Wizards team which is just 18th in Defensive Rating (113.2) in their non garbage time minutes. I’m not big on handicapping motivation but the last time these two teams played on April 9, the Wizards won 110-107 after the Bradley Beal’s four-point play put the Wizards up by one with 6.1 seconds to go in a game the Warriors held a three point lead.

The Warriors were laying -4.5 for the game and were a missed defensive rebound after a Russell Westbrook 3-pointer away from covering the spread, but ended up losing outright. I’m pretty sure that game left a sour taste in their mouths and with the Warriors chasing a playoff spot, this is a game they have to have.

The Warriors have a few matchup advantages offensively as the Wizards are 20th in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (37.7%) which is ideal for a team with the greatest shooter ever.

The Wizards also allow the seventh highest opponent field goal percentage at the rim (65.2%) and are dead last in opponent field goal percentage in the midrange (46.1%). The Warriors performed well under expectation in their last meeting, shooting just 11-of-37 from behind the arc (29.7%) so I’m expecting a solid offensive output here.

The Wizards also left some meat on the bone offensively as they were just 5-of-19 from behind the arc (26.3%) themselves. My model makes this game 234, but I’m not buying it.

These two teams are first and second in pace with the Wizards playing at 104.57 possessions a game and the Warriors playing at 102.93 possessions a game. As long as these teams shoot a normal percentage from 3-point range, we’re looking at a high scoring game that the Warriors should win.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trailblazers

Pick
Over 229.5 (BetMGM)
Gametime
10 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Oddsmakers opened this total at just 225.5, which made this by far my biggest edge on the board. If you’re following me in the Action App you can see plays as soon as I make them so although you may be reading this write up later in the day you can at the very least catch my plays as soon as I release them.

That said, this figures to be a high-scoring game, especially with Damian Lillard returning to the lineup. It goes without saying how much impact Lillard has on this team as they’re scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions with on him the floor vs 110.6 points per 100 possessions with him off the floor (+9.1 points per 100 possessions).

Like most Blazers teams in the Lillard era, they have a top tier offense and a piss poor defense. The Blazers are fifth in Offensive Rating (117.4) and 29th in Defensive Rating (117.5) in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Nikola Jokic comes off a game against the Grizzlies in which he scored 47 points on 20-of-31 shooting (64.5%) while adding 15 rebounds and eight assists. If that game didn’t solidify his MVP candidacy, things get a lot easier as they face a Blazers defense that ranks 22nd in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (65.1%), 25th in opponent field goal percentage in the mid-range (43.4%) and 23rd in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (38.1%).

Although the loss of Jamal Murray still hangs over this roster, the Nuggets are still scoring 117.5 points per 100 possessions over the last seven games without him. In the short term, the Nuggets can overcome his loss in the regular season, especially against this porous Blazers defense.

Defensively is where I have some concern for the Nuggets, though. Their metrics say they are seventh in Defensive Rating over the past two weeks (110.8), but they haven’t played an offense as good as the Trail Blazers.

Also while Facundo Campazzo is known for his energy and effort, at 5-10, there’s only so much he can do against the top point guards in this league. Ja Morant comes off a performance in which he scored 36 points and dropped 12 assists, essentially getting anything he wanted so I’m expecting a similar performance from Lillard and Cj McCollum.

The Nuggets are dead last in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (68.3%) so the the Blazers should have their opportunities to score. The Blazers are shooting the second-highest frequency of 3-point field goals (43.1%) against a Nuggets team which is 23rd in opponent 3-point shooting frequency (38.1%).

Overall, I think both teams should get theirs tonight so I look for this to be a high scoring game. I’ve already played the over 225.5 but at 228.5 there’s still some value and I would play this up to 230.

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Wednesday MLB Odds & Picks: 4 Best Bets Including Mets vs. Cubs, Diamondbacks vs. Reds & Blue Jays vs. Red Sox (April 21)

mlb-odds-expert picks-predictions-new york mets-april 21

It’s a full day once against on the MLB schedule, although rain is threatening a handful of games. Nonetheless, with every team save the Dodgers and Mariners are supposed to play, that means there’s plenty of opportunities to find value.

Our staff has found four bets to recommend from Wednesday’s slate of MLB games. There’s one moneyline, two totals, and one team total to choose from. Below, you will find our staff’s best bets for Wednesday.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
4:05 p.m. ET
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds
6:40 p.m. ET
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox
7:10 p.m. ET
New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs
7:40 p.m. ET

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals

Pick
Under 8 (-106)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Carlos Martinez vs. Max Scherzer
First Pitch
4:05 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Even though Carlos Martinez isn’t what he once was, he has a lot of help behind him in the field and in the bullpen. The Cardinals are the best defensive team in baseball and before the season were projected to have an above-average bullpen. For the Nationals lineup, outside of Trea Turner and Juan Soto, there isn’t much fire power, as last season nobody besides those two had a wOBA over .340.

Max Scherzer is still dealing at the ripe age of 34. He has a 3.49 xFIP through his first three starts of 2021 and has struck out 24 batters in the process. He’ll have a fantastic matchup against the Cardinals, who really struggled versus right-handed pitching in 2020, putting up a .305 wOBA and 92 wRC+, which were both in the bottom-10 of MLB. Additionally, the Cardinals had negative weighted runs against every pitch in Max Scherzer’s arsenal, so he should be able to mow them down tonight.

I only have 6.93 runs projected for this game, so I think there is some value on Under 8 runs at -106 odds.

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds

Pick
Reds Team Total Over 4.5 (+106)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Merrill Kelly vs. Tyler Mahle
First Pitch
6:40 p.m. ET

Jeff Hicks: Finishing last night’s game may be a deterrent for some to bet the over on this game, but I have been bullish on the Reds’ offense since the spring.

Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly has allowed 23 hits and four home runs in 16 innings pitched. He does not strike out many batters, walks too many hitters, and has an expected ERA higher than his actual ERA, according to FanGraphs.

The Reds average 6.33 runs per game, while the D’backs’ bullpen has allowed 26 extra-base hits and 28 walks in 2021. Cincinnati should score plenty of runs in this one, off both Kelly and Arizona’s bullpen. Back Cincinnati’s team total here at plus money and don’t be scared away by the fact that they’re completing last night’s game before starting this one.

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Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox

Pick
Red Sox -121
Book
PointsBet
Pitchers
Trent Thornton vs. Garrett Richards
First Pitch
7:10 p.m. ET

Tanner McGrath: The Blue Jays are a young, exciting team with a lot of firepower. Players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have reignited hope for the Toronto fanbase and elicited high expectations for the future.

However, we’ve tracked sharp money coming in on the Red Sox, as the Boston ML is getting 86% of the money despite getting just 43% of the bets at the time of this writing.

The Blue Jays are just overvalued right now, specifically on the offensive side. Outside of Guerrero and Bichette, Randal Grichuk is the only guy with an OPS+ above 72. Overall, the Blue Jays are a bottom-10 team in OBP, SLG and wOBA.

Moreover, the advanced stats suggest Toronto’s offensive numbers might even be inflated. Despite leading the league in average exit velocity, the Blue Jays are currently a bottom-three team in xBA, xSLG and xwOBA.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense has looked unstoppable, the bullpen has pitched lights out and today’s starter, Garrett Richards, has bounced back after a rough start. Richards has allowed just two runs and seven hits over his last 10 innings of work.

And after facing a dangerous Minnesota lineup, Richards gets to face a Toronto team that ranks 24th against RHPs in wRC+ and has posted a measly .585 OPS against RHPs on the road. Plus, Richards mainly throws a fastball/slider mix, and Toronto boasts negative weighted runs created against both pitches this season.

Since Toronto has just four starting pitchers in the rotation and Ross Stripling is currently on the IL, the Blue Jays are starting right-handed reliever Trent Thornton. While he’s been excellent in his appearances this season, we shouldn’t see him for more than a few innings.

So, I’m fading an overvalued Toronto lineup on a bullpen day against a red-hot Red Sox lineup with a starter who can take advantage of Toronto’s weaknesses. I played the Boston ML at -121 on PointsBet and would bet it to -130.

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New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs

Pick
Over 7.5 (+100)
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
David Peterson vs. Zach Davies
First Pitch
7:40 p.m. ET

Kenny Ducey: It’s true, I expected this Mets offense to break out against a pitcher who was due for some regression on Tuesday night, and it didn’t happen. So, why am I expecting that to happen again on Wednesday?

Well, if Jake Arrieta is a ticking time bomb, then Zach Davies is simply a bomb. The right-hander has been a regression candidate for at least five years now, and has had his fair share of rocky starts. This season, he’s got a 5.60 xERA and has been shelled at least once against the lowly Pirates.

He ranks in the bottom-14% of the league in walk rate, and the bottom-7% in strikeout rate. A pitch-to-contact righty could be just what the doctor ordered after Arrieta’s swing-and-miss arsenal gave them fits in the opening game of the series. It doesn’t hurt that they’re eighth in walk rate and facing a pitcher with control issues, either.

On the other hand, David Peterson is a bad left-handed pitcher, and the one thing we can say about the Cubs is that they’ve been good against lefties, ranking 10th in baseball with a 114 wRC+ against them. Peterson lacks velocity, and he’s given up an average exit velocity of 91.7 mph this season. I’m bearish on the Cubs’ bats, but even I have to admit this total is far too low.

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NBA Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Suns vs. 76ers Preview (April 21)

suns vs. 76ers-odds-picks-predictions-betting preview-nba-april 21-2021

Suns vs. 76ers Odds

Suns Odds -1
76ers Odds +1
Moneyline -115 / -105
Over/Under 220.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBATV
Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet

In what could be — in some fans’ minds anyway — an NBA Finals preview, the Phoenix Suns, just a game and a half out of the top spot out West, travel to Philadelphia to take on the East-leading 76ers.

Philly held two of its three best players out last game, but with the duo presumably re-joining the fold on Wednesday, this one should be as tight as can be.

With so little separating the two sides, let’s get into the matchup and see if we can figure out who will come away the winner.

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Phoenix Suns

The Suns have begun to take on a different identity as we hit the final stretch of the NBA season, and though it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s … different.

We’ve been used to seeing the Suns bear down on the defensive end, but over the past 10 games it’s been the offense that has out-shined the defense. Phoenix is giving up 109.9 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com, while its offense sits fifth with a 117.3 Efficiency Rating.

It goes on — over that span, the Suns are 12th in pace. This team currently sits 24th in pace for the season, and for most of the year spent its time among the five slowest teams in basketball.

Gone are the days of Chris Paul grinding games to a painfully slow halt, and the Suns swallowing up some of the best scorers out West. It’s not as if their defense has gone away completely, but it has taken a backseat as the Suns have really begun to percolate on offense. As a result, a once-trusty under team has become an over team, surpassing the total in nine of the last 12 games.

Wednesday could be another step closer to the top spot out West for Phoenix, which sits just 1.5 games back of the limping Jazz for the top spot. The Suns can smell blood in the water with Donovan Mitchell out, and they’re surely hellbent on grabbing the No. 1 seed.


Philadelphia 76ers

Much of how I bet this game will be determined by the Sixers’ injury report on Wednesday. Ben Simmons missed Monday’s game due to an illness, and Tobias Harris was held out due to a sore knee, which has been giving him fits for about a month now.

Though Philly’s had a day to rest, and Simmons has had some time to drink some herbal tea and sleep in, you’d think two of its three best players would be available in a marquee matchup, but we can’t ever be sure with this team.

The Sixers will be continuing their homestand, and they sure have loved playing at the Wells Fargo Center. Even with Monday’s home loss to Golden State, where they were missing Simmons and Harris, they’re a stunning 22-6 straight-up and 16-12 against the spread in that building with eight wins in their last 11.

Though they’ll be comfortable at home, the Sixers might not feel so comfortable with their standing at the moment with the Nets just a game back of first place in the East. Philly is entering a tough stretch where it will have to take on Phoenix, then Milwaukee twice, and it’s a real possibility in five days’ time there is a new team atop the conference.

With that, the Sixers should come into this one highly motivated and in a profitable spot. They certainly have looked the part, leading the NBA with a 104.7 defensive rating over the past 10 games and absolutely suffocating some of the league’s most potent offenses. The Suns certainly fall into that category, and could very well be the next victim.

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Suns-76ers Pick

The Sixers have gone over the total just twice in the last 11 games, and we’ve already laid out how the Suns have turned into a big over team. Philly is pushing the pace, and Phoenix is not. Something’s gotta give, and the fact that this game is nearly a pick ’em is simply perfect.

One of the things I like to look into when I’m mulling over Sixers games is how the opposing team does at defending post-ups. After all, it’s what they do the most, leading the league with a 9.9% rate, according to Synergy. Well, it’s not the best; the Suns allow .93 points per play on post-ups, which isn’t the worst mark in the world, but it’s certainly not the best.

There’s also nine spots separating the two sides in rebounding rate with the Sixers up in fifth place in the NBA. There could wind up being a slight edge on the battle down low.

With that, I think the Sixers, given their propensity for defense lately, and their elite big man Joel Embiid, have a slight edge here. I more often than not lean towards the stronger defensive unit anyway, but the mediocrity against post-ups and on the glass makes the decision for me, and the fact that the Sixers are at home makes it a little sweeter.

Pick: Sixers +1 (-110)

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NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Wednesday’s Three Top Selections, Including Kevin Love & Kevon Looney (April 21)

nab-betting-odds-picks-player props-cleveland cavaliers-kevin ylove-wednesday-april 21

The single most important factor for NBA player props is playing time.

That key component almost always dictates our first lean toward going over or under on a play. More opportunity means more chances for shots, passes and rebounds, but it’s not a guarantee. Our three picks Wednesday are seeing nice upticks in playing time, but only two are producing bigger numbers.

For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.

Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.

NBA Player Props & Picks

Kevon Looney — Over 7.5 Rebounds (-118)

Warriors vs. Wizards Warriors -1.5
Time | TV 7 pm. ET | League Pall
Best Book FanDuel

Did you know that Steph Curry is not the only member of the Golden State Warriors?

It’s true. Curry has teammates. Some of them are even decent. You’d never know it, and who really cares these days, as he pours in the points and 3-pointers galore. Have you looked at Curry;s props today? His points over/under is at 35.5. You read that correctly: 35.5 points.

His 3-pointers line is an absurd 6.5 on the total. To hit these overs, Curry has to score 36 points on seven 3s, and even crazier, there is no way I’m playing those unders no matter what the Props Tool thinks.

Why? Because I like fun.

However, I’m willing to bet on one of Steph’s teammates. Kevon Looney is playing real minutes again. He has good synergy with Curry and the Warriors need any competent bodies they can find, especially with James Wiseman out for the year and the team desperate for big-man help.

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Over the last five games, Looney is playing 28.0 minutes per game, which is quite high for him. He’s averaging 10.0 RPG with at least nine rebounds in every game. Four of these last five outings are also his four highest-minute totals of the year, because his health typically limits him to around 17.0 minutes per game.

Bet on the rebounds that come with more playing time, and let’s just hope Curry misses enough shots for Looney to grab a few rebounds. I’ll play the over to -140 odds.

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Kevin Love — Over 14.5 Points (-104)

Bulls vs. Cavaliers Bulls -2.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

We played Kevin Love successfully Monday and the books haven’t adjusted enough yet, so let’s go back to the well.

Love missed the season opener, played 37.5 minutes in the second Cleveland game, then left injured less than nine minutes into the third contest. He sat for more than two months, came back for 10 minutes in one game and under two the next, then sat another few weeks.

He’s finally back again and he’s playing well. Love has played 10 April games, averaging 13.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 25.3 minutes per game. It’s not particularly exciting and certainly isn’t worth $30 million a season, but that’s water under the bridge now.

Love has scored at least nine points in all but one of those games, which isn’t a particularly high bar until you remember he’s played more than 23 minutes only five times all season. He’s averaging 16.0 PPG in those five games, all of which have come in the last two weeks.

This is a minutes play for Love. He’s, playing a little more now, and the books are starting to adjust but haven’t gone far enough yet. Love’s scoring over is a  perfect 5 for 5 in those games with more than 23 minutes. He’s still going to score when he’s out there, and his per-minute numbers are still about in line with the rest of his time in Cleveland.

Bet on the minutes providing enough time for Love to get to 15 points. We project him at 16.3, so we’re getting near even odds. I’ll play to -125 odds.

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Theo Maledon — Under 21.5 PTS + RBS + ASTS (-115)

Thunder vs. Pacers Pacers -9
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Theo Maledon is quietly having a very solid rookie season for the Thunder. Oklahoma City moved Maledon into its starting lineup back in January when George Hill got shelved. And Maledon has been there ever since.

He’s started 36 games this season now and looks like a very nice second-round pick. And though Maledon is technically an NBA rookie, this is not his first time in professional ball. He played professionally in Europe before coming to America, and was long expected to be a first-round pick as a well-rounded guard prospect under Tony Parker’s tutelage.

It looks like the Thunder got a steal, but that doesn’t mean Maledon is filling up the box score. In those 36 starts, Maledon is averaging just 11.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in almost 31 minutes a game. And that’s fine.

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There’s nothing wrong with that, but the lack of a standout number is part of why Maledon slipped in the draft. He’s a guy who does a lot of things well without major holes, but he doesn’t have that elite scoring or passing knack to hang his hat on. He has the sort of game that earns quick, steady playing time, but isn’t a guy who will typically put up big numbers or take over the game.

Maledon has scored 14 or fewer points in all, but four games this season. He’s had six or fewer assists in all but two. He’s had between two and four boards in 30 of 52 games. This is a high-floor, low-ceiling player. And that lack of a ceiling is why this is a solid play.

Maledon has gone under 21.5 points + rebounds + assists in 44 of 52 games, hitting this under 85% of the time. If we filter out the games off the bench to be more fair, that drops to 28 out of 36 and is still under in 78% of his starts.

Maledon’s going to play plenty against the Pacers, and he’ll very likely get to at least 15 PRA, like he’s done 30 times already this season. However, the ceiling hasn’t been there and we project him to top out at 18.0 PRA, thus rating this prop a 10 out of 10. I’ll fade the rookie and play the under to -140 odds.

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Louisiana Sports Betting Takes First Legislative Step

louisiana-sports-betting-legislative-step

Louisiana lawmakers advanced a sports betting tax bill without opposition Wednesday, the first step in the lengthy legislative process to bring legal online and potentially retail wagering to most Louisiana parishes.

The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill that would tax retail and online sportsbooks 10 and 18 percent gross gaming revenue, respectively. House sponsor Todd Stefanski said during Wednesday’s committee meeting that the steeper online rate, which would be among the highest online sports betting taxes in the nation, was designed to encourage in-person foot traffic to brick-and-mortar gaming facilities.

The tax bill’s first step comes more than five months after voters in the vast majority of Louisiana parishes approved legal sports betting. Taxing legislation, which by state law must originate in the House of Representatives, is just one piece of what will likely be a months-long legislative process needed for legal wagering to begin in Louisiana.

“I want to get this process started because I know how difficult it is to pass a tax and how difficult sports betting is for some members, depending on what parish (you represent),” Stefanski said. “I promise I will not move this on to the floor until I have an opportunity for everyone to get their input in.”

Regulation Details

The House tax bill complements a Senate regulatory proposal that would allow online sportsbook licenses for Louisiana’s 20 commercial gaming facilities as well as the state lottery and retail offerings for virtually every lottery and liquor retailer in the state.

Each gaming facility could open two online sportsbooks, or “skins,” meaning there could be as many as 41 total mobile sports betting options between the commercial gaming establishments as well as one skin for the state lottery.

Caesars operates several Louisiana casinos, including that state’s lone land-based casino, Harrah’s New Orleans. It would likely use at least one of its skins for its William Hill brand.

Other leading gaming operators already partnered with sportsbooks in other states including Penn National (Barstool Sportsbook), Boyd Gaming (B Connected), Churchill Downs (TwinSpires) and Golden Nugget own Louisiana gaming facilities. These brands and many other top names such as DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and BetMGM will likely enter the market if the tax and regulatory bills pass.

The gaming facilities would pay a $250,000 initial application fee, plus a $500,000 “franchise fee” that would last for five years.

Other issues

Voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved legal wagering via a 2020 ballot measure, but the referendum didn’t specify many key taxation and regulatory questions elected officials are looking to resolve in this year’s legislative session. The 2020 authorization prohibits any type of online or retail sports betting in the nine parishes that rejected wagering, but it remains to be seen which facilities (beyond the aforementioned gaming entities) will be able to take bets throughout the rest of the state.

The Senate regulatory bill sponsored by Senate President Patrick Page Cortes and supported by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder would also be the first to permit thousands of retail kiosks at hundreds of state lottery retailers as well as bars and restaurants with liquor licenses. Louisiana is among a handful of states that permit video poker terminals at bars, and Stefanski said Wednesday sports betting kiosks would likewise be confined to certain areas of the establishments like the existing gaming machines are now.

“We see this as a way for local businesses, bars and restaurants to be able to participate in this program,” Stefanski said.

Sen. Cameron Henry has introduced a competing bill that would allow the 20 aforementioned gaming facilities three mobile skins apiece but would not allow the lottery to open an online sportsbook or betting kiosks at its retail vendors. The bill could be more palatable in a state where gaming remains politically controversial, but it appears House and Senate leadership are already backing the more expansive retail betting proposal.

Next Steps

Wednesday’s vote of confidence gives the taxation bill firm footing heading to further debate, but as Stefanski said during the committee hearing, it could be a while before the bill receives passage on the House floor.

In the meantime, the Senate will have to take up the contrasting visions for implementing the nascent sports betting industry. Voters in the vast majority of parishes, including the dozen most populated, approved legal wagering in their home municipality, but it remains to be seen how or when lawmakers will implement the critical follow-up legislation.

Lottery retailer and liquor license holder access will likely be a key contention point. So too could the rights to take bets for the actual video lottery terminal operators themselves, who helped stall a 2018 daily fantasy implementation bill.

Those political obstacles remain, but the early endorsement from the state’s political heavyweights, plus the warm initial reception for the tax bill, are positive early signs Louisiana’s sports betting bill passes before the 2021 session ends in June.

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Pirates vs. Tigers MLB Odds & Picks: Expect Poor Pitching in Doubleheader Finale (April 21)

pittsburgh pirates vs detroit tigers-mlb-odds-bets-picks-april-21

Pirates vs. Tigers Game 1 Odds

Pirates Odds +110
Tigers Odds -120
Over/Under 8
Time 6:40 p.m. ET
TV BSDET
Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings

Ah yes, the classic baseball game getting canceled because of snow, in mid-April. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers will now play a doubleheader on Wednesday, with the first seven-inning game starting at 2:10 p.m. and the second starting at 6:40 p.m.

The Battlin’ Buccos have been better than most expected early this season, and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Pirates took two of three from the Cubs, split a four-game set with the Padres, and most recently won two of three against the Brewers.

Detroit on the other hand, is coming off a four-game sweep in Oakland. The Tigers were shutout in two of the four games and were outscored 21-6.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40’s at Comerica Park for Wednesday’s doubleheader.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

Tyler Anderson will start Game 1 for Pittsburgh and his coming off his best start of the year, allowing one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Padres.

Anderson has a 4.02 ERA through three starts this year and has a 4.63 career ERA. Anderson has thrown his cutter 34.9% of the time this season, up dramatically from 18.1% last year. It has been his best pitch this year, allowing a .217 batting average against it. He throws his 4-seam fastball just 90 mph and it has been hammered to a .368 batting average against.

In the night cap, the Buccos will deploy Mitch Keller who hopes to bounce back from a disastrous last start. Keller gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out just one. Keller has allowed a 51.4 Hard Hit% this year, the eighth highest in the league.

Keller has just 19 career starts under his belt, and early in his career has either experienced great luck or horrible luck, based on drastically different ERA and xFIP. In 2019, Keller had a 7.13 ERA but 3.47 xFIP, signaling bad luck. In 2020, he got the good luck, with a 2.91 ERA but 6.57 xFIP. So far in 2021, he has a 8.74 ERA but a more promising 5.37 xFIP.

On paper, the Pirates lineup might seem very underwhelming, especially without Ke’Bryan Hayes. But the Pirates rank in the top half of the league in batting average and in wOBA.

Bryan Reynolds leads the way with a .317 batting average, and Adam Frazier (.305) and Colin Moran (.298) are off to fantastic starts as well. Moran has four home runs and 13 RBI’s and currently has a .413 wOBA, good for 20th in the league.

The Pirates will face a pair of right-handed starters on Wednesday and they have been excellent against right-handed pitching this season, ranking in the top 10 in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA and wRC+ against righties.

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Detroit Tigers

The Tigers will send Michael Fulmer to the hill for Game 1. After battling injuries the last two years, Fulmer earned his first win since June 14, 2018 in his last outing. Fulmer went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits. It was Fulmer’s first start of the season, after starting the year in the bullpen and making three appearances in relief.

Fulmer has a terrific slider that he throws 35% of the time and has a 31.3% swing-and-miss rate with it. He has a 50% K% with his slider this season. The concern with Fulmer is he has not pitched more than five innings in a game since 2018. That could spell trouble for the Tigers bullpen, which has been the worst in baseball.

In Game 2, Spencer Turnbull will make his first start of the season. Turnbull went 4-4 last season and posted a 3.97 ERA in 11 starts, but had a 5.48 xERA.
Turnbull’s 2021 debut was delayed because he tested positive for COVID-19 in early March. Turnbull made just three starts during Spring Training and said he “didn’t pick up a baseball or leave quarantine for three weeks … and lost 10 points of muscle mass.”

Manager A.J. Hinch said Turnbull is not ready to throw five-to-six innings and is expected to be on a 75-to-85 pitch count. Which again, could spell trouble for the worst bullpen in baseball.

The Tigers bullpen ranks last in the league with a 6.99 collective ERA, 5.11 xFIP and 2.28 HR/9 rate. The Detroit relievers have allowed 45 runs in 55 innings this season.

The Detroit offense had gone ice cold long before yesterday’s snow. The Tigers rank 27th in runs per game and have scored just two runs in their last three games. They rank 25th in batting average, 26th in wRC+ and 28th in wOBA. Detroit has a 27.9% strikeout rate, the fourth highest this year.

Pirates-Tigers Pick

When you look at how these two teams have played over the last week, it’s clear the Pirates currently have the superior offense. As an added bonus, the Buccos will face two right-handed pitchers, and have been especially good against righties this year, ranking top 10 in the league.

The Tigers on the other hand, will face the left-handed Tyler Anderson in Game 1. Detroit has been the worst team in baseball against lefties by a wide margin, batting just .176 with a .225 wOBA and 42 wRC+.

This could be a long afternoon for the Tigers as they could be forced to rely on the worst bullpen in baseball in both games. Fulmer hasn’t lasted more than five innings since 2018 and Turnbull is coming off a COVID quarantine and A.J. Hinch said he will be on a pitch count.

I like the Pirates in Game 1 with a left-hander on the mound against Detroit’s lineup. I would back them at anything +105 or better.

See how early the Tigers need to go to their bullpen in the first game. If Fulmer gets pulled before the fifth inning, I will look to back the over in Game 2.

With a struggling Keller pitching for the Pirates, and Turnbull on a pitch count before the worst bullpen in baseball takes over, I’ll play the over up to 6.5.

Pick: Game 1: Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+110) | Game 2: Over 6 (-120)

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Braves vs. Yankees MLB Odds & Picks: Atlanta’s Hitters Will Rebound Against Kluber (Wednesday, April 21)

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Braves vs. Yankees Odds

Braves Odds +105
Yankees Odds -122
Over/Under 9 (-104/-118)
Time 6:35 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings.

Two of the best teams in baseball take center stage on Wednesday night as the Braves battle the Yankees in the second of a two-game series.

Atlanta is off to a bad start to the season after coming within one game of the World Series in 2020. The Braves are below .500 and are looking for their starting pitchers to finally get some good fortune. Atlanta’s starters have combined for a 5.61 ERA but have a 3.46 xFIP, so they are due for some positive regression.

The Yankees are off to quite possibly the worst start possible, as they are in dead last in the AL East through the first part of the season.

The problem for New York is its supposedly powerful lineup has been incredibly quiet throughout to start the season. Now, it has to face one of the best young pitchers in baseball in Ian Anderson, so the Yankees’ offensive woes could continue on Wednesday.

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Offensive Matchup

Atlanta Braves

The Braves absolutely mashed right-handed pitching and fastballs last season, putting up a .363 wOBA and 126 wRC+, which was the best mark in baseball.

Atlanta was also the best hitting team against cutters in 2020, which will give it a big advantage against Corey Kluber since that’s his go-to pitch. His velocity with it is also way down, and he’s struggled with it through his first three starts, allowing a .376 wOBA to opponents.

The biggest question for Atlanta heading into this contest is the status of Ronald Acuña Jr. He missed yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury and is questionable to play on Wednesday. If he’s out, it will be a big blow to the Braves’ lineup since he leads MLB in pretty much every offensive category.

New York Yankees

Through the first 16 games of the season, the Yankees’ lineup that was supposed to be one of the best in the American League is struggling big time.

New York’s producing just a .289 wOBA and 87 wRC+, which a massive step down from 2020.

The Yankees didn’t make any upgrades to their offense during the offseason, but they also kept their entire lineup together. It does seem like they are missing Luke Voit, the MLB home run leader from last season, who is out for the first month of the season.

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Starting Pitching Matchup

Ian Anderson vs. Corey Kluber

2021 ZIPS Projected Stats (via Fangraphs)

Braves Starting Pitcher

Ian Anderson, RHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Anderson was a fantastic surprise for the Braves’ rotation last season. The 22-year-old showed why he was the third overall pick in 2016, as he posted a 1.95 ERA in six starts.

However, so far in 2021, he’s been incredibly unlucky. Through his first three starts, Anderson’s ERA is all the way up at 4.77, but his xFIP is almost two runs lower at 2.77. So, the young right-hander is due for some positive regression.

Anderson’s arsenal starts with a really nice fastball that can top out at 96 mph with good downhill movement. He then has a power curve that is a really solid pitch for him, as it produced a 40.5% whiff rate last season.

Where Anderson really excels, though, is with his changeup. The pitch has been almost unhittable so far in his career. He’s allowed only a .104 average to opponents in 2020 and produced a 39.4% whiff rate. The Yankees were seventh against changeups last season, so Anderson will have to be on point with it tonight.

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Yankees Starting Pitcher

Corey Kluber, RHP

2019 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Kluber’s 2019 and 2020 seasons were cut short after he fractured his right forearm in 2019 and suffered a torn shoulder in 2020. He signed with the Yankees in the offseason in hopes to return to his former glory.

Through his first three starts, it seems that return to glory might be a far-fetched dream. He’s only lasted 10 and 1/3 innings in his first three starts and has given up seven earned runs, including three home runs.

His first three starts are not all that surprising, as the two-time Cy Young Award winner is now 34 and coming off back-to-back arm injuries. He mixed his pitches well, but his velocity on almost all of his pitches is down 2-3 mph, which is a major concern.

Now, he’s facing one of the best right-handed hitting lineups in baseball, so it could be a short outing for Kluber tonight.

Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

Atlanta’s bullpen ranked in the top half of MLB in both ERA and xFIP last season. It’s been pretty average so far this season with an ERA and xFIP around 4.0, so the Braves could be vulnerable when they get to the later innings.

The Yankees will have a slight advantage in the bullpen department. Adam Ottavino is on the Red Sox and Zack Britton is hurt for an extended period of time, so that leaves the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen really exposed once you get past Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green.

So though far in 2021, though, the Yankees have led MLB in ERA and WHIP.

Braves-Yankees Pick

I think the Braves’ lineup has a fantastic matchup against Corey Kluber tonight. The 34-year-old looks nothing like his former Cy Young self, and the Braves lineup should be able to tee off on his cutter.

Since I have the Braves projected for 4.45 runs tonight, I think there’s some value on their team total at over 4.5 runs at +115 odds.

Pick: Braves Team Total Over 4.5 (+115)

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2021 Zurich Classic Odds and Format: What To Know Ahead of TPC Louisiana

2021-zurich-classic-odds-scoring-format

The PGA TOUR brings bettors a different look this week at the 2021 Zurich Classic in New Orleans.

Rather than a traditional stroke-play event, this tournament features pairings playing both best ball and alternate shot formats throughout the weekend. That’ll provide a different experience for both viewing and betting.

TPC Louisiana hosts the tournament, which enters its fourth year as a team event.

Here’s how it works.

Teams will play best ball on Thursday’s opening round, which means both players will use their own shot throughout the round. However, only the lowest score on the hole will count for the scorecard. For example, if one player pars a hole and the other birdies, the birdie will go on the official scorecard.

On Friday for the second round the format changes to alternate shot. Players on each team will alternate who tees off on each hole with his partner taking the next shot and switching back and forth from there. For example, if one player tees off on the first hole, his partner will take the second shot and the player who teed off takes the third shot. On the next hole, whoever didn’t tee off will take the tee shot on hole No. 2.

The top 35 teams plus ties will make the cut. There are 80 teams in the tournament.

Saturday’s third round goes back to best ball. The final round on Sunday will be played as alternate shot.

Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are the +600 betting favorites at DraftKings, just head of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (+650). Rahm and Palmer won this event in 2019, the last year it was played.

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith are tied for third on the oddsboard with young guns Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff at +1400. Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson (+1600) and Cameron Champ and Tony Finau (+1800) are the only other teams listed below +2000.

Billy Horschel was part of the winning team in 2018 with Scott Piercy, but Horschel will be paired with Sam Burns this time around and come in at +2500.

In the first year of team play, Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith won the event in a playoff over Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner. Brown and Kisner are partnered again at +6600.

2021 Zurich Classic of New Orleans Odds

Team Odds
Palmer/Rahm +600
Cantlay/Schauffele +650
Leishman/Smith +1400
Morikawa/Wolff +1400
Scheffler/Watson +1600
Champ/Finau +1800
Burns/Horschel +2500
Hatton/Willett +2500
Todd/Kirk +2500
Oosthuizen/Schwartzel +2800
Gooch/Homa +3500
Grace/Varner +3500
Kokrak/Perez +4000
Bradley/Steele +4500
An/Im +4500
Frittelli/Streelman +4500
Hovland/Ventura +4500
Rose/Stenson +4500
Glover/Reavie +5000
Lewis/Pieters +5000
Castro/Tringale +5500
Noren/Norlander +5500
Dahmen/Griffin +6000
Brown/Kisner +6600
Garnett/Stallings +7000
Ghim/Suh +7000
Hoffman/Watney +7000
Laird/Taylor +7000
McDowell/Wallace +7000
NeSmith/Seiffert +7000
Bramlett/McNealy +9000
Clark/van Rooyen +9000
Duncan/Schenk +9000
Gordon/Thompson +9000
Knox/Stuard +9000
Lee/Stanley +9000
Mitchell/Snedeker +9000
Straka/Teater +9000
Hadley/Martin +10000
Merritt/Streb +10000
Cook/Landry +12500
Hoag/Roach +12500
Hoge/Hossler +12500
Jones/Spaun +12500
Redman/Ryder +12500
Sloan/Baddeley +12500
Uihlein/Werenski +12500
Bhatia/Piercy +15000
Harrington/Putnam +15000
Hearn/Power +15000
Anderson/Campos +17500
Pan/Zhang +17500
Garrigus/Holmes +17500
Hojgaard/Taylor +17500
Burgoon/Lebioda +20000
Gligic/Whaley +20000
Cappelen/Hubbard +25000
Gellerman/Higgs +25000
Kraft/Tway +20000
Baker/Malnati +27500
Hahn/Trainer +27500
Hickok/Shelton +27500
Romero/Vegas +27500
Bae/Lee +30000
List/van Pelt +30000
Aphibarnrat/Atwal +40000
Barnes/Trahan +40000
Beljan/Every +40000
Blaum/Byrd +40000
Bozzelli/Dufner +40000
Chalmers/Percy +40000
Choi/Kang +40000
Gibson/Taylor +40000
Gomez/Ledesma +40000
Haas/Mahan +40000
Hagy/Kim +40000
McNeil/Wilkinson +40000
Murray/Oppenheim +40000
Stadler/Wagner +40000
Austin/Mediate +125000

Odds via DraftKings as of April 19 morning.

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Thursday Premier League Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion (April 22)

premier-league-odds-picks-west brom-vs-leicester city-april 22

Leicester City vs. West Brom Odds

Leicester City Odds -180
West Brom Odds +510
Draw +320
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -105)
Day | Time Thursday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | Peacock Premium
Odds updated Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

West Brom is all but certainly going to be relegated from the Premier League after its first season back in the top division, but that hasn’t stopped them from dramatically improving since the hiring of manager Sam Allardyce.

At the other end of the table, Leicester City has fallen off a bit in recent weeks and is now fighting for a spot in the top four and a place in next year’s Champions League. That turns this match into a must-win for the Foxes. They’ve lost their last two league matches and seen their top-four odds fall to 68%, per FiveThirtyEight.

WBA enters this match nine points from safety with just seven matches to play, a nearly insurmountable deficit to try to make up. But their improved performances of late create value on them in this matchup.

_BookPromo=49

Leicester City

It’s been really difficult to gauge how good Leicester City is this season because injuries and penalties have skewed their season-long numbers significantly. Early in the year, the Foxes benefitted from an unusual and unsustainable number of penalties that masked over very mediocre underlying numbers. They survived an extensive period of injuries, too, and it appeared their performances were improving once those players came back.

But they really haven’t improved and haven’t gotten much production out of their attacking players. The emergence of Kelechi Iheanacho has saved their attacking output, but James Maddison and Jamie Vardy have underperformed in the second half of the season. Harvey Barnes is out for the year.

Leicester are eighth in the league in non-penalty xG difference since Dec. 23. In their last 10 games, they rank seventh in NPxGD. Simply put, this Leicester team has been efficient at getting results from lackluster performances all year and it’s why they rank third in the league despite these underlying numbers.

In terms of shots, LCFC is the ninth-best attack and fifth-best defense, and their numbers are average in both ends in terms of quality of shot allowed. There’s nothing all that impressive about this Foxes team right now, and the number is showing too much disrespect to West Brom.

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West Brom

Since Big Sam was hired in late December, West Brom hasn’t been the worst team in the league. They haven’t even been in relegation form. The Baggies struggled when he was first hired but they are much better than the “one of the worst teams in league history” pace they had set in the first half of the year. 

WBA is the 17th-best team in non-penalty expected goal difference in their last 17 matches, which is about -0.55 xGD per 90. In the opening 14 matches, West Brom was -1.32 xGD per 90, by far worst in the league. Allardyce has mostly improved the defense, but the attack has improved too. They showed their ability to play direct, effective attacking football in their stunning upset of Chelsea.

The emergence of Mbaye Diagne as a striker and Matheus Pereira as a creative midfielder has unlocked this West Brom attack and enabled them to get a few high quality chances per game. Diagne and Pereira are combining for 0.57 and 0.42 xG + xA per 90 this year, which is solid attacking numbers for an otherwise bad team.

Betting Analysis & Pick

This line isn’t showing enough respect to a recently improved West Brom side that has now beaten Brighton, Chelsea and Southampton in recent weeks. WBA also played even with Everton and Newcastle. While I’d normally look to sell high on a run of good form, Allardyce has a proven track record of improving teams and it appears he has done so again.

Playing against an overrated Leicester side here has the Foxes ripe for a potential upset. I’ll take the goal and sprinkle half of a unit on the money line as well.

Pick: West Brom +1 (-120 or better) and West Brom money line (+460 or better)

_BookPromo=19

Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks for Cardinals vs. Nationals: Back Scherzer, Washington to Storm Past St. Louis (April 21)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-washington nationals-max scherzer-wednesday-april 21

Cardinals vs. Nationals Odds

Cardinals Odds +155
Nationals Odds -180
Over/Under 8
Time Wednesday, 4:05 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Tuesday night via DraftKings.

The St. Louis Cardinals entered the 2021 season as favorites to win the National League Central Division.

However, I’ve been a skeptic all season due to the fact I view their lineup as weak, plus the bullpen is one of the worst in the ganme. Currently, St. Louis is co-favorite to win the division, as it’s only 8-8 after the first 16 games.

Wednesday’s game against the Washington Nationals is a bad spot for the club. St. Louis must face starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who is one of the league’s best. Additionally, while the Cardinals bullpen is shaky, starting pitcher Carlos Martínez is a liability as well. Put all of that together and Washington looks like an awfully good bet.

Unfortunately, the Nationals at -180 odds aren’t a good wager at the moment, but I would bet their moneyline if it drops down to -165 or better.

_BookPromo=351

St. Louis Cardinals

On paper, that Cardinals appear to have a strong lineup, as they’re averaging the fifth-most runs (5.19) in the league. Seemingly the St. Louis lineup, which includes first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Nolan Arenado, should be one of the best in the league. However, they’re currently over-performing my preseason projections.

Even though Goldschmidt and Arenado are underperforming their own projections, three below-average offensive players — Yadier Molina, Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson — are exceeding expectations. As all the St. Louis players revert to the mean, I believe the lineup will be a liability going forward.

Another reason to bet against the Cardinals is Martínez. Last season, he had a 9.90 ERA and boasts a 7.80 ERA so far this season. Even when you favor in his xFIP of 5.21 in 2020 and 4.91 in 2021, he’s still is one of the worst starting pitchers in the league.

While Martínez is a problem, an even bigger issue is the bullpen. Currently, St. Louis’ bullpen has a impressive 3.86 ERA, but xFIP of 4.86 is the second-worst in baseball.

In games where I like the Cardinals, recently I have been backing their first-five innings moneyline, because I’ve been worried about their bullpen. Over the course of a full game against Scherzer and then having to rely on their bullpen, I have a hard time seeing how St. Louis has a reasonable path to victory.

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Washington Nationals

The best reason to bet on the Nationals is because of Scherzer. Anytime he’s on the mound, you must consider betting on Washington.

Last season, Scherzer had his worst ERA since 2012, even though his it was only 3.74, which is a decent number for any other pitchers. This year, Scherzer has an 0-1 record, with a 2.37 ERA and a 3.49 xFIP. He also has a strikeout rate of 11.37 strikeouts per nine innings. Most importantly, Scherzer can be expected to pitch around six innings each time he gets the ball.

Washington might be undervalued here, because of its record. However, the Nationals are also undervalued because their lineup is averaging only 3.64 runs per game, which is the sixth worst in the league.

However, I am not worried about the batters, as they have been without Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber for several games this season. The top of the lineup, led by Trea Turner and Juan Soto, is a sleeping giant that will cause heartburn once they get hot.

Currently, both players have yet to play up to their potential this season, but when they hit their stride, Washington will be a dangerous team.

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Cardinals-Nationals Pick

In my opinion, the Nationals are obvious favorites. Unfortunately, the betting odds back my opinion and their ML is listed sitting at -180 odds. According to my model, Washington should be -173 favorites, so my strategy is to wait for the price to hopefully drop to -165 or better.

If you are a run-line bettor, my model does like the Nationals -1.5 (+105) run line. Personally, I don’t think that I can stomach having to rely on Washington’s underperforming lineup to win by two runs or more even against Martínez and the Cardinals’ bullpen.

That is why I prefer the ML, even though it comes at a steep price.

Pick: Washington ML (-165 or better)

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76ers vs. Bucks Odds, Promos: Bet $20, Win $150 if Joel Embiid Scores a Point!

The Sixers are looking to be in the thick of things come NBA Playoffs in July, and the Big Man is all the reason they should be.

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Joel Embiid is one of the best centers in the game and a human highlight reel. And while he may not be dropping Curry-level point totals, he’s more than capable of scoring at least one point.

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Aston Villa vs. Manchester City EPL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Villans to Pull Off Upset

aston villa vs. manchester city-odds-picks-predictions-premier league-wednesday-april 21-2021

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City Odds

Aston Villa Odds +800
Manchester City Odds -286
Draw +400
Over/Under 2.5 (-134 / +108)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3:15 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

Manchester City continues its march to the Premier League title Wednesday afternoon. It’s opponent — Aston Villa — has mightily improved this season, holding an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League. However, they’ll be without their captain and best player, Jack Grealish, for this match.

The Cityzens still have a chance to win the Premier League , Champions League, and the League Cup, but they’re in a bit of a sandwich spot against the Villans. They’re coming off a weekend loss against Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal round and have the League Cup Final on Sunday, followed by the first leg of the Champions League semifinals next Wednesday.

So, with an eight-point cushion with only six matches left, we could see manager Pep Guardiola rotate his squad.

Aston Villa

Despite being in the 11th place, Aston Villa boast one of the best attacks in the Premier League. The Villans are creating 1.56 expected goals per contest, which is the fifth-best rate in the Premier League. However, they have really been missing Grealish, their do-everything playmaker, over the past couple of months.

Grealish is responsible for six goals and has 11 assists to his name. He also has the second-highest expected assists per 90 minute rate behind only Kevin de Bruyne. It’s been difficult for the Villans to create chances without Grealish in the middle of the pitch.

As you can see it’s been  pretty much night and day without Grealish in the squad, but the Villans still have a shot in this match, with Manchester City likely focused on bigger things on the horizon.

Manchester City

Manchester City’s large lead at the top is starting to shrink, as the the Cityzens have looked vulnerable over the past few weeks. After pulling off an insane 21-match win streak at the start of 2021, they Cityzens have three losses in their last eight matches.

However, lets not get things twisted because Manchester City is still one of the best teams in the world. Over the past two months, the Cityzens are averaging 2.15 xGF per match, while only allowing 0.90 xG per match, so it’s not like their form has really dipped that much.

City will have to make due without their talisman, Kevin de Bruyne, for this match. De Bruyne has been involved in 16 goals in the Premier League and has the highest expected assist rate in the league.

Betting Analysis & Pick

This is a massive lookahead spot for Manchester City with bigger competitions on the horizon. Since City have bigger competitions on the horizon it would not be a surprise to see a weaker lineup take on the Villans.

Considering the extenuating circumstances, I think Aston Villa is in a prime spot to pull off an upset against Manchester City. City have been vulnerable of late and Villa remain a dangerous side even without Grealish. Therefore, I am going to back Aston Villa’s spread of +1 at +138 odds.

Pick: Aston Villa +1 (+138)

_BookPromo=49

Wednesday’s MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: Fade Frankie Montas, Tyler Mahle on Strikeouts Angle (April 21)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-player props-cincinnati reds-tyler mahle-wednesday-april 21

With a full slate of games on Wednesday’s Major League Baseball card, there are a ton of props for your wagering interest. I have uncovered two I really like, both of which involve pitches and their respective strikeout totals.

For this article I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what my model likes and what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The Action Labs Player Prop tool grades each bet on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade. I will be adding my own personal grades as well.

Below, I have laid out two prop bets that I am playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.


2021 MLB Pitcher Prop Record: 15-9, +4.02 Units, +16.8% ROI (My action can be followed on the Action App at BoogieDownPicks).


MLB Player Props & Picks

Frankie Montas (OAK) — Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-141)

Twins vs. Athletics Athletics -112
Time  3:37 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

The Minnesota Twins have gotten off to a poor start despite winning the American League Central Division the past two seasons. Yet, regardless of the rough beginning, they have done one thing exceptionally well and that has been showing amazing plate discipline.

Currently, the Twins lineup averages only 8.30 strikeouts per game, which is the seventh best in the league. Based on my model, this is not an outlier, as they should average 8.81 strikeouts per game. For that reason, I am betting that Oakland pitcher Frankie Montas finishes with under 6.5 strikeouts.

Montas is an interesting guy for the Athletics. In each of his last four seasons, Montas has had a higher ERA than his xFIP, implying his ERA should be lower based on his performance. There are some games this season where I’m looking to bet on the Athletics when Montas pitches, but today is not one of those situations.

_BookPromo=49

Earlier this season, I was betting on Montas’ strikeout overs when they were set at only 3.5 or 4.5 strikeouts. This latest total is an overreaction to his last start when he recorded seven strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers, whose lineup leads the league in strikeouts per game.

Against a Minnesota lineup that is hard to strikeout, I have a hard time seeing how Montas throws seven or more strikeouts.

Pick: Frankie Montas Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-141). Would play up to -160.

  • Action Labs Score: 8
  • Kevin Davis Score: 9
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Tyler Mahle (CIN) — Under 7.5 Strikeouts (-152)

Diamondbacks vs. Reds Reds -175
Time  6:40 p.m. ET
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Betting on Tyler Mahle pitching props is like playing with fire. Mahle is a flame thrower (no pun intended), as he throws for many strikeouts.

However, Mahle has yet to pitch for more than five innings this season. If you bet the over on Mahle’s strikeouts, you are assuming he goes for about six innings. If you take the the under on Mahle’s strikeouts, you are betting that he continues to pitch for around five innings per start. Personally, I believe Mahle will pitch for around five innings, which is why I like the under on this play.

Action Labs projects Mahle to have only 5.5 strikeouts, while my model is less bullish on the under and projects him to have 5.9 strikeouts. Besides Mahle’s lack of usage, there are other reasons to take bet the under on the total.

Currently, Mahle is averaging 14.14 strikeouts per nine innings this season. While impressive, that strikeout rate is unsustainable and evidenced by his career strikeout rate of only 9.32 strikeouts per nine innings.

Another reason why Mahle should go under his total is because Arizona only  averages 8.4 strikeouts per game, which is eighth best in the league.

Based on the Diamondbacks’ plate discipline, Mahle lack of usage and abnormally high strikeout rate, I am betting that he goes under the number.

Pick: Tyler Mahle Under 7.5 Strikeouts (-152). Would play up to -160

  • Action Labs Score: 10
  • Kevin Davis Score: 7

_BookPromo=49

MLB Weather Report for Wednesday, April 21: Rain Threatens Astros-Rockies, Braves-Yankees, Blue Jays-Red Sox, Plus Forecasts for Every Game

There’s a full slate of MLB games on Wednesday, including a doubleheader between the Pirates and Tigers, and our Sports Insights Weather Report shows a host of games with weather risks, including Astros-Rockies, Braves-Yankees, Diamondbacks-Reds and Blue Jays-Red Sox.

In Colorado, the 3:10 p.m. ET first pitch between the Astros and Rockies looks fine, but the precipitation % increases throughout the day, making it possible that the game starts on time but is later delayed.

In New York, it’s the opposite problem. There’s a possibility that the Braves-Yankees game has a delayed start with 27% precipitation and light rain in the forecast at 6 p.m. ET (first pitch is 6:35 p.m. ET). But the weather clears up into the evening.

Arizona-Cincinnati is probably fine, but overcast conditions and a chance for precipitation makes it worth keeping an eye on throughout the day, at the very least.

Finally, in Boston, Blue Jays-Red Sox is probably the main postponement risk. There’s 44% precipitation and possible light rain at 7 p.m. ET and that doesn’t improve and in fact gets worse throughout the night. Avoiding fantasy players in that game is recommended.

Below, you can find the full weather forecast for every game played either outside or in a stadium with a retractable roof. Most games will also get a Weather Rating, which helps you determine how hitter-friendly we’ve determined the weather for that game to be, courtesy of our Fantasy Labs Player Models. The higher the score, the more hitter-friendly it is.

Stay updated on the weather throughout the day every day with our Sports Insights Weather Report.

MLB Weather Forecasts

*Weather forecasts as of Wednesday at noon ET

San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m. ET

Baltimore Orioles at Miami Marlins, 1:10 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers, 2:10 p.m. ET (Game 1)

Houston Astros at Colorado Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 36

Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics, 3:37 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 45

St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 43

Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels, 4:07 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 46

Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres, 4:10 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 38

Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians, 6:10 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 15

Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees, 6:35 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 41

Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers, 6:40 p.m. ET (Game 2)

Weather Rating: 19

Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds, 6:40 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 9

Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 46

New York Mets at Chicago Cubs, 7:40 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 4

Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 p.m. ET

Weather Rating: 5

 

The Best New Jersey Sportsbook Promos for Wednesday, April 21: Bet $1 on the Yankees or Mets, Win $100

Best New Jersey Sportsbook Promos for Wednesday, April 21

Sportsbook Best Current Promotion
BetMGM Bet $1 on the Yankees or Mets, Get $100 no matter what!
PointsBet Bet $20 on the Nets, Win $150 if they score a point!
theScore Bet Bet the MLB risk-free up to $500
FOX Bet Get a $500 risk-free bet
William Hill Get a $500 risk-free bet
FanDuel Get a $1,000 risk-free bet
SugarHouse Get a $250 INSTANT deposit match (use code 250MATCH)
WynnBET Get a $500 risk-free bet
Unibet Get a $250 risk-free bet + $20 in free bets
DraftKings Bet $1, Win $100 if the Yankees/Mets win!
BetAmerica Bet $50, Get $50 free!

As is generally the case this time of year, it’s a busy night in the sports world for fans and bettors in New Jersey.

  • New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves, 6:35 p.m. ET
  • Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m. ET
  • New York Mets at Chicago Cubs, 7:40 p.m. ET
  • New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks, 8 p.m. ET

And of course there’s the rest of the MLB, NBA and NHL slates on which any of these ridiculous promo offers apply.

Not in New Jersey? See sportsbook promos for all states here.


BetMGM Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $1 on the Yankees/Mets, Get $100 no matter what!

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It’ll be hard to find an easier $100 than this. It doesn’t even matter if the Yankees or Mets win their game, score a run or even get a hit. Just bet on your team and get $100 from BetMGM. That’s it.


PointsBet Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $20 on the Nets, Win $150 if they score a point!

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You could set this requirement at 120 points and it would still be a great bet at these odds. However, all you need is a single point from the Nets tonight to turn $20 into $150, so what are you waiting for?


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Offer: Bet the MLB risk-free up to $500

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Five-hundred bucks to bet on the MLB with no risk associated? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Sign up at theScore Bet and you’ll get $500 to spend on your Yankees or Mets, or any team of your choice!


William Hill Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $500 risk-free first bet

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Another $500 risk-free just for signing up at a sportsbook! Just register at William Hill using promo code ACTIONRF and take a chance on a big-time payday to get yourself started.


FOX Bet Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $500 risk-free bet

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The Yanks and Mets are both sporting pretty strong lineups this year, which means they’ve got a pretty strong chance of winning on any given night. But there are no guarantees in baseball, which makes a $500 risk-free bet an awfully valuable thing!


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Offer: Get a $1,000 risk-free first bet

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Even more risk-free money is up for grabs at FanDuel. Sign up today and bet up to $1,000 on your Yankees or Mets with no risk of losing!


SugarHouse Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $250 INSTANT deposit match (use code 250MATCH)

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Sign up at SugarHouse and you’ll have free money in your account before you even make your first bet! Just make a deposit, and it’ll be matched instantly up to $250. Then you’re free to go spend it however you’d like!


WynnBET Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $500 risk-free bet

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By now you probably get the idea: there’s a whole bunch of risk-free money out there for New Jerseyans! At WynnBET, you’ll be greeted with a risk-free bet up to $1,000 to use on the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Devils or any team out there!


Unibet Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $250 risk-free bet + $20 in free bets

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Not only will your first bet at Unibet be risk-free (up to $250), you’ll also get $20 in free bets to start building your bankroll.


DraftKings Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $1, Win $100 if the Yankees/Mets win!

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No baseball bet is ever a sure thing, but on the flip side, no team should ever be listed at +10000 odds! At DraftKings, you can bet a dollar on the Yankees or Mets, and win $100 if they win the game.


BetAmerica Sportsbook

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You bet it, you get it. And the “it” is $50. At BetAmerica, if you bet 50 bucks, you’ll get $50 free, regardless of what happens to your initial bet!

The Best Michigan Sportsbook Promos for Wednesday, April 21: Bet $1 on the Tigers, Get $100!

Best Michigan Sportsbook Promos for Wednesday, April 21

Sportsbook Best Current Promotion
BetMGM Bet $1 on the Tigers, Get $100 no matter what!
PointsBet Bet $20 on the Pistons, Win $150 if they score a point!
FOX Bet Get a $500 risk-free bet
William Hill Get a $2,021 risk-free bet
FanDuel Get a $1,000 risk-free bet
BetRivers Get a $250 INSTANT deposit match (use code 250MATCH)
WynnBET Get a $1,000 risk-free bet
DraftKings Bet $1, Win $100 if the Tigers win!

Despite the Red Wings being on an off-night, bettors in Michigan will still have three games on which to focus their attention Wednesday thanks to a Tigers doubleheader.

  • Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 2:10 p.m. ET
  • Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 6:40 p.m. ET
  • Detroit Pistons at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET

Of course, the rest of the MLB, NBA and NHL slates also provide plenty of opportunities for bettors to take advantage of these ridiculous promotions.

Not in Michigan? See sportsbook promos for all states here.


BetMGM Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $1 on the Tigers, Get $100 no matter what!

_BookPromo=1427

It’ll be hard to find an easier bet to win than this one, since, you know, you don’t actually need anything to happen. Just bet a dollar on the Tigers (or an MLB team of your choosing) and BetMGM will give you $100 free. Simple as that.


PointsBet Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $20 on the Pistons, Win $150 if they score a point!

_BookPromo=629

We’re talking about basketball here, folks. If this were the Tigers or Red Wings, sure, there’s a chance they might get shut out in a game. The Pistons? They’re going to score a point — probably around 100 of ’em.


FOX Bet Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $500 risk-free bet

_BookPromo=700

Unfortunately, the Tigers don’t exactly fit the label of the safest bet in baseball, but fear not: you can bet them with no associated risk at FOX Bet. That’s $500 (or more, since they’re usually underdogs) in your account if they win, and no sweat if they lose!


William Hill Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $2,021 risk-free first bet

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Yup, that’s right: two-thousand and twenty-one dollars risk-free. Just sign up at William Hill using promo code ACTIONRF and take a chance on a major payday to get things going!


FanDuel Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $1,000 risk-free first bet

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More risk-free money? Why not! Bet the Tigers up to $1,000 risk-free, and make it a huge payday if they pull off the upset! And if they don’t? You don’t lose a thing.


BetRivers Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $250 INSTANT deposit match (use code 250MATCH)

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You don’t even have to make a bet to see some free money in your BetRivers account. Just make your first deposit, and it’ll be matched instantly up to $250! Then you’re free to go spend it on whatever you’d like!


WynnBET Sportsbook

Offer: Get a $1,000 risk-free bet

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Keep expanding your sportsbook portfolio and you’ll keep getting more free money! WynnBET is offering new users a risk-free bet up to $1,000 after signing up, meaning your first bet won’t lose you a penny, but it could win you a whole lot more than that.


DraftKings Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $1, Win $100 if the Tigers win!

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The Tigers may not be the hottest club in baseball, but they surely don’t deserve to be listed at +10000 odds to win a game. Still, that’s what you’ll get at DraftKings Sportsbook, so take your shot on a Detroit win!

2021 NFL Draft Betting: Mac Jones Favored Over Justin Fields Once Again For No. 3 Pick

mac jones, alabama crimson tide, 2021 nfl draft

Update (4 p.m. ET): Mac Jones’ odds have increased to -150 (60% implied probability) while Fields’ have dropped to +160 (38.46%). Lance’s odds increased slightly to +350 (22.22%).


The betting market between Mac Jones and Justin Fields for the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has shifted once again.

Alabama’s Jones — who was the co-favorite on Tuesday to be drafted No. 3 overall — has now passed Ohio State’s Fields after a brief stay behind him on the oddsboard.

The pick is currently held by the 49ers after trading up with the Miami Dolphins on March 26.

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The betting market for this pick has been extremely erratic over the past few weeks. Jones was the lone betting favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook ahead of both Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance on March 29 at +140 odds. He dropped to +175  on March 30 after a lukewarm performance at Alabama’s second Pro Day and a strong performance from Fields at Ohio State’s Pro Day.

Jones and Fields had been tied this week as co-favorites but Jones’ odds have now increased from +100 to -125 over the past day — a 50% to 55.56% change in  implied probability — while Fields has dropped from +100 to +125 (44.44% probability).

QB 4/20 4/21
Mac Jones +100 -125
Justin Fields +100 +125
Trey Lance +400 +400

Lance — who was at +175 odds on Monday — has sharply dropped to +400. His odds began to shift on Monday during North Dakota State’s second Pro Day, which was attended by San Francisco’s head coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and quarterback coach Rich Scangarello.

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Jones has been heralded as a good scheme fit with the 49ers’ system, but did elicit criticism at his own Pro Day less than a month ago, which was also attended by Shanahan, Lynch and Scangarello. Some of his throws were inaccurate and many have questioned his ability to perform without DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Najee Harris — all of whom are top prospects in this year’s draft.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson remain the favorites to go first (-10000) and second overall (-5000) to the Jaguars and Jets, respectively.

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Premier League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton (Wednesday, April 21)

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Spurs vs. Southampton Odds

Spurs Odds -124
Southampton Odds +340
Draw +275
Over/Under 2.5 (-134 / +108)
Day | Time Wednesday | 1 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Tuesday evening via DraftKings.

Life with José Mourinho at the Tottenham Hotspur helm came to a sudden end Monday when the club sacked its manager. Now, former Spurs youth footballer and first-teamer Ryan Mason has taken the reins at a time with a wild stretch of matches coming up.

Mason will take Mourinho’s spot on the Tottenham sideline Wednesday when his lads face struggling Southampton in a Premier League fixture. The 29-year-old, who was part of Spurs soccer as a player from 2008-15 before joining Hull City during the 2016 season, will hope he can lead a side chasing a top-four finish.

Tottenham sits in seventh place with 50 points in England’s top flight, putting it five points behind fourth-place Chelsea and fifth-place West Ham United. Spurs are only six points back of Leicester City, so cracking the top four and securing a Champions League berth is not out of the question.

In contrast, the Saints are seemingly going through the motions as the season winds down. Not in jeopardy of being relegated, Southampton is in 14th place on 36 points. The visiting side is coming off a brutal 3-0 defeat at the hands of drop-zone resident West Bromwich Albion in its most recent contest.

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Spurs

I thought it was kind of interesting (and somewhat odd) Tottenham fired Mourinho at this point in the season, especially since it plays Manchester City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final. One would think Spurs would have waited to make the change at season’s end, but that obviously wasn’t the case.

Tottenham earned a 2-2 draw against Everton this past weekend, with Harry Kane bagging the brace in the come-from-behind victory. If we’re being honest, Spurs were lucky to leave Goodison Park with a point. They were dominated in the expected-goals battle by the Toffees, who held a  2.3-1.2 xG at the final whistle.

Now, Kane (who picked up a knock in the Everton stalemate and could be rested) and teammate Son Heung-min must rally their teammates. Tottenham must put in an efficient performance against Southampton that won’t come at a price ahead with the huge showdown with Manchester City on the horizon.

Southampton

This really has become a lost situation in the final third of the season for the Saints, who have one win and three points in their last four outings. That lone victory — albeit an important one — during this stretch came via a 3-2 victory over Burnley on April 4 at St Mary’s Stadium.

Prior to the shellacking Southampton endured against West Brom at The Hawthorns, the offense was doing its part to at least give it a chance. Unfortunately, it has been the defense that hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. The Saints have conceded a whopping 12 goals in their last four league fixtures, which simply won’t cut it any level in professional soccer.

The Baggies, who scored twice in the opening half, put the game away on Callum Robinson’s goal midway through the second 45 minutes to close out the win and leave the Saints looking for answers during this recent slide. West Brom held a sizable edge in xG, finishing with a 2.9-2.1 advantage.

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Betting Analysis & Picks

Honestly, I think Tottenham is going to put in a solid shift in Mason’s first match. You tend to see players rally around their new leader at all levels of sports, which is what I see happening in this affair.

For that reason, I’m backing Spurs to pick up a victory in Mason’s debut as my top pick. Tottenham has absolutely dominated Southampton on home soil, winning nine of the last 10 meetings at its north London stadium. Combine that with the fact the Saints have lost seven of their last eight road league affairs, and you have to like your chances of hitting this wager.

I will also sprinkle a little on the total staying under the alternative number of 2.75 goals at -115 odds via DraftKings. The historical trends forecast otherwise, but I fully anticipate Mason to rest some of his stars ahead of this weekend’s Carabao Cup final with Manchester City. That should translate into more defense and fewer prime scoring opportunities in this match.

Picks: Spurs ML (-124) | Total Under 2.75 Goals (-115)

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MLB Betting Rules for Shortened Games: When Bets Do — and Don’t — Get Refunded

MLB betting

Originally published July 24, 2018:

Imagine sitting down on Monday and deciding to bet on the Pirates runline (+1.5 runs) at +125. You saw too much value on a Pittsburgh team that had won nine straight games.

And you weren’t afraid to take on Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, as the two-time Cy Young winner hasn’t looked like himself lately. So you locked in your bet and were feeling good.

After a short rain delay, neither team scored in the first inning, but then Josh Harrison hit a two-strike, two-out homer to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

The Pirates added another run in the second to go up 4-0. You could almost smell the money that +1.5 ticket would bring home. That score held until a second rain delay in the third inning.

Now, you started to worry.

Why?

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Two primary wagering rules apply when baseball games get called early:

  • Full-game moneylines become official once the game goes five innings — or if the home team leads after 4.5 innings.
  • In contrast, wagers on the over/under, team totals and/or runlines don’t become official until the teams complete nine innings — or the home team leads after 8.5 innings.

(Note: These should apply at most legitimate shops, but always check the rules of your specific book.)

When play resumed at “The Jake,” you still held out hope none of this would apply.

The Pirates picked up right where they left off, tagging Kluber for three more runs in the top of the fourth to go up a touchdown. It suddenly turned into a Steelers-Browns game.

The Pirates maintained that margin into the sixth inning, then things got mildly dicey when the Tribe loaded the bases with only one out. However, starter Trevor Williams wiggled out of the jam without any damage.

Holding a +1.5 ticket with a seven-run lead through six innings is as good as it gets.

But then a THIRD rain delay! It suddenly hit you that they might call the game after a third delay in the seventh inning of a blowout. You knew neither team would protest much.

So you waited …

And waited some more, while frantically monitoring radars, MLB Network and social media.

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You eventually saw the game was called, meaning you wouldn’t cash your Pirates +1.5 (+125) ticket — despite officially winning the game 7-0! Instead, you simply got your money back.

Over 8.5 bettors also weren’t pleased, as they also settled for a refund. While you can’t assume a game will go over, it likely would’ve cashed. At least the over didn’t already hit, which would’ve been even worse. I previously wrote about fixing that exact scenario, which has happened before.

Unless you bet the first-five innings or either moneyline, you had your bet refunded — even if you bet Pirates team total over 3.5, the worst beat of them all.

On the flip side, those who bet the Indians -1.5, Pirates team total under 3.5 or even the under 8.5 couldn’t be happier, as the (likely) losing wagers got refunded.

(If you had all three of those, go buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.)

2021 Oscar Betting Predictions & Picks For Best Picture, Best Actor, More

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As said in Million Dollar Baby, “it’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”

It is once again time to get money down on the Academy Awards. This is the one award show for which leaks are not possible, unless the Academy itself decides to tweet out the winners.

This has been the most odd year in motion picture history, as the COVID-19 pandemic had movie crowds as absent as the 2020 NBA playoffs. The shift for corporate America to work from home has now taken over the movie industry, as motion picture debuts are on HBO Max and Disney Plus.

Plenty more has changed the industry, which could lead to wild results. For instance, the BAFTA’s may not hold as much weight with new eligibility rules. And while Netflix-produced films might’ve been snubbed in years past because of “at-home” viewing, that’s now the path for every movie unless the title of the film is TENET.

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Leaning on OSCARmetrics like we did with our 2020 betting predictions, money will go down in the respective categories where there is value in the number. We’ll take in all the variables from Rotten Tomatoes, historical trends and the ever-changing voting dynamics of the Academy.

The 1993 Best Picture winner Unforgiven helped bettors learn a hard lesson last year in betting Cynthia Erivo over Renee Zellweger: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” This year of awards betting might more aptly be described as navigating the Nomadland mine field.

Note: All odds are as of April 20 and via DraftKings.


New to betting? Favorites have a minus (-) sign and the number indicates the money you would need to risk to win $100, whereas underdogs have a plus (+) sign while that number indicates the money you would win for every $100 bet.

Example: The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a +650 underdog for Best Picture, which means you would net a $650 profit on a $100 bet if it wins. Learn more here.


Best Picture

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Nomadland -670 87%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +600 14.3%
Minari +1400 6.7%
Promising Young Woman +1700 5.6%
Mank +3300 2.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah +3300 2.9%
The Sound of Metal +5000 2.0%
The Father +10000 1.0%

The formula for calculating Best Picture has historically been a slam dunk: The movie must have more than the average nominations of its peers in the category. Of the movies listed in this category, 6.3 is the average with 51 nominations distributed over 8 movies.

Only the movie Mank has eclipsed that mark with 10 total nominations.

Although Nomadland has just six nominations, it cleaned up in the next set of data for picking Best Picture: The Directors Guild, Producers Guild and BAFTA’s each had Nomadland take home the honors for best picture. That does not mean that this category is a slam dunk, as recent history suggests voting has become more volatile.

As a gambler that took a shot on Nomadland back in April of 2020, personally I will be rooting for Frances McDormand to bring it home.

Moonlight won this award in 2016 without a single victory in any of the previous award shows. Crash won in 2005 while only taking screenplay and editing through the show, defeating the odds on favorite Brokeback Mountain. If we are looking for value plays against Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7 won best ensemble cast at the Screen Actors Guild. Promising Young Woman took home the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay.

If there is one category to put a fade on Nomadland, this is it.

The final element in the handicap are movies nominated in director, editing and screenplay. Promising Young Woman has delivered in all three of those categories.

Keep the volume low, but take a shot on a big dog in a category that continues to produce surprises.

Pick: Promising Young Woman +1400 (down to +1000)  » Bet at DraftKings

Best Director

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) -2500 96.2%
David Fincher (Mank) +1000 9.1%
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) +1400 6.7%
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) +1700 5.6%
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) +2000 4.8%

Per OSCARmetrics, the predictor of this category comes from the Directors Guild Award. Furthermore, the winner of this category generally moves on to win Best Picture.

There have not been many historical upsets in this category until Parasite hit the scene last year. With Sam Mendes winning the Directors Guild Award for Best Director, all bettors of the 1917 director needed a drink after Bong Joon Ho’s upset win.

Chloe Zhao has universal praise for her work on Nomadland. The award precursors are all present, making this a category you parlay in the betting world and easily circle in sharpie for your Oscar pools.

Pick: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) -2500 (up to -5000) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Actor

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) -1667 94.3%
Anthony Hopkins (The Father) +700 12.5%
Riz Ahmed (The Sound of Metal) +1400 6.7%
Steven Yeun (Minari) +2500 4.8%
Gary Oldman (Mank) +3300 2.9%

There will be plenty of sentiment for Chadwick Boseman after his untimely passing this past year.

Famous for playing Black Panther, Boseman is the seventh actor with a posthumous nomination. Only Peter Finch for Network in 1976 and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight in 2009 have won the Academy Award in their respective categories.

That said, there is a clearcut front-runner within the underdogs.

When looking for Best Actor, the BAFTA’s must be taken into account. Not just the winner, but especially if the winner is British in a British film. Sir Anthony Hopkins is British while The Father was a co-production of British and French. Per OSCARmetrics, a British Actor in a British film give the Best Actor winning odds of 43%. That is a giant probability edge against the current odds and is deserving of a wager.

Pick: Anthony Hopkins (The Father) +700 (down to +200) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Actress

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) +125 44.4%
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) +200 33.3%
Frances McDormand (Nomadland) +400 20.0%
Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) +600 14.3%
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) +2000 4.8%

Still reeling from an Erivo 50-1 bet that closed 12-1 in 2020, we take another crack at predicting Best Actress.

The formula provided a winner in 2020 and is tried and true method to cash a ticket. The two biggest elements in determining a winner in this category is to play a historical character and the age of the nominee. For these five actors, the only historical characters are played by Viola Davis and Andra Day.

The average age of the winner in the Best Actress category is generally lower than 35 and greater than 60. Zellweger was only the third woman to ever win the award between the age of 50 to 59 years old. Davis falls into the neutral territory at 55 years of age, with McDormand at 63 years old and the remaining candidates 36 and under.

In past years when there were two nominees who played historical characters, the expectation is a victory 40% of the time. That actual number is 47% since the award was first given in 1929. The analytics point to an upset here with Andra Day, but splitting a unit with Davis is a solid backup plan.

Pick: Andra Day (The United State vs. Billie Holiday) +600 (down to +150) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Supporting Actor

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) -2500 96.2%
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) +1200 16.7%
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) +1200 16.7%
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami) +1700 6.7%
Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) +3300 2.9%

The category of Best Supporting Actor has a simple projection curve: The older the actor, the better the odds are of winning the award. That would point gamblers to Raci at 73 over Cohen at 49 years of age. Stanfield is in his 20s and is pulling up the rear for the powerhouse of the group Kaluuya, who most consumers remember for his Best Actor award in 2018 for Get Out.

When older nominees win the award it is considered a lifetime achievement for an entire body of work. At 72 in 2006, Alan Arkin was the life of the movie Little Miss Sunshine while Christopher Plummer’s six decade career took home this award in 2018 at the age of 82.

The issue with Raci is that there is not a true body of work to be awarded, as his best credit may be “Bad Guy” in a 1993 Bruce Lee biography.

Lay it with Kaluuya and take him all the Oscar pools.

Pick: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) -2500 (up to -5000) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Supporting Actress

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) -500 83.3%
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) +375 21.1%
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) +1000 9.1%
Olivia Colman (The Father) +2000 4.8%
Amanda Seyfried (Mank) +3300 2.9%

Per OSCARmetrics, the higher the billing in the film credits, the better percentage chance of winning this category.

An actress can makeup for screen time with a powerful performance, such as Hattie McDaniel billed eighth from Gone with the Wind. This puts Yuh-jung at a serious disadvantage with a billing of fifth for Minari, while each of the other nominees are billed second for their respective films.

This is the part where I tell you that I am emotionally connected to this movie and this specific role of Grandma. Minari was filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I currently reside, but the movie is based in Northwest Arkansas where I grew up. Yes, “Chicken Sexing” is a real form of employment in my neck of the woods.

More importantly, the grandmother portrayed by Yuh-jung is much like my own between watching professional wrestling and drinking piss on accident.

This is my favorite film of the year, and Yuh-jung is a big reason for that. She has been in the film industry since 1971 and has won the BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and multiple other awards for this role.

Swallow the juice and pray the billing of fifth does not doom this excellent performance.

Pick: Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) -500 (up to -1000) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Original Screenplay

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Promising Young Woman -455 82.0%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +275 26.7%
Minari +1400 6.7%
Sound of Metal +3300 2.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah +3300 2.9%

This is a tricky category because of the rules that follow the analytics. The Writers Guild winner generally follows up with an Academy Award. That is good news for Promising Young Woman — winner of the Writers Guild Original Screenplay over The Trial or the Chicago 7, Sound of Metal and Judas and the Black Messiah. But the movie missing from that list is Minari.

Due to restrictions, Minari was ineligible to be nominated at the Writers Guild, making the nominee a complete wildcard. The movie did pull six nominations from the BAFTA’s and 10 from the Critics Choice Awards. If there is an ace in the hold, it may be Lee Isaac Chung filling the role of writer and director.

Writing from life experiences and directing is what got Almost Famous and Moonlight to the window.

OSCARmetrics predicts a 12% chance for a Writers Guild ineligible entry to defeat other nominees that were up for the WGA, while the favorite is 67%. The correct odds for Minari should be +700 and Promising Young Woman at -200. With those buy prices, Minari is the pick, but keep an eye out for steam and a cheap buy on the clubhouse leader.

Pick: Minari +1400 (down to +700) » Bet at DraftKings

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominee Odds Implied Prob.
Nomadland -400 80%
The Father +300 25.0%
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm +800 11.1%
One Night in Miami +1400 6.7%
The White Tiger +3300 3.0%

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may have been popularized for Rudy Giuliani tucking his shirt, but the flick took home the hardware for this category at the Writers Guild. The film beat The White Tiger and One Night in Miami, which are also listed in this category. Winning an Academy Award will be a bit tougher with The Father and Nomadland in the mix, both of which were ineligible at the Writers Guild Awards.

There are no historical trends to lean on with this category, other than there has been a massive increase in non-fiction films being nominated and subsequently winning.

Although fiction adaptations was the norm for decades, the winning percentage is still very even.

Recent winners of this category are telling stories that are more and more an echo of our current political and system climate. Past winners include JoJo Rabbit, BlacKkKlansman and Moonlight are recent winners that had a social reflection worthy of any audience member. The White Tiger and Nomadland each tackle the subject of the distancing of economic wealth. As a hot topic in present news, these are the two screenplays worth shedding money on.

Take the big number on Nomadland, but back it up with The White Tiger.

Pick: Nomadland -400 (half unit); The White Tiger +3300 (half unit) » Bet at DraftKings

PSA Purchases Genamint To Improve Card Grading Process

psa-purchases-genamint

As a 10 million card backup hit card grader PSA, which led to a price increase and then a shutdown of submissions, collectors mused that a machine-graded company would come and compete with the industry giant.

Then came Wednesday’s twist.

Collectors Universe, parent company of PSA, announced it has purchased Genamint, an artificial intelligence company that built a system to fingerprint a card to its unique marks, detect if it was tampered with and grade it.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

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Genamint, the pandemic era brainchild of Kevin Lenane, had a fundraising round from investors including Nat Turner, noted card collector and executive chairman of Collectors Universe.

Lenane said Turner, who along with other investors bought Collectors Universe for $853 million in January, gave him a bona fide offer before the company firmly got off the ground.

Turner told The Action Network that PSA would still be graded by humans, but the technology from Genamint will provide a huge assist to the process. 

Turner was first turned on to computer assistance when he was building his company Flatiron Health. There, computers helped nurses sort clinical trial data faster and more accurately.  Turner sold that company for $1.9 billion in 2018. 

When a card comes into PSA, it is scanned. Using Genamint’s technology, the computer will put up print marks and surface defects so that every card will be unique. 

“Each card has different combinations of 70 major anomalies that we’ve identified,” Lenane said. “From major ones like creases and scratches and stains to single pixels that are compromised.”

Based on learnings made from every card, the machine will be able to pick up if a card is trimmed or if a person has cracked out a card that was previously graded in hopes of getting a better grade.

Both aren’t common occurrences but mean a lot to uphold PSA’s integrity.

In early March, PSA, having trouble keeping up with the card boom, doubled prices, thinking it was going to allow the company to slow submissions down enough. The timing of the announcement seemed to have been leaked, as two days before, a record 660,000 cards were submitted where the old price had to be honored.

By the end of the month, PSA made the hard call of shutting down card submissions — except the high end Super Express option — to enable the company to catch up.

“The team came to me and it was apparent that it was necessary to do what was right,” Turner said. “The funny thing is I got so much hate mail with the price increases and pretty much nothing when we shut things down.”

Turner said PSA was getting so many card submissions that it essentially shut down the U.S. Postal Service in Southern California.

“We literally broke the postal service,” Turner said. “We couldn’t tell our customers where their packages were and that’s just not acceptable.”

Turner said he hopes to get all service levels restored by July 1. 

More graders are being added every two weeks and the company is currently working through the backlog by grading 20,000 to 25,000 cards a day, Turner said.

With their latest acquisition, PSA executives are hoping it will greatly aid speed and accuracy.

Gisele Bundchen Joins DraftKings as Special Advisor

In recent months, DraftKings has added Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken Jr. as special advisors. On Wednesday morning, the Boston-based fantasy and gambling company added former supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Bundchen, who has been known for lending her name and time to many philanthropic causes throughout her career, will spearhead the company’s social and environmental goals and objectives.

DraftKings says Bundchen’s first role will be to assist the company in its goal to plant one million trees by Earth Day of next year.

“In today’s world, in my opinion, it isn’t enough for companies to be successful financially,” Bundchen said in a statement. “Companies have to be successful in all areas, including social impact and sustainability initiatives that impact the future for all of us around the world.”

Bundchen is, of course, married to Tom Brady. The couple has three children.

Bundchen has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Program since 2009.

DraftKings is based in Boston, where Tom Brady made his NFL home with the New England Patriots before moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who he helped guide to a Super Bowl win this past season.

According to various estimates, the couple has grossed approximately $900 million throughout the course of their careers. Bundchen has earned roughly 60% of that total.

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Free Drinks in Las Vegas: 8 Easy Tips for Scoring Cheap Booze in Sin City

cheap-drinks-las-vegas-drink-tickets-cheap-free-alcohol-sports-betting-vacations

I love Las Vegas. I know, it must come as a real shocker that someone who loves sports betting is also attracted to Sin City. While we live on the East Coast, my wife and I try to make a trip to the desert at least once per year to enjoy a couple days of gambling, adult beverages, food and entertainment.

But while it can be surprisingly cheap to score airfare and hotels for Vegas vacations, the real money is spent on the ground. Because of this, I’m often asked by friends and family for tips on how to drink on the cheap in Las Vegas.

So if you’re preparing to head to Vegas, or just curious on how to save money on beverages, here are eight tips to drink for less while enjoying everything the strip has to offer.

Please note that since most casual sports bettors stay on the strip, this guide is focused on those hotels and casinos, though most can still be applied to the rest of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Cheap Drinking Tips

1. Shop the Best Hotel Deals

Everybody wants to know how to get free drinks at the sportsbook, while gambling at slots or tables games, from comps, etc., but experienced Las Vegas travelers know the quest for free booze starts before a trip is even booked.

Hotels are constantly competing to get your business, especially the big resorts on the Las Vegas strip because if you’re staying there you’re exponentially more likely to dump money into their casino, restaurants, spa, shows and whatever other amenities they offer.

And because of this, hotels are continually offering promotions to convince you to stay with them over competitors. So, before you do anything else, sign up for the email lists for the major resorts on the strip, like MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, etc.

Prior to a recent trip, my wife and I, along with friends and family also joining us, nailed down our dates a good six months in advance so we had the luxury of taking our time to shop for the best hotel offers.

As part of the company’s Black Friday sale, MGM Resorts offered free food and beverage credits at its hotels with the promotion. By booking through that offer, we snagged a $160 credit to use throughout our stay at any bar or restaurant located in an MGM hotel or casino.

That’s $160 worth of free booze locked in months before we even set foot in Las Vegas.

2. Sign Up for Your Hotel’s Players Club

This goes beyond just free drinks, but if you want free stuff through comps be sure to sign up for your hotel’s players club. Signing up is free, and once you have your card be sure to use it while gambling and even at many of your hotel’s shops and restaurants as they often earn you points toward comps as well.

Here are some quick tips:

  • If you’re staying at an MGM, Caesars, etc. property, try to focus your gambling and spending in its group of hotels. The best way to earn the most points — and therefore the most comps — is to rack up as many as you can through one rewards program rather than spreading out your spending.
  • Always charge players club eligible purchases to your room.

Even if you’re not a high-roller collecting traditional comps like free rooms, buffets, etc., you can still use all points earned to take money off your final hotel bill upon checkout.

And while those savings may not be directly put toward free booze, savings of any kind can make the money spent on alcohol seem more palatable.

3. Sportsbook Drink Tickets

When discussing free drinks and Las Vegas sports betting trips, this is typically what comes to mind. Unfortunately, free drinks for simply hanging around at the sportsbook have gone the way of the dodo.

Now you’ll be awarded tickets for one free drink depending on how much you wager. The minimum varies from casino to casino and typically falls between $50-$100 per drink ticket, but know those minimums aren’t set in stone.

You’ll be surprised to find out how simply being polite goes a long way, especially if you continue to bet at the same sportsbook during your trip.

Throw your ticket writer a few bucks as a tip and all of a sudden you’ll be remembered as the nice person who tips during each visit the book, which is always a good thing when trying to score extra drink tickets.

4. Learn Pai Gow Poker 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely focused on sports betting, but let’s not kid ourselves. Many who enjoy betting on sports are also fond of other casino games, such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and more.

While those games are certainly fun and do come with free drinks while playing, the table game you need to learn is pai gow poker. It’s an incredibly easy game to play, especially if you already have a general understanding of poker.

I’m not going to get into the details of how to play because they’re easily found all over the Internet, but what makes pai gow poker so great is that you push quite frequently.

Lots of pushes mean you can play for a long time with little investment, which provides more time to rack up those free drinks.

In addition, pai gow poker is incredibly slow to play per hand compared to other table games, especially if the table is full. So grab a couple of buddies and load up the same table. The more people, the slower the game. And the slower the game, the longer your money lasts to earn free booze.

Whenever I’m getting ready to settle in for a few hours of pai gow (and free drinks), I always give the cocktail waitress a good tip right off the bat. I know, it may seem counterproductive to be spending more money when trying to minimize your drinking costs, but a nice upfront tip typically ensures you’ll have the waitress’ attention early and often throughout your session.

Think of it as investing in your long-term cheap drinking future.

5. Try Video Poker 

If you’re not sweating a bet on a game or sitting at a table, find a bar with a video poker machine — it won’t be hard — and ask the bartender for the rules regarding free drinks.

Video poker has one of the smallest house edges of all casino games and, just like pow gai pow poker, helps make a little money go a long way, which is ideal when trying to maximize complimentary drinks.

Personally, I don’t seek out video poker as I’m much more likely to be found in the sportsbook or playing table games, but this is my go-to cheap drinking strategy when traveling up and down the strip.

There’s just too much to see on the strip to stay in the same place for your entire trip, so after my bets are placed at the sportsbook for the day we often venture out and explore.

But exploration often takes you away from many of the cheap drinking tips on this list. So once I’ve polished off my final walking beer and need to get off my feet for a few minutes, I turn to a bar with video poker to rest up and quench my thirst with a free beer before continuing the trek.

6. Take Advantage of Groupon

I’ve been going to Vegas consistently since I turned 21, but didn’t take advantage of the value of Groupon until recently. There are so many bars and restaurants along the strip that one close to you is bound to be offering some kind of deal on drinks.

So if you’re traveling the strip and find yourself with a hankering for beverages, load the Groupon app on your phone and search restaurants around you.

During a recent Vegas trip, we stumbled upon a Groupon deal that included all you can drink — beer and well drinks — for four hours at a bar on the strip for less than $40. That’s a huge savings and took all of 30 seconds to find using modern technology.

7. Visit the Gift Shops

This was a last-minute addition to this article because it just happened during a recent trip. My wife and I headed to Vegas a night early to beat a winter storm that was forecasted to hit Boston right around the time of our original flight.

We ended up booking one night at Mandalay Bay to cover us that first night since the rest of our original hotel reservation didn’t start until the following day. After a fun late-night session of pai gow poker, we wanted to snag one final beverage before heading to bed.

At the closest bar, I ordered a Heineken bottle that ended up being $8 by itself. Honestly, that’s not extraordinary in Vegas — especially on the strip — but we can always do better.

The following morning, I was perusing the hotel gift shop and noticed their beer cooler offered 22-ounce beer cans, including Heineken, for the same $8 price.

Same price, but almost twice as much beer.

For the record, I’ve known about buying beer in Vegas gift shops for a very long time and have done it often enough through the years, but frankly never compared the prices to those at bars.

Plenty of bars offer happy hours and specials, so be sure to take a second and ask before you buy. It may save you more than you know in the long run.

8. Stash Booze in Your Room

There comes a point in most Vegas trips when you’re simply sick of gambling (for free booze) and can’t stomach paying the high prices at bars and restaurants, especially if your betting hasn’t exactly gone well.

For this scenario, don’t be too proud to have booze on-the-ready in your room. Hit a convenience or drug store on the strip — don’t worry, there are plenty — and grab whatever drink(s) you prefer. If your room has a fridge, stock it up!

If not, fill up your sink — or bathtub if you’re really getting after it — with ice and you’re all set. If you’re a sports bettor or simply a fan, there’s always time to kill in the sportsbook while sweating a game or just rooting on your favorite team, but those free drink tickets can be used up quite quickly.

This is the perfect time to have cold beer in your room. Jump on the elevator, snag two beers and double-fist your way through whichever games you want to watch in the sportsbook.

Sure, having to get up periodically to make hotel room runs can be annoying, but so is paying for overpriced beer while the rest of your spending money is tied up in a six-team, Hail Mary parlay.

And a final piece of advice before I leave you … please don’t bet parlays.

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2021 Zurich Classic Betting Picks: Our Favorite Props & Matchup Bets

The PGA TOUR brings bettors a different challenge this week at the 2021 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana.

Rather than a traditional stroke-play event, this tournament features pairings playing both best ball and alternate shot formats throughout the weekend. That’ll provide a different experience for both viewing and betting.

Teams will play best ball on Thursday’s opening round, which means both players will use their own shot throughout the round. However, only the lowest score on the hole will count for the scorecard. For example, if one player pars a hole and the other birdies, the birdie will go on the official scorecard.

On Friday for the second round the format changes to alternate shot. Players on each team will alternate who tees off on each hole with his partner taking the next shot and switching back and forth from there. For example, if one player tees off on the first hole, his partner will take the second shot and the player who teed off takes the third shot. On the next hole, whoever didn’t tee off will take the tee shot on hole No. 2.

The top 35 teams plus ties will make the cut. There are 80 teams in the tournament.

Saturday’s third round goes back to best ball. The final round on Sunday will be played as alternate shot.

Here are our favorite props and matchup bets for the 2021 Zurich Classic:

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Jason Sobel

Josh Teater & Sepp Straka First-Round Leader (+7000)

There are a whole lot of variables involved when trying to pick a two-man team for low score during the first round of the best-ball format, so let’s go with one that has a bigger price next to its name. Teater ranks 17th in R1 scoring average this season; Straka is 42nd. They can each make a handful of birdies, as well, without worry that a big number will hurt the team. You’re going to have to take some chances this week and this feels like one worth pursuing, both for FRL and maybe top-20 props.

[Bet this prop at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Akshay Bhatia & Scott Piercy Top-20 Finish (+300)

It’s only an 80 team field this week, with the top-35 and ties making it through to the weekend. This makes the odds for everyone a bit shorter than normal, but +300 for a top-20 finish with all of those factors is a good-looking number on Bhatia and Piercy.

They are a bit of an odd team in this event, but there is no doubt that their ball-striking abilities should pair well, and give them a solid opportunity to play all four rounds. I’ll take the good number and look to bet this pair all the way up the board.

[Bet this prop at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Keegan Bradley & Brendan Steele Top-5 Finish (+650)

One thing I am looking for in this event is a pairing that has a similar skillset, and few in this field fit that better than Bradley and Steele. Both guys are elite ball-strikers who have a hard time making putts.

In the four-ball format, they will have double the chance of getting their putts to fall and should get themselves more opportunities than much of the field due to their outstanding tee-to-green prowess.

In the foursome format, making birdie putts won’t be so crucial, as scoring should be difficult; and the recipe of hitting greens in regulation as a pairing should be enough for them to contend.

[Bet this prop at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Landon Silinsky

Rahm/Palmer (-114) over Cantlay/Schauffele

There is just no way I could trust Patrick Cantlay right now. He’s looked completely disinterested these past few events, missing three straight cuts for the first time in his career. While Schauffele seemed to have found his game at Augusta, it’s still not enough for me to side with them at what’s basically a pick’em.

Rahm and Palmer won this event back in 2019 and both have been playing great this year. Rahm ranks fourth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 12 rounds and Palmer has two additional top five’s at this event with a different playing partner.

This price should be higher in my opinion and I like the defending champs to win this matchup quite handily.

[Bet this matchup at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Matthew Wolff & Collin Morikawa to miss the cut (+215)

Wolff needs this more than his fellow young stud because he’s been lost since suffering the injured right wrist at Torrey Pines early this year. Meanwhile, Morikawa proved how bad putters can hide at Harbour Town where he placed T7. (He co-led the field in GIR but ranked 57th in Strokes Gained: Putting.)

TPC Louisiana doesn’t offer the same curtain and this format demands that they go low to survive the cut. I’d tiptoe into this wager but it has merit rooted in quantifiable logic.

[Bet this matchup at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Bryan Berryman

Matthew NeSmith & Chase Seiffert Top-10 Finish (+500) 

Ranking sixth out of the 80 groups in my ball-striking stat model, NeSmith and Seiffert are definitely in position to compete this week. They both rank top-20 in SG: Approach in this field over the last 12 rounds, and have the upside needed in this team event structure to be a factor come Sunday.

I love the value at +500 for this pair to finish in the top 10, and definitely don’t hate a sprinkle on the outright if you’re feeling a little frisky.

[Bet this prop at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

FCS Playoffs Betting Odds & Bracket: How to Watch & Wager On the 2021 College Football Championship

2021 fcs playoffs-college football-bracket-odds-betting-north dakota state

Playoff football is officially back.

The 2021 FCS Playoffs Selection Show took place on Sunday morning as the bracket for the spring championship was revealed.

The field, which was cut down to 16 teams from the usual 24 this season, features 10 automatic qualifiers via conference championships and six at-large bids.  The top-four seeds include:

  1. South Dakota State (5-1), Missouri Valley
  2. Sam Houston (6-0), Southland
  3. James Madison (5-0), CAA
  4. Jacksonville State (9-2), Ohio Valley

The field also includes historical powerhouse North Dakota State, which has won eight of the last nine FCS titles and leads the country with eight national titles.

The first round of action begins on Saturday, April 24 when No. 2 Sam Houston hosts Monmouth at 12 p.m. ET.

Following that game, No. 3 James Madison (-15.5) will take on VMI while No. 4 Jacksonville State (-20.5) kicks off against Davidson at 2 p.m. ET.

Then, games start kicking off every half hour for an afternoon full of football. No. 1 South Dakota State (-24.5) faces Holy Cross at 3 p.m. ET, North Dakota State (-6.5) battles Eastern Washington at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Weber State-Southern Illinois (Weber State -4) and North Dakota-Missouri State (North Dakota -8) take place at 4 p.m. ET.

To round things out, Delaware (-19.5) will host Sacred Heart in the nightcap at 7 p.m. ET. All eight games can be seen on ESPN3.

The tournament continues with four quarterfinal games on May 1-2 before the semifinals on May 8. The semifinal games will be televised on ABC, ESPN, and/or ESPN2.

Finally, one team will reach spring football glory when the championship takes place on Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m. ET in Frisco, Texas. The final game of the FCS Playoffs is set to be broadcast on ABC.

First Round FCS Playoffs Odds
12 p.m. ET #2 Sam Houston (-9.5) vs. Monmouth | O/U: 60.5 (via FanDuel)
2 p.m. ET #3 James Madison (-15.5) vs. VMI | O/U: 46.5
2 p.m. ET #4 Jacksonville State (-20.5) vs. Davidson | O/U: 42.5
3 p.m. ET #3 South Dakota State (-24.5) vs. Holy Cross | O/U: 45.5
3:30 p.m. ET North Dakota State (-6.5) vs. Eastern Washington | O/U: 56
4 p.m. ET Weber State (-4) vs. Southern Illinois | O/U: 47.5
4 p.m. ET North Dakota (-8) vs. Missouri State | O/U: 44.5
7 p.m. ET Delaware (-19.5) vs. Sacred Heart | O/U: 42.5
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via DraftKings.
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Zach Wilson Draft Profile, Dynasty Fantasy Analysis & Props To Bet

nfl draft-nfl-college football-fantasy football-betting-props

Zach Wilson Draft Profile

Position
QB
School
BYU
Height
6’2″
Weight
214
40-Yard Dash
N/A
2021 Age
22
Class
Junior
Recruit. Stars
3
Projected Round
1

Zach Wilson Draft Props

Wilson is -2500 at BetMGM to be the No. 2 overall pick and -2500 at FOX Bet to be the No. 2 quarterback selected. Given the quarterback situation with the Jets and this draft class, those props are essentially versions of each other.

I already have multiple positions on Wilson.

But I still think there’s value on Wilson at the current odds. At -2500, he has a 96.2% implied probability to go No. 2, but I think the real odds are around 99%.

While I rely on my own research, I also take a “wisdom of the crowds” approach by surveying an index of mock drafts. I find that these drafts — created by experts with established records of success — collectively give me a good sense of the realistic range of outcomes for what we might see with any given player or pick.

In all of the surveyed mocks, Wilson goes No. 2.

In terms of the true odds and also in terms of market value — he is as high as -5000 at other sportsbooks — Wilson is still bettable for the No. 2 pick if you don’t mind laying heavy juice.

Pick: No. 2 pick (bet to -4000); 1.0 units
Bet Now: BetMGM

Pick: No. 2 quarterback (bet to -4000); 1.0 units
Bet Now: FOX Bet

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Dynasty Fantasy Analysis

Wilson looks like the guy you don’t want dating your teenage daughter. In an ’80s teen movie, he would be the hot guy AND the smarmy villain.

Also, now seems like a good time to make a confession.

Let’s proceed.

A three-star recruit, Wilson hoped to sign with Utah, where his father, Mike Wilson, played as a defensive tackle — but the team didn’t have a need at quarterback, so he instead went to instate rival BYU.

Opening his freshman year as the backup behind Tanner Mangum, Wilson overtook the 25-year-old senior in the middle of the season and started the final seven games to become the youngest starting quarterback in BYU history.

Overall, Wilson had a 65.9% completion rate for 1,578-12-3 passing with 50-372-2 rushing (excluding sacks, per 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook).

After his promising freshman season, Wilson regressed as a sophomore, putting up a 62.4% completion rate for 2,382-11-9 passing with 48-303-3 rushing (excluding sacks) in nine games, missing a month in the middle of the season with a broken right thumb.

His year-over-year freshman-to-sophomore efficiency numbers are telling (per SIS).

Expected Points Added per Drop Back

  • 2018: 0.10
  • 2019: -0.09

Adjusted Yards per Attempt

  • 2018: 9.2
  • 2019: 6.9

After his sophomore campaign, Wilson wasn’t even thought of as an NFL prospect, evidenced by the fact that he didn’t appear in mock drafts until November of 2020 (per Grinding the Mocks).

But his 2020 season clearly changed the way he is now perceived. His junior campaign was nothing short of extraordinary. Starting all 12 games, he led BYU to an 11-1 record with a 73.5% completion rate for 3,692-33-3 passing while adding 58-362-10 rushing (excluding sacks).

As great as Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was last year throwing the football, Wilson was right there with him as one of the purest passers in college football.

SIS Independent Quarterback Rating Without Pressure

  1. Zach Wilson: 136.7
  2. Mac Jones: 136.1

Adjusted Yards per Attempt (More Than 6 Games)

  1. Mac Jones: 11.2
  2. Zach Wilson: 11.0
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In every passing category in the SIS quarterback leaderboards, Wilson was a top-three player last year.

If you read any scouting report on Wilson, it will indubitably highlight his passing ability: The dude has a cannon. If I took a shot of tequila every time I read “arm talent” in a Wilson writeup, then I’d be way drunker than I currently am.

In the pocket, he is accurate to all levels of the field. He moves through his progressions with steadiness. He stands tall and delivers the ball quickly. He avoids pressure while keeping his eyes up.

When the pocket breaks down, he improvises like a veteran and regularly looks to attack deep. In fact, he’s more dynamic as an off-script playmaker than an on-script pocket passer, and you see that in his numbers: When plays break down, he airs the ball out, and the farther he throws it, the better the outcome (per Pro Football Focus).

PFF Passing Grades by Depth of Target

  • 1-9 Yards: 82.9
  • 10-19 Yards: 93.9
  • 20-Plus Yards: 99.9

Wilson is a swashbuckling gunslinger. With some of the plays he makes, he looks like Patrick Mahomes.

Of course, sometimes he gets into trouble — because he’s not Mahomes. We didn’t see it much last year, but as a sophomore, he routinely demonstrated a dangerous overabundance of faith in his arm strength and an underabundance of measured decision-making.

Wilson has uncoachable talent — but that might mean part of him will always be a little bit uncoachable.

Despite the uncontrollable hype that Wilson has gotten in the buildup to the draft …

… he is far from a perfect prospect.

Despite starting at BYU for 2.5 seasons, he had just one year of truly special production, and that came against an extremely soft schedule in a COVID-impacted season. Not one of his opponents last year was from the Power Five.

Granted, he was impacted as a freshman and sophomore by injuries. After his first year, Wilson had surgery on his throwing shoulder to repair an injury he suffered in high school, and then as a sophomore, he had surgery on his throwing thumb. That might explain why he didn’t break out until his junior season.

At the same time, it’s not ideal that he has already had surgeries on his throwing shoulder and hand.

And his injury history raises potential concerns about his size. Wilson isn’t prohibitively small, but he’s certainly not built like a prototypical quarterback. He’s not tall, and he has a slight frame.

Wilson bossed out at the BYU pro day, impressing No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence in the process.

But without the pads — in just shorts and a shirt — he physically looked more like a high-school recruit than an NFL draft prospect.

And the guy has some questionable off-the-field judgment. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

That order is basic. B-A-S-I-C. Someone needs to say it.

Also, who wears a ring on his pointer finger? Does he think he’s Frodo?

None of these concerns are cataclysmic. Wilson has the tools to be a franchise quarterback. It helps that he’s a net-positive runner.

With his scrambling ability, Wilson has an elevated floor for both fantasy and reality.

But he’s not Trevor Lawrence as a passer, and he’s not Justin Fields or Trey Lance as a runner — and that means he’s not likely to be a top-three quarterback in my rookie fantasy rankings.

Wilson has virtues as a prospect, but he might not have enough of the right ones.

NFL Prospect Comp: Johnny Manziel with less rushing ability but more draft capital, accuracy and prudence


Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

The Action Network’s Cash Corner: Looking Back On Last Week’s Bets (April 13-20)

nba-odds-picks-new york knicks-vs-new orleans pelicans-april 14

Whether you won or lost money this past week I can guarantee you one thing and one thing only: You had fun in the process.

You could have won $1 million, and I bet the most exhilarating part of that endeavor was the sweat leading up to the gigantic result. Week in and week out, we gamble on everything from the NBA to the PGA TOUR, and no matter the results, we move on to the next event without looking back.

While almost every bettor (including myself) tends to look ahead to what’s next, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on what happened in the prior week and try to take something away from the biggest moments.

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Last Week’s Big Things 

1. Jake Paul … The Boxer. 

Jake Paul’s current careers in order of importance:

  1. Professional Boxer 
  2. YouTuber/Blogger
  3. Social influencer/Podcaster  

When Jake Paul stepped into the ring with a 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson and knocked him out like the 2012 Knicks playing LeBron and the Heat in the playoffs, it turned into a meme.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and Paul decided to do it bigger and better when he stepped into the ring with a former UFC champion.

Whether Ben Askren was a formidable opponent or not (he clearly wasn’t), Paul managed to step into an entirely new class in the boxing world.   

Did Askren enter Saturday Night’s fight a tad overweight and unprepared? Definitely. But that should not take away from what Paul accomplished.

Like him or absolutely hate him (most people do), you still have to give credit where credit is due. He walked into the ring with a devilish glare in his eyes and walked out smiling ear-to-ear after a first-round knockout.

You can’t deny that Paul has legitimate technique and looks like he is going to have a future in the sport. He is a great athlete, has a freakish build, and I believe it’s time to put his training to the test and match him up against an actual professional boxer. 

I don’t care what anybody says about the knockout; Paul threw a vicious punch, and Askren hit the pavement within a second of taking that hit. 

All I can say is at least he lasted longer than when he fought Jorge Masvidal.

Biggest takeaway: Don’t believe in Jake Paul’s ability as a fighter? It doesn’t matter because Vegas does.

Oddsmakers have made him a favorite in both of his professional bouts, and both times he has come through with easy wins.

It’s time to start taking the YouTuber seriously instead of thinking you are stealing value betting on the underdog. Considering the criticism around Paul and the amount of money that can be made off of fighting him, I’m expecting his next fight to be a spectacle.

Although his career may seem fluky at the moment, his upcoming fight is going to be a must-bet/watch with your friends. 

Jake Paul -225 vs. Nate Robinson
Jake Paul -150 vs. Ben Askren

2. New Look Knicks

Don’t look now, but the New York Knicks are currently the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, they would be making their first postseason appearance in seven years. Just like Jake Paul “the boxer,” the Knickerbockers are for real and are here to stay. 

The Knicks aren’t just the hottest team in New York or even the Eastern Conference, but they are the hottest team in the entire league. They have won six straight games and have covered the spread in nine straight. 

Top notes from the streak:

  • Julius Randle has four straight games of 30+ points.
  • This is the Knicks’ longest winning streak since 2014.
  • They have covered the spread by 11.8 PPG during the nine-game cover streak.
  • The Knicks are 36-21-1 against the spread this season, the most profitable mark in the NBA. A $100 bettor would be up $1,353 betting on them every game. 

_BookPromo=495

Biggest takeaway: It really looks like the Knicks are finally back, and fans everywhere couldn’t be happier to shout it from their rooftops.

There is no denying that the NBA is just more entertaining when the team that plays in “The World Most Famous Arena” is competitive. New York City is the mecca of basketball, and it looks like the Knicks are finally fulfilling their potential.

Speaking of the Knicks and the playoffs — how does this $500 lottery ticket look?

4. Everything but the Kitchen “Cink”

4,075: The number of days between Stewart Cink’s sixth and seventh PGA Tour victories.

217: The number of days between Stewart Cink’s seventh and eighth PGA Tour victories. 

There is only one other golfer in the world besides Cink with two PGA wins this season, and his name is Bryson DeChambeau. That’s some noteworthy company. 

With wins at the Safeway Open in September and this past weekend at the RBC Heritage, it’s a career resurgence for the 47-year-old who has been on TOUR since 1995. But where is the mojo coming from all of a sudden? 

One of the biggest factors could be attributed to the fact that his son, Reagan, has been on the bag since the fall. The duo has already won two events together, and it doesn’t look like they are stopping there.

When Reagan was asked what moments were most special from the two TOUR victories, the son/caddie said, “Everything in between the shots. Walking on the fairways hanging out.”

All in all, Cink cruised to his victory at Harbour Town, cashing at 125/1 odds. Not many people were expecting him to become a two-time Heritage champion, as only .8% of tickets and 0.6% of the handle were on him at BetMGM

Biggest takeaway:  Harold Varner III might have had the quote of the weekend when referring to the guy he finished second place to this past weekend:

“He’s old, and he’s kicking everyone’s ass.”

Cink already has two victories this season and is now in the conversation for being on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Find a course where iron play and putting comes at a premium, and Cink should continue to be a great bet moving forward. 

5. The Chef Has Been Cooking  

To say Steph Curry has been balling out of control is an absolute understatement.

The two-time MVP is tearing the league up and has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation. He is on one of the craziest shooting stretches in recent memory, and we have the stats to back it up. 

If you don’t bet player props, it’s time to start taking a look at Steph’s over/under on points each night. He has hit the over on his prop in 10 of his last 11 games, and he’s gone over his point total by an average of 9.6 PPG. When watching Curry plays every night, it looks like he is playing NBA 2K on rookie mode and everyone else is on superstar. 

https://twitter.com/ActionNetworkHQ/status/1384324253688877057?s=20 

Biggest takeaway: Stop questioning who is the greatest shooter of all time and embrace Steph with the crown that is already on his head. The guy is in a class of his own, and no one can touch him. The Warriors are currently sitting in the 9-seed in the Western Conference, and if they make it to the playoffs, it will all be because of Steph and his ability to shoot the ball.

Could Steph be worth a look at MVP, or does Nikola Jokic have the award locked up? He currently has the fourth-best odds to win his third MVP at +1800. It could be too little too late at this point but could be worth a flier with the run he’s on.

The Best Thing I Saw On The Action Network’s Twitter

Is this the luckiest bet of all time, or is the person who placed this from the future? These are the only two acceptable answers. 

It’s hard enough hitting a straight bet or even a two-leg parlay, but this guy is out here winning $43K on an 11-leg same game parlay.

These are the types of wagers that bettors around the world dream can only dream about. I ask the gambling gods just once to let me hit one of these Hail Mary parlays, and I will never gamble again (just kidding). 

Speaking of sorcery, how in the world did this play result in a touchdown?

Notable Events on the Upcoming Sports Schedule  

  • Thursday, April 22: NBA, 76ers vs. Bucks | MLB: Padres vs. Dodgers 
  • Friday, April 23: NBA, Celtics vs. Nets 
  • Saturday, April 24: UFC 261. Main Event: Usman vs. Masvidal 
  • Sunday, April 25: PGA, Final Round of Zurich Classic | MLB: Padres vs. Dodgers (Sunday Night Baseball) 

Snippets 

  • On April 16, a big bet came in on the Lakers at BetMGM: $35,000 to win $122,500 on Los Angeles +350. The bet moved the Lakers’ odds from +350 to +325.
  • Have you heard soccer news about the new European Super League but are a little confused? Same here. Michael Leboff explains what we know about it and why everyone hates it here.
  • The NFL Draft is 10 days away, and our guys are getting ready. Chris Raybon and Stuckey break down the win total market, while Matthew Freedman talks about his best bets ahead of the draft on the Action Network Podcast here.
  • Per FanDuel Sportsbook on April 16: “The Nets are the favorite in the outright market at +220 and Nikola Jokic is the MVP favorite at -175.” Jokic has since moved to a -350 favorite, and the Nets have stayed put in terms of odds with the Lakers, coming in at second at +350. 
  • The Zurich Classic starts this Thursday, and bettors might have a tough time picking a pair of golfers to win it all. Jason Sobel breaks down how golf bettors should play this team event here
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MLB Betting Odds, Prediction & Pick: Expect Little Early Scoring in Brewers vs. Padres (April 20)

brewers vs. padres-odds-picks-preview-predictions-mlb-april 20-2021

Brewers vs. Padres Odds

Brewers Odds -108
Padres Odds -107
Over/Under 6.5
Time Tuesday, 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via DraftKings.

Two of the best young pitchers in the National League square off on Tuesday night in San Diego, where Corbin Burnes starts opposite Chris Paddack.

Milwaukee is off to a solid start to the season and are right on the Reds’ heels for first place in the National League Central. However, the Brewers are coming off losing two of three games against the lowly Pirates over the weekend, so they will be looking to rebound on Tuesday night after the season opener on Monday.

The Padres are coming off a highly emotional series against the Dodgers that saw them lose two of three. With the Dodgers already having a big lead in the NL West, the Padres can’t afford to fall farther behind this early in the season. They’ll hope their No. 3 starter Paddack can match Burnes tonight and keep the bullpen fresh.

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Offensive Matchup

Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee has been struggling to start the season offensively. They entered Monday night near the bottom of MLB with a .295 wOBA and 80 wRC+. To make matters worse, Christian Yelich recently went on the 10-day injured list with a back injury.

The Brewers were one of the worst lineups against right-handed pitching last season, ranking 27th in wOBA and 26th in wRC+. They also struggled against every pitch type in 2020, including fastballs, against which they were 24th in MLB. Paddack really struggled with his fastball last season, so the Brewers lineup will need to somehow take advantage of that pitch tonight.

San Diego Padres

Given the talent in the Padres’ lineup, they are off to a slow start to begin the season. San Diego only had a .322 wOBA and 104 wRC+ entering Monday’s game, both of which are average by MLB standards. Fernando Tatis Jr. has been in and out of the lineup due to injury and is off to a terrible start, hitting only .125 coming into the series.

The Padres have a big task at hand trying to get to Burnes. The only pitch San Diego struggled against last season were cutters, which just happens to be the pitch Burnes has gone to the most through his first three starts of 2021. I expect the Padres to see a heavy dose of them tonight.

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Starting Pitching Matchup 

Corbin Burnes vs. Chris Paddack

2021 ZIPS Projected Stats (via Fangraphs)

Brewers Starting Pitcher

Corbin Burnes, RHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Last season, Burnes was completely unhittable, posting a 1.77 ERA and 2.89 xFIP. He’s also a strikeout machine, racking up a crazy 13.34 K/9, which ranked third in MLB behind only Shane Bieber and Jacob deGrom.

Burnes has continued that into 2021, as he’s only given up four hits and one run through his first three starts, while also racking up 30 strikeouts.

The reason Burnes is so effective is because of his secondary pitches. Last season all four collectively allowed a .120 average to opponents, along with each of them producing a whiff rate better than 30%. Burnes has gone to his cutter more than any other pitch through his first three starts this season and likely will need to use it a lot tonight, since that is the only pitch the Padres struggled against last season.

Padres Starting Pitcher

Chris Paddack, RHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Paddack really didn’t live up to expectations in 2020. However, he was pretty unlucky, as he posted a 4.73 ERA, but his xFIP is almost a full run lower at 3.77. His main issue last season was giving up the long ball, as he surrendered 14 home runs in only 59 innings. Through his first three starts of 2021, the main issue is his control, as he already has a BB/9 rate over four.

Paddack struggled with his fastball in 2020, allowing a .309 average to opponents. That is a big issue since he throws his fastball over 58% of the time. Through his first three starts this season, Paddack is throwing his fastball over 65% of the time now, but has been more effective with it allowing only a .241 batting average against it.

Milwaukee struggled against everything last season so if Paddack is effective with his fastball, he should be able to shut down a Yelich-less Brewers lineup.

Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

Last season, the Brewers led MLB in xFIP as a unit at 3.72 when no other team recorded an xFIP below 4.00. Milwaukee’s relief corps also led MLB in hard-hit percentage allowed mainly because they have two of the best relievers in all of baseball. Devin Williams and Josh Hader are about as solid of an eighth-ninth inning combination that you’ll find in baseball today.

The Padres counter with an elite bullpen of their own that was fifth in xFIP last season. With additions like Mark Melancon and Keone Kela, their bullpen will once again be near the top of MLB. In fact, they’ve been one of the best bullpens to begin the season, ranking first in xFIP and third in K%.

Brewers-Padres Pick

Without Yelich, the Brewers’ lineup is pretty exposed, especially when struggle against righties and fastballs, which is Paddack’s main pitch he throws over 65% of the time. On the flip side, Corbin Burnes is one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons and should be able to shut down the talented Padres lineup with his cutter.

Since I only have 3.18 runs projected for the first five innings, I think there is some value on Under 3.5 runs at -118 odds.

Pick: First Five Innings Under 3.5 runs (-118)

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2021 Zurich Classic Betting Picks: Our Favorite Outright Bets at TPC Louisiana

The PGA TOUR brings bettors a different look this week at the 2021 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana.

Rather than a traditional stroke-play event, this tournament features pairings playing both best ball and alternate shot formats throughout the weekend. That’ll provide a different experience for both viewing and betting.

Teams will play best ball on Thursday’s opening round, which means both players will use their own shot throughout the round. However, only the lowest score on the hole will count for the scorecard. For example, if one player pars a hole and the other birdies, the birdie will go on the official scorecard.

On Friday for the second round the format changes to alternate shot. Players on each team will alternate who tees off on each hole with his partner taking the next shot and switching back and forth from there. For example, if one player tees off on the first hole, his partner will take the second shot and the player who teed off takes the third shot. On the next hole, whoever didn’t tee off will take the tee shot on hole No. 2.

The top 35 teams plus ties will make the cut. There are 80 teams in the tournament.

Saturday’s third round goes back to best ball. The final round on Sunday will be played as alternate shot.

Here are our favorite outright bets for the 2021 Zurich Classic:

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Jason Sobel

Bubba Watson & Scottie Scheffler (+1600)

When the pairings were first released, this is the one that struck me as a partnership with potential. There’s not much to say about Scheffler, who’s risen to 21st in the world ranking and appears on the verge of a first career win very soon.

Watson might have a reputation as “doesn’t play well with others,” but it isn’t a deserved one. In six stints on the U.S. Ryder/Presidents Cup team, he owns a 9-8-1 record in partnered matches, which isn’t remarkable, but supersedes that rep. In fact, while unquantifiable, Bubba owns the sort of personality which offers more motivation when alongside a teammate rather than competing as an individual.

For a couple of players who can ham-and-egg birdies for the 36 holes of best-ball format, this could be the team to watch all week.

[Bet Watson/Scheffler at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Chris Murphy

Sam Burns & Billy Horschel (+2500)

I noted this pairing in my lead-up article following the RBC Heritage and I am going to back them to win this week. Both of these players have shown to be streaky and while Horschel has a recent match play win, Burns is also showing some signs of bouncing back after missing three of the last four cuts.

They can really balance off of each other in the Four-Ball format, especially with Burns, who on his own has a tendency to run off a string of birdies then make a big mistake. Those mistakes won’t be as amplified in two of the rounds, and if they can combine well in alternate shot, they will be a tough team to beat.

They have the best value to me this week as the favorites are just too short to take before the event, and I believe this team has the upside to win.

[Bet Horschel/Burns at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Matt Vincenzi

Thomas Pieters/Tom Lewis (+5000)

Thomas Pieters is a mega-talented European with a lot to play for. The big-hitting Belgian is making a strong case to be a part of the European Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits and they could certainly use a bomber at such a long track.

Pieters is in great form with four consecutive top-15 finishes on the European Tour, and has finishes of 15th and 13th in his two 2021 PGA TOUR starts. With experience in similar formats at a previous Ryder Cup and a World Cup, he should not be overlooked as a force in this setup.

Tom Lewis is a nice compliment to Pieters, as he is a prolific birdie maker who is known for producing some very low rounds. This team of Euros is very talented and highly motivated which gives them a great shot this week.

[Bet Pieters/Lewis at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Landon Silinsky

Cameron Tringale/Roberto Castro (+5500)

Tringale is having a renaissance season in 2021, posting seven top-25s and three top-10’s in 15 starts. He’s also made the cut in 12 of those starts, including nine of his past 10. He’s shown exquisite ball-striking chops in this stretch, ranking sixth in SG: Ball-Striking in this field over his past 24 rounds. He also ranks seventh in total strokes gained in the same time frame.

As for Castro, he’s made each of his past two cuts at both the Puerto Rico Open and at Corales. This pair also has some history here, finishing fifth at this event back in 2019.

Being that this tournament is more fickle than others, I like chancing teams that have some built in continuity. Tringale has made 10 starts at TPC Louisiana and gains 1.879 strokes on the field tee-to-green per round, which ranks him third only behind Benny An and HV3.

We’ve seen Tringale knock on the door multiple times this season and I’ll gladly take 55/1 in this spot.

[Bet Tringale/Castro at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Rob Bolton

Brendon Todd & Chris Kirk (+2500)

Everything about this format screams, “Don’t pick a favorite!” However, while these fellow University of Georgia products aren’t tagged with the longest of odds, they’re hunters. Targets are on other backs. This gives them the space to do what they do best, which is to say that they really don’t need the room. They keep the ball in play and they complement each other well.

[Bet Todd/Kirk at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Bryan Berryman

Talor Gooch & Max Homa (+3100)

This is a tough week to pick a winner. Without a heavy dose of course-specific data to reference, I am forced to go off a generic model that focuses heavily on the key ball-striking statistics that are generally indicative of success.

Outside of the obvious favorites at the top of the board, this pairing provides the highest combined score in the model ranking third overall. The combination of Homa’s consistency and Gooch’s upside provides an interesting setup. One that I am willing to back at +3100.

[Bet Gooch/Homa at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Rangers vs. Angels MLB Odds & Picks: Bet Los Angeles to Dominate (April 20)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks-predictions-los angeles angels-shohei ohtani-tuesday-april 20

Rangers vs. Angels Odds

Rangers Odds +163
Angels Odds -190
Over/Under 8.5
Time 9:38 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds as of Tuesday evening via DraftKings.

The Los Angeles Angels looked every bit like a team that hadn’t played in three days during Monday’s game, as it took six innings for their offense to scratch out a run. They exploded for four runs in the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough to cancel out the five scored in the sixth by the Texas Rangers, who went on to earn the 6-4 victory.

The Angels will look to even the series Tuesday, with Shohei Ohtani getting the start on the mound. He’ll be opposed by Jordan Lyles, who’ll be making his fourth start of the season.

Ohtani has only made one appearance on the mound this season, due to the fact he has been dealing with a blister on his right hand. While he looked dominant in his only outing, control issues limited him to just 4 2/3 innings.

The Angels’ standout is still a bit of a wild card, but there’s no question that his stuff plays at the major-league level. It could be the perfect storm for him, with Los Angeles fairing well in a bounce-back spot off a loss this season.

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Texas Rangers

I’m not sure what to make of the Rangers this season. The over-under for their win total was set at 67.5, and yet you could say they’ve played above expectations giving their 8-9 start. However, I think Texas’ recent win against Los Angeles was a bit fortunate, as they couldn’t catch its host in a flatter spot after not playing since Friday’s game.

Lyles will take his turn on the mound for the Rangers. In three starts, he’s 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Although, his 5.57 FIP does make him an ideal candidate to experience some regression. Lyles has a 2.35 HR/9 ratio, and his HR/FB is below average at 16.7 percent. Also, 53.4 percent of his batted balls are fly balls, and hitters have a hard contact rate of 42.6 percent.

Bottom line, this is a pitcher who’s just asking to get touched up for some big hits. If you look at his last four seasons, he’s finished with an HR/FB ratio of at least 12.8 percent. He’ll now face an Angels lineup with a .326 AVG / .436 OBP / .522 SLG slash line against him in 46 at-bats. And although this current lineup has only one home run against him, its .196 ISO is still above league average.

As far as their offense is concerned, the Rangers are 23rd with a wRC+ value of 86. They also have done a poor job getting on base, as their .26 BB/K rate is the third worst in the league. Yet, perhaps the biggest issue is their plate discipline.

Texas’ 31.3 CSW% (called strikes% + swinging strikes%) is the worst in the league. I suspect that sooner than later, the cumulative effect of these numbers will place an even bigger burden on its ability to win ballgames.

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Los Angeles Angels

We’re now into the third season of the Angels trying to utilize Ohtani as a two-way player. Yet, it’s hard to believe he’s only made 13 starts in the big leagues. Injuries have certainly derailed his progress, but when he’s been able to take the ball, he’s been effective.

Since arriving in Los Angeles, Ohtani is 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA in the majors. His 3.85 FIP would suggest that he’s been even better.  One thing that has been surprising about Ohtani is his lack of command. Even in 2018, when he made 10 starts, he still walked 3.83 hitters per nine innings. He did manage to finish 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA that season.

The walks are really the only blip when you look at his advanced numbers. Ohtani’s ability to generate 11.33 strikeouts per nine innings in those 13 appearances is very promising. That could work to his advantage against a Rangers team that’s 23rd in the league with a chase rate outside the zone of 32.6 percent. The other factor that should work to his advantage is that he’s yet to face Texas, despite being in the same division.

Ohtani remains very much an enigma in his fourth season. He’s already reached folklore status in that he’s been the buzz in the league, despite few hitters actually seeing him pitch. However, one thing we do know is that when he’s healthy, he’s worth every cent the price of admission.

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Rangers-Angels Pick

If Ohtani can still remember where the pitching mound is, I feel like I have to back him in his outings. The Angels are 8-5 straight up in games he’s started. If we look at the 2018 season (representing the majority of his starts), Los Angeles went 7-3, including a 6-1 mark in his first seven starts.

I think this is a good spot to back him against the free-swinging Rangers. No player has yet to get a hit off his splitter this season, and I’d expect Texas to get a heavy dose of that pitch.

While it took until the seventh inning for the Angels to plate some runs on Monday, I think their familiarity with Lyles on the mound should serve them well in this matchup. Los Angeles has avoided long losing streaks, as they’re 3-1 both straight up and against the spread coming off a loss.

With the Angels as high as -200 odds on the money line, I’ll look to play them on the run line instead at -105 odds via DraftKings as my top selection.

Pick: Angels Run Line (-105)

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NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Timberwolves vs. Kings, Clippers vs. Trail Blazers (Tuesday, April 20)

Editor’s Note: The Clippers announced that Kawhi Leonard has been managing right foot soreness and will sit out Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. For more, check out today’s injury report.


With just five games on Tuesday evening’s NBA slate, the two most visible games that will be played on national TV each have key players missing.

The Brooklyn Nets will face the New Orleans Pelicans (7:30 p.m. ET on TNT) without Kevin Durant and James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers will meet the Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET on TNT) who won’t have Damian Lillard.

Still, our NBA analysts are making bets in those games, plus one other late West coast matchup.

Take a look their in-depth analysis and picks below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

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Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans
7:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET

Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
Pelicans -2.5
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Kenny Ducey: Time is running out for the Pelicans to make a run at the postseason. They are currently 3.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 10th spot in the West, but have lost three straight and are 4-6 over their past 10 games.

The Nets will be sitting seven players, including Kevin Durant and James Harden, but I’m actually most fixated on the absence of Nic Claxton, who has been provided solid minutes up front and helped mask the issues that the aging DeAndre Jordan has allowed teams to exploit this season.

The Pelicans lead the league in rebounding rate and have made their money this season with physicality down low on both ends of the floor. Without Claxton, the Nets will lack the necessary punch on defense around the rim, and without Durant they’ll be even weaker scoring in the post.

Zion Williamson should be able to get what he wants here against a weak (and maybe disinterested) Nets defense, and Steven Adams should control the glass.

That should be enough for the Pelicans, who have been at their best against the spread at home with a 14-16 mark (they’ve covered just 44% of their total games this season, so that’s good by comparison) to pull it out. This is as must-win as games get, and I think New Orleans gets it done with relative ease here against Brooklyn.

I’d take this all the way to -4.

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Pick
Clippers -7
Book
William Hill
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Raheem Palmer: The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t as good as their record suggests. Although they’re 32-24, sixth in the Western Conference, the Blazers have been skating on thin ice all season — their Pythagorean Expectation of 27-29 would have them out of the playoff picture.

They have a winning record primarily based on their performances in the clutch where they are 22-8 with an Offensive Rating of 130.8, a Defensive Rating of 98.3 and a Net Rating of 32.5.

“Dame Time” has saved them time and again, but Lillard is out with a hamstring injury and his absence isn’t ideal against the Clippers who beaten them five straight times.

With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum, the Clippers are a bad matchup given the Blazers’ lack of wing players. While Robert Covington is solid, the 36-year-old version of Carmelo Anthony is a defensive liability and the cupboard of other wings is bare. Without Lillard in the lineup, the Blazers are in trouble as they 10.5 fewer points per 100 possessions when he’s off the floor, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

Against the Clippers who rank first in Offensive Rating, scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, expecting this team to match up point for point without Lillard is tough task.

To make matters worse, the Blazers are 29th in Defensive Rating (117.5) according to Cleaning the Glass, so I’m not seeing how they can stop the Clippers. The Blazers just lost to the Hornets in a game where they were down by 29 points at one point despite Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, Devonte Graham and Malik Monk sitting out.

The Blazers rank 22nd in Opponent Field Goal percentage at the rim (65.1%), 23rd in mid-range (43.1%) and 24th from behind the arc (38.2%). These are areas of the floor where the Clippers score efficiently: They are first in 3-point field goal percentage (42.9%), eighth in field goal percentage at the rim (66.7%). Leonard is one of the best mid-range shooters in the league and the Blazers have no shot at stopping him from getting his shot up.

Overall, this line is short and with rumors that the Blazers quit on head coach Terry Stotts, this feels like a great spot for the Clippers to continue building momentum for the playoffs.

My post All-Star break projections make the Clippers a 10.40 point favorite, so lay the 7 points with the Clippers and you should have a positive expected value wager.

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Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Pick
Hassan Whiteside Under 1.5 assists 
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Brandon Anderson: Hark! Doth my eyes deceive me?

Is that really a Hassan Whiteside passing prop? And it requires more than one assist to hit?

Whiteside has long been an NBA black hole. In 444 career NBA games, Whiteside has tallied a miserable total of just 301 assists for a 0.6 per game rate. In fact, it’s about two assists every three games. It’s very, very bad.

In 11,446 career minutes, he gets just one assist every 38 minutes — the sort of paltry rate only someone like Oklahoma City’s Moses Brown could someday aspire to.

Whiteside has recorded three or more assists just 19 times (4.3%) and he’s had multiple assists in just 80 games, which means he’s gone under this line in 82% of his career games.

Let’s put it another way: Whiteside has been held without an assist in 56% of his NBA appearances. If you had to bet on whether Whiteside would record a single assist in any game in his career, your odds of hitting are worse than a coin flip.

Whiteside has 20 assists this season, approximately as many as Nikola Jokic has every time he breathes on a basketball court. And to be fair, his passing rate is increasing! Hey, that’s one dime every 25.5 minutes. Last season, Whiteside even had more assists than games played for the first time ever. Maybe that Portland culture really is magical.

He’s going to get the opportunity to play big minutes tonight with Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley out. But Damian Jones has been starting, and Whiteside continues to get something like 18 to 22 minutes off the bench.

And yes, he’s had multiple assists in two of his last three games. Welllll la-di-frickin-da, he’s still under in 30 of 34 Kings appearances, hitting this under for us 88% of the time.

If you set a Whiteside assist line that requires multiple assists to hit the over, I’m taking that under at almost any price. A line of -175 looks high at first, but implies a 64% chance of hitting the under, and it should be clear by now that we have a much better shot.

But -175 is just the price I pay, destiny is calling me. Open up my eager eyes — I’m fading Whiteside.

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NBA Injury News & Starting Lineups (April 20): James Harden Sidelined Indefinitely, Kawhi Leonard Out Tuesday

nba-injury-news-projected-starting-lineups kawhi-leonard april-20

Below are the projected starting lineups for each team playing on Tuesday’s NBA slate, along with notable injury news for each squad. For real-time updates to these lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.

NBA Injury News

7:30 p.m ET Update: The Clippers announced that Leonard has been managing right foot soreness and will be re-evaluated next week.


6:30 p.m. ET Update: The Nets announced that Harden suffered a setback while going through an on-court rehab session on Monday and will remain out indefinitely.


5:50 p.m. ET Update: James Johnson has been ruled out Tuesday, as expected, after previously being considered doubtful with a strained adductor.


The news to monitor on Tuesday’s NBA schedule is minimal — Devonte’ Graham is questionable ahead of a game with the Knicks due to a quad contusion — but the more notable news surrounds players who are out tonight.

LaMelo Ball, who has been sidelined since late March has been cleared to return to individual basketball activities and could return to the floor in 7-to-10 days according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Knicks will be without Alec Burks, who is one of their best scorers off the bench. Burks is out for the third game in a row due to health and safety protocols and there is no word on when he’ll return.

The Brooklyn Nets will have another long injury report Tuesday that includes Kevin Durant. He suffered a thigh bruise Sunday against the Miami Heat and has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Nic Claxton is also out due to health and safety protocols.

The Portland Trail Blazers will be without Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic Tuesday when they face the Los Angeles Clippers. Lillard is still bothered by a knee injury and Nurkic will rest in the front end of a back-to-back.

With Lillard out on Sunday, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson entered the starting lineup. Enes Kanter will likely start in place of Nurkic, and he totaled 24 points and 30 rebounds in his last start.

Be sure to check the Action Labs NBA page for real time updates.

Projected Starting Lineups

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m. ET)

Magic Projected Lineup

PG – Cole Anthony
SG – Gary Harris
SF – Dwayne Bacon
PF – Chuma Okeke
C – Wendell Carter Jr.

Injury news: Terrence Ross (Back), Otto Porter (Foot), and James Ennis (Calf) are out

Hawks Projected Lineup

PG – Trae Young
SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF – Kevin Huerter
PF – John Collins
C – Clint Capela

Injury news: Danilo Gallinari (Foot) is out


Charlotte Hornets vs. New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. ET)

Hornets Projected Lineup

PG – Devonte’ Graham
SG – Terry Rozier
SF – Jalen McDaniels
PF – Miles Bridges
C – Vernon Carey

Injury news: Devonte’ Graham (Quad) is questionable; Gordon Hayward (Foot) and LaMelo Ball (Wrist) are out

Knicks Projected Lineup

PG – Elfrid Payton
SG – RJ Barrett
SF – Reggie Bullock
PF – Julius Randle
C – Nerlens Noel

Injury news: Alec Burks (COVID Protocols) is out


Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans (7:30 p.m. ET)

Nets Projected Lineup

PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Bruce Brown
SF – Joe Harris
PF – Jeff Green
C – Blake Griffin

Injury news: Kevin Durant (Thigh), Nic Claxton (COVID Protocols) and Reggie Perry (COVID Protocols) are out

Pelicans Projected Lineup

PG – Lonzo Ball
SG – Eric Bledsoe
SF – Brandon Ingram
PF – Zion Williamson
C – Steven Adams

Injury news: James Johnson (Adductor) is out


Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET)

Clippers Projected Lineup

PG – Reggie Jackson
SG – Paul George
SF – Kawhi Leonard
PF – Marcus Morris
C – Ivica Zubac

Injury news: Nothing new

Trail Blazers Projected Lineup

PG – CJ McCollum
SG – Norman Powell
SF – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
PF – Robert Covington
C – Enes Kanter

Injury news: Damian Lillard (Hamstring) and Jusuf Nurkic (Rest) are out


Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings (10 p.m. ET)

Timberwolves Projected Lineup

PG – Ricky Rubio
SG – Anthony Edwards
SF – Josh Okogie
PF – Jaden McDaniels
C – Karl-Anthony Towns

Injury news: Jaylen Nowell (Leg) is doubtful

Kings Projected Lineup

PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Buddy Hield
SF – Maurice Harkless
PF – Harrison Barnes
C – Hassan Whiteside

Injury news: Robert Woodard (Back) is out


Phan’s Bet to Watch

As of 2 p.m. ET, Justin Phan isn’t seeing betting value in any games. To get instant alerts when he sees an edge and his analysis on those picks, sign up for Action Labs.

NBA MVP Race: Eight Questions To Ask When Debating Who Should Win 2020-21 Most Valuable Player

nba mvp-betting-odds-eight questions-stephen curry-joel embiid-nikola jokic-2020 2021

There’s a little less than a month left in the NBA regular season, and we still do not have a clear winner for MVP. Despite a recent poll in which Denver center Nikola Jokic garnered 90-of-95 possible first-place votes, the conversation continues as to who else could possibly win it.

Damian Lillard goes on a run of Dame Time? Maybe it’s him.

Steph Curry, the best 3-point shooter the world has ever seen, hits a remarkable amount of 3s? What about him for MVP?

Joel Embiid was the favorite before his injury. Why not now?

All of them, along with Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James before his injury, are deserving. All are having incredible seasons.

So, before you decide on who you think MVP should be, here are some questions:

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I. How do you define “Most Valuable” this season? 

This season’s shortened, disrupted, chopped, screwed, and blended schedule creates more issues than normal when assessing the MVP.

Typically, the definition of value is tied to winning, and certainly, you can’t have a losing record and be a serious MVP candidate. But the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns sit No. 1 and 2 in the West, respectively, without a single serious candidate between them. The Clippers are very likely to reach the 3-seed (at least), and Kawhi Leonard is not in any of the discussions. 

In the East, Joel Embiid is certainly in the running for the top-seed Sixers, but the Nets and Bucks both only have received passing consideration for Antetokounmpo and James Harden, respectively. 

With a year like this, the ability of teams to compete and win nightly is different and being judged as such. 

The reason the league never specifies what “valuable” means in the award is so that we have the kinds of conversations we do, which draws more attention to the league. MVP conversations fill pages like this one, talk shows, podcasts, TV segments and social media. It’s purposefully left without definition so that the voter, or stand-in for a voter in conversations, can define it on their own terms. 

So, it’s up to you to define it. It’s like choose your own adventure, only with toxic online discourse. 

You have a wide range of options: 

A. Best Player on the Best Team

B. Best Player in the NBA

C. Player Who Has Raised His Team The Most

D. Most Outstanding Player

E. Most Spectacular Player

F. The Player Whose Season Most “Defined” The Season (AKA The Narrative Award)

G. Most Impactful Player

I gravitate toward option G, personally. It means the player whose performance, while on the court, most directly contributed to winning.

But you can choose any definition. However, once you commit to it, you can consider the other definitions, but you need to be consistent. You can’t take “Best Player On the Best Team” one year, and then when it’s a year like this, walk away from Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell. 

II. How important is availability, and what are your specific limits on them? 

This season, more than any other, has been a shitshow. The schedule, contact tracing, health and safety protocols, mental and physical exhaustion, it’s all combined to make what is normally a long war of attrition — the regular season — and made it into a slog of a march to the finish line, with each team simply trying to keep everyone on their feet and in some sort of decent shape for the playoffs. 

Teams have to keep an eye on the playoffs, especially with players who have long-term injury histories they have to manage. 

Nikola Jokic has played in every game. Does that matter to you, in this context? Remember, it can impress you without thinking it has bearing on the award for Most Valuable. 

Steph Curry has missed nine games. 

Joel Embiid has missed (18) games. Eleven (10 consecutive) were related to his knee injury, six more due to minor injuries like back soreness or a sprained ankle. One game was due to health and safety protocols, and he can’t be blamed for that. For that matter, a player’s injury should not be viewed as a detriment. You don’t choose to be injured, which Embiid legitimately was, and LeBron legitimately has been. 

You can view this question through the prism that whether it’s fair or not, Jokic has played more minutes, and therefore helped his team more. However, by that logic, were every major candidate hurt, you would have to put the league leader in minutes in consideration. And while Knicks fans would be thrilled and MVP bettors could just take the best player on Tom Thibodeau teams until the end of time, it’s probably not the best practice. 

It’s fine to consider availability among other elements in the discussion, to use it as a tiebreaker or to provide some context, but there is a real argument to be made that with the way the NBA season is constructed, and especially this season, availability has its limits when determining who should be MVP. 

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Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.

III. What role do stats play for you?

It is totally OK for you to ignore stats.

There are voters who based their selection entirely on “who is the story of the league this season?” This is not so serious as to suggest that you must have concrete, objective evidence. 

However, it probably helps.

Make sure you understand what the metrics are telling you before you use them. Offensive rating isn’t how good a player is offensively; it’s how good a player’s team is when they’re on the floor. PER is naturally going to reward bigs due to the rebounding edge, won’t account for defense, and tends to reward high-usage shot takers.

But it’s good to have a background in concrete evidence, contextualized by watching the games and approached from multiple angles.

Jokic leads in almost every advanced category: PER, BPM, Win Shares, a stat, in particular, I like called VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). He’s also doing all this with a much lower usage rate than the other candidates. Curry obviously leads in overall shooting efficiency, but Jokic is a surprisingly close second.

Also make sure to check out the pace-neutral stats, or per 100 possessions. For example, Embiid leads Jokic by 3.5 points per game, but per 100 possessions due to pace and minutes per game, Embiid’s lead is actually 7. Similarly, Jokic’s assists lead over the other candidates’ increases because of the slow pace the Nuggets play at.

Just make sure you don’t become beholden to the absolutes. Net rating tells you how a team played with a player on-court, but in a season so impacted by absences and schedule, a lot of context has to be applied.

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IV. How much do you care about offensive-defensive balance? 

Embiid is the best defensive player among the serious candidates, and the gap is massive. 

It’s not only fine to care about defense, it’s important. If you are an objectively bad defender, that needs to weigh against your case. 

If you do the deep dive (and I will in the coming weeks to show the work) you would find that most of the MVP candidates this season don’t fit that category. Most of them are fine-to-good defenders with bad reputations. 

However, deciding on how much you care about defense is a key step in the evaluation process, as it is half the floor. Additionally, you will have to rectify that with the fact that history has never bent toward that factor, as most often offensive players, often without much of a defensive reputation at all, earned votes in the majority of seasons. 

Which brings us to:

V. How much does history matter? 

The key here is whether you are comfortable breaking precedent with the history of the award. Notably, players voted on the award until 1980. There have been differing amounts of voters and the makeup has changed over time. Also, you know, League Pass is now a thing, as are advanced metrics. Voters are more informed than ever. 

In the history of the award, 94% of the winners have come from a top-two conference seed since 1985. This year, multiple candidates are fourth or lower as of this writing. 

Are you comfortable breaking that precedent? 

Looking at the history of who has won the award may matter to you, and it may not, but decide that first. 

VI. How much does winning matter?

This one is a little more obvious. The point of professional sports is money. The second point of professional sports is competition, and winning is the product of succeeding in that competition. 

The Warriors are, as of this writing, six games over .500 with Curry playing. The Sixers are currently the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are also just two games ahead of the Nuggets in the standings, though Denver is fourth in its conference. 

If your definition is “best player from the best team,” then good luck parsing whether it’s Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert. If it’s “best qualified player from the best team of candidates,” then it’s Embiid for you, at the moment, but that also reduces your decision down, without nuance or context, and ignores schedule difficulty. 

Winning has to matter, but you have to be able to parse the manner in which it matters. 

Personally, I tend to think you need to raise your team to a certain level. If the Jazz or Suns had a stronger candidate, I would absolutely lean their way. But in the absence of those serious candidates, the bar shifts a little bit in this regard. 

It is notable the gaps, however. The Warriors are currently .500 as of this writing, while the Sixers and Nuggets are 17 games or more over .500. That is not a slim gap. 

VII. How much does teammate quality affect your vote? 

This is what I refer to as the “shortcut” in a lot of MVP discussions. Especially with the advent of the very-useful on-vs.-off-court net ratings available via NBA.com, you can get a sense of how a team plays when a player is on the court vs. off. 

I also consider this to be a massive trap. 

With Curry on-court, the Warriors outscore their opponent by 3.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s not bad. It’s not great. But it’s not bad. 

Without Curry, the Warriors are outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions. If you watched them get absolutely annihilated by the Raptors a few weeks ago, you know what I’m talking about. This team looks like a bad G-League squad without Curry at times. So, that makes him more valuable, right? 

Conversely, the Sixers are +11.9 with Embiid on-court and -0.8 with him off. HIs teammates are better, so his team is better. Except the difference between the two is greater than it is for Curry. 

(I’d also note that the Warriors are -3.3 with Curry on the floor and Draymond Green on the bench this season.) 

76ers vs. warriors betting odds-expert picks-saturday march 7
Photo credit: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry

Jokic is in the middle, as the Nuggets are +8.8 with him on the floor and -1.1 with him on the bench. So, they are better with Jokic than the Warriors are with Curry and worse without Jokic than the Sixers are without Embiid, but not as bad without Jokic as the Warriors are without Curry and not as good with Jokic as the Sixers are with Embiid.

The Sixers pretty clearly have the best roster of the three, especially after Jamal Murray’s injury. If you drafted every player on the three teams or added the Blazers or Mavericks, they would have the first pick after the three candidates (Ben Simmons) and several of the top 10. 

Here’s the real problem with these considerations, however: you should not reward a player for having bad teammates nor should you punish a player for having good teammates. 

An MVP should raise the level of his team, and by extension, teammates. You can define that however you want, but don’t get caught in the trap of “this team would be bad without this player” and instead focus on how good the team is with and because of that player. 

VIII. How is this vote going to look in six months? What about in five years?

This is the strongest (supposed) argument against Jokic. No one will blink in five years looking back at a vote for Curry. He’s a 3-time champion and two-time MVP already. 

Embiid has been heralded as the next great big man for the better part of a decade and fits the traditional mold. 

Damian Lillard is regarded as one of the most clutch players in the history of the league with a career full of iconic moments. 

Luka Doncic is pretty much assumed to be a great in the making and was the MVP favorite coming into the season. 

LeBron James is LeBron James. 

For whatever reason, there has been a consistent undercurrent, only found if you really dig in with certain likely or would-be voters that Jokic will look like a silly choice in five years. 

This is despite the fact that Jokic has won three playoff series in two years (nevermind that it’s a regular-season award) or that what he’s done the past two seasons is no less historic. Or that he follows in the footsteps of Larry Bird (who the Boston Celtics’ own commentary crew compared him to) and Bill Walton (an MVP in 1978). 

The reasons for this are both seemingly arbitrary and seem to slip through fingers when one tries to grasp them. It has something to do with what “greatness looks like” in a traditional sense,and melds into marketability and attitude.

Jokic isn’t a brand. He’s not trash-talking on Instagram. He’s not in the State Farm commercials. He’s not a household name. He’s a (formerly) chubby white big man from Serbia who is best known for his outrageously gifted passing. 

That said, it’s good to consider what the historic view of the vote will reveal, even if that means attempting to see the future to some degree, and that has to be balanced with a recognition of what the award is: a celebration of individual performance in a particular regular season. 

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NHL Odds & Picks for Maple Leafs vs. Canucks: Bet Toronto to Crush Vancouver (April 20)

Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -275
Canucks Odds +230
Over/Under 6.5
Time Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via BetMGM.

There are 30 fanbases in the NHL that absolutely love to laugh at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The media talks about them way too much and Leafs fans are arrogant, which is comical when you consider the fact they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967 or a playoff series since 2004. 

Fortunately for the other 30 fanbases, this team likes to produce a “LOL LEAFS” moment about once a season. Last year, they lost a game in which their own zamboni driver was forced to play goaltender for the other team. This year, that moment might have occurred on Sunday night. 

The Leafs lost to the Vancouver Canucks, who were playing their first game since a 25-day hiatus caused by 26 members of the organization testing positive for COVID-19. There was a lot of talk, including from members of the Canucks, about how they weren’t near ready to return to play and how the league was putting them in an impossible position. Despite missing some key players, the Canucks erased a 2-0 deficit to win the game in overtime. 

The same two teams meet on Tuesday night. Can the Canucks do it again?

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Toronto Maple Leafs

While the Leafs might be everyone’s favorite team to hate and root against, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad team. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Toronto has a 28-12-5 record and sits comfortably atop the North Division. They are the clear favorite to come out of the division come playoff time.

The Leafs’ record is deserved. According to MoneyPuck, Toronto has the second best expected goal rate in the league at 55.2% and leads the league in expected goals scored per hour. The Leafs also have the third-best high-danger chance percentage in the league.

Offensively, Toronto scores 2.72 goals per hour at 5-on-5, which is the fourth-best mark in the NHL. When looking at their forwards, it’s no surprise to see them near the top of the league. Auston Matthews is widely considered the most dangerous goal scorer in the league, while Mitch Marner and John Tavares would be considered franchise players on many other teams. 

On the defensive side of the ice, things aren’t as prolific. They rank near the league median in most defensive metrics, but they are sixth in goals against per 60 minutes at even strength. The team continues to be without Frederik Andersen between the pipes, but Jack Campbell has been one of the better goalies in the league with a +5.5 goals saved above expectation (GSAx). 

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Vancouver Canucks

Sunday’s feel-good win for the Canucks might be the highlight of their season. After an impressive showing in the bubble last summer, expectations were raised for the young Canucks, but they’ve failed to meet them. Vancouver currently has a 17-18-3 record and it won’t be easy to make up any ground with how frantic their schedule will be to close the season. 

Vancouver has struggled to play with the puck this season. It ranks inside the bottom five in terms of both expected goal rate and shot attempt rate. It also ranks 24th in high-danger chance percentage. 

The Canucks have especially struggled when it comes to their defensive effort. Their mark of 2.78 expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5 is by far the worst in the league. They rank 29th in high danger chances allowed. It’s no surprise they are near the bottom in terms of goals against per 60 minutes, as they sit in 25th. 

The Canucks do have some good high-end offensive talent, but they’ll be without their best player for likely the rest of the season. Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, JT Miller and Quinn Hughes do have the kind of ability that makes the Canucks dangerous, so they shouldn’t be disregarded. However, without Elias Pettersson, the Canucks’ path to competing for a playoff spot becomes murky. 

Vancouver’s goaltending situation is worth monitoring. Thatcher Demko has broken out as a good young goalie for the Canucks, but he might not be ready to return after a battle with COVID-19. If Demko can’t go, Braden Holtby will get the start for Vancouver. Holtby had a strong performance on Sunday, but that hasn’t been the case for most of the year. He is stopping under 90% of the shots he’s seen this season while posting a GSAx of -3.3. 

Leafs vs. Canucks Best Bet

While I do appreciate the Leafs giving us a laugh every once in a while, it’s important to realize we’re dealing with one of the better teams in the league. Even in Sunday’s loss, MoneyPuck’s “Deserve to Win O-Meter” had the Leafs at over 82%. Toronto had a 3.63-1.63 expected goal advantage in all situations with a 3.16-1.21 score adjusted advantage at 5-on-5. 

Vancouver’s conditioning and will to compete will be tested over the next month as the team will have to play 18 games in a little less than four weeks. We know the impact that COVID has had on professional athletes’ conditioning levels. When you consider 22 players on this team just tested positive, it’s definitely a factor that can’t be ignored. You can get through one game on adrenaline, but that wears off eventually. 

In Sunday’s game, the Leafs might have taken their foot off the gas. They got out to a 2-0 lead and with the narrative surrounding the Canucks, they might have thought they were in for an easy night. I don’t expect this to be an issue again on Tuesday as they saw first hand what could happen. 

Toronto is clearly the better team here and the moneyline validates that thought. Toronto has the offensive firepower to win this game handily, so I’d look towards the puck-line if backing the Leafs in this contest.

Pick: Toronto -1.5 (-115)

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Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Advances Without In-State College Betting Restriction

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Nebraska lawmakers advanced a sweeping casino authorization bill Tuesday without an in-state college betting prohibition that would have prevented legal wagering on home games for popular programs such as the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.

A series of votes Tuesday on several amendments sets up a final yes-or-no approval for the entire bill in the coming days or weeks. Once approved, the state’s six commercial horse tracks will be able to open retail sportsbooks as part of a “Las Vegas-style” casino expansion.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks argued her in-state betting prohibition amendment would protect Nebraska student-athletes, including Cornhuskers football players, who she said were already under extensive pressure.

The amendment would have allowed betting on programs such as the Cornhuskers football team or the Creighton Bluejays men’s basketball team only when they played in other states.

Opponents argued on the legislature’s floor Tuesday that self-imposed prohibitions didn’t limit existing gambling on college sporting events and simply funneled money to other legal or illegal offerings.

“This has been happening ever since Cornhuskers sports started in the 1800s,” said Sen. Adam Morfeld, who represents Lincoln — where the Cornhuskers play their home games — in the state legislature. “We might as well be getting the revenue and the proceeds that come from it so it’s not at some casino across the river in Iowa or some casino company in Las Vegas.”

The proposal fell, 18-13, with 16 members not voting.

A separate proposal that prohibited in-game prop wagers on college athletes passed without opposition. Similar prohibitions exist in multiple other legal sports betting markets, including neighboring Iowa.

The bill now goes to final approval before the full unicameral legislature, the only state government with only one chamber. Nebraska’s 2021 legislative session is set to end in June.

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Background

Nebraska remained one of the nation’s last retail casino holdouts even after other regional states, notably Iowa, embraced legal brick-and-mortar gambling. Aside from the 1993 creation of the state lottery, lawmakers and anti-gambling groups had thwarted nearly 30 years of gambling expansion efforts, citing fears over moral, religious and societal ills.

Gambling proponents reached a breakthrough with a 2020 ballot measure that voters approved by a more than a two-to-one margin, permitting six existing pari-mutuel horse tracks to open full-scale commercial casinos.

The referendum didn’t explicitly outline specific gaming offerings, but lawmakers drafting the follow-up regulatory legislation determined it encompassed retail sportsbooks.

With only minor opposition, lawmakers supported retail betting confined within certain areas of the brick-and-mortar facilities. However, Tuesday’s lengthy floor debate showed college sports betting remains one contentious aspect of a politically sensitive issue.

More than a dozen legislators testified on just Pansing Brooks’ amendment alone, following hours of debate over several additional gambling bill proposals, underscoring the enormous political interest surrounding the state’s largest legal gambling expansion in decades. Several lawmakers cited they still had reservations over the bill, and that while voters supported legal gambling, it was their responsibility to ensure a safe and fair market for Nebraska gamblers.

Online Gambling Remains Far From Reality

Lawmakers Tuesday almost rejected a proposed online keno amendment included in the gambling regulatory bill, again showing widespread voter support hasn’t dispelled gambling’s overarching controversy in the Unicameral.

Paper versions of the game have been played legally in Nebraska bars and restaurants for decades, one of the few legal “gambling” options previously allowed. Online keno proponents argued it was a necessary counter to dollars lost to the new retail casinos.

Debate Tuesday focused on the proliferation of an online gaming form, more so than its economic impact. Online keno opposition makes it that much harder for Nebraska lawmakers to approve online wagering any time in the near future.

Lawmakers have not seriously considered statewide mobile wagering authorization as part of the casino bill.

This will undoubtedly continue to boost Iowa’s sports betting bottom line. Iowa, which shares Nebraska’s largest metro area around Omaha, has launched more than a dozen online sportsbooks, including industry leaders such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and PointsBet.

Nebraska’s sparse population outside the Omaha area means statewide mobile wagering in Colorado and a pending 2021 launch in Wyoming will garner little handle from Nebraskans crossing state lines to wager neighboring online betting markets.

Its own online wagering prohibitions will continue hindering legal handle potential, but in-state bettors will be able to wager on home games for its most iconic sports program.

MLB Odds & Picks for Mets vs. Cubs: Bet New York to Stay Hot vs. Jake Arrieta (Tuesday, April 20)

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Mets vs. Cubs MLB Odds

Mets Odds -130
Cubs Odds +112
Over/Under 7.5 (-117 / -105)
Time 7:40 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds updated Tuesday evening and via DraftKings.

Fresh off another series win in Colorado, the New York Mets are beginning to hit their stride, entering Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs winners of five of their last six games.

They’ll send one of their most successful signings of the season thus far to the mound in Taijuan Walker, who will have the pleasure of facing one of the most disappointing lineups in baseball. Chicago will counter with Jake Arrieta, whose numbers suggest a bad outing is coming at any moment.

Could that bad outing be in this spot against surging New York or will he continue to pitch in and out of jams? Let’s take a look at this matchup and see if we can find some value.

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New York Mets

It’s really amazing to see the Mets sitting atop the NL East at 7-4, despite how poorly they’ve played. New York is just 14th in wRC+ after finishing second in the metric last season.

Newly-acquired standout Francisco Lindor is hitting .189; Jeff McNeil, the “King of Contact”, is at .176; Michael Conforto has a 70 OPS+; and, Pete Alonso has homered just twice all year. On top of that, the Mets lost starting third baseman J.D. Davis to an injury after just two games, from which he just returned over the weekend.

Yet,  New York has managed to absorb all the blows and that’s why this team has so much potential. The Mets’ ERA sits fourth in baseball at a sparkling 2.92, plus they’re second to only the New York Yankees with a 10.78% strikeout rate.

They’ve managed to piece together a decent enough rotation around Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, and while their bullpen hasn’t been great, they’ve come up with some huge outs.

Against the Cubs, who have been serving up pitches all season, things might turn for the Mets’ offense, which would be bad news for the rest of the league. It should also be bad news for the Cubs, who have had issues scoring runs.

That’ll be music to Taijaun Walker’s ears, who is starting to build some confidence around his once-exciting arsenal of pitches. The Mets’ journeyman has ranked in the top 6 percent of league in average exit velocity, with his strikeouts climbing more than 7% this season.

Simply put, Walker has given the Mets a chance to win every time he’s taken the ball, and this start should be no different.

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Chicago Cubs

Saturday afternoon was fun one for the Cubs, who scored 13 runs behind five round-trippers in a nine-run win over the Atlanta Braves. Then, reality set in Sunday in their 13-4 loss against that same opponent.

Nothing has changed for Chicago. It’s still struggling mightily with making contact, getting just 71.3% of its swings on the ball that’s good for second to last. As a result, the Cubs have the third-highest strikeout rate at 28.2%.

The thing about it is that Chicago has been doing this for years. The franchise has struggled in the contact department, only to make up for it with walks and home runs. This isn’t unlike most of the league, and it’s sort of the same issue that’s currently plaguing the Yankees right now.

When they’re hitting home runs, the Cubs are fine, but the issue is the homers aren’t there to rescue them right now. Without Saturday’s outburst, they’d be sitting right in the middle of the league. This team whiffs a lot, and it’s hard to predict the few games they’re going to make solid contact.

A lackluster offense has put a lot of pressure on the Cubs’ pitching staff, which has not responded well. Their starting rotation is the second worst in baseball with a 5.91 ERA, and the bullpen ranks third worst with a 4.98 ERA.

Of particular concern is the fact Arrieta has actually been one of their best with a 3.18 ERA, but that number is considerably inflated. His 5.27 expected ERA and ridiculous 78.7% strand rate suggest there is a big day of reckoning coming, and it could be in this spot against a Mets offense that has been dormant to this point, but is slowly beginning to see the ball better.

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Mets-Cubs Pick

When you take a look at Arrieta’s peripherals, it’s evident that a massive blow-up outing is coming any start now. So, why not the Mets?

They have plenty of talented left-handed bats from Lindor to Conforto, who can’t stay down forever. New York did a decent enough job over the past week of beating up on bad (and good) pitching, going to Philadelphia and putting up nearly five runs per game. And though offense was a bit harder to come by at Coors Field, there were some very talented starters on the hill for Colorado.

The biggest factor here has to be the slumping Cubs’ offense against the surging Walker. We have seen teams with bad offenses (namely the Milwaukee Brewers) pick up win after win despite producing only a few runs, and nothing more should be needed here as long as Walker continues to generate swings and misses at the rate he’s been going.

Nothing about this game points to a resurgence for the Cubs, and everything points to negative regression for Arrieta. The Cubs are going to win some games this season, but I’m going to have to fade them again here. The situations and the price are too good.

Pick: Mets ML (-134)

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MLB Betting Model Edges & Predictions: Tuesday’s Top Plays, Including Twins vs. Athletics (April 20)

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Our MLB PRO Projections compare our model with lines posted at a variety of sportsbooks.

Sean Zerillo’s power ratings power our projections, which earn letter grades on a scale from F to A. We recommend at least a B+ before considering placing a bet based solely on these projections.

PRO Projection edges are based on market consensus lines, but there will often be better odds available, which makes each game’s edge even bigger simply by locking in the best available line.

You can access our projection edges in three different places:

  1. Web Tool
  2. Action App ⇒ Pro Tab ⇒ MLB ⇒ Projections
  3. Game pages in the Action App

Let’s take a quick look at today’s top MLB betting predictions, including the massive edge for Twins vs. Athletics.

Odds as of 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Check the PRO Projections page to see how our edges change as odds move throughout the day.

1. LA Dodgers at Seattle Mariners

PRO Moneyline Mariners +117
Consensus Moneyline Mariners +160
Over Edge 7.5%
Grade A-
Game Time 4:10 p.m. ET

2. New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs

PRO Total 8.52
Consensus Total 7.5
Over Edge 6.3%
Grade B+
Game Time 7:40 p.m. ET

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3. Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics 

PRO Moneyline Athletics -114
Consensus Moneyline Athletics +104
Nationals Edge 4.2%
Grade B-
Game Time 10 p.m. ET

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NBA Odds, Pick, Prediction for Clippers vs. Trail Blazers: L.A. Has Star Power Edge With Damian Lillard Out Tuesday (April 20)

clippers vs. blazers-odds-pick-prediction-betting-nba-april 20-2021

Editor’s Note: The Clippers announced that Kawhi Leonard has been managing right foot soreness and will sit out Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. For more, check out today’s injury report.


Clippers vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Clippers Odds -4.5
Trail Blazers Odds +4.5
Moneyline -215 / +170
Over/Under 222.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet.

If the season ended today, tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers would be the  No. 3 vs. No. 6  matchup in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Fortunately for the Blazers, this isn’t the postseason because they are down their best player, Damian Lillard, and their oft-injured starting center, Jusuf Nurkic.

Let’s break down this matchup despite the Blazers missing their floor general.

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are somehow underrated this season. They are +700 to win the NBA title, likely will not need to play the LA Lakers until the Western Conference Finals, and they’re improved with the addition of Serge Ibaka (out for this game though). The Clippers have the second-best point differential in the league (+7.7 points per 100 possessions) due to their No. 1 offense (119.7 points per 100) and 11th ranked defense.

Kawhi Leonard returned on Sunday after missing the previous four games with foot soreness and nearly posted a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. His return stabilizes this team because his 30.4% usage rate is impossible for any of the role players to fully absorb.

When LA’s dynamic duo of Leonard and Paul George share the floor, the Clippers are a whopping +17.0 points per 100 possessions and have a 60.6% eFG%, all marks that are in the 99th percentile of all lineups in the NBA, according to Cleaning the Glass. With this tandem together, expect the Clippers to continue their offensive onslaught on the Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers

This team revolves heavily around Lillard and with him already being ruled out, it’s going to be a tough night for the Trail Blazers. They will miss his 34.6% usage rate and elite +11.2 points per 100 on offense.

Additionally, the Blazers will be without Nurkic as they are managing his right knee to ensure he is available for the playoffs. Without Nurkic, Enes Kanter slides into the starting lineup and he’s averaged 13.4 points and 13.4 rebounds in 34 games without Nurkic this season.

This Blazers team have outperformed expectations this season — their actual win percentage (.571) is far better than their pythagorean win percentage (.482) — and much of it is a result of Lillard’s clutch performances in close games. Over the course of the season, they have a -0.1 point differential and it’s because they have an elite offense, but a miserable defense (29th in the league), per Cleaning the Glass.

Without Lillard, these numbers crater. In all lineups without him, they are -3.5 points per 100 possessions, and the team’s eFG% drops by over two percentage points. Without Lillard to put together a transcendent performance, the Blazers should struggle against this Clippers’ defense.

Clippers-Trail Blazers Pick

This spread is set at -8.5 and this season the Clippers have been excellent against the spread as a favorite, per Bet Labs.


On the flip side, the Blazers have struggled as home underdogs, and are just 3-5 ATS, failing to cover by an average margin of 8.88 points.

This matchup simply comes down to the availability of Lillard. When he missed their game against the Hornets, who were without LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, and Devonte Graham, the Blazers lost by seven. That tells you everything you need to know about this Trail Blazers team without Lillard –they aren’t very good.

The Clippers should be able to score at will against this porous Portland defense, and I fully expect them to cover here and would play this up to -9.

Pick: Clippers -8.5

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Nets vs. Pelicans Odds, Prediction & Pick: Betting Value on Brooklyn Despite Key Absences (April 20)

nets vs. pelicans-odds-picks-betting-predictions-preview-april 20-2021

Nets vs. Pelicans Odds

Nets Odds +3
Pelicans Odds -3
Moneyline +126 / -148
Over/Under 235
Time Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via FanDuel.

The Pelicans host the Nets on Tuesday night in the second and final meeting between these teams this season. The Nets won the first matchup in a blowout 139-111 on April 7 in Brooklyn.

Unfortunately, two of the Nets’ three leading scorers in that game won’t play on Tuesday with Kevin Durant out with a thigh injury and LaMarcus Aldridge retired.

The Nets are coming off of a 109-107 loss to the Heat at the buzzer on Sunday, while the Pelicans have lost three straight after losing consecutive games in overtime to the Wizards and Knicks on Friday and Sunday.

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Brooklyn Nets

If the Nets cover as short road underdogs, they will need Kyrie Irving to play at a high level and shooters Joe Harris and Landry Shamet to step up with two-thirds of their big three out. Durant (thigh), Nicolas Claxton (health and safety protocols) and Reggie Perry (health and safety protocols) all are out Tuesday, while James Harden (hamstring), Tyler Johnson (knee) and Chris Chiozza (hand) also remain out indefinitely.

The Nets will need Irving to bounce back after an off-night against the Heat on Sunday. Irving’s 31.6% field goal percentage (6-of-19 shooting) against the Heat was his second lowest of the season. He missed all eight of his shots when guarded by underrated Defensive Player of the Year Award candidate Bam Adebayo.

Luckily for Nets fans, the Pelicans won’t have anyone near Adebayo’s class defensively, and Irving should thrive against a Pelicans defense that has struggled to contain dribble penetration.

The Nets will need to win the battle from beyond the arc to win without Durant and Harden. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Nets rank second in the league on 40.0% 3-point shooting this season. The Pelicans, meanwhile, rank second last in defensive 3-point percentage allowed with opponents are making 39.3% against them. The Nets’ 3-point defense is average, but the Pelicans’ 3-point shooting is one of the worst in the league at 35.1% shooting.

Harris has led the Nets from beyond the arc. His 48.2% accuracy from beyond the arc ranks in the 98th percentile among wings while doing so on high volume. Shamet has increased his 3-point shooting percentage every month this season, and he has made 51.9% of his 3s in April on 7.7 attempts per game. Shamet has scored at least 17 points in four consecutive games and is coming off of a career-high 30-point game on Sunday.

The Nets will also need other role players to play well to pull the upset. DeAndre Jordan and Claxton put pressure on the rim and can give the Nets easy buckets when the defense overcommits to stop Irving and their shooters. Jeff Green, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown, Claxton and Shamet give the Nets defensive versatility, and they will need to step up to help defend Zion Williamson by drawing charges and cutting off driving lanes.

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New Orleans Pelicans

If the Pelicans win and cover, they need Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball at their best. James Johnson (adductor) is doubtful to play, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) and Josh Hart (thumb) remain out indefinitely.

Per Cleaning The Glass, both Williamson and Ingram have usage rates in at least the 95th percentile (among their respective position groups) while also scoring in at least the 73rd percentile in points per shot attempt and having an assist rate in the 90th percentile or higher.

Williamson has been nearly unstoppable once he gets the ball in isolation situations with his freakish size and speed combination. As Williamson continues to improve his handle, it makes him even more dangerous as a scorer and distributor. Ingram remains a dangerous scorer, shooting in the 65th percentile or better at the rim, in the midrange and from beyond the arc.

The Pelicans’ offense ranks ninth in the league with an offensive rating of 115.0 (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass) this season, but they have struggled lately. Their 106.8 mark over their last eight games ranks second last in the NBA over the last two weeks.

The Pelicans haven’t been able to make teams pay when defenses over-commit to Williamson and Ingram as they have made just 25.4% of their 3-pointers (34-of-126) over their last five games. The Pelicans will need Ball, their only reliable 3-point shooter aside from Ingram, to step up and take advantage of quality looks, especially with Alexander-Walker and Hart out.

Bigs like Steven Adams and Jaxson Hayes will need to take advantage of the Nets’ undersized frontcourt on the glass when Jordan isn’t on the court. New Orleans ranks second in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates. The Nets will fight an uphill battle on the boards at 21st and 22nd in offensive- and defensive-rebounding rates.

Nets-Pelicans Pick

While the Nets are shorthanded without Durant and Harden, Irving and their hot shooters should lead them to a road win over Williamson and the Pelicans’ slumping shooters. Irving will pose a huge problem for the Pelicans’ defense that has struggled at the point of attack, and the Pelicans will have to pick their poison to either let Irving score or force him to kick out to open shooters like Shamet and Harris.

I like the value on the Nets to both cover as short underdogs at +2 and win outright at +118. I will be betting the Nets to win outright, but there is value betting them on the spread down to -2.

Pick: Nets Moneyline +118 (bet on the spread down to -2)

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Tuesday NBA Player Prop Picks: 3 Bets from Magic vs. Hawks, Including Wendell Carter Jr. (April 20)

Sometimes when there’s a light slate of NBA games, the best play is to focus on one game and tell a story. With the Single Game Parlay option now being offered at books like FanDuel, PointsBet and others, bettors can play multiple bets from the same game and try to tell the narrative, then go for a big hit.

Tuesday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks might not be particularly exciting for casual viewers, but there’s opportunity there for bettors due to numerous player absences.

The Magic are particularly shorthanded. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are out for the season, while Terrence Ross, Otto Porter Jr., James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams are missing as well. Atlanta is also short on the wing.

Those lineup holes create opportunity for the remaining players, so let’s grab three overs in this contest. You might think about playing one of those Single Game Parlays as well if you’re up for it. This one plays for around +560 odds.

For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.

Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.

NBA Player Props & Picks

Wendell Carter Jr. — Over 15.5 Points + Assists (-110)

Magic vs. Hawks Hawks -12.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

It looks like Wendell Carter Jr. has finally found himself a nice home. Carter was one the players involved in the blockbuster Nikola Vučević trade, with the Chicago Bulls sending him to Orlando with draft picks and Otto Porter Jr.

Carter found a bigger home and ole almost immediately. He took a couple games to settle in, but ramped up past 20 minutes in his third game and has since ripped off maybe his best 10-game stretch as a professional. During these last 10 games, Carter is at 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, plus a steal and a block per game thrown in for good measure.

He’s started all but one of those games, averaging 30.0 MPG during that stretch, and he’s gone over 31 minutes in each of the last three so things continue to trend in the right direction. It looks like the Magic might have found their center of the future.

Carter’s scoring has been very encouraging lately. He’s recorded at least 15 points in seven of these last 10 games, nearly hitting this over on points alone with a newfound scoring efficiency and more touches on a team playing through him more. That also means more passing opportunities for a smart player who’s always been a nice interior passer. Carter has had multiple assists in half his Magic games, with three games of four assists already.

We’ll bet on things continuing to trend in the right direction, even with a tougher matchup in Clint Capela. Carter’s minutes and touches should stay up, so we’ll bet him to go over 15.5 points + assists, like he has in seven of the last 10 games. I’ll play to -130 odds.

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Chuma Okeke — Over 2.5 Assists (-110)

Magic vs. Hawks Hawks -12.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Let’s stay with the Magic and take a look at another young player who’s been even more impressive.

Chuma Okeke is technically a rookie since he had to sit out all of last season after tearing knee ligaments in his final game at Auburn, which was an upset win over North Carolina that was maybe the finest game of his college career.

Okeke is finally healthy, and he’s taking full advantage of this newfound opportunity with the Magic trading away the veterans and going young. Okeke plays with the feel of a savvy veteran. He’s a smart team defender and a nice passer, plus his shooting and scoring touch have come along as well.

Okeke has started his last 12 games. He’s averaging 12.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game during that stretch, already looking like a very useful NBA 3-and-D wing and quietly turning in one of the better rookie performances of the season.

Okeke has recorded multiple assists in all but one Magic start, going over 2.5 in seven of 12 starts and hitting our over 58%. Yet, that promising floor puts us within one of an over and games with four, four, five and seven assists show Okeke’s untapped ceiling as a passer. With Porter, Ross and Ennis all missing on the wing, Okeke should get plenty of touches and opportunities.

Trust the rookie, because he’s not playing like one, and bet this over to -140. We project him at 3.4 assists.

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Bogdan Bogdanovic — Over 7.5 Rebounds + Assists (-123)

Magic vs. Hawks Hawks -12.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Remember, Single Game Parlays can use players on both sides, so let’s head over to the Hawks for our final pick.

Remember when Bogdan Bogdanovic was supposed to be headed to the Milwaukee Bucks last fall? We’re starting to see why. The Bucks coveted Bogdanovic’s shooting and all-around game as a passer, scorer and rebounder, and he’s starting to show that in Atlanta now that he’s healthy and settled in.

The Magic aren’t the only team severely shorthanded along the wing in this one. Atlanta is missing De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Tony Snell and Danilo Gallinari, and that shortage has pushed Bogdanovic into a massive role over the past few weeks.

During the last 10 games, Bogdanovic is suddenly playing a huge 36.7 minutes per game and his production is way up. He’s averaging 22.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, filling up the box score. During these 10 games, Bogdanovic has had at least three rebounds in every game and at least three assists in all but one.

He’s had at least six rebounds plus assists every game, establishing a serious floor for this prop and going over it in seven of the 10, hitting our over 70% of the time.

Bank on big minutes again and trust the production to come with it. Bogdanovic is soaking up this opportunity for playing time while his teammates are missing, and he should keep filling up the box score against these young Magic players. I’ll play the over to -145 odds.

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NHL Odds & Pick for Hurricanes vs. Lightning: Betting Based on Who Tampa Bay Has in Net (Tuesday, April 20)

curtis mcelhinney-hurricanes vs lightning betting preview-tuesday april 20

Hurricanes vs. Lightning Odds

Hurricanes Odds +100
Lightning Odds -115
Over/Under 5.5
Time Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET
TV NHL.tv
Odds updated as of Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET and via BetMGM

The top two teams in the Central Division met for the penultimate time on Monday, and a matchup featuring two Stanley Cup contenders that possibly flew under the radar had a playoff intensity.

In this space in advance of that game, we thought we had a solid angle regarding the total. However, the goaltenders had other ideas.

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Carolina Hurricanes

Petr Mrazek was outstanding in a losing cause, as the Carolina Hurricanes dropped the game 3-2 in overtime.

At one point, the announcer said that Mrazek was “stealing lunch money right now.” Our angle on taking the over 5.5 goals was that the two teams had played their previous games evenly, given that both teams had combined to average well over four expected goals at even-strength. Four of the six previous meetings had gone under because for a multitude of reasons, the teams struggled to convert the plethora of high-danger chances (HDC) at even-strength.

Mrazek made sure that this was going to be the case again in the teams’ penultimate matchup this season. Specifically, an epic recovery save, as he slid pads-first in front of a backhand shot that seemed destined for an open net, only to be stopped on the goal line. That prevented the Lightning from taking a 3-2 lead that would have subsequently forced the Canes into an empty-net situation and the high probability of either an empty-net goal to make it 4-2 or a 3-3 tie.

While Mrazek saved the game at the time and eventually a point in the standings, it wasn’t enough to save the day in its entirety. Head coach Rod Brind’amour was quoted earlier in the day saying that the Canes would be relying on two goaltenders down the stretch, which is a hint that Mrazek will be taking the night off on Tuesday as these teams waste no time in renewing their pleasantries. 


Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


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Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning and Hurricanes got heated in the third period after an Alex Killorn hit went unappreciated by Jake Gardiner leading to a fight that had Killorn playing to the crowd after he was escorted to the penalty box. We’ll expect a similar intensity to Tuesday night’s rematch, but will Tampa be able to play at the same level 5-on-5?

In the six matchups so far this season, the even-strength metrics support the record split. While the Hurricanes have generated 9.0 HDC per game to the Lightning’s 10.33. The Canes have actually warranted 13.26 xG to 13.06 for Tampa Bay. However, on Monday the Lightning had 61.5% of the Expected Goal Share at even-strength, and had 13 HDC at even-strength to just 6 created by the Hurricanes. 

With the Lightning earning 2.22 Expected Goals at even-strength, and the Canes creating 1.39 even in a lackluster performance, the teams were expected to score 3.61 goals 5-on-5. Add that to the two power-play goals in the game, and we saw what could have easily gone over 5.5 goals, just as it went under. 

The Lightning don’t have the same luxury that the Hurricanes have if they feel the need to turn to someone other than Andrei Vasilevskiy in the teams’ final showdown of the season. Curtis McElhinney has been a considerable disappointment when called upon. 


Betting Analysis & Pick

It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustment the sportsbooks and the betting markets make with both the moneyline and the total for Tuesday’s game.

Monday’s game saw a fluctuating moneyline as the Lightning opened close to -140, but it got as low as -115 before ticking back to -120. Will we see that similar support as the Canes start either of their two backups, and the Bolts may hope for some better play from McElhinney or another quality start from Vasilevskiy.

The choice of goaltenders should have an effect on the total as well. Since Mrazek was the only thing preventing the game from going over, I’d expect an even 6.0 goals.

I’ll be looking to play either version of this over. Either over 5.5 with Vasilevskiy, or over 6.0 with McElhinney. Also, I think we’ll see a more forceful offensive showing from Carolina and if we can get a good plus-money price on the Canes against Vasilevskiy, or any reasonable number to fade McElhinney, we’ll try our hand with that.

Pick: If Vasilevskiy starts, Hurricanes ML (no worse than +100) | If McElhinney starts, over 5.5 (play to 6.0)

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MLB Odds & Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top Picks for Reds vs. Diamondbacks, Angels vs. Rangers & Padres vs. Brewers (Tuesday, April 20)

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It’s a busy slate in Major League Baseball on Tuesday, with every team in action plus one doubleheader out west between the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.

A busy slate means a lot of action, and our team of analysts has found quite a bit of it. They have found six bets to recommend for Tuesday, including three moneyline underdogs, a first five total, a team total, and even a run line.

Below, you will find our staff’s six best bets from Tuesday’s MLB slate.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Seattle Mariners
4:10 p.m. ET
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds
6:40 p.m. ET
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels
9:38 p.m. ET
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels
9:38 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Diego Padres
10:10 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Diego Padres
10:10 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Seattle Mariners

Pick
Mariners +160
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Julio Urías vs. Marco Gonzales
First Pitch
4:10 p.m. ET

Sean Zerillo: Near the end of the Mariners-Dodgers game on Monday night, I had my mouse hovered over Seattle’s moneyline for Tuesday — ready to fire. I projected the Mariners’ odds at 41.9% (implied +139) given the reliever usage to that point in and would have bet Tuesday’s game either way — but a late injury caused me to increase my bet size.

Mookie Betts was hit by a pitch near the end of Monday’s game. When Betts could barely take his batting glove off of his hand in those final moments, it was pretty evident that the Dodgers’ star outfielder won’t be available for Tuesday afternoon’s contest — a day game following a night game. Betts took a direct hit to the forearm and will likely be sore for a few days, at minimum.

My initial projection for the Dodgers (-139) assumed that Betts would be in the Tuesday lineup, and I would still bet Seattle moneyline down to +158, either way, at a three-percent edge.

Without Betts in the Dodgers’ lineup, I would drop their odds to -124 and bet Seattle down to +140 at a three-percent edge.

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds

Pick
Diamondbacks +132
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
Zac Gallen vs. Luis Castillo
First Pitch
6:40 p.m. ET

Kenny Ducey: It’s time to admit that Luis Castillo might not be the exciting young pitcher that he was in 2017. The right-hander has looked incredibly hittable this season, and has lost 1.7 mph off his four-seam fastball, according to Statcast, despite throwing it 4% more frequently so far this year. As a result, he ranks in the 31st percentile in whiff rate, and his strikeout rate has gone down 12.6%.

These are just early numbers, and there’s always time to turn things around when we’re having a discussion in late April, but I think there’s plenty of merit in riding these numbers until they turn around. Castillo getting knocked around by the Cardinals on Opening Day was at least understandable, but bad outings against bad lineups like the Pirates and Giants have to have even the most confident Castillo backers worried.

While Castillo, 28, may be hitting a speedbump in his career, Zac Gallen, 25, is very much in the ascendancy. He struck out eight Oakland Athletics in a stellar four-inning stint in his first start of the year last week, carrying over the strong numbers we saw him post last year. He’s got just a 6.5% barrel rate for his career, and a .293 xwOBA. The Reds have cooled off since their hot start, and shouldn’t be in for a fun day against Gallen. On the other hand, I see plenty of reasons to believe Castillo will struggle. The Snakes are great value here.

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Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels

Pick
Angels Team Total Over 4.5 (-125)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Jordan Lyles vs. Shohei Ohtani
First Pitch
9:38 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: This is a fantastic matchup for an Angels lineup that is off to a hot start this season. Los Angeles already has a .265 batting average and 117 wRC+ as a team, with most of that success coming against right-handed pitching. The Angels are fifth in wOBA against righties so far this season, which really isn’t a surprise since they ranked seventh in 2020. They also hit off-speed pitches incredibly well, ranking inside the top 10 of MLB against every pitch besides fastballs.

They’ll be going up against a weak starting pitcher in Jordan Lyles, who last season posted the worst season of his career. He put up a 7.02 ERA, 5.92 xFIP and gave 12 home runs in only 12 appearances. His curveball and slider were actually pretty effective last year, as opposing hitters only hit .238 combined off those two pitches. His biggest problem, though, is his fastball.

Lyles’ fastball is slow and doesn’t have a lot of movement, so if he is missing his location, opposing hitters tee off on it. He allowed a .441 wOBA to opposing hitters on his fastball, so even though the Angels don’t particularly hit fastballs well, they should be able to hit Lyles’ fastball, plus all of his off-speed pitches, effectively.

I have the Angels projected for 5.47 runs tonight, so I think there is plenty of value on their team total Over 4.5 runs at -125 odds.

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Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels

Pick
Angels Run Line -1.5 (+106)
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
Jordan Lyles vs. Shohei Ohtani
First Pitch
9:38 p.m. ET

DJ James: Jordan Lyles has given up 2-3 runs in each of his three starts, and he has not faced an offense the caliber of Los Angeles yet. On the other side, Shohei Ohtani dazzled in his only start against the White Sox, an offense which is far more talented than the Texas Rangers. Texas maintains an 86 wRC+ as a team and has the worst strikeout rate in baseball at 28.6%. Ohtani has 73 strikeouts in his 73 innings pitched as a major leaguer.

Given how Lyles allows an average exit velocity of 94.1 mph in four starts, the Angels’ lineup should get to him early. With Ohtani on the hill, the Rangers will not be able to put up the offense they did Monday. Give the run and take the Halos to -110.


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Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Diego Padres

Pick
Brewers +108
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Corbin Burnes vs. Chris Paddack
First Pitch
10:10 p.m. ET

Matt Trebby: Corbin Burnes has given up one run over 18 1/3 innings this season, and the Brewers are 1-2 when he pitches.

At plus money, I’m willing to bet on that changing on Tuesday night.

Burnes’ 0.49 ERA and 0.86 FIP indicate he’s poised to compete for the NL Cy Young Award this season. His WHIP is 0.22. He has allowed four hits and no walks — remember, over 18 1/3 innings.

The Brewers’ stud will start opposite Chris Paddack, whose 4.15 ERA and 2.94 FIP indicate he’s poised to bounce back from what he’ll consider a disappointing sophomore season in 2020.

Milwaukee’s lineup is struggling at the moment and is without Christian Yelich, and San Diego has plenty of pop at the top of its lineup, but in a matchup that could see both starters pitch deep into it, I’m going to back the team with the better one.

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Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Diego Padres

Pick
First 5 Innings Under 3.5 (-118)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Corbin Burnes vs. Chris Paddack
First Pitch
10:10 p.m. ET

Mike Ianniello: Burnes Day is becoming the new Bieber Day for me this season. The first five under is 3-0 in Corbin Burnes starts this year as he is turning into a legit Cy Young candidate for the Brewers. Through his first three outings, Burns has allowed just one run and four total hits, and has racked up 30 strikeouts.

Burnes 0.49 ERA and 48.4 K% are both second in the league, only behind Jacob deGrom. Burnes actually has the best xFIP in baseball though, with a 1.18 xFIP. Opponents are batting just .067 against him.

The right-hander throws a devastating 96 mph cutter that he throws 50% of the time. He uses hit cutter along with a curveball, slider, sinker and changeup to pound the bottom of the zone and produce swings and misses.

The Brewers have struggled offensively to start the year, and will be without Christian Yelich, who was placed on the injured list with a back injury. Milwaukee is 23rd in the league in batting average and 26th in wOBA against right-handed pitching, which is what they will face in Chris Paddack for San Diego.

I like this one to be a pitcher’s duel early with Corbin Burnes continuing to look unhittable and the Brewers’ bats staying quiet against Paddack. I would back the first five under 3.5 down to -125.

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Braves vs. Yankees MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Bet Atlanta to Jump Out to Early Lead (Tuesday, April 20)

mlb-betting-odds-picks-predictions-atlanta braves-vs-new york yankees-tuesday-april 20-2021-ozzie albies

Braves vs. Yankees Odds

Braves Odds +108
Yankees Odds -126
Over/Under 8.5 (-120 / -102)
Time 6:35 p.m. ET
TV YES
Odds as of Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. ET and via FanDuel.

A pair of former Pittsburgh Pirates will square off in the Bronx on Tuesday night. Charlie Morton will be on the mound for the Atlanta Braves and Jameson Taillon will get the ball for the New York Yankees.

It has been a surprising start to the season for Atlanta and New York. Both were the preseason favorite to win their respective divisions, and each enters this series with a losing record.

The Braves have already lost four-straight games on two occasions this season but have won three of their last four, including a 13-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball.

Things might be trending up for Atlanta, but they certainly are not for New York. The Yankees have lost five in a row, most recently a three-game sweep to Tampa Bay.

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Atlanta Braves

Morton is never going to blow you away with his stuff, but he has been a consistently solid pitcher for the last 10 years. Since 2011, Morton’s ERA has never been worse than 4.81 and never been better than 3.05. Through three starts this season, he has a 4.76 ERA, but his 2.63 FIP indicates he has experienced some bad luck.

As has been the staple for his whole career, Morton relies on his sinker (28.6%) and his curveball (28.6%) to keep the ball on the ground. “Ground Chuck” has produced a ground ball percentage of at least 41% in every year of his career. His 47.6% ground ball rate in 2021 is top-20 in the league.

Offensively, the Braves sit fifth in the league, scoring 5.06 runs per game. Atlanta has crushed right-handed pitching this season. It’s batting .240 against righties, ninth in the league, and it ranks fourth in slugging percentage and wOBA and fifth in wRC+.

Unfortunately for the Braves, it looks like they will be without Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña left Sunday’s game with an abdominal strain after getting off to a phenomenal start. Acuña is batting .419 and leads the MLB in hits, runs, wOBA, wRC+ and home runs.

Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna have both hit righties well this season, and they will need to have big games while Acuña (and likely Ozzie Albies) is out.

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New York Yankees

Taillon will make his third start of the season for the Yankees and has struggled to a 7.56 ERA. In two outings, he has pitched just 8.1 innings, allowing 11 hits and seven runs. He does have an xFIP of 4.50 and a K/9 of 10.80, which is a positive sign that we could see better results soon.

Taillon pitching this season is a huge accomplishment, regardless of the results. Taillon has made just nine starts since 2018. In his career, he has undergone surgery for testicular cancer, as well as Tommy John twice.

Taillon has a 3.75 career ERA and early in this season, his 26.3 K% is the highest of his career despite his velocity being down. The Yankees desperately need Taillon to get going and help shore up the rotation behind Gerrit Cole.

The Bronx Bombers have been anything but this season. The Yankees rank 25th in runs per game, scoring just 3.67 per contest. New York finds itself 26th in batting average, 26th in wOBA and 22nd in wRC+. Most surprisingly, it’s tied for 19th with just 16 home runs.

Luke Voit, the 2020 MLB Home Run leader, has yet to play in a game this year, which is obviously a big hole in the lineup. But Aaron Hicks is batting .160, Giancarlo Stanton sits at .176, Gleyber Torres finds himself at .196, and even two-time batting champion DJ LeMahieu is hitting only .286. Jay Bruce was so bad in his 10 games with the Yankees that he literally retired.

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Braves vs. Yankees Pick

In the interest of full disclosure… I am a New York Yankees fan. I watch every inning of every game (like an idiot). So, I know how lost this team has looked at the plate. The Yankees’ bats are going to break out eventually. They have to, right?

However, I think Charlie Morton is a tough pitcher to expect that breakout to come against. Morton pitches to produce ground balls, and the Yankees are eighth in the league in ground ball rate. The Bronx Bombers are built to hit the long ball, and Morton does a terrific job at limiting home runs, allowing just .076 HR/9 in his career.

The Braves have been one of the best teams in baseball against right-handed pitchers, and even without Acuña, I trust their offense a lot more than the Yankees right now.

New York does have a much better bullpen, so I will take the Braves first five innings at anything plus money.

Pick: Atlanta Braves First 5 innings ML +106 (Down to +100)

Pirates vs. Tigers Betting Odds & Picks: Expect Pittsburgh to Pick Up Road Win on Tuesday (April 20)

tyler anderson-pirates vs tigers betting preview-tuesday april 20

Pirates vs. Tigers Odds

Pirates Odds +110
Tigers Odds -135
Over/Under 7.5 (-115 / -105)
Time Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via BetMGM.

After an off-day on Monday for both teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers will meet in an interleague bout on Tuesday evening. Each club will enter the contest below .500, with the Pirates (7-9) and the Tigers (6-10) both off to struggling starts this season.

Despite a subpar 3-6 road record so far this season, do the Pirates have what it takes to care of business against the last-place Tigers? Let’s find out.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

Tyler Anderson will make the start for the Pirates in the series opener. Anderson has been serviceable so far over his three starts this season, pitching to a 3.94 xFIP and striking out batters at a solid 8.04 K/9 clip. He was particularly strong in his last outing, allowing just one run over 5 1/3 innings en route to his first win of the season against the Padres.

While his 1.74 HR/9 is slightly above average, he’s managed to limit hard contact with just a 28.6% Hard Hit Rate and relatively low average exit velocity (86.2 mph) on balls put in play.

Anderson’s matchup on Tuesday could not be better. The Tigers have been the worst team in baseball against left-handed pitching so far this season, collectively hitting to a paltry .225 wOBA and 0.69 ISO against southpaws.

The bullpen should also have no trouble handling the struggling Tigers offense, which has scored just two runs over their last three games. While the bullpen hasn’t been lights out, it’s been near league average with a 4.18 xFIP, 9.5 K/9 and 1.2 HR/9 thus far.

Detroit Tigers

On the other side, Michael Fulmer will get the nod for the Tigers. Fulmer put together a solid performance in his last outing, allowing just two earned runs on three hits over five innings against a depleted Astros lineup.

Fulmer missed the better part of the last two seasons due to injury, but he seems to be regaining form. In his last outing, he earned his first win since 2018 and was able to limit the damage in Houston.

While their current win-loss record doesn’t show it, the Pirates have been one of the better teams in baseball against right-handed pitching so far this season, registering a .316 wOBA (eighth-best in all of baseball).

Fulmer saw some success in his last performance, but he also hasn’t gone more than five innings since 2018 after starting this season in the bullpen. Given we’re still in mid-April, it’s very unlikely that manager A.J. Hinch allows him to go much further into this one.

Unfortunately for Detroit, things will get dicey once Fulmer exits. The Tigers currently have the worst bullpen in baseball, collectively pitching to a 5.11 xFIP and a 2.28 HR/9 rate thus far.

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Pirates-Tigers Pick

While Anderson is by no means the safest starting pitcher to place a wager on, he’s been solid thus far for Pittsburgh and takes on a Tigers team that has been awful against lefties. The Pirates’ bullpen, while not elite, also has enough firepower to close the door against a subpar opponent that has struggled mightily to score runs of late.

The Tigers, on the other hand, will have to turn to a league-worst bullpen once Fulmer exits, which should be relatively early given the fact he hasn’t thrown more than five innings since 2018.

Give me the road dog in the Pirates on Tuesday night. I’m comfortable playing this all the way down to +110.

Pick: Pirates +120 (play down to +110)

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Tuesday MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: Fade Sean Manaea’s & Luis Castillo’s Strikeout Totals (April 20)

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There’s a full slate of Major League Baseball action Tuesday, including a doubleheader between the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics that boosts our total to 16 games on the day. With all that action, there’s plenty of value to be found in the props market.

I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The tool grades each bet on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible grade.

Below, I have laid out two prop bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.

MLB Player Props & Picks

Sean Manaea — Under 5.5 Strikeouts (-141)

Twins vs. Athletics Oakland -120
Time  6:30 p.m. ET
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Sean Manaea has made three starts this season against two different teams. Against the Houston Astros, who are one of the toughest teams in the league to strike out, he recorded four in each of his first two starts. His last time out against the whiff-happy Detroit Tigers, he punched out seven batters.

Now, he faces a Minnesota team that isn’t quite as contact-oriented as Houston, but not nearly as whiffy as Detroit. The Twins rank in the top half of the league in terms of strikeout rate (12th), and swing and miss at the fifth-best rate in the league.

It’s also important to note this is the first game of a doubleheader, meaning it’s only a seven-inning game. That said, this can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, Manaea obviously has fewer innings to work with to reach this strikeout total. On the other hand, manager Bob Melvin might leave him out there longer to save his bullpen for the nightcap.

In this case, I’m more interested in the first point. Oakland had Monday off and its bullpen wasn’t incredible taxed over the weekend against Detroit. Manaea will likely get a time — and maybe two — through the Minnesota order before Melvin turns to the bullpen. That, coupled with the Twins’ aversion to strikeouts, makes a bet on the under worth it even at -141 odds. I would play it to -150 as well.

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Luis Castillo — Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-120)

Diamondbacks vs. Reds Cincinnati -143
Time  6:40 p.m. ET
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Luis Castillo has had an interesting start to the season. He got bombarded by the St. Louis Cardinals for eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings on Opening Day, with nary a strikeout to be found. His next time out, he threw up a goose egg on the moribund Pirates over seven innings with five strikeouts.

Finally, Castillo allowed four runs in five innings against the San Francisco Giants with a season-high seven strikeouts.

Given Castillo’s unpredictability, it’s tough to understand out why his strikeout prop would be as high as the 6.5 figure you can find at most books. It’s true he went over that total last time out, but just barely, and it also took a season-high pitch count against a team that ranks in the bottom 10 in strikeout rate.

He now faces the Diamondbacks, who aren’t world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, but have the ninth-best strikeout rate in the league and, perhaps most shockingly, the third-best walk rate. That means few strikeouts and a lot of pitches early, which could spell an early night for Castillo.

Further working in our favor is the forecast in Cincinnati, which is calling for a chance of rain as we move later in the night. If the weather hits early and the game gets postponed, that’s no good of course. However, there’s a non-zero chance that a lengthy delay ends Castillo’s night early, leading to an even easier cash.

I’m playing Castillo under 6.5 strikeouts at -120 and would bet it to -130 odds.

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MLB Odds & Betting Picks for Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians: How to Bet Carlos Rodón After No-Hitter (Tuesday, April 20)

mlb-odds-picks-predictions-cleveland indians-chicago white sox-carlos rodon-april 20

White Sox vs. Indians Odds

White Sox Odds -120
Indians Odds +100
Over/Under 7.5 (+105 / -125)
Time 6:10 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds updated Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET and via PointsBet.

The last time Zach Plesac took the mound against the Pale Hose, he was lit up for six earned runs in 2/3 of an inning while his counterpart, Carlos Rodón, threw a no-hitter (or toe-hitter).

The rematch takes place in Cleveland, where Plesac and company are 4-1. Will home cooking keep Cleveland eating on offense? Or do Rodón and the White Sox have enough pitching to wash out the bad taste from Monday’s loss in Boston?

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Chicago White Sox

The White Sox played three games in two days over Sunday and Monday, including an 11:10 a.m. ET start Monday. Lucas Giolito did his best Plesac impression and needed extended help from his teammates in the bullpen.

Rodón is unlikely to pull a Johnny Vander Meer, but he may be asked to pitch as long as possible, even as position players soaked up two innings of work in Monday’s blowout loss. There has long presumed to be a letdown for a pitcher in the start after throwing a no-hitter, but history says it is not fact. One thing that was interesting about Rodón’s performance: His fastball velocity increased as the game went on and topped out in the ninth inning. Batters are hitting .091 against it in 2021.

Rodón is facing the sixth-worst offense in the American League according to Offensive WAR. If it weren’t for the longball, Cleveland would be worse. Its hitters are walking and striking out at good rates, but subpar baserunning and dependence on homers is holding back the team early in 2021. Rodon has allowed zero home runs in 14 innings.

The White Sox were seventh in Offensive WAR prior to Monday’s disappointment. Chicago is also running the bases well and is better than Cleveland at walking and limiting strikeouts. Tim Anderson’s return to the lineup has given the top of the lineup even more juice than what the White Sox had without him.

A mix of offense and Rodón’s rejuvenation is a big reason why Chicago is favored.

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Cleveland Indians

Pitching inconsistency has been an issue behind Shane Bieber. The youth and talent is there and after moving on from Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco.

Zach Plesac has shown a lot of promise and took one on the chin against Chicago last week. Opposing hitters are making solid contact against him while striking out less often this season. His 5.27 ERA is well above his career mark and nearly 1.3 runs above his Expected Fielder Independent Pitching (xFIP) score.

Cleveland hits left-handed pitching better than right-handed (even with the no-hitter) and is league average as a team (100 Weighted Runs Created Plus). The team’s .216 BABIP against southpaws is 29th in baseball after last week.

A return home is good for #NarrativeStreet in sports and after two consecutive series losses is probably welcomed. Better days are ahead for the offense.

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White Sox-Indians Pick

Lightning rarely strikes twice and Cleveland is due for positive regression against lefties. A tired bullpen and its mismanagement is also a concern with Chicago reeling, making Cleveland an attractive bet as plus money, which I’d bet down even if it became slightly favored before first pitch.

Pick: Cleveland ML (+104, bet to -115)

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MLB Odds & Picks: Windy Weather Moving White Sox vs. Indians Over/Under (Tuesday, April 20)

white-sox-vs-indians-odds-picks-predictions-cleveland-weather-forecast-wind-tuesday-april-20

White Sox vs. Indians Odds

White Sox Odds -115
Indians Odds +103
Over/Under 7.5 (+104 / -124)
Time  6:10 p.m. ET
TV BGSL

While it’s still only April, it’s already starting to feel like the dog days of summer when it comes to the sports calendar.

Big events are in the rearview, yielding way to the daily grind of MLB and NBA action.

Tuesday’s baseball slate may be large, but our MLB PRO Report does not highlight many premier betting opportunities.

Nevertheless, a quick look at the White Sox vs. Indians weather forecast shows a sneaky value play for savvy bettors — one that has already resulted in a rather significant odds adjustment.

Let’s take a look.

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White Sox vs. Indians Pick

The White Sox vs. Indians over/under opened at 8 and has dipped to a market consensus of 7.5 (click here for live MLB odds), with heavy under juice suggesting that this number could drop even more.

So, why is the White Sox vs. Indians over/under on the move? Look no further than the Cleveland weather forecast.

Tonight’s conditions at Progressive Field are expected to be windy, with breezes blowing directly in from center field.

In fact, the latest White Sox vs. Indians weather forecast makes the under a match for The Action Network’s Weather: Wind Blowing In PRO MLB System, which has produced a 941-759-86 (55%) record since the start of the 2005 season.

And for those interesting in following every windy under system match this season, be sure to activate a free trial of Action PRO subscription now and take advantage of these betting tools every day this season.

PRO System Pick: White Sox-Indians Under 7.5 (-124)

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Topps NFT Launch Opens With Highs and Lows

topps-nft-launch

Topps entered the sports card NFT world on Tuesday by selling more than 74,000 packs on the Wax platform in approximately 70 minutes.

The company planned to make packs of cards, which mimic its 2021 Series 1 set, available at 1 p.m. ET, but the amount of people trying to get in overtaxed the site. With a new launch time of 1:30pm, the log jam cleared and the 24,000 premium packs available for purchase at $100 apiece went first.

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Things didn’t go perfectly, with the biggest complaint being that deals that appeared to go through on a collector’s credit card didn’t result in packs winding up in that collector’s wallet, a common refrain that is similar to many other highly coveted NFT launches like Top Shot and Zed Run. 

By 3 p.m. ET, the price of a WAX token had risen more than seven percent on the day, while Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp, which announced earlier this month that it was acquiring Topps in a deal that values the company at $1.3 Billion, was down more than eight percent.

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Steph Curry Closes NBA MVP Odds Gap on Betting Favorite Nikola Jokić

stephen-curry-mvp-betting-odds-nikola-jokic

Nikola Jokić is still the betting favorite to win this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player award, but an incredible April from Steph Curry has him making ground in the race.

Curry scored 49 points on national television in Golden State’s 107-96 win over Philadelphia on Monday, marking the third time this month he’s made at least 10 three-pointers in a game. As a result, Curry’s MVP odds dropped from 50-1 to 20-1 overnight at BetMGM. That number was 100-1 on Sunday.

It’s been quite a month for Curry, who’s averaging 40.8 points per game during his 10 games in April. The Warriors are 6-4 during that stretch, including a win over Jokić’s Denver Nuggets.  Curry scored 53 points in that showdown, which included going  10 of 18 from beyond the arc.

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The incredible 3-point output is what’s grabbing headlines. In total, Curry has four games in April with at least 10 threes made, which is an incredible feat even by his lofty standards.

That being said, it’s still Jokić’s award to lose. He’s the heavy favorite at BetMGM, sitting at -300 odds. He’s also taken 34% of the money wagered on MVP bets at BetMGM, which is the most of any player. Only LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have received more total bets to win the award.

With Jamal Murray out for the season, the Nuggets’ title chances took a hit, but Jokić’s MVP candidacy hasn’t. He also had a big night Monday, finishing with 47 points and 15 rebounds in a double-overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. For April, Jokić is averaging a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Denver is 8-2 this month.

For the season, Jokić is averaging 26.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. Denver is the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference entering Tuesday’s action. The Warriors are tied for the No. 9 seed with a .500 record.

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Reports: European Super League Members Set to Meet, Disband the Competition on Tuesday Night

The European Super League, which was officially announced on Sunday, looks like it will be officially disbanded on Tuesday.

The ESL, which received unprecedented and universal backlash when it went public on April 18, was originally slated to be a 20-team league headlined by 15 permanent members that could not be relegated. The idea was absolutely thrashed by fans, politicians, legends of the game and other soccer clubs. Fearing the fallout from that kind of response, it was reported on Tuesday that some clubs were beginning to get cold feet and would try to back out. That notion was confirmed later in the day when Chelsea became the first of the rebel clubs to “prepare documentation to withdraw from the ESL.”

The London club’s departure set off a chain reaction as moments later it was confirmed that Manchester City and Atletico Madrid would also be backing out of the ESL.

Just moments later it was reported that all 12 “permanent members” of the ESL would be meeting on Tuesday night with the intention of disbanding the universally-reviled competition.

Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET: According to reports from various outlets, Chelsea Football Club is set to begin the process of withdrawing from the newly-formed European Super League, casting doubt on the future of the universally-loathed breakaway competition.

It is not known what Chelsea needs to do to walk away from the ESL, but only that the club is “preparing documentation to request their withdrawal from the European Super League.”

Chelsea was one of six Premier League clubs, along with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham, that was invited as a permanent member of the 20-team ESL. There is no word on whether or not any other clubs will join Chelsea in walking away from the competition.

The European Super League was announced to unprecedented backlash on Sunday, April 18.

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What Is the Super League?

The European Super League is a proposed soccer competition that would effectively attempt to replace the Champions League. The Super League would feature 20 teams, including 15 permanent members.

Twelve of the 15 “founding members” have been confirmed but the Super League plans to add three more permanent members and leave five spots open. Those open spots would be awarded to European clubs who qualify through their domestic competitions.

Who Is in the European Super League?

Twelve of the “founding members” released statements announcing their plans to breakaway from UEFA (European Soccer’s governing body) and form the Super League late on Sunday night:

  • Juventus
  • AC Milan
  • Inter Milan
  • Barcelona
  • Real Madrid
  • Atletico Madrid
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester United
  • Manchester City
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Arsenal
  • Chelsea

The other three “founding members” have yet to reveal themselves, though everyone seems to have an idea of which teams are being targeted (the really rich, successful ones).

Most folks would have expected that Paris Saint-Germain would be involved in the Super League but there has been no confirmation from the club one way or the other yet, likely because Nasser Al-Khelafi, who runs Qatar Sports Investments (the owners of PSG) is on the UEFA Executive Committee. UEFA is unequivocal in its opposition to the Super League.

Porto, the biggest club in Portugal, confirmed they have rejected an invitation. Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s biggest teams, has also said it has no intentions of joining the Super League and its chairman, Hans Joachim Watzke, has said that Bayern Munich, Germany’s most iconic club, holds the same position as its domestic rival.

What Has the Response Been to the Announcement?

The announcement from the 12 “founding members” has led to a lot of outrage across the sports landscape. It is pretty hard to find anybody that supports the idea of a breakaway league, especially one that isolates itself without traditional promotion/relegation.

FIFA and UEFA have long said that they would ban players who join a breakaway league from playing in international competition (like the Euros and World Cup) and it didn’t take long for UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin to confirm that stance:

“The players that will play in the Super League will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros,” Ceferin said. “They will not be allowed play for their national teams.”

Not only has the Super League been condemned by the likes of UEFA, The Premier League and the other top-flight competitions in Europe, but it has also been opposed by the Prime Ministers of France and Great Britain.

Why Does Everyone Hate the Super League?

There are a lot of reasons, from ideological to financial to political.

First and foremost, the European Super League has the potential to completely wreck Europe’s soccer landscape. A closed-off competition would not only weaken the top of the European Football pyramid (The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, etc.) but it would also do unknown damage to the lower leagues, as well.

The European Soccer pyramid has always remained open, allowing fans of smaller clubs to be able to dream that one day they would be able to climb to the top of the ladder. Taking that away and isolating 15 teams from the rest of the continent would basically crush one of the most romantic concepts in sport. The Premier League had this to say on the notion:

“The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid,” said the statement. “Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”

There’s also plenty of geo-political reasons that the Super League is causing such outrage. While Juventus’ owner/chairman Andrea Agnelli is the flag-bearer for the European Super League, it is worth noting that more than half of the 12 teams invited so far are owned by non-Europeans:

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  • Liverpool is owned by John Henry and Fenway Sports Group.
  • Manchester United is owned by the Glazer Family (who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
  • Arsenal is owned by Stan Kroenke (owner of the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche).
  • Manchester City is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of Abu Dhabi.
  • AC Milan is owned by American businessman Paul Singer.
  • Inter Milan is owned by Chinese businessman Zhang Jindong.

European soccer clubs are typically the heart of their community. A town or city’s fortunes can rise or fall with their local club. Something tells me that an oil prince, the owner of the Red Sox and a Chinese billionaire won’t lose sleep if their new Super League causes harm to places like Peterborough, Chievo or Eibar.

NBA Odds & Picks for Hornets vs. Knicks: New York Going For 10-Game Cover Streak (Tuesday, April 20)

NBA Odds: Hornets vs. Knicks

Hornets Odds +5.5
Knicks Odds -5.5
Over/Under 208
Time | Channel 7:30 p.m. ET | MSG
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The Charlotte Hornets take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, with both teams looking to solidify their place in a very condensed Eastern Conference playoff race.

Charlotte is, of course, patiently waiting for the possible return Rookie of the Year frontrunner LaMelo Ball, who recently had an evaluation on his right wrist after having a successful surgery.

The Hornets have played surprisingly competent basketball sans Ball. However, they had lost four straight games before Sunday’s eight-point win against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Hornets were 4.5-point underdogs in Sunday’s win, so Tuesday represents their first chance to go for back-to-back covers since April 9.

New York has been awesome over its most recent stretch, entering Tuesday night on a very convincing six-game winning streak.

The Knicks have the third-best Defensive Rating in the league this season per NBA Advanced Stats, holding opponents to 107.5 points per 100 possessions. Tom Thibodeau got complete buy-in from everyone on this Knicks’ roster and it shows.

With both teams fighting hard to avoid the play-in tournament, expect to see Thibs ride his veterans hard as every game has increased significance late in the season.

Our latest PRO Report shows that sharp bettors are expecting Thibodeau’s squad to keep the good times rolling on Tuesday night.

NBA Picks: Hornets vs. Knicks

Sharp Action

The line for Tuesday’s Hornets-Knicks game opened at new York -6 before it was pushed down to -5.5 ahead of the game.

Since this morning, there have been two Action Labs Bet Signals triggered on the Knicks, signaling sharp action backing their cause on Tuesday night.

Big Money

At the time of this writing, the 43% of bettors backing the Knicks have generated 78% of the money wagered on Tuesday night’s game at MSG.

PRO Report Pick: Knicks -5.5

Premier League Odds & Betting Picks for Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Tuesday, April 20)

premier league-betting-odds-picks-predictions-chelsea-hakim ziyech-tuesday-april 20

Chelsea vs. Brighton Odds

Chelsea Odds -175
Brighton Odds +540
Draw +290
Over/Under 2.5 (+123 / -155)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Peacock Premium
Odds updated Tuesday afternoon via DraftKings.

Nothing like having to play a tough Premier League match after the biggest win of your season. Right, Chelsea?

Well, that’s the scenario Tuesday when the west London club hosts everyone’s favorite Premier League underachiever — Brighton & Hove Albion — in an important matchup at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues enter this game fresh off a stunning 1-0 victory over Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal showdown at Wembley Stadium. Hakim Ziyech’s goal in the 55th minute was all they needed to earn a spot in the May 15 championship.

On the other side, Brighton is coming off of a scoreless draw against Everton the last time out. Once fixed members of the relegation crew, the Seagulls have picked up seven points in their last four contests, which has steered them clear of most drop-zone chatter.

Historically, Chelsea has dominated Brighton in the lifetime series. The Blues are unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with the Seagulls, winning 12 of them. The two other games ended in draws. You have to go all the way back to 1933 to find the last time (and only time) Brighton defeated its host.

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Chelsea

The Blues pulled off their biggest win of the season as huge underdogs in that massive win over Manchester City. It was the signature moment in manager Thomas Tuchel’s reign at the club since taking over for Frank Lampard.

The Blues now face Leicester City for the tournament hardware at one of soccer’s most hallowed grounds. The Foxes punched their ticket to the title match with a 1-0 victory over Southampton in Sunday’s second semifinal.

With all that excitement surrounding the Blues, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine them walking on the pitch a little less focused then usual. However, this match is pivotal in the race for the league’s top-four positions. A win over the Seagulls would vault the Blues into third place, leapfrogging West Ham United and Leicester City in the process.

The last time these sides squared off was their season opener, with Chelsea earning a 3-1 victory. The Blues won the match, but lost the expected-goals battle by a 1.4-1.2 margin.

Brighton

The Seagulls were flirting with disaster much of their disappointing campaign, but have since come alive with some big results to all but ensure a return to England’s top flight.

Prior to a hard-luck 2-1 loss against Manchester United two games back, Brighton earned important victories over Southampton (2-1) and Newcastle United (3-0) to move into 16th place in the table. The Seagulls’ 33 points put them six clear of 18th-place Fulham, which suffered a gutting 1-1 draw against Arsenal over the weekend.

Now, Brighton is all about finishing the season strong and moving up the standings. I’m not sure it’s going to gain any ground facing this Chelsea outfit, but getting past the likes of Crystal Palace, Southampton and Newcastle should be the goal the rest of the way.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

There is nothing more difficult than trying to handicap matches where the dominant team is coming in on short rest after a monumental victory. That’s the exact scenario when it comes to Chelsea.

As much as I’d like to fade the Blues against the Seagulls, I just don’t see a way the visitors are going to: 1) Get a result; and, 2) Score a goal against the staunch defense they’re about to face.

For those reasons, I’m backing the total to stay under the alternative number of 2.25 goals at -104 odds via DraftKings as my top pick. Chelsea has recorded three consecutive clean sheets on home soil, plus it has utterly dominated proceedings when facing this opponent.

I will also sprinkle a little on Brighton to get blanked at -103 odds. If you toss out the 5-2 loss (aka: anomaly) against West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea has only conceded a ridiculous four goals in 19 matches across all competitions. That stat line gives me confidence that another shutout is on the horizon.

Pick: Total Under 2.25 Goals (-104) | Brighton Team Total Under 0.5 Goals (-103)

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Bundesliga Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions for Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Tuesday, April 20)

bundesliga-odds-picks-bayern munich-vs-bayer leverkusen-april 20

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen Odds

Bayern Munich Odds -205
Bayer Leverkusen Odds +500
Draw +360
Over/Under 3.5 (-105 / -118)
Day | Time Tuesday | 2:30 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Tuesday afternoon via DraftKings.

Bayern Munich is three wins away from their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title. The season has five matches to play, and the Bavarians have been eliminated from the Champions League and DFB-Pokal, meaning all of their focus is on retaining their league title.

When these two teams last met in December, Bayer Leverkusen came flying out of the start of the season and was atop the league table. Bayern beat them 2-1 on a last-minute Robert Lewandowski goal that day and it began Leverkusen’s collapse down the table. Leverkusen is unlikely to make top four and it’s looking to secure a Europa League spot for next season.

Leverkusen’s inevitable regression came hard and they’ve dropped into sixth place.  They have won just five of their last 17 contests in the league and their underlying numbers suggest they are barely an above average side in this league.

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Bayern Munich

Paris Saint-Germain ended Bayern’s campaign to repeat as European champions last week, and the injuries continue to come for the inevitable German champions as they head into the final stretch of the season.

Prolific striker Robert Lewandowski is unlikely to return from his injury in time for the match on Tuesday, and he is vital to the attack. While he offers very little in terms of pressures on the defensive end, Lewandowski is the leading goal scorer in Germany and Bayern is +0.98 xG difference per 90 when he’s on the pitch vs. when he’s not.

He’s also not the only player Bayern is missing. Leon Goretzka is a valuable central midfielder and his likely replacement should be more defensive than Goretzka, who loves to get forward. Bayern’s best winger, Serge Gnabry, is unlikely to feature, in favor of an out-of-form Leroy Sané.

Although Bayern is an offensive juggernaut with defensive liabilities, the total is too high for its shorthanded attack. Backup striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is both worse in attack than Lewandowski and much better at pressing and tackling defensively, which improves Bayern’s defense.

Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen’s attack succeeded early in the season because of significant over-performance of their expected goals numbers. Teams also tried to play Leverkusen’s pressing style with them, which hasn’t worked for any team in the COVID-19 soccer era. Because of tired legs and tight fixture congestion, former manager Peter Bosz was fired following a downturn in results.

Hannes Wolf is in charge now and Leverkusen’s defense has improved since his arrival. They’ve allowed 1.8 xGA combined in their last three matches, two wins and a draw. Bosz’s pressing style wasn’t suited at all to this current era of COVID and their attack wasn’t successful enough at winning the ball high up the pitch and turning that into chances and goals.

The result is a defense that’s top three in xGA and just 10th in xGF. Leverkusen doesn’t really play a direct style of attacking through the middle, which is the best way to get after this leaky Bayern defense. For that reason, it will be difficult for Leverkusen to create high-quality chances.

Their improved defense should keep Bayern at bay enough to keep this game under 3.5 goals.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Betting Bayern unders is never fun, always painful and often just needs a few defensive lapses and Lewandowski moments of quality to be ruined. But I’m going back to the under here on Bayern and Leverkusen.

Bayern are cruising to their title and won’t have their best attackers. Leverkusen’s attacking patterns aren’t really suited to expose Bayern. My projections put this game at 3.08 goals, so I do show value on the under 3.5. Because of xG over-performance, both attacks have been a tad overrated all season.

Pick: Under 3.5 (-120 or better)

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MLB Lineups for Tuesday, April 20: Projected Starters and Injuries for Every Game

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The MLB Insiders page as part of Action Labs projects starting lineups and gives updated injury news for every MLB game, every day. Below, you will find the starting lineup projections for today’s MLB game. Be sure to check our MLB Insiders page at Action Labs for lineup projections throughout the day.

MLB Projected Lineups

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Seattle Mariners, 4:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers Projected Lineups

RF – Mookie Betts
SS – Corey Seager
3B – Justin Turner
DH – Will Smith
CF – Chris Taylor
1B – Max Muncy
LF – A.J. Pollock
2B – Sheldon Neuse
C – Austin Barnes

P – Julio Urias

Mookie Betts (Arm) is questionable; Gavin Lux (Wrist) is injured

Mariners Projected Lineup

RF – Mitch Haniger
DH – Ty France
CF – Kyle Lewis
3B – Kyle Seager
C – Tom Murphy
1B – Evan White
LF – Taylor Trammell
2B – Dylan Moore
SS – J.P. Crawford

P – Marco Gonzales

Ty France (Arm) is questionable; Kyle Lewis (Knee) is probable

Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians, 6:10 p.m. ET

White Sox Projected Lineups

SS – Tim Anderson
RF – Adam Eaton
3B – Yoan Moncada
1B – Jose Abreu
DH – Yermin Mercedes
C – Yasmani Grandal
CF – Luis Robert
LF – Andrew Vaughn
2B – Nick Madrigal

P – Carlos Rodon

Indians Projected Lineup

CF – Jordan Luplow
2B – Cesar Hernandez
3B – Jose Ramirez
DH – Franmil Reyes
LF – Eddie Rosario
SS – Amed Rosario
RF – Josh Naylor
C – Roberto Perez
1B – Yu Chang

P – Zach Plesac

Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics, 6:30 p.m. ET (Game 1)

Twins Projected Lineups

SS – Tim Anderson
RF – Adam Eaton
3B – Yoan Moncada
1B – Jose Abreu
DH – Yermin Mercedes
C – Yasmani Grandal
CF – Luis Robert
LF – Andrew Vaughn
2B – Nick Madrigal

P – Matt Shoemaker

Byron Buxton (Hamstring) is questionable

Athletics Projected Lineup

LF – Mark Canha
2B – Jed Lowrie
CF – Ramon Laureano
1B – Matt Olson
3B – Matt Chapman
DH – Mitch Moreland
C – Sean Murphy
RF – Seth Brown
SS – Elvis Andrus

P – Sean Manaea

Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees, 6:35 p.m. ET

Braves Projected Lineups

RF – Ronald Acuna Jr.
1B – Freddie Freeman
LF – Marcell Ozuna
C – Travis d’Arnaud
2B – Ozzie Albies
DH – Pablo Sandoval
SS – Dansby Swanson
3B – Austin Riley
CF – Guillermo Heredia

P – Charlie Morton

Ozzie Albies (Calf) is questionable
Ronald Acuna Jr. (Abdominal) is questionable

Yankees Projected Lineups

1B – DJ LeMahieu
RF – Aaron Judge
CF – Aaron Hicks
DH – Giancarlo Stanton
SS – Gleyber Torres
3B – Gio Urshela
C – Gary Sanchez
LF – Clint Frazier
2B – Rougned Odor

P – Jameson Taillon

Gary Sanchez (Hand) is questionable

Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins, 6:40 p.m. ET

Orioles Projected Lineups

CF – Cedric Mullins
RF – Anthony Santander
LF – DJ Stewart
3B – Maikel Franco
1B – Trey Mancini
2B – Rio Ruiz
C – Pedro Severino
SS – Freddy Galvis

P – Matt Harvey

Marlins Projected Lineups

LF – Corey Dickerson
SS – Miguel Rojas
1B – Jesus Aguilar
RF – Adam Duvall
3B – Brian Anderson
2B – Jazz Chisholm
C – Jorge Alfaro
CF – Magneuris Sierra

P – Nick Neidert

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds, 6:40 p.m. ET

Diamondbacks Projected Lineups

2B – Josh Rojas
RF – Kole Calhoun
1B – Asdrubal Cabrera
LF – David Peralta
3B – Eduardo Escobar
SS – Nick Ahmed
C – Carson Kelly
CF – Nick Heath

P – Zac Gallen

Reds Projected Lineups

LF – Jesse Winker
1B – Joey Votto
SS – Eugenio Suarez
3B – Mike Moustakas
RF – Tyler Naquin
CF – Nick Senzel
2B – Jonathan India
C – Tucker Barnhart

P – Luis Castillo

Mike Moustakas (Illness) is questionable

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers, 6:40 p.m. ET

Pirates Projected Lineups

2B – Adam Frazier
3B – Phillip Evans
LF – Bryan Reynolds
1B – Colin Moran
RF – Erik Gonzalez
DH – Gregory Polanco
C – Jacob Stallings
SS – Kevin Newman
CF – Dustin Fowler

P – Tyler Anderson

Tigers Projected Lineups

LF – Robbie Grossman
DH – Niko Goodrum
C – Wilson Ramos
3B – Jeimer Candelario
1B – Renato Nunez
SS – Willi Castro
2B – Jonathan Schoop
RF – Akil Baddoo
CF – JaCoby Jones

P – Michael Fulmer

San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

Giants Projected Lineups

2B – Tommy La Stella
RF – Mike Yastrzemski<