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If you're a fan of an NFL team that isn't the San Francisco 49ers, you probably received a text message today asking, "what do you think we'd have to give up for Deebo Samuel?" I know my friends received that text message from me after the news broke that Samuel has informed the 49ers he wants to be traded.

And every fan base should want Samuel on their team because he's a fun player to watch. I've been on the Deebo bandwagon for a while now, going back to his college days at South Carolina, and he's been better than I thought he'd be. It will be interesting to see what the 49ers can get for him if he's serious about wanting out because you have to think nearly every general manager in the NFL is asking themselves the same question I texted my friends. There will not be a shortage of interest.

The receiver class in this year's draft is deep, but would you rather take a shot on an unknown or give up some picks for a proven commodity? 

Now let's get to tonight's picks so I can go back to daydreaming about Deebo Samuel in a Bears uniform.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


The Hot Ticket

Bulls at Bucks, 9:30 p.m. | TV: TNT

Latest Odds: Milwaukee Bucks -10
  • Key Trend: The Bucks are 2-8 ATS in Game 1 under Mike Budenholzer and 26-12-1 ATS in every other playoff game
  • The Pick: Bucks -10 (-110)

Milwaukee won Game One Sunday 93-86, allowing the Bulls to do something they have rarely done this season: cover the spread against a good team. While there has been plenty of attention paid to the Bulls' lackluster performance against the league's best, not enough has focused on how awful they are against the spread in those same games. It feels like this newsletter alone has carried that flag into battle the last few months, which is a painful irony, as I'm a Chicago Bulls fan.

Now, there are two ways to look at that first game. The Bulls shot 32.3% as a team, with DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combining to go 21-for-71 from the floor, 4-for-22 from three, and they still hung around and made a game of things. The other way to look at it is that the Bucks were just as awful outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they allowed the Bulls to hang around.

As you can see by the pick above, I'm going with the latter. There are plenty of reasons to believe the Bucks will bounce back and play better tonight. The Bulls have no history to suggest they will. Plus, there's a trend with these Bucks that many don't know about but cannot be ignored. Since Mike Budenholzer became the team's coach, the Bucks have played in 10 playoff series, including this one. After Sunday, they're now 2-8 ATS in the first game of those series and haven't covered any of the last seven. From Game Two on, they've gone 26-12-1 ATS under Budenholzer, including a mark of 12-2 ATS at home.

So, yeah, don't worry about how poorly Milwaukee played Sunday. History suggests they'll be just fine tonight. 

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn't have a strong play on anything in this game tonight, but that's just because it hasn't learned about the Bucks playoff trend I just told you about.


The Picks

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NBA

Nets at Celtics, 7 p.m. | TV: TNT

Latest Odds: Brooklyn Nets +3.5

The Pick: Nets +3.5 (-110) -- This series got off to an incredible start over the weekend, and I don't think things will change much from here on out. The seeds next to these teams have no meaning since Brooklyn spent so much of its season without Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, and at full strength, they're just as good, if not better than the Celtics. Because of this, I might just take the underdog in every game and see what happens. Seriously, that's what I did for Game One, and it worked just fine, and I'm doing it again tonight.

That's not to say that there won't be a blowout at some point. Typically, every long NBA playoff series features a blowout at some point. Still, I see the overwhelming majority of this series being close and coming down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. You know, just like the first game did. Now, if my "Series Vibe Check" isn't enough for you to want to jump on board, relax. My numbers say taking the Nets is the right play too. But the vibes are stronger than the numbers. Respect the vibes.

Key Trend: The Nets are 14-6 ATS in the last 20 meetings.

76ers at Raptors, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Tyrese Maxey Over 3.5 Assists (-125) -- 
I'm not going with a bet on the spread or total here tonight, though if I were, I'd lean strongly toward the Sixers. As I wrote in Monday's newsletter, the Sixers have superstars while the Raptors have good players, and in the playoffs, you need superstars to win. It's just that I have an odd feeling about tonight's game (there go the vibes again! Respect the vibes!).

Philly will be without Matisse Thybulle because he's unvaccinated, but while I don't think that has a massive impact on the matchup, it does matter. I also think the Raptors will get at least one game in this series, and the adrenaline rush of returning home could push them past the Sixers here. So instead I'm going to focus on an old standby.

Tyrese Maxey is introducing himself to the NBA world at-large this postseason. Let's get his assists props one more time before everybody figures it out. Maxey averaged 4.3 assists per game during the regular season, yet they never budged his assists prop! The juice hasn't even moved much to offset it. He's had 10 assists through the first two games of this series. While he was the star of the show offensively in the first game, he took on the role of a distributor in the second, and I see him filling a similar spot tonight. I have him finishing closer to five assists than four, so I'm all over this prop.

Key Trend: Tyrese Maxey is averaging 4.3 assists per game this season.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model's highest-graded NBA play of the night is a moneyline play in Celtics/Nets.


The Underdog Parlay

I see not one, but two cases tonight where a home team that should be favored is an underdog. So we're putting them together in a parlay that pays +320.

  • Astros (+105)
  • Mets (+105)