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I'm on vacation next week. Don't worry; you'll still get this newsletter, as we have a couple of capable replacements ready to fill in. I'm sure they'll be great, but hopefully not so great that you forget about me. Anyway, the point I'm doing a poor job of trying to make is that I've reached that point in time before vacation that I'm sure all of you do as well.

The point when you can see the finish line of work, and you don't want to keep going. You just want to be there. I've spent all week getting some extra work done to be used while I'm at a cabin in the woods, and I'm nearly finished, but it's always the last tasks that are the most difficult to complete.

I've found no fewer than 100 different ways to procrastinate today, and I'm sure I'll continue doing so. It's as if my mind is trying to convince me that the best way to get it done is not to do it at all.

Alright, let's get to tonight's picks. While you read them, I'll try to get the rest of my work done, but that not doing it is the best way to do it idea is gaining steam pretty quickly.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


The Hot Ticket

Heat at 76ers, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN

  • Key Trend: The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle is 9-1 in the playoffs.
  • The Pick: Joel Embiid Under 39.5 Points, Assists, & Rebounds (-115)

I hope I didn't need to tell you what this bet would be tonight. I also hope that even though I didn't write the newsletter on Tuesday night, you knew to bet this. The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle is a killing machine that cannot be stopped. Through 10 playoff games, it has gone 9-1, and it's done so against three different players. Trae Young couldn't overcome it, nor could James Harden or Joel Embiid.

The Principle takes no prisoners, nor does it hold personal grudges.

Tonight we count on The Principle to do its job again. Joel Embiid has struggled in this series, and it's hard to blame him. He's up against The Principle with a broken face and the heartbreak of not winning NBA MVP, which definitely doesn't bother him. Please stop asking him about it; it's really no big deal. Seriously you guys, what's your deal? Anyway, in three games against Miami, Embiid has averaged 30.3 PAR and is yet to eclipse 37 PAR in any of them. Yet, the PAR sits there at 39.5, unmoving. Maybe tonight he breaks through. He's a great player, and his team's season is on the line. If ever there were a time for it to happen, it would likely be tonight.

But even if he's successful, the victory will be fleeting. The Principle is inevitable. The Principle is immortal.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: For all the luddites scared of the future and The Miami Heat Under PAR Principle, the Projection Model suggests betting the total, and maybe a sprinkle on the money line too.


The Picks

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USATSI

NBA

Suns at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Phoenix Suns -2

The Pick: Suns -2 (-110) -- So this series hasn't been the steamrolling I anticipated it to be. Full credit to the Mavericks for making this one an actual battle, but I'm not backing down from my initial feeling. I don't see this one going seven games because it felt like the dam finally broke in Game 5.

The Mavs had made a series of it in the first 4.5 games, as they went to halftime of Game 4 trailing 49-46. Then, in the blink of an eye, it was over. The Suns came out on fire (unintentional pun, but I'm leaving it) and blitzed the Mavs 61-34 in the second half. It was like they remembered they were the best team in the West all season and started playing like it again. Phoenix finishes it tonight.

Key Trend: The Suns are 5-1 ATS in their last six as a favorite and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games in Dallas.

MLB

Reds at Pirates, 6:35 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

Latest Odds: Over 8

The Pick: Over 8 (-120) -- I don't think enough people are talking about how I correctly picked the Reds (+140) earlier this week. Please tell your friends and family about it. It was a great pick by me that worked out. Go me! As for this game, I'm tempted to bet the Reds -- there's value -- but the better play is the over.

We don't know much about Cincinnati starter Connor Overton, but he's a 28-year-old righty with 26 MLB innings under his belt and some average numbers. His career numbers in the minors don't exactly scream "high expectations" at me, either. As for Pittsburgh's JT Brubaker, he's pretty average himself from a strikeout and walk perspective, but he allows a lot of hard-hit flyballs, which have led to a lot of dingers. Both are backed by bad bullpens and will be facing offenses that aren't terrifying but have been hitting with more power in recent weeks.

Key Trend: The over is 15-4-2 in the last 21 meetings between these division rivals.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model's lone A-graded play of the night is a money line play for Game 6 between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers.


Stanley Cup Closeout Parlay

Both the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings have the chance to close out their first round series with a win on home ice tonight, and we're betting on both to pull it off. The parlay pays a robust +320.

  • Blues (-110)
  • Kings (+120)