How Anthony Davis’ return affects betting on the Lakers, plus other best picks for Thursday

All the talk this week of Europe’s Super League has served as a distraction from a landmark decision in the NFL. A decision by the most popular sports league in the United States that will dramatically alter the way the sport is not only played but viewed forever.

I’m talking, of course, about the NFL‘s decision to relax its rules about which numbers players can wear. I am a fan of it. As somebody who has come up through the college football ranks, I know the pleasure of seeing gigantic linemen wearing single-digit numbers, and while the NFL still isn’t allowing it, I’ve never really understood the rules in the first place.

Unfortunately, not everybody is a fan. The greatest quarterback of all time is worried about what it’s going to do for the game. Yes, it seems Tom Brady does not respect the intelligence of his offensive lineman, because he’s not sure how they’ll know who to block with players all wearing different numbers.

My advice is to block the guy in front of you trying to get past you, regardless of number. But, in Brady’s defense, he is in his forties, and the older you get, the more repulsed you become of change in all its forms. Which makes you wonder if this is the first sign that age is settling in on Brady. Could this numbers rule mark the beginning of the end for Brady?

Probably not, but I promise you that if he slips in 2021, I’m totally blaming the rule change for it.

Onto tonight’s picks. Tom Brady, if you’re reading this, and any of the numbers confuse you, don’t be afraid to reach out for clarification. Toms have to be there for each other.

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Lakers at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Lakers +2.5 (-110)
: Anthony Davis is back tonight, and that, combined with my undying love of fading the Mavs, has me taking the Lakers tonight. This might come as a shock to you, but the Lakers are quite a bit better with Davis than they are without him! I’m serious! They’ve gone 17-6 with Davis in the lineup (with or without LeBron) and 18-17 without him. What could be of more interest to you is that the Lakers were 13-10 ATS in games Davis started and are 15-20 ATS in 35 games without him.

This line opened with the Mavs as 4.5-point favorites, but the news of Davis’ return, as well as the possibility of Kristaps Porzingis missing the game (he’s listed as questionable), have pushed the line in the Lakers direction. Frankly, I’m good with the Lakers as long as they’re the underdogs in this matchup.

If we look at nothing but trends, betting against Dallas at home has been profitable all season. The Mavs are only 10-18 ATS at home this year and 6-14 ATS as home favorites.

Key Trend: Anthony Davis is back!

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model isn’t as excited about Anthony Davis’ return as I am because it is not designed to feel emotion. Still, it has a couple of heavy leans on tonight’s matchup.

💰 The Picks


Hornets at Bulls, 9  p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Coby White Over 20.5 Points and Assists (-125) — 
I’m taking another bite at the apple! Listen, we were burned last night. The Bulls got off to a terrible start and never recovered during a blowout loss to Cleveland. With this game looming on the schedule, Billy Donovan pulled his starters early in the fourth quarter, and Coby White was one of them.

White finished with 14 points and six assists, leaving him just below the 21.5 we needed to win our prop. I’m not scared of taking it again, particularly with the total dropping to 20.5. White is still averaging a total of 24.3 points and assists per game since the Bulls lost Zach LaVine, and the entire team has a sour taste in their mouth after last night’s dreadful performance.

Key Trend: White is averaging 17 points and 7.3 assists per game over the last four games.


Padres at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Dodgers -1.5 (+120) — 
I don’t bet the spread often in MLB games, but there’s a lot of value on this line. The Padres have lost five of their last six, including two to these same Dodgers. Each of the five losses has come by at least two runs, and yesterday was a bit of a gut punch. The team was excited about the return of starter Dinelson Lamet, but he was forced out of Wednesday’s game after only two innings, leaving the San Diego bullpen to cover seven innings.

The Padres bullpen is already taxed, as it has pitched 87.2 innings on the season, which is six more innings than any other team in MLB (Tampa’s at 81.2). Tonight, the Padres turn to Ryan Weathers, but he’s not so much a starter as an opener. He started against the Dodgers last week, and while he allowed only one hit, he lasted only 3.2 innings. Tonight he squares off with Walker Buehler, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the Dodgers pull away late in this affair after getting into the San Diego pen.

Key Trend: Each of San Diego’s last five losses have come by at least two runs.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Sportsline expert John Bollman has been on fire with his MLB picks lately, and he’s got a strong money line play for tonight’s game between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.

💸 The DFS Rundown


Building Blocks

PG: Terry Rozier, Hornets
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Spurs
SF: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
PF: Jayson Tatum, Celtics
C: Nikola Vucevic, Bulls

Value Plays

PG: Coby White, Bulls
SG: Terrence Ross, Magic
SF: Patrick Williams, Bulls
PF: P.J. Washington, Hornets
C: Tristan Thompson, Celtics

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.

 ⚾ MLB Stack Attack

Betting on each of these Cubs righties to go deep with the wind blowing out at Wrigley.

  • Javier Baez +400
  • Kris Bryant +400
  • Wilson Contreras +500

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