Hello, and welcome back to the real world! Yes, the holidays are over, and the longest of long weekends has come to an end. It's Monday, and it's not the same kind of Monday you're used to.
What if I told you that there isn't any football tonight? Right!? It's so strange after having football be so prevalent the last few months. I mean, there are still games to be played. The NFL Playoffs start this weekend. A week from tonight, Alabama and Ohio State play for a national title ... but having five days between games will feel like an absolute eternity.
Thankfully we have basketball to help get us through, and tonight's card is very heavy on the NBA. Before we get to it, though, let's catch up on our reading.
- The Eagles and Doug Pederson crossed a line last night, and not just because they ruined the Giants' chances to win the NFC East future I told you to take in late October. Though, honestly, that's the reason I'm mad about it more than anything.
- The NFL Coaching Carousel is spinning, with two more names hitting the unemployment line today.
- Nick Saban is thinking of hiring WHO?
- Dennis Dodd's Heisman straw poll reveals a clear leader in the race for the award.
Now let's get this money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Cavaliers at Magic, 7 p.m. | TV: League Pass
The Pick: Under 217.5 (-110): If you thought 2020 was weird, what if I told you that the marquee matchup of the first Monday night of NBA action in 2021 was a game between the Cavaliers and Magic? Well, if the season ended right now (and who knows, it might), these would be your No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the Eastern Conference as both are 4-2 on the season. So, obviously, tonight's game is going to be high-intensity and playoff-like, which is why I'm taking the under! OK, no, that's not why. I'm taking the under simply because I find the total to be a little too high.
Neither one of these teams has proven to be all that prolific on the offensive end. Orlando comes into the game ranked 15th in the league in offensive efficiency, while Cleveland is 24th. Furthermore, both of these teams have an efficiency below 1.0 points per possession in their last three games. After hot starts, things have cooled down. But while they might be slowing down on offense, they've both been good defensively, as the Cavs currently rank second in the league in defensive efficiency, trailing only the 76ers. Orlando checks in at 13th. I'm counting on both defenses to be the better units tonight.
Key Trend: The under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's projection model generated selections for Monday's matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic.
💰 The Picks
Hornets at 76ers, 7 p.m. | TV: League Pass
The Pick: Hornets +8.5 (-110) -- Here's the thing you have to understand about the Hornets. They aren't awful. Now, don't get me wrong, they aren't all that good, either ... but they don't deserve to be this much of an underdog against the Sixers. The Hornets aren't great offensively, ranking 22nd in the league in efficiency, but Philly hasn't lit the world on fire, either, as it's 17th. Where the Hornets might surprise you is on the defensive end, as they rank 15th in efficiency. Also, these two just played a couple of days ago. While the Sixers won that game by 15, I'm of the opinion that the familiarity will lead to a closer affair tonight.
Key Trend: Charlotte is 12-3-1 ATS in its last 16 as a dog.
Kings at Warriors, 10 p.m. | TV: League Pass
The Pick: Under 233.5 (-110) -- So Steph Curry put up 62 points last night to answer his critics, but he did so in a game where defense was optional. That's not to say he's not capable of doing it again, it's just I don't see the Warriors and Steph having the same kind of performance on the second night of a back-to-back. Particularly against a Sacramento team that does provide some resistance on the defensive end, which is a lot more than I can say about Portland. This total is just too high. Maybe Steph goes for 60 again, but I don't think everybody else on the court will combine for 174 if he does.
Key Trend: The under is 11-4 the last 15 times the Warriors have played at home against a team with a losing record.
The Pick: Ravens to win the Super Bowl (+1100) -- I'm so upset about not having a Monday Night Football game to watch that I felt the need to get an NFL future play in. I wouldn't call the Ravens a favorite to win the Super Bowl, nor would you. I do not expect them to win the Super Bowl, nor should you. But at these odds? They're difficult to pass up.
We've seen plenty of examples of teams getting hot at the right time and carrying that momentum through the playoffs and to a Super Bowl title. Well, the Ravens are hot right now. They've won five straight and have found their identity again on offense. Paired with one of the best defenses in the league and an all-world kicker, they're a darkhorse in the playoffs. So sprinkle a little bit on them here. It might pay off big.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine projection model has a pick for the clash between West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Ben Simmons, 76ers, PG/SF -- I love tonight's matchup for Simmons. Even if I'm taking the Hornets to cover, the Sixers and Hornets just played a couple of days ago, as I mentioned above. In that game, Simmons put up a triple-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. I don't know that he's going to do it again, but I'm confident he'll have another terrific fantasy night, and he'll do so at a lower price than a lot of the other top options on Monday's slate.
Buddy Hield, Kings, SG/SF -- King provides excellent value tonight, and just about every night, really. Even if we're on the under, tonight's Warriors-Kings game has the highest projected total on the board, and Hield's been very productive. He's averaging nearly 37 minutes per night, and while he doesn't stuff the box score, he's enough of a volume shooter that he provides a safe floor with his point-scoring. At his price, he's an excellent guy to fit into your lineups tonight.
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.