Stephen Nover Stephen Nover

I have had only two losing season in pro football in my handicapping career. I have the best sources in the business thanks to more than 25 years as a sportswriter, handicapper and analyst.

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Matchup Selection W/L
NHL  |  Apr 21, 2024
Predators vs Canucks
+129 at circa
Play Type: Premium

There's a lot of built-in pressure on the Canucks hosting their first Stanley Cup game in nine years. I believe the Predators - an excellent road team at 24-14-3 - can steal this first one in Vancouver.

I have a lot of faith and respect for forward Filip Forsberg, defenseman Roman Josi and goalie Juuse Saros, all of whom rank among the best at their respective positions. 

Vancouver did sweep Nashville, 3-0, during the regular season. However, all three of those victories came before Christmas. The Predators became a much stronger team during the second half of the season.

Matchup Selection W/L
NHL  |  Apr 21, 2024
Avalanche vs Jets
-104 at linepros
Play Type: Premium
The oddsmaker is giving Colorado too much respect with this line. The Avalanche is a much better home than road team. Winnipeg is a blazing 8-0 in its last eight games. This includes a 7-0 road win against the Avalanche just eight days ago. That victory also meant a season sweep against Colorado for Winnipeg.

The Avalanche enter Stanley Cup play with a losing record during their last 11 games.

I don't see the Avalanche having a big scoring game on the road against the Jets, who tied the Panthers for fewest goals allowed during the regular season at 2.4 per game.
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Apr 21, 2024
Rangers vs Braves
OVER 10 -104 Tie
Play Type: Premium

The Braves are the best offensive team in baseball. They rank first in runs, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Atlanta is swinging hot bats right now averaging 6.5 runs in its last six games. 

I don't see Michael Lorenzen and a disappointing Rangers bullpen stopping Atlanta's offense. 

Lorenzen will be making his second appearance of the season. He went five innings - against the Tigers. Detroit has a bottom-seven offense. The Braves saw Lorenzen three times last year. They got to him for 17 hits, seven walks, five homers and 14 runs in just 11 1/3 innings. Texas' bullpen has a 5.05 ERA, which is the eighth-worst. 

The Rangers should do their share of damage against Darius Vines, who has only 25 innings of big league experience. Texas ranks eighth in batting average and 11th in runs.

There will be a slight wind blowing out to left. Brock Ballou is slated to be the home plate umpire. This is his third year in the majors. The Over is 15-11 (58 percent) in games he has been behind the plate. 

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Apr 21, 2024
Heat vs Celtics
+14½ -108 at Ace
Play Type: Top Premium

Can Boston just turn it off and on? I'll take this many points with Miami to find out.

Since clinching home-court, the Celtics have covered only once going 1-3-2 ATS. Their straight-up victories during their final six regular season games were by one point against the Kings and wins against the Trail Blazers, Hornets and Wizards whose combined record is 57-189. Boston lost by 13 points to the Bucks and by nine points to the Knicks during their two other games. 

It has been a week since the Celtics last played. 

No such rust, or lack of intensity, with the Heat. Miami had to defeat the Bulls, 112-91, this past Friday in a play-in tournament elimination game to get to this series. The Heat won that game despite not having Jimmy Butler, who remains out.

The Heat made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed last season. They proceeded to win the Eastern Conference, including taking out the Celtics.

No Butler, but the Heat still are the Heat. That means excellent coaching, big-game experience, tough defense and both physical and mental toughness.

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Apr 22, 2024
Magic vs Cavs
OVER 202½ -110
Play Type: Top Premium

Having had the Under in Game 1 this past Saturday, I wasn't surprised when only 180 points were produced in the Cavaliers', 97-83, home victory against the Magic.

But now with a downward adjustment of nearly six points on the total, I'm going Over in Monday's Game 2 meeting between these teams.

Before Saturday's Game 1, the team's hadn't played in nearly a week. It was an unusual early start time, too. The Magic were tight competing in their first playoff action since 2020.

None of those factors will be in play for the Under in this game. It's a normal evening start. Both teams should have the rust off and Orlando won't be so nervous.

I understand both teams are excellent defensively. But the outside looks were there for Orlando with the Cavaliers packing the inside. Not only did the Magic miss 29 of 37 shots from 3-point range, but they also only made 63 percent of their free throws going 19-for-30. Cleveland didn't shoot well either from 3-point range, missing 22 of 30 from beyond the arc.

Orlando had scored 113 or more points in five of its last seven previous games. Cleveland averaged 116.7 points in its past four games before this matchup.

Yes, this is playoff basketball. The defensive intensity is magnified. But I expect the team's to shoot much better than a combined 16-for-67 (23.8 percent) from 3-point range especially with stud scorers Donovan Mitchell and Paolo Banchero.


Sports gaming writer for Las Vegas Review-Journal 1984-1997. Professional handicapper since 1999. Author of three books - Las Vegas Sportsbeat, Sportsgaming Beat, Winning Fantasy Football. Taught sports betting at UNLV. Former co-host of the Sunday Night Stardust Line sports gaming radio show. Was part-time oddsmaker and analyst for Roxy Roxborough. Recognized NFL expert with 21 of 23 winning seasons.