I don’t know if you saw this yesterday, but Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. It’s the second time Thibs has won the award, with the first coming when he was with the Chicago Bulls.
But was Thibs the most deserving?
I couldn’t help but notice when looking at the final balloting that Thibs was the only one of the seven coaches who received votes whose team did not reach the second round of the NBA Playoffs. I get it’s a regular-season award, but I’m thinking maybe Thibs — who narrowly edged out Phoenix’s Monty Williams — won the award because of where he coaches.
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You see, in Williams’ first season with the Suns, the team went 34-39. This year the team improved to 51-21, an improvement of 17 wins, finishing second in the much more difficult Western Conference. The result is the Suns reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Thibs took over a Knicks team that went 21-45 last year and improved it to 41-31, a 20-win improvement, but in the easier conference. The result is the Knicks reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Now, had Thibs done this same thing with, oh, I don’t know, the Minnesota Timberwolves, would he have won the Coach of the Year?
Well, in the 2017-18 season, Thibs’ Minnesota team improved from 31-51 to 47-35, a 16-win improvement. That team made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, ending a 15-year drought. Do you know how many Coach of the Year votes he received that season? None.
It’s not just about what you do, but where you do it.
OK, let’s make some money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Hawks at Sixers, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Sixers -6 (-110): I can’t say that there isn’t a part of me a bit trepidatious about picking against Trae Young right now, but what I can tell you is that I didn’t use the word trepidatious to sound smart. No, I used it because it makes me feel better than the word scared, which is probably a more accurate depiction of how I feel going against Trae Young.
Still, life is about conquering fears, and tonight I will show my courage by betting on the favorite! Seriously, the Hawks won the first game of this series thanks to another massive performance from Young, who also had support from John Collins, Bogdan Bognadovic and Kevin Heurter. If we look closer at the game, though, we see that the Hawks got off to a scorching start and cooled off from there. After scoring 42 points in the first quarter, they scored 86 over the final three. If we break the game into halves, the Sixers were much better in the second half, outscoring the Hawks 70-54.
My theory is that the Sixers were a bit rusty early after having four days off and needing to work Joel Embiid back into the rotation. The Hawks were still riding high off knocking out the Knicks and carried that confidence into Philly. Tonight I’m expecting a much better start and overall performance from the Sixers.
Key Trend: The Sixers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 as home favorites.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model doesn’t like much of anything for this game, but SportsLine expert Kyle Akins is 23-8 in his last 31 NBA ATS picks and he has an ATS pick for tonight’s other NBA playoff game between the Jazz and Clippers.
💰 The Picks
Mets at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mets (-111) — The Mets just aren’t getting enough respect at this price. I know that it’s an imperfect team dealing with injuries, but it’s still a first-place team. And if you want to argue that the only reason the Mets are in first is that the NL East is terrible, you won’t get an argument from me, but I would have to ask if you’ve seen the Baltimore Orioles this season.
They’d fit right in with the rest of the NL East! In fact, I could argue Baltimore — with its 21-38 record and run differential of -53 — is worse than anybody else in the NL East. Tonight’s Baltimore starting pitcher, Bruce Zimmermann, does not get many strikeouts and has been prone to the longball. I’m expecting a big night for the Mets bats, and I’d take them anywhere down to -120.
Key Trend: The Orioles are 0-5 in their last five games against lefty starters like New York’s David Peterson.
Mariners at Tigers, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Mariners (+115) — There are a couple of principles in play here. One is our classic “neither team deserves to be favored” principle. Now you might think there’s a significant difference between these teams, as the Tigers are 24-35 while the Mariners are much more respectable 30-31. Well, the records are misleading because Seattle might be only a game below .500, but it has a run differential of -54 on the year, which is only slightly better than Detroit’s AL-worst -58 mark.
So, they’re closer than you realize. Still, Detroit is the worst team, particularly against lefty pitching, and tonight’s Mariners starter is lefty Marco Gonzales. How bad are the Tigers against lefties? Well, they rank worst in baseball in HR%, isolated power, wOBA, wRC+ and K% against lefties, and the gap between them and the next-worst team is pretty significant in most of those categories.
Key Trend: The Tigers are only 2-4 as favorites this season.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine’s Zack Cimini has gone 25-13 in his last 38 money line plays involving the Houston Astros, and he’s got another pick in for tonight’s game between the Astros and Boston Red Sox.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Top Three Starters
- Aaron Nola, Phillies
- Tyler Glasnow, Rays
- Shane Bieber, Indians
- Sonny Gray, Reds
- JT Realmuto, Phillies
- Bryce Harper, Phillies
- Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
- Alex Dickerson, Giants
🏒 Stanley Cup Parlay
There are two NHL playoff games tonight, so why not parlay the two teams showing value on the money line this evening? Our wager pays out at (+200).
- Lightning (-125)
- Avalanche (-150)