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 — They’re still playing in Buffalo but the Blue Jays appear poised for a sweet second-half run and Robbie Ray’s left arm is gonna be one of the main reasons. Ray had three solid seasons in Arizona before coming over to Toronto, posting a 15-5 record in 2017, 6-2 in 2018 and 12-8 in 2019.
He slipped in 2020, with a combined 2-5 record for ’Zona and the Jays. But it looks like he has found something this season. He has a solid 7-4 mark, with three wins in his last four starts. Actually, his last start was a touch of brilliance, throwing seven innings, allowing only one hit and putting up ELEVEN Ks! If it’s 11 Ks, you gotta gimme some Jays. Yeah, I also do POETRY! And I’ll be here ALL week!!!
Hooping in the desert and we’re gonna roll with the Suns over the Bucks tomorrow night. We thought that home court would be a significant factor in the NBA Finals, and everything is falling into place. If you think that Khris Middleton is gonna score 40 points again, lemme check the readout on your EEG. The EEG, as everyone knows, is an electroencephalogram, which detects electrical activity in your brain using small metal discs attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you’re asleep.
OK, enough of the neurological stuff, and more of the statistical stuff. Give Middleton 20-plus points, but the real question and KEY to the game is Chris Paul. CP3 enjoyed the heat of the desert in the first two games, pouring in 32 points in Game 1, then 23 in Game 2. Back in Milwaukee, he was slipping, sliding and missing a bunch of shots. He had 19 points in Game 3, then went totally UGLY in Game 4, shooting only 5-for-13 and 0-2 from downtown for a measly 10 points.
Look for Paul to bring it in Game 5 after two days off, and look for more offensive output from Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Just like we predicted in the first two games, the Suns are gonna SHINE in PHX where they have won eight of 10 (80%) in the playoffs.
Once they’re done in Phoenix, take a quick flight back to Vegas with me for some UFC Fight Night action.
Islam Makhachev, or the “Baby Khabib,” is stepping into the Octagon against Thiago Moises, and while we’re not planning to lay $650 to win back $100, there is a prop we like. And it’s Islam by submission at anywhere from +340 to +420 depending on where you shop. Thiago came at Islam on media day, saying “Nobody’s like Khabib, and Islam is definitely not like Khabib.” UH-OH! Once Moises is laying on his back and submitted, he might wanna take back his words!
And if you’re looking for more picks this weekend, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!
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...email@example.com.