The 2018 Major League Baseball Season kicks off on Thursday, March 29. That means the first Saturday and Sunday of regular season professional baseball takes place on Saturday, March 31, and Sunday April 1. I’ve also got some picks going for the NBA for March 31 and April 1.
Weekend Picks: Top Plays in NBA and MLB for March 31 and April 1
Saturday, March 31
Top 2018 NBA Week 24 Weekend Picks
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
As of March 28, the Raptors have a decent against the spread record of 40 and 35. Toronto’s gone 21 and 16 against the spread in away games this season. That includes beating and covering the spread versus the Celtics on February, 6.
Could Toronto repeat the performance versus Boston on Saturday? It’s no question that they could. The Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference. Boston has injuries across the board. Marcus Smart won’t be back until mid-May while Kyrie Irving won’t be back until late-May.
The Toronto Raptors should roll to an easy win on March 31.
Pick: Toronto Raptors ATS
Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat
Miami’s still got a shot to win the Southeast Division. The Heat are only a couple of games behind the Washington Wizards. Winning the Southeast won’t do much for Miami’s playoff position. The NBA goes by record when it seeds teams for the playoffs.
It would be a nice feather in Miami’s cap, though. For my purpose, I don’t really care if Miami beats Brooklyn. I believe the Heat will beat the Nets on Saturday. What I’m not sure about is whether the Heat covers the spread.
Miami is only 15-17-4 against the spread in home games this season. Even if Miami covers versus the Chicago Bulls in a home game on March 29, they’ll have a losing home record against the spread. I’m siding with Brooklyn.
Pick: Brooklyn Nets ATS
Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings
The Golden State Warriors head to Sacramento to battle the Kings in a game where the Warriors, no doubt, are going to be huge, massive, untenable favorites. Golden State has had their share of injuries. So much so that the Warriors are 54 and 20 this season.
But, it’s going to be tough to make the Sacramento Kings favorites versus Golden State just because Sacramento is 24 and 51 this season. The Kings have gone 17 and 21 against the spread at home. Although not a winning record ATS, it’s good enough for me to back Sacramento versus a team they beat 98 to 93 in the last game.
Pick: Sacramento Kings ATS
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New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
The Yankees are scheduled to start CC Sabathia on Saturday. Last season, Sabathia had a resurgence of sorts. He produced a sub 4.00 ERA with a 3.69. He also won 14 games and only lost 5. Versus the Toronto Blue Jays, Sabathia has been fantastic during his career. He’s only allowed a .239 batting average from 234 at-bats. That’s plenty of at-bats to signal that Sabathia has a great outing on Saturdy.
Can Toronto starter Marco Estrada counter CC’s predicted performance? Estrada could because like CC versus the Blue Jays, Marco is great versus the Yankees. NYY only bats .241 versus Marco Estrada. Granted, Giancarlo Stanton bats .364 versus Estrada. But, Stanton bats that way against everybody.
I’m going to the roll dice on the Jays as home dogs.
Pick: Toronto Blue Jays moneyline
Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners
The Cleveland Indians put one of their top starting pitchers onto the mound this Saturday when Carlos Carrasco picks up the resin bag. Carrasco posted a great 18 and 6 record to go along with a terrific 3.29 ERA last season. He hasn’t always pitched well versus the Seattle Mariners, though. The Mariners have 30 hits from 113 at-bats versus Carrasco.
That’s probably not going to cut it on March 31. The big reason is becaues Seattle’s James Paxton is a very good pitcher. Paxton posted a 2.98 ERA last season. He should have his best stuff going on Saturday. I’m with the Mariners.
Pick: Seattle Mariners moneyline
Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks have listed Zack Greinke as their starting pitcher on March 31. Greinke has always had trouble versus the Rockies, though. Colorado has faced Greinke 291 times. The Rockies bat .278 versus Zack Greinke.
Nolan Arenado bats .277 while Charlie Blackmon bats .265. Greinke is one of the better pitchers in the National League, but I believe he’s vulnerable versus such a hard-hitting team like the Colorado Rockies.
I’m siding with the Rockies to get it done on March 31.
Pick: Colorado Rockies moneyline
Sunday, April 1
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Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers
The Dallas Mavericks are 23 and 51 straight up. The last time they faced the Cavaliers, they lost 111 to 104. That game was last November in Dallas. If the Mavericks couldn’t beat the Cavaliers in Dallas, what chance do they have of beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland?
Not a good chance, that’s for sure. However, Dallas is a very good 21-15-1 against the spread in road games this season. I don’t have faith that the Mavericks can beat the Cavs. I do have faith that the Mavericks can keep it within what should be a ridiculously high number.
Pick: Dallas Mavericks ATS
Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota is a good team. Utah might be one of the better teams in the Western Conference. Whatever advantage the T’Wolves had with Karl-Anthony Towns goes out the window in this game because Utah’s got the best defensive big man in the NBA.
Rudy Gobert should control Towns. Not only that, but Utah’s been hot in March. Why not keep it going to the end of March? Utah might be a dog. That would make them a great moneyline play.
Pick: Utah Jazz moneyline
Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets
The last time Denver faced Milwaukee they beat the Bucks 134 to 123. There’s nothing in either team’s recent form to suggest that Milwaukee somehow turns the tables on the Nuggets on April 1. In fact, Denver appears ready to get onto another run. The Nuggets have lost their last 2 straight up. No worries. They’ve gone 3 and 1 ATS.
Denver’s just better than Milwaukee. They’ll win and cover the spread.
Pick: Denver Nuggets ATS
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Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Boston pitcher Hector Velasquez pitched 24.2 innings last season. He only started 3 games. Amazingly, Velasquez went 3 and 1 with a sub 3.00 ERA. That’s absolutely fantastic. The Rays have never faced Velasquez. Because Tampa isn’t yet sure how to bat versus Boston’s listed starter on April 1, picking the winner of this game is easy.
I like Boston.
Pick: Boston Red Sox moneyline
Houston Astros at Texas Rangers
One of my big predictions is that Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh’s former ace, gets his stuff back this season. Cole now throws for the Houston Astros. The Stros should be a much better situation for Cole. When you’re in the same rotation as Justin Verlander, the pressure is off.
Will Cole show up in his first start this year? I think he will. The Texas Rangers have no idea what sort of stuff Cole has. If he’s bounced back at all, he should be just fine versus the Rangers on Sunday.
Pick: Houston Astros moneyline
Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds
The Washington Nationals start Gio Gonzalez on April 1. Gonzalez was one of Washington’s top pitchers last season. He recorded a 2.96 ERA while going 16 and 9. Versus the Cincinnati Reds, you’d expect Gio to be great. He hasn’t. He’s allowed a .321 batting average from 78 at-bats. He’s allowed 4 home runs from those 78 at-bats. The Reds have 10 RBIs. He’s also walked 11 Reds batters.
Although it’s always difficult to back Cincinnati, I must take the odds on the Reds to get to Gio early. If they do, Washington should be in some trouble because I’m not sure if they improved their bullpen from a season ago.
I think the Reds win as a home dog.
Pick: Cincinnati Reds moneyline