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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NBA, NHL

Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers NBA playoffs Miami Heat Benjamin Eckstein

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 — Stitches. Yeah, that’s me. Had some minor skin stuff taken care of this week, so running a day late. Told the trainer to stitch me up and get me back in the game, but they made me sit for a day. OK, I admit that toughness ain’t my best quality.

NBA pick

Bouncing onto the NBA hardwood this evening, got a sweet selection. Yo, Sixers are the nuts. Sixers are gonna surprise the world. Sixers have won 16 in a row. Sixers have the next LeBron in Ben Simmons. Sixers are the fashionable pick to smoke the Heat.

Yeah, all that might be true, but not in my space. Why? Oh, I have reasons. First up, the BIGGEST reason, and it’s seven-foot-two Joel Embiid. The king of social media, at least in the NBA, is gonna be in a fancy suit, and NOT the 76ers home uni. He is OUT! Does that make a difference, he asked rhetorically. Joel is averaging 30 minutes, 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and almost two blocks per game. So, YEAH, it makes a difference.

But Eck, Philly won six in a row since Embiid went down with the broken bone around his left eye. Yeah, they did. But look at the teams on that list. Brooklyn (28-54), Detroit (39-43), Dallas (24-58), Atlanta (24-58) and a Milwaukee squad that had NO interest in playing the finale. Oh yeah, they did have a 30-point lead on the Cavaliers, but wound up beating them by just a deuce, 132-130. You look at Miami and you see a squad with a bunch of veteran leadership. You see a squad with a coach, Erik Spoelstra, who KNOWS his way around X’s & O’s and has TWO NBA rings. Look at the Sixers bench and you see a group of mostly babies and they’re opening without their best player.

As for the season series, they split four games, with the Heat going 2-1-1 against the spread. Of the four games, the Sixers’ largest margin of victory was just six, so gotta take the +7 and run to the bank.

NHL picks     

Skating onto the NHL ice, and it looks like the late game is the one that makes my heart skip a beat. The Ducks got bageled at home in the series opener by the Sharks, 3-0, and you know that Anaheim is gonna come out with steam, and maybe even some snot dripping from their nostrils. NO ONE likes to lose at home, especially in the playoffs, and to eat a BAGEL is even more disturbing. The price is reasonable, with the Ducks around -$135. BUY!!!

And tomorrow, if you’re out and about, make sure to get a taste of the Capitals at home against the Blue Jackets. After losing the opener in D.C., Ovie and the Caps are gonna be ready to rumble, and there’s NO WAY they fly out to Columbus in a 2-0 hole.

And PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, ’cause ya never know when we’ll find a gem on the baseball diamond, or the NBA hardwood.

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.

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