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 – Gonna be very tough to top last week’s FIVE & OH column, but I’m ready if you are.
First we go to Boston. IMPOSSIBLE to make an intelligent play on the Warriors-Celtics game tonight without knowing the extent of Steph Curry’s injury. If anyone tells you different, RUN! Of course he is listed as probable and Golden State will do its CIA thing and not divulge any further info.
So, we need to wait until warm-ups to decide how and how much to bet. Obviously, if Steph is OUT, the line jumps a few points and we UNLOAD on Boston at any price. If Curry is starting, the question is how sturdy is the ankle that he has had problems with throughout his career? Don’t have those answers, so would pass on the game if Steph plays, because we don’t know how long he will be able play, or how effective he will be. Wallet closed.
You know who is effective. San Diego starter Joe Musgrove. Not sure what he found this season, or where he found it, but 2022 is MAGIC! Musgrove was not even an average pitcher in his first two stops at Houston and Pittsburgh with a 29-38 record. Last season, his first in San Diego, he was 11-9 with a solid 3.18 ERA, so maybe a hint of what was to come next.
What’s next is a handful of Musgrove masterpieces. He comes storming out of the gate with a 6-0 mark and a gorgeous 1.64 ERA. And his last three starts have been TOTALLY DOMINANT, allowing only one earned run over 21 innings for an INVISIBLE 0.43 ERA. The Padres have also been mashing, scoring 20 runs the last two games, and sitting just two games behind the Dodgers for first place in the National League West. ALL-IN on the Pads!
On Saturday night, after 60 minutes of hockey down in Tampa Bay, we should have the Stanley Cup matchup set between the Avalanche and the Lightning. As you know, I was born and raised in New York City, so I bleed cement, and Ranger blue. Can NOT bring myself to bet on Tampa, but I will not tell anyone if you grab the Bolts.
Heading over to Europe for some UEFA Nations League action, and the first stop is Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton where we’ll buy England over Italy. The Three Lions have not won a game yet in their group, but should be able to run past a very young Azzurri team.
Then we cross the North Sea to Amsterdam, and throw a handful of chips at the Netherlands over Poland. The Oranje have been BRILLIANT at home against the rest of Europe, winning six of the last seven, with a 1-1 draw against Germany. And the Dutch have outscored the opposition 25-5 in those seven games, yeah, TWENTY-FIVE to FIVE!!!
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...firstname.lastname@example.org.