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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: Denver is 5-1 ATS in its last six home games and 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings with Phoenix.
- The Pick: Nuggets -4 (-110)
I've watched the NBA long enough to know how the playoffs work. The teams with the superstars usually win in the end. Sure, the Lakers and Warriors getting out of the first round is an "upset" by seeding, but c'mon, they're the Lakers and Warriors. One has LeBron James and the other is a dynasty with Steph Curry.
Which brings me to this series. The Suns are the team with the superstars. They have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are considered The Good Team, but the Nuggets aren't just The Good Team. The Nuggets have superstars too! Nikola Jokic has won the last two MVP awards and could win a third. Jamal Murray is incredible, and with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, this is a team with strong third and fourth options.
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The only difference between the Nuggets and Suns is name recognition. And depth. The Nuggets have far more depth than Phoenix does. Yet the Nuggets are continually underrated on the market, and I'm fine with it because I'll happily keep taking advantage of it. I don't expect the beatdown we saw in Game 1 to be the norm in this series, but I wasn't shocked by it.
Phoenix struggled to get past the Clippers even when the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Suns don't have the depth to pull away from other good teams, so if they want to hang with the Nuggets, Durant, Booker and CP3 have to play a lot of minutes. That's much easier said than done when you're a mile high and playing in the thin air of Denver. When it comes to the NBA, the good team with the superstar usually beats the team with superstars, especially at home.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn't feel strongly about anything here, but we have two money line plays as well as a Jamal Murray prop among picks from SportsLine handicappers tonight.
💰 The Picks
76ers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Tyrese Maxey Under 31.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-113) -- This pick does not make me happy because Tyrese Maxey has quickly become one of my favorite players in the NBA. Everything about his game is fun and exciting, and with Joel Embiid likely not playing, Maxey's usage will surely rise tonight. This prop is a reflection of that.
However, as much as I love Maxey, and as important as he is, the Boston Celtics defend him better than anybody else in the NBA.
Maxey scored 21 points against Boston in the season-opener. He scored 19 points total in the next three meetings. In his career, Maxey's offensive rating of 86 against Boston is the lowest by far against any other opponent. The only other team where he's even below 100 is Utah at 94. Furthermore, in his career, Maxey has averaged 12.3 PAR per game against Boston. This season he's averaging 14.75%. Between Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and all of Boston's wing defenders, no team is better at keeping Maxey in check than the Celtics. It's a primary reason Philly struggles with Boston.
Reds at Padres, 9:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Manny Machado Over 1.5 Total Bases (+108) -- I feel bad for Padres hitters having to return from the Little League stadium on top of Mt. Everest in Mexico City to the much more pitcher-friendly Petco Park, but I still have high hopes for Manny Machado tonight. He's off to a slow start to the season, but I get the feeling he could start to break out of it tonight.
Looking at the metrics, Machado's numbers aren't lying, but they have begun to change course recently and are heading in the right direction. Throughout his career, Machado has been just as good a hitter against righties as lefties, but he's off to an awful start this year. So perhaps he'll be happy to see a righty in Cincinnati starter Luke Weaver he's experienced a lot of success against. He's 7-for-18 against Weaver, with two doubles, two dingers and only two strikeouts.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: There's another Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight and the Projection Model has a strong lean on the game's total.