Can the Rangers stay nearly perfect at home in the playoffs? Plus other best bets for Thursday

I’m mad at myself. Before the NBA season began, I took out a future on the Boston Celtics to win the title at (+5000). It’s one of the futures I shared in the newsletter, and I hope you took it with me if you’re reading this.

As I told you last week, though, I hedged a bit by taking the Warriors to win the NBA Finals so that I could ensure I’d make money no matter what happens. Now, in a vacuum, this is an intelligent thing to do. The problem is, I was confident that the Warriors weren’t going to win the NBA Finals before it began, and after watching Game 3 on Wednesday night, I’m even more confident it’s not going to happen. Now I’m convinced I sacrificed some of my profits.

So even though I’m going to win, I’ll probably be mad at myself. All of which is an excellent reminder of how stupid sports can sometimes make us. However, what isn’t stupid would be reading all these wonderful stories.

OK, let’s make some money to make up the money I sacrificed with my dumb Warriors hedge.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

The Hot Ticket

Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds:

New York Rangers

  • Key Trend: The Rangers are 8-1 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and 5-1 in their last six as a home underdog.
  • The Pick: Rangers (+105)

This series reminds me of the NBA Finals. On the one side, you have the public favorite and dynasty in the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re this series’ Golden State Warriors. Then there are the Rangers in the role of the Celtics. They’re a good team without many big-name players and are underrated by the betting market.

The series is tied 2-2, but the Rangers have been underdogs in all four games. Winning at home is what the Rangers have done in the playoffs, going 8-1 at MSG.

We saw what happened last night when Boston returned home. It re-established itself as the better team in this series, and I think we’ll see something similar here tonight. To be clear, I just think the Rangers are far more evenly-matched with this Tampa team than they’re getting credit for, and they should not be underdogs at home. We’ll be betting them in this newsletter as long as they are.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: We have some disagreement about tonight’s game! While SportsLine expert Jeff Hochman agrees with me about the Rangers, Matt Severance and the Projection Model are on different sides of the total.

The Picks



Nationals at Marlins, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Washington Nationals

The Pick: Nationals (+125) — Stephen Strasburg is making his 2022 debut in this game. We haven’t seen much of him in the last few years. He went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 2019, pitching 209 innings and helping the Nats win a World Series. He’s appeared in seven games and thrown 26.2 innings since.

Considering all of that, I don’t have the highest expectations for him tonight, but that doesn’t mean I need to respect the Marlins as much as the line is telling me to. While Miami is better than its 24-30 record (with a run differential of +18), Trevor Rogers is struggling. He has an ERA of 5.80 in 10 starts this year, and Miami has gone 2-8 in those games. I’d take the Nats anywhere down to +115, so getting them at +125 is a steal.

Key Trend: The Marlins, who won last night, are 1-6 following their last seven wins.

Yankees at Twins, 7:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Minnesota Twins

The Pick: Twins (+180) — Last night we faded Aaron Nola as an ace getting too much respect on the market, and tonight we’re taking a similar approach against Gerrit Cole. Of course, the difference here is that not only is Cole one of the best pitchers in the game, but he’s also backed by one of the best offenses in the sport. Don’t think of this as an outright fade of him as much as a numbers play on a Twins team that’s being undervalued.

You know, the same way it was undervalued before the season began when I told you to take the Twins (+525) to win the AL Central. The Twins offense is strong enough to give them a chance against anyone. While the Yankees are at or near the top of the league in all the important offensive stats, Minnesota ranks fourth in wRC+, sixth in wOBA and third in OBP. They’re a capable unit that can punish you, and they’re better at home than on the road. They’re worth taking a shot on tonight.

Key Trend: The trends do not agree with this play, but the trends are all cowards.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model has an A-graded play on the money line between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, and SportsLine expert John Bollman agrees with the model too.

Dinger Stackin’

We’re betting on each of these Kansas City Royals to hit a home run tonight.

  • Salvador Perez (+250)
  • MJ Melendez (+430)
  • Bobby Witt (+460)

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