The best straight bet and futures bet to make on Opening Day, plus other top picks for Thursday

It’s Opening Day! I’m watching baseball as I write this (it’s snowing in Detroit!). You might be watching baseball as you read this. You should be, anyway. But, yes, baseball is here, and I’m thrilled.

Of course, other sports are trying to hijack the news cycle today, particularly the college basketball world. On Thursday morning, North Carolina coach Roy Williams surprised many people with his decision to retire, and it was not an April Fools joke. Shortly after, perhaps sensing a possible bidding war coming, Texas locked down Chris Beard, convincing him to leave Texas Tech.

So, yeah, it has been a busy day this Final Four week, and our college basketball team will keep you up to date with everything going on. And that’s not all that’s happening, so make sure you catch up on your daily reading between pitches of the baseball you’re watching.

OK, let’s make some money

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Nuggets at Clippers, 10 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Under 219 (-110)
: There’s some question about Paul George’s availability for this game tonight, but the line movement gives us a good indication of what will happen. The Clippers opened as one-point favorites and now find themselves as two-point dogs as I write this. That suggests George will not be playing. The total has also dropped a few points, and I had already liked the under with George playing. If he doesn’t, I like it even more as it will impact the Clippers offensive ceiling.

Taking an under in a Nuggets game can be a dangerous decision, but the team’s overall defense has improved since adding Aaron Gordon, and I’m not sure the market has caught up yet. Also, the under is 5-1 in Denver’s last six road games. 

Key Trend: The under is 33-16-2 in the Clippers last 51 games against winning teams.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has a pretty strong lean on the total tonight.

💰 The Picks

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Giants at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mariners (+105) — 
As a general rule, I don’t bet many MLB money lines early in the season, but I see too much value here to pass up on the Mariners. Neither team is projected to do well this season, but those projections are due to San Francisco having so many games against the Padres and Dodgers. So even if their win totals are roughly the same, the teams aren’t quite the same.

That said, I don’t think the Giants are so much better than the Mariners that they should be favored over them on the road on Opening Day. Kevin Gausman was fantastic last season, and I don’t think it was a fluke, but Seattle’s Marco Gonzales has long been one of the more reliable starters in the league. I’m taking a shot on Seattle tonight.

Key Trend: The Giants have lost 15 of their last 22 series openers.

The Pick: Pirates Over 59 wins (-110) — I had to get one win total in before the season began, and it had to be the team with the lowest win total projection at the book. That’s right, we’re taking the Pirates! Long-time White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson always said that every team will win 60 games and lose 60 games. It’s what you do with the other 42 that determines your season. Well, that’s not why I’m taking this over, but it’s not that inaccurate of a statement.

Also, if we look at preseason projections for teams, FanGraphs has the Pirates winning 66 games. PECOTA has the Pirates winning 61, and FiveThirtyEight has them winning 64 games. All of those totals are more than 59.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Advanced Computer Model loves a money line play in tonight’s NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.

💸 The DFS Rundown

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Building Blocks

PG: Kyrie Irving, Nets
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Spurs
SF: Jimmy Butler, Heat
PF: Tobias Harris, Sixers
C: Clint Capela, Hawks

Value Plays

PG: Michael Carter-Williams, Magic
SG: Bruce Brown, Nets
SF: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks
PF: Isaiah Hartenstein, Cavs
C: Dwight Howard, Sixers

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.

 🏀 NBA Player Props

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  • PHI Seth Curry Over 2.5 rebounds (+140)
  • ATL Trae Young Over 3.5 rebounds (-150)
  • BKN Kyrie Irving Over 5.5 rebounds (-115)

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