Today's Top Picks: MLB and WNBA best bets for Friday, and the NBA offseason vs. NBA season debate
Also, watch SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ live at 6 p.m. ET for all today's best bets
Is the NBA offseason more entertaining than the NBA season? It's an opinion you see come up over and over again once the NBA offseason kicks into high gear, and with the Anthony Davis trade and the NBA Draft going on this week, I decided to do a Twitter poll asking the same question, and I was surprised by the result.
The poll received 2,198 votes, and 76 percent of them said the offseason was more entertaining.
I expected that "Yes" would win the poll; because the recency bias of current events, it's going to push it to the forefront of people's minds a lot easier. Still, I was surprised by how wide the gap is. Now, some of this is likely a result of who was voting on the poll. While I enjoy the NBA, the majority of my Twitter followers follow me for college football content, so that skews the results a bit.
If you posed this same question to a group of NBA fans I would bet the results would be different, but how much different? I don't think the offseason is more entertaining, but I understand why so many others might. For the last few years, there's been a sense of "none of it matters, the Warriors will win anyway." It's a narrative that conveniently ignores the fact that the Warriors were 3-1 in the Finals the last four years, and are now only 3-2 going into this offseason.
It's also a narrative that should die now that we have no idea what the Warriors will be next season, or in the future. We more than likely saw the death of that dynasty play out over the last two months, and the NBA should be wide open next season. So while this offseason will no doubt be an entertaining one with the number of free agents available, and all the trade possibilities, I get the sense that next season will go a long way to burying the idea the offseason is better than the season itself. And that's probably what's best for the NBA.
All odds are via William Hill.
1. Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians: Over 7.5
This is one of my classic contrarian plays. Both of these teams are sending their aces to the mound tonight in Trevor Bauer and Matthew Boyd. Both of these teams have two of the weaker offenses in MLB this season. So naturally, the total is pretty low, but I think it's too low.
While the Tigers offense is still pedestrian, the Indians have caught fire as of late. Over the last week, Cleveland has a team wOBA of .379, which ranks fourth amongst all MLB teams in that span. As for the Tigers, Trevor Bauer is pretty great, but he's also susceptible to the home run ball. His ERA sits at 3.41, but his xFIP is at 4.44, and he has a walk rate that's 15 percent higher than league average. Tigers' starter Matthew Boyd has been better, but he doesn't get a lot of groundball outs. I think all of this adds up to a higher-scoring affair than most anticipate.
2. Indiana Fever at Chicago Sky: Under 164
There's some contrarian here as well, as I'm taking the under even though the Fever currently ranks second in the league in offensive rating, and the Sky is in fourth. Still, even if they're close in the overall rankings, there's a gap of 5.4 points per 100 possessions between these offenses. That's a significant gap. Furthermore, while the Fever are efficient, they don't move quickly. They rank 11th (amongst 12 teams) in pace. All of which makes me believe the total in this game is set a little too high.
3. Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers: Rockies +180
I like the value on the Rockies here. The Dodgers tend to be overpriced as it is, and with Walker Buehler on the mound tonight, it's even more exaggerated. You might not know Colorado starter German Marquez, but I promise you his 4.57 ERA on the season is misleading. His xFIP is at 3.43, and in 48.2 innings on the road this season his ERA is only 3.33, and he has a 5.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He doesn't walk guys. He doesn't give up a lot of hard contact. He gets a lot of groundballs. He's facing one of the best offenses in the league tonight, but at this price, the Rockies are the right play.
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