Hello, it’s Monday afternoon, and I still can’t believe that Nikola Jokic was ejected from Sunday night’s game for a flagrant two. I mean, I understand why, by the absolute letter of the law, what Jokic did to Cameron Payne was deemed a flagrant two and resulted in his ejection.
But I still can’t believe it happened. This is the NBA MVP we’re talking about! They had the ceremony where they gave him his MVP trophy before the third game of the series, and a couple of nights later, they’re ejecting him from the game with his team facing elimination! At home! This never happens on David Stern’s watch!
I’m not even trying to get into a debate of whether or not the league is soft — I’ll leave that to Ja Morant — or any of that stupidity I’m talking about from a pure business sense. The NBA has historically protected its superstars and given them more wiggle room, particularly in the playoffs. So to see Jokic get ejected came as a major surprise, as I was sure it would be a flagrant one, and everyone would get on with their lives.
Now let’s get to tonight’s picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
? The Hot Ticket
76ers at Hawks 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Sixers -3 (-110): Sorry for sounding like a broken record here, but I’m taking the Sixers tonight for the same reason I took them in Games 2 and 3. I don’t think the Hawks have enough to take this Philly team down unless Trae Young goes supernova. Young went off for 35 points in Game 1, which Atlanta won, but he’s played well in the two games since, and it hasn’t done the Hawks much good. In the series, he’s shooting 46.4% from the field and averaging 28 points and 9.7 assists per game, but it hasn’t been enough.
You could argue that the rest of the team hasn’t been good enough, but that’s not a great argument, either. Atlanta’s shooting 48.2% from the field as a team, 37% from three, and 87.3% from the free-throw line while taking 23.7 attempts per night. In the regular season, Atlanta shot 46.8% from the field, 37.3% from three, and 81.2% from the charity stripe while averaging 24.2 attempts per game. So, Atlanta is basically performing at the same level (and in some spots, better) in this series, and it hasn’t made any difference in the last couple of games. Hell, the Hawks even got a bit of the home whistle in Game 3, getting 32 free throw attempts, and still lost by 16.
Jonathan Coachman is joined by Zack Cimini and Larry Hartstein to dish out Monday’s best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Trae Young’s performance against the Knicks in the first round was incredible, but this is an Atlanta team that seems to have gone as far as it’s capable of this season.
Key Trend: The Sixers are 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 games as road favorites.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: Everybody is everywhere! Between the Advanced Computer Model and SportsLine’s experts, we have picks for both sides of the spread and total!
Jazz at Clippers, 10 p.m | TV: TNT
The Pick: Marcus Morris Over 1.5 3-point FG made (-150) — We’re looking to take advantage of some splits as well as some positive regression with this pick. Marcus Morris has his role on the Clippers. He knows it, and he does it well most of the time. And like most role players, he performs better at home.
Morris shot 54.2% from three at home during the regular season while taking 5.1 threes per game. On the road, he shot 39.9% from three while taking slightly more (5.3) per game. So how is Morris doing in this series? Well, he’s 1-for-16 from three. Some of that is a credit to the Jazz defense, but Morris has simply been too good from beyond the arc to think he won’t recover at some point, and I’m betting on it happening tonight.
Key Trend: Morris shot 54.2% from three at home this season, making 2.8 per game.
Phillies at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Dodgers (-160) — We don’t often get this kind of value on the Dodgers, but this line is a bit of an overcorrection in my mind. Tony Gonsolin made his season debut last week and lasted only 1.2 innings, and we don’t know how long he’ll be in the game tonight. This would bother me more if he weren’t going up against another youngster in Philadelphia starter Spencer Howard. The former second-round pick has made nine starts for the Phillies in his career, and the results haven’t been overly encouraging to this point. He has an ERA of 5.45, but while you see flashes with his ability to miss bats, his control has been his downfall to this point. Against a patient Dodgers offense that leads the league in walk rate, that could prove to be a significant problem for the Phillies.
Key Trend: The Dodgers are 46-18 in their last 64 home games.
? SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights begin their series tonight, and the Advanced Computer Model has an A-graded money line play available.
? The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Tyler Glasnow, Rays
- Lance Lynn, White Sox
- Alex Wood, Giants
Value StarterTonight’s Stack
- Tommy Pham, Padres
- Manny Machado, Padres
- Fernando Tatis, Padres
Value Hitter ⚾ Underdog Parlay
Parlaying two home dogs tonight. It pays out at (+352).
- White Sox (+101)
- Mariners (+125)