8/18 Notes and Nuggets

Houston’s Russell Westbrook is ‘out’ of today’s Game 1 vs. OKC and could miss more games.

Published on Tuesday, 8/18/20, at 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

What’s up?! Back-to-back days of content here at BE Sports — how about that?

Loyal readers know that you can find most of my by-lines at MajorWager.com and VegasInsider.com, but we’ve been having some IT/tek issues over at MajorWager for several days now. Therefore, what would be going up there is here.

Anyhow… to today’s Notes and Nuggets in multiple sports.

–I don’t care what the players say about being in the bubble — those cats are getting paid! For gamblers like us, this four-pack of games daily, including afternoon action, is what we DESERVE after going months without sports not called MMA/the UFC. Am I right? Of course I am.

–It was all ‘chalk’ Monday with each NBA favorite winning outright and covering the spread. Totals were a split, with the afternoon games flying ‘over,’ while the two evening contests stayed ‘under.’

–In Monday’s curtain jerker of the NBA Playoffs, Denver and Utah waged an overtime thriller. The Nuggets captured a 135-125 win to take the cash as 4.5-point favorites. Jamal Murray went off with 36 points, nine assists, five rebounds and one steal. The former one-and-done guard at Kentucky drained 6-of-9 launches from 3-point range, 13-of-20 field-goal attempts and all four free throws. Nikola Jokic finished with 29 points, 10 boards, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot. In the losing effort, Donovan Mitchell was sensational with 57 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and one steal. He made 19-of-33 FGAs and all 13 shots from the charity stripe.

–That ejection of Dallas center Kristaps Porzingis last night vs. the Clippers was such bullshit. However, I had the Clippers -6 in their eight-point win, so I won’t act like I’m that crushed by it. By the way, here are my NBA picks for today. After going 2-1 on Monday, my record improved to 98-72-2 (57.6%, +18.54 Units or +1,854 on $100 plays).

–Here’s what today’s four-game NBA card looks like:

Orlando at Milwaukee (TNT, 1:30 p.m. Eastern)
Indiana at Miami (TNT, 4:00 ET.)
Houston at Oklahoma City (TNT, 6:30 ET.)
Portland at L.A. Lakers (TNT, 9:00 ET.)

–The ‘over’ is on a 19-4-1 run in the Magic’s last 24 games. Orlando is a 12.5-point underdog vs. Milwaukee with the total at 225 points. The Bucks saw seven of their eight seeding games in the bubble produce combined scores North of 225 points. Orlando’s Evan Fournier (18.5 points per game) and Terrence Ross (14.7 PPG) have been upgraded to ‘probable,’ but Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG) has been ruled ‘out’ after not participating in the contact portions of Monday’s practice. Gordon is dealing with a hamstring issue. Michael Carter-Williams (7.2 PPG, 1.1 SPG) is also ‘out’ along with Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac, who are both out for the season.

–Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova (6.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG) is ‘out’ with an elbow injury. Wesley Matthews (shoulder) has been upgraded to ‘probable.’

–The ‘under’ went 3-0-1 in four head-to-head meetings between the Bucks and Magic this season. The ‘under’ is 6-1-1 in the past eight encounters between these clubs.

–Milwaukee is 15-18 against the spread in 33 games as a double-digit favorite this year. Orlando is 2-1 ATS in three games as a double-digit underdog.

–Miami is a 4.5-point favorite vs. Indiana with a total of 215 points. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic have been upgraded to ‘probable.’ In fact, Dragic (16.2 PPG, 5.1 APG) is going to move into the starting lineup, while Kendrick Nunn (15.3 PPG) is going to come off the bench for the first time in his career. Nunn had to leave the bubble for personal reasons and missed three games, but he returned for the final seeding game on Aug. 14 and had 23 points, four assists and three steals. The Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. (neck) is ‘questionable’ today. He averaged 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 SPG.

–Indiana’s T.J. Warren, Myles Turner (wrist) and Victor Oladipo are going to play, but it’s debatable whether any of the trio are 100-percent healthy. Warren is dealing with a foot injury that caused him to miss the last two games. In the first five contests in Orlando, Warren scored 53, 34, 32, 16 and 39 points.

–Chris Paul has been upgraded to ‘probable’ for OKC today vs. Houston. Russell Westbrook is ‘out’ of at least Game 1.

–Boston won and covered in Game 1 last night vs. Philadelphia. However, Gordon Hayward sustained an ankle sprain that caused him to reportedly leave the arena on crutches. The Celtics are awaiting MRI results, but it sounds like he’ll miss at least a game or two even if the MRI results come back clean. UPDATE: Hayward out four weeks with Grade III ankle sprain, per release below.

–Utah veteran point guard Mike Conley (14.4 PPG, 4.4 APG) returned to the NBA bubble late last night from Columbus, OH., where he went to attend the birth of his son. When NBA players leave the bubble, they are required to quarantine for four days and test negative for COVID-19 several times. Therefore, Conley is certainly out of tomorrow’s Game 2 and it’s unclear whether he can play in Friday’s Game 3 yet. He’ll definitely be able to play in Game 4.

–DraftKings and FanDuel have posted Week 1 SEC lines for the Sept. 26 openers. Check ’em out here.

–FanDuel has released odds to win the SEC Championship Game (but this bet voids if the game in Atlanta isn’t played in 2020):

–Dallas DT Gerald McCoy is out for the season with a torn right quad. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer had signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Cowboys during the offseason.

–Ole Miss center Eli Johnson has opted out of the 2020 season. Johnson started all 12 games for the Rebels last year. Lane Kiffin’s team drew the Gators for its opener in Week 1 on Sept. 26 in Oxford.

–Tennessee has had Cade Mays penciled in as its starting right tackle for quite some now. Mays transferred from Georgia after starting 18 of 25 games for the Bulldogs in 2018 and 2019. However, the NCAA denied Mays a waiver on Monday. The Volunteers are appealing the decision.

–How/Why is Kentucky QB Joey Gatewood, who transferred from Auburn last December, still awaiting word from the NCAA on his waiver?

–Florida beat writer Nick de la Torre had some solid points about Florida’s new slate:

–With UF’s new schedule, you can see it has to play at Tennessee in the regular-season finale for both teams. First of all, that makes it a cold-weather game that the Gators have never had to deal with at Neyland Stadium (the game is annually played in September). For UF fans, it will conjure up horrible memories of 2001 and Steve Spurrier’s final game at The Swamp. Florida and UT were set to meet — as usual — in September of 2001 when the 911 tragedy occurred. At that time, several key Vols, including WR Donte Stallworth and DT John Henderson, were injured and wouldn’t have played at UF had the game not been postponed. When the teams finally met in December to decide the SEC East, Henderson and Stallworth were healthy. Since former FSU defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is a scumbag and twisted Florida RB Earnest Graham’s knee while under a pile during a UF PIMPSLAP of the ‘Noles the week before, Graham couldn’t go vs. UT. Robert Gillespie, UF’s back-up RB at the time, was a small dude and more of a third-down back who could catch the ball out of the backfield. In other words, he wasn’t a between-the-tackles runner like Graham. Therefore, UF didn’t have much of a running game and the o-line couldn’t keep Henderson out of Rex Grossman’s face all night. To this day, it remains one of the biggest heartbreakers in Florida football history, as the Vols won 34-32 as 18.5-point road underdogs. Travis Stephens had a monster game for UT, including a huge TD run when he ran right over Gus Scott, a normally reliable tackler who had a solid career but is mostly remembered for that untimely mistake. Phil Fulmer might’ve gone 4-8 against Spurrier, but I’ve always given the big man credit for winning The Big One in 2001. Florida would’ve played Nick Saban’s LSU squad in Atlanta the following week. The Gators had mauled LSU by a 44-15 count at Tiger Stadium in October. With another win over LSU, UF would’ve met Miami at the Rose Bowl in the BCS Championship Game. Instead, LSU upset the Vols at the Georgia Dome, while the ‘Canes dealt Frank Solich’s Nebraska squad a complete shellacking in Pasadena. Grossman would exact some slight revenge in Knoxville the next year, however, throwing all over the Vols in a 30-13 beatdown in the rain.

–Jon ‘Bones’ Jones officially relinquished his UFC light heavyweight belt on Monday. It appears as if he’s making the move up to heavyweight to stay. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported Monday that a scrap between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz is in the works for Sept. 26. His report was before the Jones’ news, so we’re all left to assume that Reyes-Blachowicz will be for the vacant 205-pound strap.

–What remains to be seen is whether Jones will get an immediate title shot at Stipe Miocic. Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou is supposed to get the next crack at the belt, but Miocic is going to need time to recover from Saturday’s UFC 252 win over Daniel Cormier. Perhaps Jones wants time to beef up for his run at heavyweight? Maybe he wants to fight Ngannou? Perhaps he wants a “tune-up” scrap (not that there’s really such a thing, especially at heavyweight)? Whatever the case, I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if Jones wanted to fight a Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis or Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik in his divisional debut.

–Okamoto also reported Monday that Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson is re-entering the USADA pool with plans of making a UFC comeback. Several months ago, Johnson had said he planned to fight at heavyweight, but his manager told Okamoto yesterday that the plan is to fight at 205 pounds.

–How about a little Jessie James Decker for our Nuggette of the Day:


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