8/17 Notes and Nuggets

After missing one game with a groin injury, Brooklyn’s Chris Chiozza will play today in Game 1 vs. Toronto.

Published on Monday, 8/17/20, at 11:59 a.m. Eastern.

What’s up, all?! We’ve got day games on a Monday with the NBA Playoffs starting today with a four-game slate. Let’s hit on that and other items coming out of the weekend in the sports world…

–Utah’s Mike Conley had to leave the NBA bubble Sunday to attend the birth of his son in Columbus, OH. Remember, when Conley returns to the bubble, he has to quarantine for four days. Therefore, he’s undoubtedly ‘out’ of Games 1 and 2 vs. Denver. He’d have to be back in the bubble at some point later today to potentially be available for Friday’s Game 3, but Conley isn’t expected back today. He does plan to return to the team, but it seems as if Game 5 against the Nuggets is probably the earliest he’ll be back. The veteran point guard averages 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. Denver went from -3.5 to -4.5 after the news broke yesterday.

–The ‘over’ has hit for Denver in all eight of its games in the Orlando bubble. Will Barton and Gary Harris remain ‘out’ for the Nuggets. Today’s total vs. Utah (215 or 215.5 points) is the second-lowest Denver has seen in a 22-game span.

–Brooklyn, a 10-point underdog today vs. second-seeded Toronto in the series opener at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN, went 5-3 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in the bubble. The Nets are 3-1 ATS with a pair of outright victories in four games as double-digit underdogs this year. Meanwhile, Toronto is 5-2 ATS in seven games as a double-digit ‘chalk.’ Chris Chiozza went full speed at practices this past weekend and will play in today’s Game 1. The former Florida Gator has averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game in seven games in Orlando. Chiozza (AKA as ‘Cheese’ in Gator circles) missed the regular-season finale vs. Portland when Caris LeVert nearly denied the Trail Blazers a spot in the West’s 8/9 play-in scenario with Memphis. Portland beat the Grizzlies to garner the right to face the Lakers in the opening round. The Trail Blazers are 5.5-point underdogs vs. L.A. on TNT in the nightcap game Tuesday.

–Speaking of LeVert, he’s been nasty for the Nets since the restart. He’s playing like an All-Star again like he was before sustaining that injury two seasons ago. My goodness, Brooklyn’s roster is loaded for next season!

–Other players like LeVert who have caught my eye with their play in the bubble (and by the way, I’ve watched more NBA since the restart than I’ve watched in years. The day games are awesome and one reason why, but the NBA running without college hoops is the main reason.) include Portland’s Gary Trent Jr., Indiana’s T.J. Warren, Washington’s Thomas Bryant and Memphis’s Grayson Allen. Obviously, Damian Lillard has been the MVP of the restart, but I’m talking about players that surprised me. Most of the elite All-Stars saw their minutes limited or didn’t have much to play for in the eight seeding games.

–Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet are ‘questionable’ for the Clippers tonight in their series opener vs. Dallas. Montrezl Harrell is ‘probable’ to make his debut in the bubble.

Here are my three NBA picks for today. Here’s my NBA record for the season.

–Some bad news for Jalen Hurd and the San Francisco 49ers this morning: Mike Garafolo reports that Hurd was injured at Sunday’s practice. He’s undergoing an MRI today that’s expected to reveal a torn ACL.

FIU assistant coach and former Florida Gators WR Aubrey Hill passed away Sunday at the age of 48.

–FIU assistant Aubrey Hill passed away Sunday from cancer at the age of 48. If you do a Twitter search on Hill, it’s clear how many people he impacted in a positive way during his life. Just hundreds of tweets talking about what a great person he was. In fact, he was a helluva wide receiver for my Gators in the early 1990s as well. He later served as a UF assistant and also spent time on the staff at Miami and a few other schools. RIP: Aubrey Hill (1972-2020).

–FIU head coach Butch Davis on Hill: “One of the greatest men I’ve ever been around.”

–The SEC will announce the dates of its 10-game schedule for each team tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network.

–ESPN’s Ariel Helwani quoted a source close to ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley earlier today on the injury he sustained in his first career loss to Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera in Saturday’s UFC 252 co-main event: “X-ray on his ankle/lower leg came back OK. No fractures but MRI is needed (once swelling goes down) to look for ligament & tendon tears. They will scan knee too. Can’t have a MRI until swelling subsided.”

–One bettor at DraftKings in New Jersey won $190,000 on a $40,000 wager on Vera to pull the upset at lucrative underdog odds.

–Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier via unanimous decision in the UFC 252 main event to retain his heavyweight strap. BetOnline wasted no time Sunday morning in releasing odds for Miocic’s next fight, and he’s an underdog in both potential scraps. The offshore books is currently showing Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou as a -205 ‘chalk’ vs. Miocic, who is a +175 underdog. Miocic dominated Ngannou as a +140 underdog in a unanimous-decision victory in 2018 at UFC 220. BetOnline also has Jon ‘Bones’ Jones as a -150 favorite vs. Miocic (+130).

–Dana White spoke about these new COVID-19 saliva tests after UFC 252. White said that President Trump has been telling him about them for about two months. If these tests are the “game-changers” that most are implying they are, it’s great news for sports in the coming weeks and months. Hell, the coming days are important in terms of college football (by the way, all 14 SEC teams start practice today). Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel penned a column about these tests — and whether it means the Pac-12 and Big Ten acted too soon — over the weekend.

–Ohio State star QB Justin Fields started a petition Sunday to encourage the Big Ten to allow its teams and players to make their own decision on whether or not to play football in the fall of 2020.

–FSU tight end Jordan Wilson is out for the season. Wilson was a grad transfer from UCLA who had started eight career games for the Bruins.

My 2020 Preseason Rankings. Eight teams from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West were in my Top 25, so 17 teams remain.

–Bad news for Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners:

–And even worse news for Vanderbilt and Derek Mason:

–Kirby Smart provided some UGA injury news yesterday that wasn’t all that great for fans of the Bulldogs:

–VSIN’s Ben Fawkes reported that a bettor at Borgata in New Jersey won 300 large by cashing a pair of MLB totals for 150K apiece over the weekend:

–Al Dillard (circa ’90s on Nolan Richardson’s nasty Arkansas squads) and I had this range when Dame was in diapers:

–SI’s Ross Dellenger has been all over the reporting over the past month and beyond in terms of what’s going on behind the scenes with ADs and school presidents regarding whether college football is played or not in 2020. This tweet he sent a few minutes ago pertains to that at least somewhat (I guess?). Whatever the case, it’s an interesting tweet:

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