Why the Lakers have the edge against the Nuggets in what could be one of the best games of the year

Create: 2021-02-04
Update: 2021-02-04
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Thursday, February 4, 2021
Happy Thursday everyone, it's Sam Quinn filling (no dental pun intended) in for Tom Fornelli again. Pandemics are no occasion for mingling, but Las Vegas is a social town, and as my presence writing this newsletter suggests, I can't say no to neophyte gamblers seeking advice. But my encounter Wednesday was with no ordinary amateur. As I waited in line at the Westgate Superbook to get a few Super Bowl props in, a man that must've been in his early 70's asked me for clarification on a technicality.
"40-to-1 means that if I bet $100, I win $4,000, right?" Yes, I confirmed, before putting my headphones back on to avoid further inquiry. He didn't notice. "And if I bet $1,000, I'd win $40,000?"
This piqued my interest. Here was a man that needed instruction of the basic pay structure of a bet, yet was asking about a four-figure investment on a pick that the books believed had roughly a 2.5 percent chance at paying out.
"I have to ask, what has you so interested at 40-to-1 that you're considering a $1,000 bet?" Without a moment's hesitation, he replied: "Tyrann Mathieu, SB MVP."
He didn't say Super Bowl. He said "SB." Before I could parse what that meant, I was summoned to the counter and couldn't explore further. I have no idea what he actually bet, if anything. If I had to guess, this was all hypothetical. But as a heavy Patrick Mahomes bettor, the encounter shook me to my core. Maybe he's a secret sharp. Maybe he's a time traveler. Maybe he's been banking a lifetime of karma for one giant score. I don't know. 
What I do know is you should catch up on today's news by reading the following stories:
  • The prolific gambling mattress maven "Mattress Mack" has made a huge Super Bowl wager.
  • Robert Kraft is rooting for Tom Brady to win on Sunday.
  • Joe Theismann would take Zach Wilson over Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, let's win some money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Nuggets vs. Lakers, 10 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Lakers -5 (-110) -- 
The schedule-makers were kind to this game. Even before Denver's Monday tilt with Detroit was postponed, both the Lakers and Nuggets were scheduled for two full days off before this Western Conference Finals rematch, and with neither team dealing with serious injuries, this should be one of the best games of the year.
The Lakers have the edge primarily through matchups here. Jerami Grant, the Nugget typically assigned to LeBron James, now plays for the Pistons. The Lakers, meanwhile, added Marc Gasol largely for this matchup. His post defense against Nikola Jokic will be essential, and makes the Lakers worthy favorites here.
SportsLine's simulation model is leaning strong one way for Nuggets vs. Lakers.
💰 The Picks
Warriors at Mavericks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Mavericks -3 (-110)
: Dallas has lost the second half of its last three back-to-backs by a combined 54 points, but it should be noted that it has a full roster for its first back-to-back this season. Golden State does not. With James Wiseman and Kevon Looney out, Golden State is bereft of reliable big men. The dynasty Warriors would just shrug, move Draymond Green to center and call it a day, but without the shooting Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant offered, the drawbacks of playing so small are more glaring. 
Golden State doesn't have a clear alternative on its roster right now, though, and that gives Dallas a major edge. 
🏈 Today's Super Bowl LV pick
Chiefs vs. Buccaneers, Sunday, 6:30 p.m. | TV: CBS
The Pick: Either team will score in the final 3:30 of the game (-190) -- 
Super Bowls tend to be close games, and close games tend to include late scoring. The last six Super Bowls have had a score within the final 210 seconds of regulation, including the 13-3 Patriots-Rams disaster that gave us only 13 points in the preceding 56 and a half minutes. Unless you're banking on a blowout, history favors a late score. 
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: You'll want to see what the SportsLine Projection Model -- which is up nearly $8,100 over the past two-plus seasons -- is saying about Blazers vs. Sixers.
Super Bowl LV
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