Today's Top Picks: Two motivation plays for NBA's regular season finale, plus an MLB total to jump on
Also, watch SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ live at 6 p.m. ET for all today's best bets
The NBA regular season ends Wednesday night, and while most playoff spots are settled, there's one spot in the East up for grabs between Detroit and Charlotte. Both teams will go into their games tonight knowing they must win to earn the right to lose to Milwaukee in four or five games in the first round (and get that playoff revenue).
Aside from that spot, though, the only thing up for grabs anywhere else is seeding, and seeding can be significant. For instance, one game could be the difference between running into the Warriors in the second round or the conference finals. It could be the difference between getting the Sixers in the first round or the Raptors.
And then there are a bunch of games that don't mean anything. I can only imagine the effort we'll see in tonight's game between the Sixers and Bulls, as the Sixers are locked into the No. 3 seed and the Bulls are locked into a pit of despair, from which there is no escape. So, perhaps tonight more than any other point of the season, we must consider motivation when picking NBA games, and tonight I think I found two spots we can exploit.
All odds are via Westgate.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks: Thunder -5
The Bucks are the No. 1 seed in the East. They have nothing to play for tonight and will be resting Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. I wouldn't be surprised if guys like Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and anybody who matters play limited minutes even if they aren't being sat outright.
Then there are the Thunder, who are currently the No. 6 seed in the West, and a win will keep them there. A loss could cause the Thunder to drop down to the No. 7 seed, or even the No. 8 seed and a date with Golden State in the first round. They'll have all the motivation in the world, while Milwaukee will be chilling. Take the Thunder.
DFS millionaire Mike McClure has one more shot at building tournament lineups in the NBA regular season, and he's not letting it slip away. He's all over Paul George across all competitions, but you'll want to see who else he's playing over at SportsLine.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets: Under 218.5
The Nuggets are currently the No. 2 seed and will remain there with a win. With a loss, they could fall to the No. 3 seed and that would mean playing either Oklahoma City, San Antonio or the Clippers in the first round. Honestly, I don't know how important it is to the Nuggets. What is important? Having homecourt advantage in the second round. Odds are, if they advance, they'll be facing Houston. They'd rather have four games against the Rockets in Denver than in Houston, so they'll treat this game as one they have to win.
Then there's Minnesota, which has nothing to play for. Odds are the Wolves won't be all that motivated, but a 12-point spread is large. So instead of relying on the Nuggets bench possibly having to cover a large spread in the fourth quarter of a blowout, let's take the under. It's gone 30-20-1 in Denver's conference games this season anyway, and Minnesota may not score enough to do its part in reaching the over.
The SportsLine Projection Model has identified a strong play on both the side and the total in Magic-Hornets, with one of its picks covering in an incredible 74 percent of simulations. Head over to SportsLine and see who the computer is backing.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals: Under 8
It's supposed to be a windy affair in St. Louis tonight, though the wind won't be blowing straight in, but instead across the diamond. Still, it'll make it difficult for fly balls to carry unless they're walloped. Also, this pitching matchup includes two starters in Jack Flaherty and Kenta Maeda who have experienced success against their opposing lineups. I don't anticipate this one being a high-scoring affair.
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