Happy Friday, everybody! We've done it. We've made it through another week, and now we get to celebrate by watching soccer all weekend. OK, so maybe you're more excited about the continuation of the NBA and NHL playoffs, but I am fully on board for the start of Euro 2020.
If you don't believe me, just look at how I was dressed for today's mailbag edition of the Cover 3 Podcast. Seriously, I am still wearing my Italy jersey, the scarf and the headband. I'm not lying when I say I'm pumped up about the tournament starting.
But if you're not as into soccer as I am, that's all right. We all make mistakes, and the only thing that matters to me is you find your own happiness. Perhaps you'll even find some reading these stories, or maybe you'll find it in the picks below.
- The winners and losers of college football's new playoff expansion proposal.
- Potential breakout players for each NFC team.
- Kyler Murray isn't ruling out a return to baseball one day.
- JLC tries to sort out the Saints QB battle.
All right, let's get to tonight's picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Suns at Nuggets, 10 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Deandre Ayton Over 24.5 Total Points & Rebounds (-125): No bad beat can scare us away! As I went over yesterday, the only reason we lost our Ayton prop on Wednesday night was that the game was a blowout, and Ayton didn't play in the fourth quarter. We will not let an outlier change our path. We will stick to the course. We will ride this Ayton prop until the books catch on.
For those of you who aren't aware, in five games against the Nuggets this season (including the playoffs), Ayton is averaging a total of 31.6 points and rebounds per game. Game 2 was the only time he finished below 30 in any of them, and he had 15 points and 10 rebounds after three quarters. In other words, Ayton went over the number we're betting tonight despite not stepping foot on the court in the final 12 minutes of action.
Everybody gets knocked down once in a while. Tonight, we get back up.
Key Trend: Ayton is averaging a total of 31.6 points and rebounds in five games against Denver this season.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: I talked to the Advanced Computer Model about this game and it isn't enthusiastic about the spread, total or money line. It did wish us luck on our Ayton prop, though.
76ers at Hawks, 7:30 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Sixers -1 (-110) -- It's déjà vu all over again. We're back on the Ayton prop after it failed Wednesday night, and now I'm taking the Sixers again after taking them on Tuesday night. Well, the Sixers covered easily on Tuesday night, but as the series heads to Atlanta, I'm not sure how great of a fit this series is for the Hawks.
If we look closer at the last game, we see Trae Young did not have a great night. He finished with 21 points and 11 assists, but he was inefficient thanks to poor shooting from beyond the arc (1-for-7). While it's natural to expect a bounceback of some kind, while Young struggled, his teammates did pick up some of the slack. The Hawks finished the game shooting 45.8% from the floor and 36.7% from three, which are both in line with how they've performed as a team all season long, but they still lost by 16 points. So even if they do recover, will it be enough to overcome that gap and Joel Embiid? I'm not convinced.
Key Trend: The Sixers are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games as a road favorite.
Orioles at Rays, 7:10 p.m | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Rays (-172) -- As a starter, Baltimore's Keegan Akin has performed better than when he was being used out of the bullpen. He has an ERA of 0.93 in 9.2 innings as a starter, compared to 6.10 in 10.1 innings as a reliever. That's good! The problem is, in his one appearance out of the bullpen against the Rays, he was smacked around for three innings in mop-up duty of an eventual 10-1 loss.
This will also be the first time in 2021 that a lineup has seen Akin twice, and since he'll be asked to go through the lineup more than once, I have a suspicion Rays hitters will have a lot more success against him than Cleveland or the White Sox did in his first two starts.
Key Trend: Tampa Bay has won nine of the last 10 meetings.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Both the Advanced Computer Model and SportsLine's Matt Severance have A-graded plays on the money line in tonight's game between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Jacob deGrom, Mets
- Max Scherzer, Nationals
- Brandon Woodruff, Brewers
- Charlie Morton, Braves
- Cesar Hernandez, Indians
- Jose Ramirez, Indians
- Eddie Rosario, Indians
- Yermin Mercedes, White Sox
⚾ Euro 2020 Opening Weekend Parlay
A little parlay for you to sweat over the weekend. It pays (+136).
- Denmark (-230)
- Netherlands (-155)