Today's Top Picks: Backing a big MLB underdog in honor of Damian Lillard, plus NBA and NHL playoffs picks I love
Also, watch SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ live at 6 p.m. ET for all today's best bets
Damian Lillard became a legend on Tuesday night. He might not ever win a title in Portland, or anywhere during his career, but he's a legend. If you didn't stay up late enough to see it, and you've also avoided the internet or television all day, check out the shot.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
Yes, he pulled up from that spot with the game tied and his team a win away from clinching the series. And he hit the shot. A shot that gave Portland the walk-off win, and gave Lillard 50 points in the game. Afterward, the man he hit the shot over, Paul George, expressed his feelings about the shot.
Now, some will say this is just sour grapes from George, and he's just feeling salty because Damian Lillard ripped Oklahoma City's heart out of its chest and showed it to them before stomping on it. To a degree, they're probably right. I mean, wouldn't you be a little mad if that had just happened to you?
Either way, it doesn't change the fact that Paul George is right. It was a bad shot. It was also a badass shot.
This wasn't a case of Lillard being forced into that shot due to time constraints. He had plenty of time. He slowly moved up the court and stopped there, dribbling for a bit to let the clock run out. Not only was it a bad shot, it was the shot Lillard wanted. A shot he felt might be a bad shot for 99.99 percent of the world, but not for him. He knew he would get a good look from there, and he liked his odds of hitting the shot.
And he did.
And it was legendary.
I liked Lillard before Tuesday night's game, but after watching him pull off that magnificent act of bravado, I'm a Lillard stan. Lillard for life.
Also, the irony of Paul George talking about it being a horrible shot while he was sitting next to Russell Westbrook (who went 11-for-31 on the night and 40-for-111 in the series) should not be lost on anyone.
Anyway, in honor of Lillard and his bravado, my first pick tonight is also one most would consider a bad shot, but I think it can be a winner.
1. Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros: Twins +210
You look at this pitching matchup, and you see Justin Verlander, one of the greatest pitchers of this generation, going against some kid named Kohl Stewart. Stewart was just promoted from Triple-A, but he's not some hotshot prospect in Minnesota's system. He was last considered a top-100 prospect in 2015, and the sheen has come off, but in eight MLB appearances last season (four starts) he wasn't awful. He posted a 3.68 ERA over 36.2 innings, but only struck out 15.1 percent of hitters he faced while walking 11.3 percent of them. So when you see this pitching matchup, the Astros are heavily favored for a reason.
Still, the Twins offense does not suck. The Twins rank third in MLB with 5.71 runs per game, and their strikeout rate of 18.8 percent ranks third as well. Their home run rate of 4.5 percent ranks fifth. They make contact consistently and hit a lot of flyballs. Justin Verlander is excellent, but he gives up a lot of flyballs himself. So there's a chance the Twins could park a few balls in the stand. And at this +210 price, the Twins only have to win this game 32.26 percent of the time for us to break even. I think they win a third of the time in this matchup, so there's just value on them here.
2. Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors: Clippers +15
I don't like the Clippers' odds of extending this series and bringing it back to Los Angeles. The Warriors will almost certainly close things out on Wednesday night, but will they cover this spread? We've seen some blowouts in closeout games the last couple of nights, and that's a concern, but I think this Clippers team is better than that.
The Clips will scratch, claw and fight to stay alive, and it'll keep them within this number. Plus, if it is a blowout, I trust Steve Kerr to rest his key players late, which will give the Clippers a chance to sneak in through the back door.
3. Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals: Caps -155
The home team has won every game in this series, and I look for that trend to continue Wednesday night. Washington has now played Carolina in DC five times this season, and the Caps are 5-0 in those games, outscoring the 'Canes 21-7. Also, as fun and exciting as this 'Canes team has been this season, and in this series, a Game 7 is one of those times I think experience matters. Washington won the Stanley Cup last season. They've been through this kind of pressure before. Carolina can win this game, but at this price point, I like the value on the Capitals.
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