Happy Friday, everyone. You're that much closer to your weekend. I know I'm very much looking forward to this weekend because it's the last weekend of the NBA regular season. No, it's not because I'm excited about teams jockeying for playoff spots or to get into the play-in tournament.
It's because the last few weeks of the regular season have been, well, the words I'd like to use aren't acceptable for this newsletter. From a gambling perspective, it's been an absolute nightmare trying to figure out what's going to happen, and for today's newsletter, I gave up. I didn't want to do it. There were no games I wanted to bet on, and after doing all my DFS prep to figure out the best plays, I realized I didn't want to spend another moment doing prop research.
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I just want the regular season to end. I want the playoffs to begin so at least then we'll know what to expect as far as lineups and rotations. Now, to be clear, I don't look at this season as a "sky is falling" situation that some are. I fully understand why the teams and players have had to take as much time off as they have. Not only has there been a pandemic going on throughout the season, but the condensed schedule following a short offseason has led to a lot of tired, sore players.
It's also led to one very tired handicapper, so when the final buzzer sounds on the regular season this Sunday night, I'll be popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
- Jason La Canfora has predicted all eight NFL division winners for you so there's no need to play the season.
- These NFL veterans are on the chopping block.
- Tom Brady says he had "serious" knee surgery.
- Listen, if you write about the White Sox and how awesome they are, I'm going to link to it in this newsletter.
Alright, now let's enjoy our NBA-free weekend's worth of picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Indians at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Indians (-111): The Indians are something of an early-season surprise, even though nothing they do should be all that surprising anymore. They've reached the point where every offseason you think, "well this is the year they're going to regress because how do they replace Player X," and then they don't regress. Not even losing Francisco Lindor has stopped Cleveland from starting the season 21-14, which would put them first in three other divisions.
And it's almost entirely due to the team's pitching, which is as strong as ever. Of course, while the Cleveland offense isn't anything special (27th in wOBA, 26th in wRC+), Seattle's offense isn't any better (29th in wOBA, 25th in wRC+). So I'm relying on Cleveland's pitching advantage here, as Aaron Civale has been better than Chris Flexen, and he's backed by the best bullpen in baseball by ERA (2.52).
Key Trend: Cleveland is 43-16 in its last 59 games as a road favorite.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has a healthy lean toward one side of the money line in tonight's contest as well.
💰 The Picks
Nationals at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Diamondbacks (+170) -- This isn't an #OperationFadeGrom situation here, but the thought process behind it is similar. Max Scherzer is starting for Washington tonight. Like Jacob deGrom, he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's won three Cy Young Awards and finished top-five in voting four other times.
He's also consistently overvalued by the market.
Of course, the difference is that his offense doesn't consistently abandon him like the Mets do deGrom, but value is value. And as good as Scherzer is, there are some signs of slippage. His velocity is down slightly, and while he still misses bats at an elite rate, the contact he does allow has been louder than usual. So it's not out of line to think a Diamondbacks offense that ranks eighth in the league in wOBA and isolated power is capable of doing some damage against him. Toss in the fact the Washington offense has been rather impotent (27th in run rate, 26th in isolated power), and even if Scherzer pitches well, it might not be enough.
Key Trend: Washington is 10-21 in its last 31 road games.
⚽ Serie A
Juventus vs Inter Milan, Saturday, 12 p.m | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Inter (+215) -- The books aren't thinking this one through. On the surface, it makes all the sense in the world to make Juventus the favorite. Juventus not only saw its run of Serie A titles come to an end this season, but it's currently outside the Champions League places, meaning it needs a win desperately. Meanwhile, Inter is the team that ended Juventus' run. They're Serie A champions with seemingly nothing to play for, but there's something else these odds don't consider.
Inter and Juventus hate each other. Inter had the title wrapped up last weekend when it beat Sampdoria 5-1. It was wrapped up on Wednesday when Inter beat Roma 3-1. Inter manager Antonio Conte -- who used to manage Juve! -- was seen yelling at Lautaro Martinez on the sideline because he felt Martinez wasn't playing hard enough. Believe me when I tell you that the only thing better than winning Serie A for Inter this season would be to win the league and help keep Juventus out of the Champions League. There's far too much value on Inter at this price.
Key Trend: Inter has won four straight matches, outscoring opponents 11-2.
Roma vs. Lazio, Saturday, 2:45 p.m | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Roma or Draw (-160) -- Roma's issues against the top teams in Italy are well-known, but I don't think Roma's getting enough credit at these odds. Lazio isn't exactly a juggernaut, and if we look at the expected goal (xG) differential on the season, we see that Roma is at +0.50 per match this season while Lazio is at +0.27.
Also, if we go back to the first meeting between these two, Lazio won that meeting 3-0, but the results were somewhat misleading. As far as xG is concerned, Roma won 1.3-1.0. Lazio was just lethally efficient with its shots and cruised to a win because of it. I don't expect the second edition of the Derby della Capitale to finish as lopsided.
Key Trend: Roma has managed at least a point in 13 of the last 17 meetings.
⚽ Premier League
Tottenham vs. Wolverhampton, Sunday 9 a.m | TV: NBCSN
The Pick: Wolves or Draw (+145) -- I could throw a bunch of numbers at you to explain this pick, and there are plenty to support it, but the heart of the matter is, I think Tottenham's checked out. Yes, it's still alive for a Europa League spot, but it's not likely to happen. It's a team without a manager, and it knows that the person in charge now won't be in charge by the end of next week.
It's only natural for players to start looking ahead to the offseason after what's been a very long year for everybody, and I wouldn't be shocked at all to see a Tottenham team playing at half-speed on Sunday. That makes a play on Wolves getting a result enticing.
Key Trend: Tottenham has won only three of its last 10 matches.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Advanced Computer Model and SportsLine experts John Bollman and SDQL Gurus are all in agreement on tonight's game between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Tonight's NBA DFS slate is for true degenerates only.
PG: Russell Westbrook, Wizards
SG: Buddy Hield, Kings
SF: Kent Bazemore, Warriors
PF: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Warriors
C: Joel Embiid, Sixers
PG: Jordan Poole, Warriors
SG: Khyri Thomas, Rockets
SF: Saddiq Bey, Pistons
PF: Freddie Gillespie, Raptors
C: Chimezie Metu, Kings
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.
⚾ MLB Stack Attack
We're hoping these Blue Jays can pounce on Philadelphia.