Hello and Happy Tuesday. If you didn't already know it, Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is right. Right about what? Well, that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask, but if you'd just give me a moment, I was about to tell you.
On Monday night, Doncic questioned the NBA's play-in tournament for the playoffs, saying "I don't see the point of that."
If you aren't already aware, the NBA playoff format is set up now so that the teams seeded seventh through tenth will play a small tournament to earn the final two playoff berths in each conference. As things stand, the Mavs would have to play in it to reach the postseason. But whether it's the Mavs or any other team, the idea that you play 72 games (or 82 in a regular NBA season) to determine playoff seeding and then force teams to play another smaller tournament is idiotic.
It's not as dumb as MLB forcing teams to play a one-game playoff series following a 162-game schedule, but it's just as flawed an idea. But it doesn't matter how stupid the idea is, because stupid ideas make money too, and that's precisely why the NBA's new play-in tournament exists, and it's why MLB's wild card games exist. So they aren't going anywhere. If the NBA wants to do something like this, it should follow models proposed in recent seasons that soccer leagues do. Lessen the number of regular-season games, and then hold a separate "cup tournament" during the regular season.
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It would allow some teams out of title contention to compete for something while also allowing teams to give their younger players more minutes against NBA competition to help their development. Slap a sponsor on it and count the cash.
- Denver's Jamal Murray is done for the year with a torn ACL.
- Long-time MLB umpire Joe West finally got a call right.
- Reggie Miller says he'd have never joined an NBA super team with Michael Jordan.
- Jason La Canfora says Mac Jones to the 49ers doesn't pass the smell test.
Alright, let's get to tonight's picks. I hope none of them lose after a first baseman throws a ball off the back of a baserunner's head again.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Rockies at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Under 8 (-120): You will not be surprised to learn that the Rockies offense is different at home than on the road. That's always been the case, and while that's holding true in 2021, the truth is the Rockies can't hit anywhere right now. At home, the Colorado offense is slashing .236/.289/.468 with a strikeout rate of 20.6%. On the road, the Rockies are hitting .216/.274/.289 with a strikeout rate of 27.4%. So it's just bad at home and truly awful on the road.
Tonight, that Rockies offense is on the road and facing one of the top pitchers in the game in Trevor Bauer. I have a hard time envisioning a big night for the Rockies offense, but that said, weather conditions at Dodger Stadium tonight could keep the Los Angeles lineup in check too. All of which makes the under a smarter play than the Dodgers on the money line or spread.
Key Trend: The Under is 4-1 in the Dodgers' last five games.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has B-graded plays on both the money line and total for tonight's matchup at Dodger Stadium.
💰 The Picks
Angels at Royals, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Under 8.5 (-110) -- We took the under in this game on Monday night because the weather in Kansas City was going to make it exceptionally difficult for hitters to hit the ball out of the park. Well, the two teams combined for 13 runs anyway, even though the lone dinger in the game was a two-run shot by Mike Trout in the ninth inning when it was already 8-3. Also, thanks to defensive blunders, three of the 13 runs scored last night were unearned. So basically, everything that had to happen for the under to lose happened, and I'm not letting that scare me away from retaking it tonight.
We have similar weather conditions expected tonight, and with Dylan Bundy on the mound, much greater strikeout potential. So we're back on this under and hoping that keeping the ball in the park will work the way it's supposed to this time.
Key Trend: The under is 8-2 in Kansas City's last 10 games as an underdog.
⚽ Champions League
Borussia Dortmund vs. Manchester City, Wednesday, 3 p.m. | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Manchester City Over 1.5 goals (-175) -- Manchester City lost to Leeds United 2-1 over the weekend, despite Leeds being down to 10 men for the second half. Don't read too much into it, though, because while Leeds fans won't want to hear it, it was truly a fluke result. Leeds had two shots on goal in the match and scored on both. More important than all of that is the reason Leeds were able to pick up the fluke win. Because even with the Premier League wrapped up and a more important Champions League match looming, Manchester City still played to win. Man City always plays to win. They're like a shark. If they stop swimming, they'll die.
So, even though Man City have a 2-1 lead after the first leg, they also know that Dortmund scored a goal in the match, so all Dortmund needs to do is be ahead 1-0 after 90 minutes. So Man City knows it has to score one goal, but one goal is never enough for Man City. They'll score at least two, and maybe more. The juice is heavy on this one, but not heavy enough.
Key Trend: Manchester City has scored at least two goals in 24 of its last 29 matches.
Liverpool vs Real Madrid, Wednesday, 3 p.m. | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Over 2.5 (-175) -- What a week it's been for Real Madrid. First, despite missing captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane on defense and Eden Hazard in attack, Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the first leg. Then, Madrid went and beat Barcelona 2-1 in El Clasico over the weekend despite missing all those same players. Now they have a chance to finish Liverpool off for good, and I don't know how many teams have ever had the chance to say "we beat Liverpool twice and Barcelona in an eight-day stretch" before, but it can't be many.
But I don't know that Real Madrid will win this match because they don't have to. Liverpool need to beat Real Madrid by at least two goals to advance, but that will be hard to do considering Liverpool's defensive problems (which showed up in that 3-1 Madrid win last week). Liverpool will need to push, giving a speedster like Madrid's Vinicius Junior more opportunities to crush Liverpool on the counter. I see another high-scoring affair in order, but I'm playing it a little safer by going Over 2.5 instead of 3.5. There's better value here.
Key Trend: There have been at least three goals scored in five of Real Madrid's last six matches.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Advanced Computer Model has been simulating tonight's NBA matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors, and it sees plenty of value in a play on the total.
💸 The DFS Rundown
PG: Trae Young, Hawks
SG: Paul George, Clippers
SF: Jaylen Brown, Celtics
PF: Domantas Sabonis, Pacers
C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz
PG: Malachi Flynn, Raptors
SG: Joe Ingles, Jazz
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic, Jazz
PF: Marcus Morris, Clippers
C: Ivica Zubac, Clippers
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.
🏀 NBA Player Props
- Markieff Morris Over 1.5 assists (-130)
- Mike Conley Over 2.5 rebounds (+140)
- Bojan Bogdanovic Over 1.5 assists (-120)
- Tyler Herro Over 3.5 rebounds (-145)