Why the Jazz may shut down Zion Williamson tonight, other best bets for Monday

Happy Monday! We finally know where that one player from the Houston Texans will be playing football next season. You know the one. There were all the rumors about them playing with a new team in 2021.

That’s right, after weeks of odd rumors and weird speculation, J.J. Watt has a new home. He announced on Twitter Monday that he was signing with the Arizona Cardinals — a team that, notably, had not been one of the rumored destinations. Things got weird on Monday when people used a profile from the Peloton app that many believed to be J.J. Watt’s profile. It had over 16,000 followers and listed Buffalo, Cleveland, and Green Bay as his finalists. Watt had to go on Twitter to let people know it wasn’t his account.

It was something of a heartbreaker for me. You see, I’m one of the 16,000 Peloton users who follow the account. Whether it was the real J.J. Watt or not never really mattered to me. What mattered was that I was beating the account in some of the monthly challenges, so I wanted to believe it was the real J.J. Watt because looking at the numbers and seeing you’ve beaten J.J. Watt by 50 miles this month is a hell of an ego boost.

Now it’s going to be much more difficult to do that, but don’t worry, I’m going to keep trying.

Also in the news today:

That last link is a reminder that no matter how crazy and stupid American sports get, soccer is a different beast entirely. Anyway, onto tonight’s picks!

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Jazz at Pelicans, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Zion Williamson Under 25.5 points (-105)
: I know I typically leave NBA prop bets for the end of the newsletter, but I’m changing things up a bit today for a couple of different reasons. One is that I’m not a fan of tonight’s NBA slate from a traditional gambling standpoint. The other is that I don’t want you to think I’m just posting player props based on numbers without any actual analysis. Today I’m going to give you an idea of what goes into them.

Zion Williamson is shooting 61.5% from the field this season because he’s good at what he does, and what he does is score around the rim. Of Williamson’s 494 field goal attempts this season, 364 of them (73.7%) have come at the rim. His size, strength, length, intelligence and athleticism make him damn near unstoppable around the basket, both when it comes to scoring and on the offensive glass. This means some teams are better matchups for him than others, and the Jazz fall into one of the worse matchups.

Utah does an excellent job of protecting the rim, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with Rudy Gobert patrolling the lane. According to Dunks & Threes, only 33.5% of opponent’s shots against Utah come at the rim, the 10th lowest rate in the league. Utah allows opponents to shoot 57.7% at the rim, the fourth-lowest rate in the league. In short, Utah keeps you away from the rim, and when you get there, it’s a lot more difficult to score against them than it is other teams.

Taking it a step further, Zion has faced the 10 teams that allow the worst shooting percentage near the rim in 11 games this season. He is averaging 24 points per game against them. Of course, in two games against Utah, he has scored 32 points and 27, but if we look closer, that 32-point game was a bit misleading (Zion scored 10 points of his 32 points in the fourth quarter.) The score to start the quarter was 91-69 Utah, and the Jazz rested their starters for nearly the entire quarter while Zion played over nine minutes. In the 27-point game, Zion was 8-of-10 at the free-throw line, which helped a bit.

If this bet loses tonight, I’d wager it’ll be free throws that do it again.

Key Trend: 73.7% of Zion’s shots come at the rim, and Utah opponents shoot only 57.7% at the rim.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model doesn’t have a strong play on the spread in this game, but it does have a solid lean to one side of the total.

💰 The Picks

🏀  NBA

Cavs at Rockets, 9 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Cavs +2.5 (-110) — 
As I said in the Zion explanation, there’s not a lot I like on the NBA board tonight, but this is a spot we can take advantage of. First of all, this game meets one of my favorite criteria when betting, and that is being suspect of bad teams as favorites. Houston enters this game with an 11-21 record, the third-worst mark in the league. It has lost 11 straight. Now, the Cavs aren’t exactly great, either, and they’re particularly bad on the road (4-12), but they’ve won three straight.

More directly to my point about bad teams being favored, Houston is 3-8 ATS as a favorite this season and 3-10 ATS at home overall. Finally, there’s a good chance John Wall will not be playing tonight as he’s listed as doubtful. That will put a serious ceiling on what the Rockets are capable of offensively. I’m taking the Cavs and the points, but the money line isn’t an awful option, either.

Key Trend: The Rockets are 3-8 ATS as favorites this season.

🏀 College Basketball

North Carolina at Syracuse, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Syracuse +2 (-110)– 
I love Syracuse in this spot, but my love doesn’t have much to do with Syracuse itself. It has to do with North Carolina. Particularly North Carolina on the road. It’s been an uneven season for the Tar Heels, but there’s been a noticeable trend. When playing at home or a neutral site, the Heels are 12-2 straight up and 8-5-1 ATS. On the road, they’re 3-6 and 2-7 ATS. Well, tonight they’re on the road against a Syracuse team that is 11-1 at home this year. Still, while I like Syracuse as a money line option, I see far more value on the Orange getting two points.

Key Trend: North Carolina is 3-6 straight up, and 2-7 ATS on the road this season.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine projection model has a pick for the clash between North Carolina and Syracuse. Check out the results.

💸 The DFS Rundown

Getty Images

Star Plays

PG: Damian Lillard, Blazers
SG: James Harden, Nets
SF: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Mavs
C: Jarrett Allen, Cavs

Value Plays

PG: Sterling Brown, Rockets
SG: Eric Gordon, Rockets
SF: Danuel House, Rockets
PF: Robert Covington, Blazers
C: DeAndre Jordan, Nets

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

🏀 College Basketball Parlay

A five-team money line parlay for Monday paying +107

  • Virginia -1600
  • Richmond -1600
  • St. Louis -650
  • Radford -330
  • Nicholls -450

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