This is a meat-and-potatoes kind of Top Picks Thursday. Gone are the halcyon days of 20 NCAA Tournament games tempting us. All that’s left is, well, actually not even fair to meat and potatoes.
We’re fairly limited in terms of the list of games we can access. But don’t fear, we’ll find some winners for you. The beauty of early and mid-May is even when the lineup feels diluted by the lack of action, there’s always some kind of playoff game on the docket.
There’s only one NBA playoff game, but there is one! And we’ve got two Stanley Cup Playoff games — if you haven’t experienced the exhilaration of wagering on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you should rectify that, because there might not be a better sweat than a hockey playoff game thanks to the intensity involved — which can help us out along with a limited slate of baseball games diluted by the early day action in MLB.
Let’s get to the picks. All odds via Westgate
1. Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers: Raptors -1.5
Don’t like road chalk, but I think the Raptors are the better team here and are a little undervalued because of what happened in Game 2 with the 76ers winning. Toronto should be motivated to pick up a road win after dropping a game up north, and I think we see Kawhi Leonard’s best effort against the Sixers in this matchup. The line has moved a decent amount (the Sixers were 1.5-point favorites when this opened) and I wouldn’t be opposed to buying it down to Raptors -1 to avoid getting burnt by a one-point win. But I like the veteran higher seed to know it is an absolute requirement to win one of the next two if the Raptors want to advance in the playoffs. This isn’t a must-win game, but it’s pretty darn important.
The SportsLine Projection Model has run 10,000 simulations on Game 3 and sees strong value in one side of the spread and especially on the total. You can check out the computer’s picks right here.
2. Toronto Blue Jays at L.A. Angels: Angels -160
Tyler Skaggs is actually pitching pretty well these days, having only given up more than two earned runs in one of his starts so far this season. The Blue Jays are actually better on the road versus home and better against LHP than RHP, but I’ll take my chances against one of the weaker lineups in all of baseball. Mike Trout is getting white hot these days and could come through in a big way against Aaron Sanchez, who has some seriously scary underlying metrics. He’s averaging less than a strikeout per inning and has a 5.8 BB/9 ratio through his starts. A 2.32 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP do not correlate to the other stats, which portend danger for Sanchez. It’s a lot of juice to lay, but I think the Angels can take care of business.
Thinking about making moves in your Fantasy baseball leagues? You’ll want to check Ariel Cohen’s Grade the Trade tool and Trade Values chart to make sure you’re getting the best end of a proposal deal. You can get the Fantasy edge over at SportsLine.
3. Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets: Under 5.5
These two teams haven’t combined for a ton of scoring. They managed just five goals combined in their first game and just three the last time out. Both teams have goalies who are dialed in at the moment with save percentages over 90. Tukka Rask will need to step up: the Blue Jackets can sling it and play a fast-paced, aggressive style of offense. There’s going to be some sweats here and it won’t feel easy, but if you want to feel alive, then you want to be on this Under.
DFS millionaire Mike McClure is locking his NHL lineups for Thursday’s action, and you’ll want to hear his picks, which include one of the goalies in this game. Check out McClure’s full tournament lineups only at SportsLine.