21 Jan

Expect Maulers to move on, lean on Breakers in postseason rematch

For the second year in a row, the USFL has completed a successful season and made it to the playoffs. The North and South divisions could not have been more different in 2022. The two best teams in the North held 4-6 records, while the top two teams in the South were the only clubs in the entire league with winning records. Here’s our “final four.”

The Pittsburgh Maulers and Michigan Panthers are your two representatives from the North. It’s pretty surprising both teams made it in, as Pittsburgh once sat at 2-6, and Michigan trailed the Philadelphia Stars 20-6 on Sunday before scoring 17 unanswered points to clinch a spot in the postseason.

More on USFL
USFL playoff semifinals: How to watch
Johnston: Maulers ‘dangerous team’ entering playoffs
As for the South, we get a playoff rematch this weekend. It will be the reigning champion Birmingham Stallions vs. the New Orleans Breakers. Both teams enter red-hot, with the Stallions having won five in a row, and Breakers having won three in a row.

Below we break down how to watch the USFL playoffs, and give our gambling picks.

Michigan Panthers (4-6) at Pittsburgh Maulers (4-6)
When: Saturday, June 24, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
Game location: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, OH

This is the playoff game being overlooked by everyone, but maybe these two first-year head coaches can put on a show. That show likely won’t include a ton of points, however. The Maulers allow just 257.4 yards of total offense per game, which ranks No. 1 in the league, and 17.2 points per game, which ranks second behind the Breakers. Offensively, everything goes through quarterback Troy Williams, who leads the team in passing yards (1,414), passing touchdowns (6), rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (3).

For the Panthers, there’s a quarterback question as Josh Love was replaced by E.J. Perry last week. What you need to know for this matchup is that Pittsburgh swept Michigan in the regular season, defeating the Panthers twice by a combined score of 42-14.

The pick: Maulers -3
Projected score: Maulers 17-10

New Orleans Breakers (7-3) at Birmingham Stallions (8-2)
When: Sunday, June 25, 7 p.m. ET (Fox)
Game location: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL

Last year in the postseason, it was Kyle Sloter leading the Breakers into battle vs. the Stallions. Fast forward to now, and Sloter is on the Stallions roster, while McLeod Bethel-Thompson is under center for New Orleans. Bethel-Thompson led the league in passing with 2,433 yards, was third in passing touchdowns with 14 and had eight interceptions. He won a championship not even a year ago with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, and is looking for another. Running back Wes Hills led the league in rushing with 679 yards.

On the other side, no one has thrown more touchdowns than Birmingham’s Alex McGough, who has 20 TD tosses. His tight end, Jace Sternberger, leads the league in receiving touchdowns with seven, while wide receiver Davion Davis is second in the USFL with 575 receiving yards.

These two teams faced off twice in the regular season. In late April, the Breakers dropped 45 points on the Stallions in a 14-point win, and Hills exploded for 191 rushing yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 34 carries. A month later, the Stallions got their revenge with a 24-20 win despite the Breakers scoring 11 unanswered in the fourth quarter.

I find myself rooting for the veteran Bethel-Thompson, who is capable of overcoming what could be a raucous environment. Both offenses can put up points, but the Stallions defense allows a league-worst 309 yards per game! Isn’t there some saying about defenses and championships? Expect this fun matchup to be close, but I’m leaning toward the underdogs.

21 Jan

2023 USFL Championship picks, best bets by proven expert

One of the USFL’s best defenses will face one of the league’s best offenses in an intriguing 2023 USFL Championship matchup on Saturday night. The Pittsburgh Maulers used their elite defense to punch a surprising ticket to the title game, but they will now be tasked with slowing down the Birmingham Stallions high-powered attack. Birmingham is the defending champion, while Pittsburgh is trying to go from worst to first this season.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. Caesars Sportsbook lists Birmingham as the 7.5-point favorite, while the over/under is 46 in the latest Stallions vs. Maulers odds. Before making any Maulers vs. Stallions picks or USFL Championship predictions, see what SportsLine expert Emory Hunt has to say.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007. He is a former running back for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and knows the game from a player’s perspective. Hunt’s dedication to analysis of all levels of college and professional football helped him start the USFL season 24-18 last year and he went 25-18 on his XFL spread picks this season.

Now, Hunt has set his sights on Stallions vs. Maulers. You can head to SportsLine to see his picks. Here are several USFL betting lines for Maulers vs. Stallions:

Stallions vs. Maulers spread: Stallions -7.5
Stallions vs. Maulers over/under: 46 points
Stallions vs. Maulers money line: Stallions -300, Maulers +240
Stallions vs. Maulers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Stallions can cover
Pittsburgh is relying on its defense and turnover rate to win the title, but that is not going to be a winning formula against an experienced championship team. Birmingham has been excellent at ball security throughout the season, and its offense can rack up points in a hurry. The Stallions made a statement when they cruised past New Orleans in the semifinals, racing out to a 40-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Alex McGough completed 21 of 31 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 84 yards and an additional score. The Stallions averaged 8.2 yards per carry and 9.9 yards per pass attempt, dominating the Breakers in every aspect of the game. They have the experience and championship mentality to win Saturday’s title showdown against a less experienced opponent. See who to back at SportsLine.

Why the Maulers can cover
Birmingham was ultimately able to escape with a victory when these teams met in the regular season, but it was one of their most challenging games. The Maulers took a 20-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter after quarterback Troy Williams scored on a 34-yard rushing touchdown. They also held McGough to a 58.6% completion rate and forced a pair of interceptions.

Pittsburgh limited McGough to 48 rushing yards, while Williams completed 63.6% of his passes for 217 yards and rushed for another 63 yards. The Maulers ranked second in the regular season in points allowed per game (17.2) and led the league in turnover margin (+8). Their defense will make it difficult for Birmingham to win this game by at least a touchdown. See who to back at SportsLine.

How to make Stallions vs. Maulers picks
Hunt has analyzed this matchup and while we can tell you he’s leaning Under on the point total, he has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing what it is, and which side to back, at SportsLine.

21 Jan

Times, dates for the entire 10-week regular season and playoffs

The USFL is back for its second season — four decades after its original incarnation from 1984 to 1986 — and there will be a few changes.

All the league’s regular season games were held in Birmingham last year, but three new venues have been added to the mix for 2023: Memphis, Canton and Detroit. Birmingham, home to the defending champion Stallions, will also be a host.

The 10-week regular season kicks off on April 15. The top two teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs, with semifinals on June 24-25. The USFL Championship Game will be played in Canton on July 1.

14 Jan

Knicks’ dominant win over Sixers offers more proof that the OG Anunoby trade raised their ceiling

On a night of blowouts across the NBA, the New York Knicks had the most impressive such result. They went into Philadelphia and destroyed the 76ers, 128-92, for their most lopsided win in over a full calendar year. In the process, they moved to 3-0 since acquiring OG Anunoby in a blockbuster trade late last month.

At the time of the deal, the Knicks had lost four of five games and decided to act before things got any worse. While everyone expected Anunoby to be on the move at some point, the Knicks got a jump on the rest of the league and pulled off the first blockbuster deal of the trade deadline season.

Whether they overpaid or not by giving up both RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley is still up for debate, but the upside of adding an elite perimeter defender while creating a better roster fit around Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle was too tantilizing to pass up. Anunoby is an elite 3-point shooter from the corner — 44.9% for the season — which is a big part of the Knicks’ offense. He also doesn’t need the ball in his hands and can guard the other team’s best offensive player. Meanwhile, the trade freed up more minutes for shooters such as Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride, the latter of which signed a three-year extension in the hours following the trade.

Their dominant performance against the Sixers was the most emphatic showing yet for this new group.

Neither Randle nor Anunoby could buy a bucket — they were a combined 4-of-22 from the field — and yet the Knicks still scored almost at will against the second-ranked defense in the league. That was thanks in large part to their 3-point attack, which was led by Grimes and McBride. The youngsters took advantage of their expanded roles to each hit four 3-pointers.

As a team, the Knicks went 18-of-41 from downtown in the win, with both the makes and attempts tied for their third-most in a game this season. Since the trade, they are making 39.8% of their 3s on 37.7 attempts per game, up from 37.5% on 34.4 attempts prior to the deal. That’s a small sample size, but the numbers are positive. With more spacing and better shooters on the floor, the Knicks should not only make more 3s, but open up more space for Brunson and Randle concurrently.

Defensively, they held the SIxers’ high-powered attack to its least-efficient outing of the season. Philly had a 92.0 offensive rating in this game; their previous low, including all the games Embiid has missed, was 100.0. Embiid was held in check, and as a team, the Sixers shot 40.9% from the field and turned it over 14 times.

Anunoby was a big part of that, as he spent most of the game chasing around Tyrese Maxey, but it was a true team effort all the way through. They were swarming to Embiid in the paint and closing out hard on the 3-point line. The Sixers had little answers once the Knicks shut off their transition game, which led to 16 points in the first quarter.

Since the trade, the Knicks have now beaten two of the top-five teams in the league (they beat the Timberwolves on New Year’s Day), boast the best defense in the league in that stretch and have a plus-19.1 net rating. There’s a long way to go, but the early evidence suggests that the Knicks have raised their ceiling with the bold move to get Anunoby.

14 Jan

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins runs onto floor mid-game after LeBron James-Jaren Jackson Jr. altercation

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was lucky to escape without an ejection on Friday night after a bizarre incident in which he ran onto the floor in the middle of his team’s 127-113 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Jenkins, who was upset about an altercation between LeBron James and Jaren Jackson Jr., nearly collided with Taurean Prince and forced the game to stop.

Jenkins told the media after the game that he apologized to Lakers head coach Darvin Ham.

“You can’t do that, so I take full responsibility there,” Jenkins said. “I saw a tussle there, Jaren’s clamping LeBron, then I saw something that crossed the line… I had to stand up for my guy.”

In the middle of the third quarter, Marcus Smart tried to feed the ball into Jackson, who was posting up James. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was unable to corral it, though, which led to a scramble between him and James, who eventually came up with the ball. After doing so, however, James appeared to hit Jackson in the face with an elbow/forearm shiver.

Taylor Jenkins livid after a no-call 😳 pic.twitter.com/bjznk7v3uw

— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) January 6, 2024
The referees didn’t catch that in real time, but Jenkins did. He stormed onto the court while play continued, which stopped the Lakers’ fastbreak, and was immediately hit with a technical foul. Even after the tech, he continued screaming at the referees, who went to the monitor to review the situation.

Following a brief review, the officials decided not to assess any further penalties. Play resumed, and Jackson, who finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, remained in the game.

“That’s my dog,” Jackson said. “He’s been great all season. He’s been great ever since he’s been here. He’s held it down the whole time, and that’s just what he does. He’s one of us, he’s a player’s coach. He’s with us in the den, he’s with us when it gets hard. I expect nothing less. I already knew what he was on. I could hear him when I was on the ground. At all times, I know he’s got my back.”

With the win, the Grizzlies improved to 6-3 with Ja Morant in the lineup this season. At 12-23 overall, however, they remain five games back of 10th place and the final Play-In Tournament spot.

14 Jan

Celtics move to 17-0 at home, Joel Embiid’s streak still alive, Pacers make more offensive history

There were 14 games on the NBA docket on Friday, but one of the busiest nights of the season ended up being a bit disappointing from a competitive standpoint. Nine of those 14 contests were decided by double-digits, including three by 30-plus points and another three by at least 20.

But while there wasn’t much drama, there was a lot going on from a statistical and historic perspective. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting notes from Friday’s action.

Celtics stay undefeated at home
The Jazz were the unlucky team that had to face the Celtics at TD Garden just days after the league’s best team saw their desperate fourth-quarter comeback attempt fall short against the Thunder. Back at home on Friday, the Celtics took out their frustration on the Jazz with a dominant 126-97 victory. They were up by double-digits for the final 42 minutes, and led by as much as 36 along the way.

With the win, the Celtics improved to 17-0 at the Garden, and remained the only team with a perfect home record this season. That ties the longest home winning streak to start a season in franchise history. The Celtics are still well off the all-time record, which was set by the 2015-16 Spurs, who won their first 39 at home.

Jayson Tatum put on a show in Boston as the Celtics improved to 17-0 at home!

30 PTS / 9 REB / 5 AST / 5 3PM pic.twitter.com/03KUThFOlV

— NBA (@NBA) January 6, 2024
Embiid’s streak continues in defeat
The Sixers had a rough night, losing by 36 to the new-look Knicks, in part because Joel Embiid was unable to assert his will. New York hounded Embiid, who tweaked his ankle early on, and limited him to 10-of-23 from the field — one of his least-efficient outings all season.

Even so, Embiid was able to keep his historic 30-point, 10-rebound streak alive by hitting a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with 30 points and 10 rebounds on the dot. He’s now hit those marks in 15 consecutive games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to accomplish that feat. Chamberlain, remarkably, did so 67 games in a row during the 1961-62 season, which is the all-time record.

Pacers make more offensive history
The last time the Pacers and Hawks played, they combined for a staggering 309 points in regulation. As expected, their meeting on Friday was another offensive showcase, though this time around the Pacers were the only team participating. They stayed red-hot, shooting 63.8% from the field en route to a 150-112 win — their sixth in a row.

In the process they set a new franchise record for assists with 50, which is tied for the seventh-most in a game in NBA history. In fact, this is just the 11th time that a team has reached that mark, and only the second time this century. Tyrese Haliburton, who leads the league with 12.8 per game, dished out 18 by himself in just 25 minutes.

For the season, the Pacers now have three games where they scored 150 points. The rest of the league combined has three such games, all of which came against the Pacers. If you like offense, tune in when Indiana is involved.

Banchero gets first triple-double, leads Magic comeback
Late on Friday, the shorthanded Magic pulled off an incredible 18-point comeback to stun the defending champion Nuggets. Paolo Banchero came up clutch down the stretch with two free throws to tie the game with 35 seconds remaining, and another pair to win it with 10 seconds left.

While he didn’t have his best shooting night — 8-of-21 from the field — Banchero finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to record the first triple-double of his career. The 11 assists were a career-high, and he either scored or assisted on 59 of the Magic’s 122 points.

Banchero’s first triple-double came just two nights after he set a new career-high with 43 points in the Magic’s loss to the Kings. The Magic’s comeback ended a three-game losing streak and brought their grueling West Coast road trip to an end in style.

14 Jan

LeBron James says Lakers ‘just suck right now’ after loss to Grizzlies lengthens dreadful stretch

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James didn’t mince words after his team’s 127-113 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. It was the fourth straight defeat and ninth in the last 11 games for the Lakers, who dropped out of play-in position in the Western Conference standings.

James, who put up 32 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals in Friday’s loss, was asked whether he thinks his team can recapture the success and intensity of their In-Season Tournament championship run. The 39-year-old was blunt with his reply.

“I mean, that was just two games. Small sample,” James said after Friday’s loss to Memphis. “Everybody’s getting so cranked up about Vegas and keep bringing up Vegas. It was two games. We took care of that business that was the In-Season Tournament. We played. We won it. But that was literally just two games.

“I’m not thinking that far into the past, to be honest. We just suck right now.”

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham brushed off the team’s recent underwhelming performance after the game, saying that he’s “tired of people living and dying” with every result.

As of Friday night, the Lakers had the 23rd-ranked offense in the NBA, scoring 111.8 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile the defense, which was fourth in the league after the All-Star break last season, has slipped to 12th.

It’s easy to see why James would be frustrated considering both he and Anthony Davis have been relatively healthy and playing at an All-NBA level all season long. Ham has tweaked the starting lineup several times, most notably sending Austin Reaves to the bench early in the season.

In his 21st season, James is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 40% 3-point shooting, his highest mark in a decade. Asked how he can help remedy the Lakers’ woes, James said it’s just business as usual.

“I show up to work, punch my clock every day, stay positive,” James said on Friday night. “Go out and try to lead out on the floor, inspire on the floor. That’s what I do.”

14 Jan

As Lakers continue to spiral, Darvin Ham is clearly feeling the heat under his seat

Since the end of the Phil Jackson era in 2011, no coach has lasted more than three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Just keep that in mind. This has been a revolving-door situation for more than a decade.

Now, you might think Darvin Ham built up more equity than a Luke Walton or Mike Brown or Mike D’Antoni or Byron Scott after rallying the Lakers into the Western Conference Finals last season, but Frank Vogel — who, you’ll recall, is the coach Ham replaced — won a championship for crying out loud, and he still got canned after Year 3.

Ham is in Year 2, and it’s not going very well. After falling to the Memphis Grizzlies, 127-113, on Friday, the Lakers have now lost four straight and 10 of their last 13 since winning the In-Season Tournament’s NBA Cup on Dec. 9. If the season were to end today, they wouldn’t even make the play-in.

“It is what it is. It’s the NBA, man. It’s a marathon,” Ham said following L.A.’s loss. “You have to look at the totality of the picture. I’m tired of people living and dying with every single game we play. It’s ludicrous, actually. … We hit a tough stretch. It’s the same team that, you know, we played some high-level games a little while ago, and we just got to get back to that. We got to keep the fight though. We cannot lose our fight.”

This is a man who is feeling the heat. You can hear the irritation in his voice.

pic.twitter.com/bgKhd1w2Dr

— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 6, 2024
It’s understandable that Ham is feeling the squeeze. On Thursday, The Athletic reported a “deepening disconnect between Ham and the Lakers locker room,” citing “six sources close to the team.”

On a recent episode of No Cap Room podcast, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer called the chatter around Ham’s job status “the tip of the iceberg of this guy being legitimately on the hot seat right now.”

Ham tried to downplay the reports that he’s in danger of losing his job prior to Friday’s game, saying the following: “I’m solid. My governor, Jeanie Buss, the boss lady; our president, Robert Pelinka — we’re all aligned. As long as they’re not saying it, I guess I’m good. Which I know how they feel about me and the situation we’re currently in.”

Again, is Ham sure about that? Things turn quickly in the NBA. They turn especially quickly inside the Lakers’ fishbowl. Inside the LeBron James fishbowl. After the game on Friday, James wasn’t singing a “marathon” tune. He wasn’t talking about anyone being “solid.”

“We suck right now,” James said.

Listen to the man talking. You can hardly hear a word he’s saying.

LeBron James: “We suck right now.” He also framed LAL’s in-season tournament as “only two games,” suggesting that championship should be given the proper weight pic.twitter.com/a1IaENpWyh

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 6, 2024
If you didn’t get all the way to the end of that clip, go back to the 2:35 mark. A reporter asks James about the retirement of Ricky Rubio, and the way James answers it, everything from his tone to his actual words, tells you everything you need to know about where James’ head and patience level is at.

“I’m not really in the mood to answer that question [about Rubio],” James said with a look on his face that said it was all he could do to not tell this reporter to get lost. “I respect Ricky. Congratulations on a hell of a career. And uh, if I don’t seem sincere when you see this video, it’s because we got our ass whooped again. So, I apologize. It’s actually bad timing on the interviewer asking me this question. It’s not me, Ricky. So, congratulations.”

Yeah, this man is steaming. And when you are dealing with an unhappy LeBron, and you are under .500 as the coach of the Lakers with two All-NBA level players at your disposal, you are not “solid.” Again, just look back through the coaching history post Phil Jackson.

Nobody lasts more than three years. Ham is in Year 2 — which, with LeBron is in Year 21, feels like about Year 7. The clock is ticking faster, and louder, the closer the Lakers move toward the end of the LeBron era. Ham can clearly feel that, no matter how he tries to downplay the realities of his perilous predicament.

14 Jan

2024 NBA picks, Jan. 6 predictions from proven computer model

The Indiana Pacers (20-14) will try to extend their six-game winning streak when they face the Boston Celtics (27-7) on Saturday night. Indiana extended its hot streak with a 150-116 win over Atlanta on Friday, setting a team record with 50 assists. Boston had its six-game winning streak snapped in a loss at Oklahoma City on Tuesday, but it bounced back with a 126-97 win over Utah on Friday. The Celtics are in first place in the Eastern Conference, while Indiana is in fourth place.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The Celtics are favored by 6 points in the latest Pacers vs. Celtics odds, while the over/under is set at 247.5 points, per SportsLine consensus. Before entering any Celtics vs. Pacers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model entered Week 11 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 106-59 roll on all top-rated NBA picks dating back to last season, returning well over $4,000. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on Boston-Indiana. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA betting lines for the game:

Celtics vs. Pacers spread: Celtics -6
Celtics vs. Pacers over/under: 247.5 points
Celtics vs. Pacers money line: Celtics -226, Pacers +184
Celtics vs. Pacers picks: See picks here
Why the Pacers can cover
Indiana is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, having won six consecutive games to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Pacers set a franchise record with 50 assists in a 150-116 win over Atlanta on Friday, as Tyrese Haliburton accounted for 18 of those dimes. Center Myles Turner led the team with 27 points, while Bennedict Mathurin added 18 points.

Bruce Brown missed five games due to a bone bruise in his right knee, but he scored 17 points against Atlanta in just his second game back on the court. Indiana beat Boston by 10 points in the most recent meeting between these teams, knocking down 19 of 40 attempts from 3-point range. Haliburton scored a team-high 26 pints in that Dec. 4 matchup, which was part of the NBA’s in-season tournament.

Why the Celtics can cover
Boston is coming off an impressive showing of its own, cruising to a 126-97 win over Utah on Friday. The Celtics held a 36-point lead in the second quarter, allowing them to rest their starters for most of the second half. They tied a franchise record by scoring at least 120 points for the ninth consecutive game, matching the 1959-60 Celtics team.

The Celtics have won 12 of their last 14 games and will be motivated to maintain their lead atop the Eastern Conference standings. Jayson Tatum poured in 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 155-104 win over Indiana on Nov. 1, as the Celtics knocked down 20 of 35 3-point attempts. Boston has covered the spread in eight of its last 12 games, and it has won 15 of the last 20 meetings between these teams. See which team to pick here.

How to make Pacers vs. Celtics picks
The model has simulated Celtics vs. Pacers 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Over, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in over 60% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

14 Jan

2024 NBA picks, Jan. 6 predictions from proven computer model

The Philadelphia 76ers (23-11) and Utah Jazz (16-20) will both be hoping to move on from lopsided losses when they square off on Saturday night. Philadelphia is coming off a 128-92 loss to New York on Friday night, falling four games behind Boston atop the Atlantic Division standings. Utah had its three-game winning streak snapped in a 126-97 loss at Boston on Friday to open a three-game road trip. The Jazz are in fourth place in the Northwest Division, trailing Denver by 8.5 games for third place.

Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia is favored by 11.5 points in the latest 76ers vs. Jazz odds, while the over/under is 237.5 points, per SportsLine consensus. Before entering any Jazz vs. 76ers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model entered Week 11 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 106-59 roll on all top-rated NBA picks dating back to last season, returning well over $4,000. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on Utah-Philadelphia. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA betting lines for the game:

76ers vs. Jazz spread: 76ers -11.5
76ers vs. Jazz over/under: 237.5 points
76ers vs. Jazz money line: 76ers -737, Jazz +522
76ers vs. Jazz picks: See picks here
Why the 76ers can cover
Philadelphia has done an excellent job of bouncing back from losses this season, as it has not suffered consecutive losses since Dec. 1. The 76ers cruised to a 110-97 win over Chicago on Tuesday, covering the 10.5-point spread prior to their loss against New York on Friday. Star center Joel Embiid has finished with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in 15 consecutive games, giving him a chance to become the first player to hit that mark in 16 straight games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Tyrese Maxey had 27 points and nine assists on Friday night, while Kelly Oubre Jr. added 15 points in the loss. Utah is on the second leg of back-to-back road games after getting blown out by Boston on Friday night. The Jazz shot just 36.2% from the floor and committed 18 turnovers in the loss, falling to 5-15 on the road this season.

Why the Jazz can cover
Utah is coming off a rough performance, but it has been playing much better of late. The Jazz beat the Heat, Mavericks and Pistons by a combined 51 points, tying a franchise record with 154 points in an overtime victory over Detroit on Wednesday. John Collins had 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Celtics on Friday, posting his tenth double-double of the season.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 17 points, while Collin Sexton added 13 points. Philadelphia shot just 40.7% from the field in its loss to New York on Friday, including a 6 of 23 mark from 3-point range. Embiid has been dealing with an ankle injury that he appeared to tweak on Friday, while Tobias Harris sat out during the fourth quarter with left ankle soreness.

How to make 76ers vs. Jazz picks
The model has simulated Jazz vs. 76ers 10,000 times and the results are in. The model is leaning Under, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in well over 50% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.