Good afternoon sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back with you on this Wednesday.
We've finally made it. The 2023 Major League Baseball season is less than 24 hours away. Hope always springs eternal when a new baseball season begins.
As a Phillies fan myself, it's hard to imagine a more exciting season than what unfolded in 2022 (minus the ending of course). However, it's going to be a tough road for the Phillies to navigate with star first baseman Rhys Hoskins set to miss the entire season after suffering a torn ACL last week -- not to mention how tough the NL East is.
But enough about the diamond. Let's dive into Wednesday's picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Heat at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV
- The Pick: Knicks -5 (-110)
- Key Trend: The Knicks are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 home games.
The Heat have been downright brutal ATS in recent months, so we're going to continue to fade them in this spot. On Tuesday, the Raptors dominated the Heat in a 106-92 win and came through for us. On a second night of a back-to-back, I'm expecting Miami's struggles to continue.
The Heat are now 7-17 ATS over their last 24 games and have dropped three out of their last four games on the road ATS. These two teams have faced off three times throughout the 2022-23 season thus far, and the Knicks have covered the spread in two of the meetings. Additionally, the Heat were without Jimmy Butler for Tuesday's game as he was ruled out due to neck soreness. There's no word if he'll play on Wednesday, but even if he goes, I'm confident in the Knicks being able to cover.
From a Knicks standpoint, they got back on track with a dominant 137-115 win over the Rockets on Monday. The Knicks are one of the league's higher-scoring teams, as they average 115.6 points-per-game (13th in the NBA). Reserve guard Immanuel Quickley is coming off 40-point and 25-point performances, respectively, over his past two games and connected on seven of his 14 attempts from three across those two contests. Look for the Knicks to continue to ride the hot hand of Quickley and take down the Heat at home.
💰 More NBA Picks
Lakers at Bulls, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Over 227.5 (-110) -- The Lakers and Bulls are two teams that are both likely headed for the play-in tournament, which is only two weeks away. However, that's not set in stone, so both teams are fighting to secure every possible victory down the stretch. With that in mind, the over is definitely the play.
It's been well-documented that the Lakers have underperformed throughout the 2022-23 season. Still, the Lakers have had no problem scoring the basketball for the most part this season. They rank 10th in scoring at 116.4 points per contest. LeBron James is back in the lineup after missing multiple weeks due to a foot injury, but he is being listed as questionable for Wednesday's game. The Lakers haven't played since Sunday, so it's likely that James will suit up for this one.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have had no problem hitting the over as of late. Chicago possesses a 4-1 record ATS over its last five games, including hitting the over in each of its last three contests. Against the Lakers on Sunday, the over of 224.5 hit in a 118-108 Bulls' victory. It's worth noting that James came off the bench in that game and Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell didn't play. However, Russell is listed as probable for Wednesday's game, which certainly could help the over to hit. Considering that the Lakers have allowed 116.7 points-per-game (21st in the NBA), the Bulls should have no problem scoring in this one.
Key Trend: The over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings between the Lakers and Bulls
Timberwolves at Suns, 10 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Deandre Ayton Under 9.5 Rebounds (-113) -- I'm far from the biggest under guy in the world, but this matchup is screaming for us to take it. Suns center Deandre Ayton has tallied eight or less rebounds in three of his last five games coming into Wednesday's matchup against the Timberwolves. He's actually recorded single-digit rebounds in five of his last eight contests.
But the biggest reason that I'm fading Ayton's rebounds prop in this spot is simply the matchup. The Timberwolves possess one of the NBA's best rebounders in the form of Rudy Gobert. Gobert's 11.6 rebounds-per-game are fourth in the league and he's snagged at least 12 rebounds in five of his last six games. On top of that, Karl-Anthony Towns recently returned from a calf injury and also could make life difficult for Ayton on the glass. I just don't expect Ayton to make nearly as many opportunities to grab boards when he's trying to contend with those two.
Key Trend: Ayton has registered eight or fewer rebounds in three of his last five games