Today was supposed to be MLB Opening Day. We should be watching baseball right now, but instead, there are no sports on this afternoon, and we’re all being forced to do work or errands or anything besides something we want to be doing. It’s like MLB owners and players didn’t even consider how we’d want to spend a Thursday afternoon on the final day of March.
I mean, it’s snowing right now where I am. Seriously, while it’s not heavy, I’m looking out the window and seeing snowflakes. Would it be snowing if MLB never had a lockout and was able to begin the season on time? I’m going to say, no, it wouldn’t be snowing. The warmth of Opening Day would have scared it away. It would be sunny and 55 degrees if not for the lockout.
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Instead, it’s snowing, and I had to wear gloves while walking the dog this morning.
We might not have baseball to bet today, but we’ve got plenty of other options.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: In 12 games since the start of last season, Kevin Durant has averaged 10.2 rebounds per game against Milwaukee.
- The Pick: Kevin Durant Over 7.5 Rebounds (-110)
It’s the biggest game on the NBA schedule tonight, as we get a rematch of a great playoff series from last season. Things look a little different this year, though. While the Bucks are in second in the East, the Nets are only eighth, four games behind Toronto — the sixth seed that would spare them the indignity of playing in the play-in tournament. Considering there are only six games left in the regular season, the Nets can’t afford to lose if they want to entertain any hope of getting out of it.
The good news for Brooklyn is that Kyrie Irving can now play. This is also good news for us, as both teams should be as close to full strength as possible. Unfortunately, I have no idea what will happen as far as the result. There isn’t enough data with Kyrie playing to reach a solid conclusion, though I lean slightly toward Milwaukee and the points if you’re dying to make a play on the spread.
The better bet is on Kevin Durant to grab a bunch of rebounds. Durant has dominated the boards in this matchup since last season. In 12 games against the Bucks since last year — Durant missed the last meeting — KD has averaged 10.2 rebounds per game. He only had fewer than eight in one of those games, and that was Game 2 last season when he had four rebounds in a 39-point Brooklyn win that saw him sit out a large portion of the second half. Andre Drummond‘s presence is driving the total on Durant’s rebounds down to 7.5, but I see this as a terrific opportunity to exploit a miscalculation.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you’re looking for a more traditional play tonight, the Projection Model has a strong lean toward one side of the total while SportsLine NBA handicapper Mike Barner has a play on the spread.
💰 The Picks
The Pick: Over 223.5 (-110) — Most trends are meaningless. I share them in this newsletter because people like them, but there aren’t a lot of times when you should rely strictly on a trend to make a decision. Instead, they should be something that informs your decision. That said, there are also trends you should pay attention to, and we have one of them tonight.
The over has gone 7-0-1 in the last eight meetings between these teams. The total for tonight’s meeting is a bit higher than it was in most of those games, but I still like the over tonight because Detroit’s offense has improved recently. While the Pistons have an offensive rating of 105.2 on the season, it has increased to 112.6 in March. That’s a significant jump. Meanwhile, you won’t be surprised to learn that Philly’s offense has become more efficient with James Harden. Before Harden, the Sixers had an offensive rating of 111.0, which ranked 14th in the league. Since Harden entered the lineup, that number has climbed to 116.0.
In other words, these teams already score a lot of points against each other when they play, and now they’re better offensively than they were when they played those games.
Key Trend: The over is 7-0-1 in the last eight meetings.
Texas A&M vs. Xavier, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 137.5 (-110) — Did you know the NIT is going on? It will conclude tonight with the championship game between Texas A&M and Xavier. Yes, it looks like all those Texas A&M fans who complained about the Aggies being left out of the NCAA Tournament was the greatest crime ever committed had a point. However, I’d argue that winning the NIT provides more joy than probably going home during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament would have?
Whatever the case, this game is happening, and we’re betting on it because the total is too high. The Aggies already had an excellent defense, but a big reason they’ve won 13 of their last 15 games is that they’ve taken it up another notch. While I give full credit to Xavier for getting this far, considering it fired its coach and is missing a key scorer in Paul Scruggs, I don’t know that I can rely on the Musketeers to score as much as the total suggests. At the same time, A&M’s offense can go missing for stretches itself, so I’m not comfortable taking them to cover. The under is easily the wisest decision here.
Key Trend: The under is 5-0 in Texas A&M’s last five games as a favorite.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model’s top play of the night is in the NHL where the Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins clash.
🏒 A Hockey Parlay?
Excuse me, but is this a hockey parlay? Why, yes, yes it is. And it pays +122.
- Bruins (-250)
- Panthers (-350)
- Hurricanes (-430)