It has been a rough Wednesday for the NBA. The glow of Kevin Durant's fantastic performance against the Bucks on Tuesday night diminished quickly when the news broke Wednesday morning that Phoenix's Chris Paul had entered COVID-19 protocols, putting his status for the Western Conference Finals in jeopardy.
Making things worse, the Clippers' chances of being the team that faced Chris Paul and the Suns in the Western Conference Finals took a huge hit of their own. Kawhi Leonard will miss tonight's Game Five against the Utah Jazz with a knee injury he suffered late in Game Four. The Clippers have said that Kawhi is out indefinitely, and there are some fears that he has suffered an ACL injury.
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So, in the span of a couple of hours, the NBA might have lost two of its biggest stars for the rest of the playoffs, the Mavericks parted ways with general manager Donnie Nelson after 24 years and LaMelo Ball was reportedly named Rookie of the Year. What a Wednesday.
Now, with all of the injuries that everybody is already dealing with, it's starting to look like your eventual NBA champions will be the team with the most players left standing.
- In other NBA news, Stan Van Gundy and the Pelicans have parted ways.
- The U.S. Open tees off tomorrow morning. Here's your primer.
- We've ranked every NFL trade from this offseason for you.
- How Steve Sarkisian turned his time in Tuscaloosa into the Texas job.
All right, let's get to tonight's picks before we lose any more NBA superstars.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Hawks at Sixers, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Joel Embiid Over 41.5 Points & Rebounds (-125): Joel Embiid views himself as a wrestling character as much as he does an NBA player, and I'm looking to tap into that tonight. Embiid went 0-for-12 in the second half of Game Four and missed an easy layup that would have tied the game in the final seconds. Tonight he returns home to Philadelphia, where he's loved and isn't as likely to get caught up in playing the heel as sometimes happens on the road.
The fact that it's a Game Five of a series tied 2-2 will only add to Embiid's motivation. Also, I can't overlook how Embiid performed in the first two games of this series compared to the last two in Atlanta. In Philly, he averaged 50.5 points and rebounds per game. In Atlanta, that number dropped to 37 per game. The splits were just as drastic in the regular season, as Embiid averaged 41 at home and 36.4 on the road.
Philly is the better team in this series, and Embiid is the best player. I'm counting on him showing us why tonight.
Key Trend: Embiid is averaging 43.8 points and rebounds per game in the series.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model isn't overly fond of any play in this game, but it's biggest lean is on one side of the total.
💰 The Picks
Cubs at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Cubs (+255) -- #OperationFadeGrom returns! I haven't included it in the newsletter as much recently because the Mets were dealing with a lot of injuries that were affecting lines. As a result, there wasn't the same level of inflation involved when Jacob deGrom started. But it's back tonight! Everybody has been talking about how deGrom has driven in more runs as a hitter (five) than he's allowed as a pitcher (four) this season.
What they're not paying as much attention to with this line is that deGrom left his last start with some discomfort. Also, while I'm not throwing any accusations his way, I am interested to see if there's any potential drop-off on deGrom's stuff tonight now that MLB is starting to crack down on illegal substances used by pitchers (also why I might be avoiding unders for a little while).
Maybe he's not as invincible tonight when we consider those factors. Oh, and the Cubs are pretty good themselves. They're tied with Milwaukee for first place in the NL Central and have a run differential of +39 on the season. They're not getting nearly enough credit at this price.
Key Trend: The Mets are only 43-42 in deGrom starts since 2018.
Twins at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mariners (+125) -- At some point, the books will adjust to the Twins not being nearly as good as we all expected them to be, but it doesn't look like we've reached that point yet. Seriously, if you had just faded Minnesota in every game so far this season, you'd be up roughly 20 units right now, and that's enough to make you wonder why the hell we haven't just been fading the Twins all year.
If only we'd known!
Anyway, if you want a few more trends, the Twins are only 12-20 on the road this season, and they're only 7-9 as favorites on the road (12-20 overall). This Mariners team is far from perfect, but the offense is capable, and Minnesota starter Bailey Ober hasn't been overly impressive in his first three starts. He has 15 strikeouts in 13 innings, but he's also allowed three home runs.
Key Trend: The Twins are only 12-20 on the road this season.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Looking to hit the rink tonight? The Advanced Computer Model has an A-graded play on the puck line in tonight's game between Vegas and Montreal.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Jacob deGrom, Mets
- Gerrit Cole, Yankees
- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
- Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks
Tonight's Top Stack
- Michael Brantley, Astros
- Alex Bregman, Astros
- Yordan Alvarez, Astros
- Josh Rojas, Diamondbacks
🏌 U.S. Open Top 20 Props
We're betting on each of these golfers to finish in the top 20 of this weekend's U.S. Open.
- Daniel Berger (+150)
- Abraham Ancer (+200)
- Brian Harman (+300)
- Charley Hoffman (+300)
- Sam Burns (+333)
- Kevin Streelman (+400)
- Stewart Cink (+450)
- Wilco Nienaber (+650)
- Russell Henley (+700)
- Brendon Todd (+800)