Happy Monday, everybody. I hope the start of your week is treating you well. I'm still buzzing a bit about the United States taking down Mexico in the Nations League final on Sunday night. It was a highly entertaining match filled with all the ridiculousness that tends to come with matches between the two countries -- and the cherry on top was that the US won the match!
We got some more big news today involving iconic college coaches, but this time it's a coach announcing he's planning to stick around longer. Yep, sorry fans of any team that isn't Alabama, but Nick Saban isn't going anywhere. Alabama announced an extension for Saban that will keep him in charge of the Tide through the 2028 season.
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Saban, who has won six national titles at Alabama, and has seven overall (LSU, 2003), will turn 70 on Halloween. This extension will keep him at the head of the Tide until he's 77 years old, and if that seems like an advanced age for a coach, keep in mind Coach K turned 74 in February and other college legends like Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno coached into their 80s.
None of them had the kind of success Saban has had this late in his career. So, while I don't know if he'll see out the entire contract, I won't be shocked if it does happen, either. Either way, he'll probably add another national title or two (or three or four) to his resume before calling it a career.
- Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have differing views of what the word mandatory means.
- A new NBA mock draft.
- A look at how the Mavericks can find Luka Doncic a co-star.
All right, we've got plenty of playoff action tonight, so let's get to betting on it.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Bucks at Nets, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Khris Middleton Under 2.5 3pt FG (-150): Khris Middleton's overall performance in Game 1 wasn't good, but it wasn't bad, either. While he finished with only 13 points -- well below his 20.4 average on the season -- he made up for it by pulling down 13 rebounds. However, the problem Middleton and the Bucks face in this series is that, while his points total was lower than usual, the shooting performance from beyond the arc was nothing new for Middleton against Brooklyn.
He finished the night 0-for-5 from three, which dropped Middleton to 4-for-20 from three against the Nets in four games this season. What's even more alarming is that three of the four threes Middleton has made against Brooklyn came in one game, meaning he's 1-for-13 in the other three games.
That's not great! Clearly, a Nets defense that has been solid defending the three-point line has done an excellent job of limiting Middleton's clean looks when facing the Bucks, and I don't see any reason for Brooklyn to switch its approach tonight.
Key Trend: Middleton is 4-for-20 from three against Brooklyn this season.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you're looking for a more traditional play for tonight's game, SportsLine's Matt Severance is up nearly 12 units in his last 164 NBA picks and has a play on the spread tonight.
💰 The Picks
Nuggets at Suns, 10 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: DeAndre Ayton Over 23.5 Points & Rebounds (-135) -- This is one of those times when a prop is based on what a player has done over the course of a season. DeAndre Ayton averaged 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game before the playoffs. But in three games against the Nuggets? That's when things look a bit different.
Ayton averaged 22 points and 12.3 rebounds per game against Denver this season while playing 37.4 minutes per game. His worst game against the Nuggets featured 17 points and 13 rebounds, which gets us well above our total.
Key Trend: Ayton is averaging 34.3 points and rebounds per game against Denver this season.
Islanders at Bruins, 6:30 p.m. | TV: NBCSN
The Pick: Bruins -1.5 (+150) -- I'm heading back to the rink to retake the Bruins, but this time I'm on the puck line rather than the money line. My reasoning for this pick isn't all that different from what I shared with you when we took Boston -- and won -- last week. This series is tied 2-2, but Boston has been the better team for most of the series. It has outshot the Islanders, 152-124, with the last game being the first time the Isles outshot the Bruins.
At even strength, the Bruins have dominated the puck, and that tends to lead to wins.
I don't see much value on the Bruins money line at (-190), but getting this juice on the Bruins winning by two goals or more -- particularly with the chance of an empty-netter to finish it -- is enticing.
Key Trend: I have not gotten a pick wrong in this series (I'm 1-0).
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's Advanced Projection Model, which is up almost $7,900, has identified six teams that provide value at their current Super Bowl LVI futures odds.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Best Starting Pitcher
- Nick Pivetta, Red Sox
- Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
- Blake Griffin, Nets
⚾ MLB Money Line Parlay
There are only three baseball games scheduled today, but there is some value to be had on this parlay for the late game between the Padres and Cubs. We're taking both the Padres and the Under. It pays (+241).
- Padres (-121)
- Under 8 (-115)