I want to start by putting this on the record where everybody can see it: I will not mentor Malik Willis. It is not my job to mentor Malik Willis. If Malik has any questions for me, I will be happy to answer them just like I would any of my teammates here at CBSSports.com, but nowhere in my contract does it say that mentoring co-workers is one of my responsibilities.
I'm going to lead by example. The best thing I can do for Malik or any of my teammates is to show up to work every day and do the job.
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So that's what I'm going to do. One or two of you may find this to be controversial. If you do, a thousand more will come to my defense and say things like, "I can't believe Tom is being attacked for these comments!" even though only like two of you said anything.
Why, yes, I do think the Tannehill thing is being blown way out of proportion. Why do you ask? Seriously, I'm impressed by how well the NFL continues to dominate the discussion even when there's nothing to discuss. Maybe today somebody will tweet an eyeball emoji, and we can get four days out of it.
Now let me mentor you with these picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: The Heat erased Trae Young last round, and they erased James Harden in Game 1.
- The Pick: James Harden Under 40.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-125)
There are few things in life more exciting than stumbling onto a new gambling principle, and dearest readers, we've done just that. From this point on, if the Miami Heat are playing an NBA playoff game, we will be taking the under on the opponent's star player's points, assists, and rebounds (or, as the cool kids call it, PAR). Welcome to The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle.
In the first round of the playoffs, Miami went against Atlanta and said, "we're going to take away their best player and force the rest of the team to beat us." After averaging 41.8 PAR during the regular season, Young managed only 26.4 PAR in five games against Miami before being unceremoniously dumped along the side of the road. The same appears to be happening to James Harden, who already has to dodge the narrative that he chokes in the playoffs.
During the regular season, with both the Nets and Sixers, Harden averaged 40 PAR per game. His total for Game 1, which we took the under on, was set at 42.5, as books adjusted for the absence of Joel Embiid. But so did the Heat! Because had Embiid been healthy, he would have been the focus of their defense, but instead, it was Harden who finished the game with 30 PAR.
We're going back for a second helping tonight and possibly a third this weekend, depending on whether or not Embiid returns. This is the start of a beautiful, profitable relationship between this newsletter and the Miami Heat.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you are not a believe in principle, the SportsLine Projection Model has gone over this game eleventy billion times. It didn't find much value anywhere, but it's favorite play is on the spread.
The Pick: Suns -6 (-110) -- As I mentioned in Monday's newsletter, this is the second-round series I expect to be a blowout mismatch. Unfortunately, I also told you to take the under in Game 1, which didn't go anywhere near as planned. Still, I'm confident about the first part, and I don't think much will change tonight. The Suns didn't play particularly well, and they still won by seven points. Devin Booker scored 23 points but was inefficient, and defensively the Suns were a mess.
Luka Doncic went off for 45 points, and the Mavs shot 41% from three, yet they still lost by seven points. I don't know how much better the Mavs can perform than they did in the first game, and they weren't in the game. I expect that tonight will play out in a similar way -- though probably with fewer points -- and that the Suns should cruise to a comfortable win and probably a cover as well.
Key Trend: The Suns have covered 8 of the last 11 meetings in Phoenix, and 22 of the last 30 anywhere.
Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Under 8.5 (-120) -- This is nearly a perfect storm situation. We're dealing with a weather forecast tonight calling for cool temperatures, possible rain and wind coming in directly from left field. Situations like this take a hitter-friendly stadium and turn the tide in favor of the pitchers. Then there's home plate umpire Pat Hoberg. Hoberg's zone has shown a strong tendency to be more pitcher-friendly than hitter-friendly, and the under has been very profitable when he's behind the plate.
Seriously, since the start of last season, the under has gone 23-8 when Hoberg has been the home plate umpire. If you'd bet the under in every game he's worked since then, you could afford to buy tickets right behind home plate and yell, "you're going a great job" at Pat for the entire game as you cashed another ticket. Now, all that said, I do have some concerns here.
The reason it's not a perfect storm is neither of tonight's starting pitchers is outstanding. Boston's Garrett Whitlock isn't even a starter and isn't likely to pitch more than a few innings. We know we'll see a lot of Boston's bullpen, and we'll see a good portion of the Angels' pen too, and neither has been great. Still, Mother Nature and Pat Hoberg should come through for us anyway.
Key Trend: The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Boston.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Hand up, I'm not the greatest NHL bettor you're ever going to meet. In fact, I'm very much a novice who leaves it to those better-equipped than I. Thankfully, we have the SportsLine Projection Model and SportsLine expert Matt Severance, who are both on the same side of the money line in tonight's second game of the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins.
Wells Fargo Championship Top 10s
We hit on two of our five golfers last weekend, so let's stay hot. We're betting on each of the following golfers to finish in the top 10 this weekend.
- Corey Conners (+250)
- Russell Henley (+350)
- Keegan Bradley (+375)
- Paul Casey (+475)
- Kevin Streelman (+650)