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Ben Eckstein likes the Celtics to beat the Heat in Game 3 of their third-round series.

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

LAS VEGAS — Before we fly out to San Francisco, a quick stop in Brewtown where we’ll grab Milwaukee over Washington. The Brewers send Eric Lauer to the bump and we’re gonna forget about his last start (5 innings, 6 hits, 4 earned runs) because the rest of his 2022 resume has been sparkling. He is 3-1, owns a 2.60 ERA and has not lost a game at home (5-0) since last JULY! Brews all around! 

NBA Picks

Stepping onto the hardwood and thinking about the Mavericks. Why? Because everyone is gonna look at Game 1 and believe that Golden State will get the broom out. Not so fast. Sure, Dallas looked totally flat in the opening game, and you really can’t blame them.

They just came off a STUNNING upset of the BEST team in the NBA and were absolutely NOT ready for the Warriors’ explosive offense. But lemme give you a little something somethin’ about the Mavericks coming off a blowout loss. They lost to Phoenix in the second game of the series 129-109, then came back to win the next game 103-94. Then they lost to the Suns 110-80 in Game 5 but bounced back to win 113-86 in Game 6. Jason Kidd has a way of getting his kids to wash ugly losses down the drain really quick.

And if you wanna go back to the regular season, the Mavs were 3-0 down the stretch coming off a loss of 20 points or more. So, we’re not gonna go crazy and predict an outright win, but at +6.5 points, it’s a light tickle. If you can buy the hook and get +7, then we would upgrade to a medium tickle.

Staying on the hardwood and gonna grab the Celtics in Game 3 tomorrow. We had the Heat in Game 1 with Boston missing Marcus Smart and Al Horford. In Game 2, when we got word that Smart and Horford were both gonna play, we took a pass. Back in Boston, gotta have a taste of the C’s on the home parquet.

With Smart (24 points) and Jaylen Brown (24 points) both on target, Jayson Tatum did not have to carry the entire load. That’s why balance WINS! Also two YUGE problems for the Heat with P.J. Tucker’s knee, as well as no Kyle Lowry. Miami’s bench is just not that deep, and the Celtics have won 17 of the last 22 at home. Putting a bunch of green on the leprechaun guy with the pipe and the walking stick!

MLB Pick

Can life get any better for Justin Verlander? The guy is 37 years old, missed TWO FULL seasons, and has ROARED back into Houston’s rotation like it was 2011. Tell me more, Eck. OK. He has started seven games, won five, lost one and has a SKINNY 1.38 ERA.

He has not given up an earned run in his last two starts, while Texas starter Jon Gray has just one win in five outings and a PHAT 5.73 ERA. So, gimme a bucket full of cash on Houston. Oh yeah, if you didn’t know, Verlander is married to KATE UPTON!!!

Premier League Pick

Normally don’t spew hate, but can tell you that I HATE Tottenham and I HATE to lay a heavy price in any sport. However, this one time, I’ll make an exception and roll with the Hotspur over Norwich City in the season finale on Sunday.

With a win, the Spurs are GUARANTEED the fourth spot in the Premier League standings that comes with an invite to the UEFA Champions League. Even a draw against Norwich would get them to UEFA if Arsenal wins because the Spurs have a better goal differential, which is the deciding factor. So, it’s Tottenham for the money! 


Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...ben@americasline.com.