Cardinals vs. Pirates prediction, odds, pick, how to watch – 6/2/2023

It is an NL Central clash as the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is time to continue our MLB odds series with a Cardinals-Pirates prediction, pick, and how to watch.

The Cardinals hit the road again after a short two-game home series against the Royals. In those two games, they scored just two runs, but that was enough to get them a win. They now sit at 25-32 on the year and have won five of their last ten games. The Pirates come how after a six-game west coast swing. They are 28-27 on the year and are just a half-game back of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the division. Still, they are just 4-6 in their last ten games and have spent much of the season floating around the .500 mark.

Here are the Cardinals-Pirates MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

MLB Odds: Cardinals-Pirates Odds

St. Louis Cardinals: -1.5 (+108)

Pittsburgh Pirates: +1.5 (-130)

Over: 9.5 (-104)

Under: 9.5 (-118)

How To Watch Cardinals vs. Pirates


Stream: MLB.TV

Time: 7:05 PM ET/ 4:05 PM PT

*Watch MLB games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why The Cardinals Could Cover The Spread

While the Cardinals struggled to score in the last two games, they have scored well most of the year. They are tied for ninth in the majors with 273 runs on the season. This is helped by their eighth-ranked slugging percentage, top 15-ranked batting average, and on-base percentage. The offense has been led by two main players. First is the perennial All-Star Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt leads the team with a .289 batting average on the season. He has cooled off a little as of late though. In May he hit .272, while hitting six home runs and driving in 12. Goldschmidt has had solid success against Roansy Contreras though. Against the Pirates’ starter, he is hitting .375.

While Goldschmidt leads the team in runs scored, someone has to drive him home. That has been Nolan Gorman. Gorman is seventh in the majors this year with  41 RBIS and his .915 OPS ranks ninth. Gorman has been hitting right-handed pitching hard this year. On the season Gorman is hitting .274 against righties while hitting 11 home runs and driving in 36 runs. He has not hit a home run since May 20th though, so he will hopefully be getting back on track in this one. The Cardinals will also hope to get some runs from Jordan Walker, who will be back from the minors in this game.

On the hill, today for the Cardinals will be Jack Flaherty. Flaherty is 3-4 on the season with a 4.81 ERA. Two of his last three starts have been very good. Last time out he gave up just one run in seven innings but did not get a decision. On May 15th against the Brewers he went seven innings without giving up a run, while he struck out ten.

Why The Pirates Could Cover The Spread

The Pirate’s offense has had its fair share of struggles this year. They are 21st in runs scored while sitting 15th in on-base percentage. They are also 17th in batting average and slugging percentage. Many of the Pirates batters struggled heavily in May, as the Pirates went 8-18 on the month. One that did not was Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen hit .293 in May with seven RBIs and three home runs. His on-base percentage was great, as he had an OBP of .389 in May.

Starting to pick back up with Jack Suwinski. Suwinski hit just .207 in May and was striking out a lot. He struck out 35 times in May. In the last week, he has picked it up though. He hit .364 in the last week with four home runs and six RBIs. He still struggled with strikeouts som, striking out 11 times, but he more than made up for that with his bat. Ji Hwan Bae is also starting to heat up. He hit .350 over the last week, with two doubles. He also scored five times over the last week but did not have an RBI. The RBIs came from Bryan Reynolds. After not having an RBI in the first 17 days of May, Reynolds has eight in just the last week.

On the hill for the Pirates will be Roansy Contreras. Contreras is 3-4 on the season with a 4.33 ERA. His last time out, he came in as a reliever, going two innings and giving up just one hit. His last four starts have not been great though. In three of them, he gave up three or more runs in five to 5.1 innings of work. The other start he did go seven innings giving up two runs, both of them on solo home runs,

Final Cardinals-Pirates Prediction & Pick

Contreras has struggled with the long ball this season. He has given up at least one home run in each of his last four starts. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are tied for sixth in the majors with 76 home runs on the season. The Pirates did struggle heavily in May, but many of their key bats seem to be amid a turnaround. Still, the Cardinals have the better offense and better pitcher on the mound today. They get the win in this one.

Final Cardinals-Pirates Prediction & Pick: Cardinals -1.5 (+108) 

The post Cardinals vs. Pirates prediction, odds, pick, how to watch – 6/2/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

3 reasons Heat must not panic after ugly NBA Finals Game 1 loss to Nuggets

The Miami Heat were outclassed by the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals, marking the first time Erik Spoelstra’s team dropped a series opener in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The Heat looked more like the 8th seed they are. They struggled to find rhythm offensively and even looked fatigued with some shots falling short, which was somewhat expected considering they just came off a grueling seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals and were playing at altitude.

Bam Adebayo and Gabe Vincent were Miami’s bright spots. Unlike the rest of the Heat team, Adebayo was comfortable offensively from the opening tip, scoring 25 points on 13-of-25 shooting. Vincent also had a strong outing with 19 points and five three-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Western Conference champions looked every bit like favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Nikola Jokic had a historic triple-double performance even without dominating the scoreboard, while Jamal Murray added 26 points and 10 assists to lead the Nuggets to a 104-93 Game 1 win.

The notable name missing from the Heat party was undoubtedly Jimmy Butler. Butler finished with just 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting and was a team-worst minus-17 in 38 minutes.

While their Game 1 performance was certainly discouraging, the Heat should not hit the panic button just yet. Here are three reasons why.

3. Shots will eventually fall through

The Heat shot just 40.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three as a team in Game 1.

The main culprit behind that dismal shooting clip was Max Strus, who bricked all 10 of his shots from the field—including nine three-point attempts, many of which were quality looks—en route to a scoreless NBA Finals debut. Considering the kind of shots he was able to get, the Heat no doubt expect Strus to be more productive going forward.

Caleb Martin also proved unable to get going going, failing to carry over momentum from his epic Game 7 performance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Martin scored just three points on 1-of-7 shooting, his lone make being a semi-open left wing three late in the third quarter. Most of the time, those shots went down for the 6-foot-5 wing, especially during the previous round.

Nonetheless, those two shouldn’t be singled out for Miami’s shooting struggles. Duncan Robinson also had an off night, going just 1-of-5 from the field. Butler also didn’t channel Playoff Jimmy with an inefficient scoring game.

For the most part, Miami seemed to get the shots they needed to get, especially for their shooters. If that continues, the Heat should be in good shape.

2. Playoff Jimmy Butler is just fashionably late to the party

Jimmy Butler wasn’t Playoff Jimmy at all in Game 1.

His 13 points came on 14 field goal attempts, too low a number for a superstar of Butler’s standards. And it’s not like Butler and the Heat have the luxury that Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets have in terms of scoring depth. As admirable as this postseason run has been, this Miami team is still full of undrafted players who’ve wildly exceeded expectations just to be here.

That is why Butler must set the tone and be aggressive for his team to have a chance to win the Finals—a mindset he must have for a full 48 minutes. Butler seemed to be on that track after the first quarter, when he already had seven shot attempts. He only took seven more over the next three quarters.

Sure, the Nuggets defense deserves credit for forcing the ball out of Butler’s hands. But his lack of aggression, especially attacking the basket, was one of the main reasons Miami lost Game 1. Butler shot zero free throws in this game, which is inexcusable. Prior to entering the Finals, the six-time All-Star was averaging over nine free throw attempts per game. That is a clear indication he wasn’t getting to the rim enough, settling for too many jumpers or low-advantage passes to teammates.

Butler knows that he needs to be better. If and when he gets his mind right, the Heat should be in good shape to compete with the heavily-favored Nuggets.

1. Tyler Herro may be nearing a return

The Heat received some good news ahead of the opener with Tyler Herro aiming for a return in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Herro broke his hand in the very first game of the playoffs and has been out throughout this magical run by the Heat.

Herro’s return would inject Miami with a much-needed boost offensively. He was Miami’s third-leading scorer during the regular season and his return could help the team in terms of having another shot creator and playmaker.

Still, it would be interesting how Herro’s return could impact someone like Martin, who has been a revelation in his absence. Paul Pierce believes Herro’s injury was a “blessing in disguise” as it revealed Martin as the better player among the two.

Butler, however, doesn’t believe that.

“I just think the guys that Coach [Erik Spoelstra] and Coach Pat [Riley] put together,” Butler said following their Game 7 win over the Celtics. “When a guy goes down, the next guy can fill in that gap and do exactly what that guy that went down did and do it at a high level.

“And you know, be humble enough to know that when that guy comes back, you have to step back and get back in your role.” Butler added.

Martin has certainly done enough to earn a significant role on the Heat, especially through this Finals run, even when Tyler Herro comes back.

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Rays vs. Red Sox prediction, odds, pick, how to watch – 6/2/2023

The Tampa Bay Rays (40-18) visit the Boston Red Sox (29-27) for the first of a four-game series on Friday night. First pitch commences at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay leads the season series 4-0 thus far thanks to their home sweep in early April. Below we continue our MLB odds series with a Rays-Red Sox prediction, pick, and how to watch.

Here are the Rays-Red Sox MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

MLB Odds: Rays-Red Sox Odds

Tampa Bay Rays: -1.5 (+116)

Boston Red Sox: +1.5 (-140)

Over: 9 (-122)

Under: 9 (+100)

How To Watch Rays vs. Red Sox

TV: Bally Sports, NESN


Time: 7:10 p.m. ET/ 4:10 p.m. PT

*See how to watch Rays-Red Sox LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why The Rays Could Cover The Spread

Last 10: 6-4 (First in the AL East)

Run Line Record: 32-26 (55%)

Over Record: 34-21-3 (62%)

Tampa Bay has been the best team in baseball all season as they hold a four-game lead over the next-closest teams. However, they showed signs of vulnerability after a blistering first month when they went 22-6. Although they still finished May with a stellar 17-12 record, the Rays ended on a sour note by dropping two of three to the Cubs. They’ll need to rebound quickly tonight with the first of a four-game series with division rival Boston on deck. That said, Tampa Bay made short work of the Red Sox in their earlier series – winning all four games and outscoring them 26-12. The Rays covered in 3/4 of those games but they’ll need their bats to heat back up if they want to do so again tonight.

Righty Tyler Glasgow (0-0) makes his second start of the season for the Rays tonight. Tampa Bay activated the talented 29-year-old last week after where he made just his third appearance since 2021. The 6’8″ fireballer fared well despite an underwhelming stat line. He lasted 4.1 innings against the Dodgers – giving up three runs on five hits in the process. Perhaps most encouraging, Glasnow’s elite strikeout stuff was on full display as he K’d eight of the 13 batters he faced. With a career 11.4 K/9, Glasnow has long tantalized the baseball community but hasn’t been able to stay healthy with his most expansive season totaling just 88 innings pitched. That said, he is elite when he’s on the field and gives Tampa Bay a strong chance to cover tonight despite facing a potent Boston lineup.

With the Rays ranking second in the league in runs per game, strong hitters can be found up and down their lineup. Corner infielder Yandy Diaz finds himself in the midst of a breakout campaign and has destroyed right-handed pitching thanks to a .329 batting average.

Why The Red Sox Could Cover The Spread

Last 10: 3-7 (Fifth in the AL East)

Run Line Record: 29-27 (52%)

Over Record: 33-21-2 (61%)

Boston has played winning baseball all year long – going 15-13 in April before finishing May 13-13. Interesting, they actually hit better during their .500 May – raising their team batting average to .272. Despite dropping all four to the Rays early in the season, the Red Sox stand a strong chance of covering tonight as home underdogs thanks to their 16-13 record at Fenway Park. The Rays, meanwhile, have been vulnerable away from home via their 14-12 road record. Additionally, Tampa Bay has only covered 43% as road favorites while the Red Sox covered 69% of the time as home underdogs. Still, Boston is coming off a home series loss to Cincy and will need their bats out in full force if they want to hang with Tampa Bay.

Righty Garrett Whitlock (2-2) makes his fifth start of the season for the Red Sox tonight. The 26-year-old showed flashes of brilliance switching between the rotation and bullpen over the last two seasons – compiling a sub-3.00 ERA and 4.7 WAR. He struggled out of the gates this year before hitting the IL. In his return to action last weekend, Whitlock looks sharp – allowing just a single run, no walks, and three hits in a five-inning win against the Diamondbacks. Still, he is difficult to trust tonight matched up with a Rays team that pegged him for eight hits and five runs in his season debut. However, Tampa Bay has cooled off since then and is notably hitting .040 points worse against righties compared to lefties this season.

The Red Sox boast one of the strongest offenses in the sport thanks to scoring the fourth-most runs per game. While their power comes and goes, their fifth-ranked OPS makes them a force to be reckoned with at the plate. Masataka Yoshida enters tonight particularly hot – batting .409 while pacing the team with 14 total bases over their last six games. He’s feasted on right-handed pitching this season – against whom he recorded a .910 OPS.

Final Rays-Red Sox Prediction & Pick

Boston getting runs at home is too good to pass up – ride the home dogs.

Final Rays-Red Sox Prediction & Pick: Boston Red Sox +1.5 (-140)

The post Rays vs. Red Sox prediction, odds, pick, how to watch – 6/2/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

3 early NBA free agency targets for Lakers in 2023 offseason

The Los Angeles Lakers can go in countless directions this offseason.

They can prioritize continuity, as Rob Pelinka indicated at exit interviews. They can clear out basically everybody besides LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves to create $35 million in cap space. Or, they can settle somewhere in the middle.

The Lakers will aim to stay under the $162 million luxury tax line to avoid harsh repeater penalties. They are reportedly determined to avoid the “second apron” of $179 million, which would trigger crippling roster-building limitations.

In terms of free agency, let’s start with their current roster. The organization intends to match any offer for Reaves, even up to $100 million, according to The Athletic. By all accounts, they’re hell-bent on re-signing Rui Hachimura, who could demand $16-$20 million annually. (Due to Hachimura’s $18.8 million cap hold vs. Reaves’ $2.2 million cap hold and their Bird rights, the Lakers can take care of Rui first, proceed with other transactions, then formally ink Reaves later). Los Angeles is likely to guarantee Jarred Vanderbilt’s $4.5 million 2023-24 salary.

The Lakers can renounce the rights to D’Angelo Russell and let him walk. Or, ideally, they could include DLo — and Malik Beasley’s $16.5 million team option and Mo Bamba’s $10.3 million contract, both of which they have to decide to pick up by June 30 — in a trade. (Klutch clients Fred VanVleet, Dejounte Murray, and Trae Young have been floated as possibilities.) Russell wanted $25 million from the Minnesota Timberwolves but seemingly damaged his value in the conference finals. If his market is tepid, the Lakers can bring him back at two years, $40 million.

Depending on how things shake out, the Lakers may be unable to retain Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Schroder and sign quality rotation players. Theoretically, the Lakers could use the $12.2 nontaxpayer mid-level exception on Schroder and the $4.5 million bi-annual exception on Walker IV (or Wenyen Gabriel) — or divvy it up — but those players may see more lucrative offers elsewhere. (Schroder is tight with Darvin Ham and Walker IV is a Klutch client, so perhaps they’ll help the Lakers out.) Alternatively, the Lakers can deploy the $5 million taxpayer MLE. Using more than $5 million of the NTPMLE and/or the BAE would trigger the hard cap, around $169 million. Troy Brown Jr. and Tristan Thompson are free agents, as well.

Between their finances, the middling free agent class, Pelinka labeling their trade deadline approach as “pre-agency” and his emphasis on continuity, I wouldn’t expect the Lakers to be major players on the open market.

Kyrie Irving is the flashiest name available. The mutual interest between him and LeBron to reunite is well-known. However, as Jovan Buha reported in February, that ship has probably “sailed.” The Lakers would have to shed everybody on the roster not named LeBron, Anthony, or Austin, then hope Irving takes $12 million less than his annual max value. (The Dallas Mavericks sending Irving to Los Angeles via sign-and-trade is apparently a “pipedream.”)

The Lakers can theoretically pursue Los Angeles native James Harden should he decline his $35.6 million option from the Philadelphia 76ers. On paper, Harden might thrive alongside LeBron and AD, but he seems to want a long-term max extension and the culture fit is iffy; Harden seeks carte blanche from his employers and isn’t exactly known for delivering in high-stakes playoff games.

VanVleet can turn down his $22.8 million player option, though his path to Los Angeles is smoother via sign-and-trade. LeBron’s good buddy and Klutch client Draymond Green can decline his $27.5 million option, but the Lakers cannot sign either player without blowing up their squad. (VanVleet makes more sense. The Lakers don’t really need Green — their defense is elite with AD and spacing is a weakness.)

Realistically, any external signings will represent marginal upgrades. And that’s totally fine for a team that came within four wins of the Finals. Here are a few names that might make sense for the Los Angeles Lakers with NBA free agency about one month away.

Bruce Brown

Brown may play himself out of the Lakers’ price range, especially if he shines in the Finals. It’s hard to imagine the Denver Nuggets guard settling for anything less than the full mid-level. He’d be a great fit for the Lakers, though — for any team, really. Maybe the Lakers can re-sign Russell and add Brown at the expense of Schroder.

Max Strus may, too, earn a hefty bag thanks to his integral role in a Finals run (0-for-10 Game 1 notwithstanding). The 27-year-old could potentially command upwards of $20 million — and the Miami Heat may overpay to keep him. But the career 37.1% 3-point shooter would be a nice replacement for Beasley and Walker IV if the Lakers let Russell walk, or if his market proves cooler.

Jordan Clarkson would also make sense as a dynamic sixth man, but he’s also looking for $20 million after averaging a career-high 20.8 points per game.

Donte DiVincenzo

DiVincenzo is coming off a fine season with the Golden State Warriors — 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists per 36 minutes, 39.7% from 3 — but he didn’t necessarily increase his value out of the Lakers’ price range. One would expect him to turn down his $4.7 million player option for 2023-24, even though he said Golden State feels like home. If he does, the Warriors — facing a gigantic luxury tax bill and second-apron consequences — may be forced to let him go.

DiVincenzo offers shooting, athleticism, and perimeter defense. His incessant off-ball movement would jell with high-IQ passers like LeBron and Reaves. The 26-year-old is familiar with Ham and his system, thanks to his three-plus seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Naz Reid

Bamba and Gabriel are decent options behind AD, but the Lakers could use more size in the backup center role, as evidenced by Ham’s decision to try Thompson on Nikola Jokic in Game 4 (he did OK!).

Reid, 23, will be a highly-coveted unrestricted free agent after four seasons with the Wolves. The Lakers are reportedly interested, and it’s easy to understand why. Reid averaged 22.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in 2022-23. He shot 53.7% from the field and 34.6% from 3 on 6.2 attempts per game. Over his last two appearances against Los Angeles, the 6’9, 264-pound center — nicknamed Big Jelly — put up 38 points and 19 rebounds.

Brook Lopez would be the dream signing, but he vastly outperformed the MLE and is expected to stay in Milwaukee. Reid would be a logical option for the Lakers.

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UFC Las Vegas Odds: Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023

The time has finally come for our UFC Main Event prediction and pick as ranked fighters in the Flyweight (125 lb) Division square off in a pivotal matchup. No. 3 ranked Kai Kara-France of City Kickboxing will take on Iraq’s phenom No. 7 ranked Amir Albazi. This fight has all the makings to be an instant classic! Check out our UFC odds series for our Kara-France-Albazi prediction and pick.

Kai Kara-France is 24-10 as a mixed martial artist and has gone 7-3 in the UFC since his arrival in 2018. Kara-France has put away some of the top-level competition of the Bantamweight Division, with two of his three losses coming to the now-champion Brandon Moreno. Kara-France was downed by Moreno in his title opportunity when a body kick sealed his fate. Now, Kara-France looked to put away a title contender and call his shot for the belt once again. He stands 5’4″ with a 66.5-inch reach.

Amir Albazi is 16-1 as a professional fighter and is undefeated in the UFC at 4-0. He’s made a rapid rise to the top-10 rankings and has finished three of his four appearances. In those four short fights, Albazi has been able to win by unanimous decision, knockout, and two submissions. He’s looking like the next boogeyman at Flyweight and a win over Kara-France would effectively put him in immediate title talks. Albazi stands 5’5″ with a 68-inch reach.

Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Kai Kara-France-Amir Albazi Odds

Kai Kara-France: -115

Amir Albazi: -111

Over (3.5) rounds: -158

Under (3.5) rounds: +124

How to Watch Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi


Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass, fuboTV

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)

*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why Kai Kara-France Will Win

Kai Kara-France looked every bit of a worthy title challenger coming into his fight with Brandon Moreno for the Interim title. He has a tremendously well-balanced and rounded game. His striking is extremely crisp and he takes little damage in return. He’s also a very athletic grappler and can win position battles in the wrestling scrambles. On the ground, Kara-France is very aggressive and will look to land ground-and-pound over position. He also has a mixed-bag of arsenals when it comes to his submission game.

To win this fight, Kara-France will have to be very defensively-minded and not open himself up to a striker like Albazi. He’ll have to protect his body after the damage he sustained in his last loss, but Kara-France should look to tie Albazi up in the clinch nonetheless. From there, Kara-France can look to land shots inside or work the takedown and tire Albazi out. We’ve seen Albazi’s gas tank waver in the past, so look for Kara-France to turn up the heat in the later rounds. The longer this fight goes, the more it will favor the Aussie.

Why Amir Albazi Will Win

Amir Albazi comes into this fight as one of the more powerful and simultaneously technical strikers in the division. He snaps his shots with great strength and has pinpoint accuracy in his shots. He’s extremely active with his leg kicks and will pepper opponents to the body and legs relentlessly. Albazi also has a deep background in wrestling and feels more than comfortable dictating the fight on the mats. If he’s aggressive with his shots, he could be the one controlling the wrestling with his strength advantage over Kara-France. Amir Albazi should look to overwhelm Kara-France from the opening round as he tries to knock him off his rhythm.

Albazi can win this fight if he stays patient and lands his power shots with accuracy. Kara-France has a solid chin and will be dangerous at all points of this fight. Albazi will have to string together a clean combination of attacks if he wants to finish Kara-France, who’s only been finished twice. Look for Albazi to be aggressive from the jump. Kara-France struggles when on his back foot, so it’d be smart for Albazi to pressure him early and often while working the leg kicks.

Final Kai Kara-France-Amir Albazi Prediction & Pick

Kara-France ran through the Flyweight Division with relative ease, but it didn’t come without a price. His last loss to Brandon Moreno was especially significant because of the way he was knocked out. A body-shot KO could have the most seasoned strikers paranoid, so Kara-France may be weary against the kicks of Albazi. If Albazi comes out aggressive, he should be able to overwhelm Kara-France with his output.

For the prediction, let’s go with Amir Albazi to get the win here. I suspect these two fighters will play a methodical mind game for five rounds as they feel each other out. The striking will be very high-level and the stakes with be even higher with the ability both men have to sit their opponent down. Albazi hits harder and is more aggressive. If Kara-France doesn’t come up with answers on how to stop Albazi’s initial onslaught, he could be in for a long night.

Final Kai Kara-France-Amir Albazi Prediction & Pick: Amir Albazi (-111); OVER 3.5 Rounds (-158)

The post UFC Las Vegas Odds: Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Jim Miller vs. Jesse Butler prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023

The next prediction and pick for the UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi Main Card comes in a Catchweight bout made last-minute. All-time UFC fights and wins leader Jim Miller will head to the octagon once again and face off against Jesse Butler, who takes this fight on just over 24 hours notice. This should be an interesting showing! Check out our UFC odds series for our Miller-Gordon prediction and pick.

Jim Miller is 35-17 as a mixed martial artist and has gone 24-16-1 since joining the UFC roster in 2008. At 39 years old and the UFC all-time leader in fights and wins, Miller is still going strong and continues to gives the fans a show each time he goes out. Prior to his last fight, a loss to Alex Hernandez, Miller won three-straight fights against formidable competition. He’ll look for his 25th UFC win against Gordon. Miller stands 5’8″ with a 71-inch reach.

Jesse Butler is 12-4 in his fighting career and will be making his UFC debut on just a days notice. He’s fought for a number of promotions including LFA and, most recently, posted a 3-0 record in Fury FC. He gets the call just 24 hours before the schedules weigh-ins after Jared Gordon had to pull out due to a medical issue. Of his twelve wins, Butler has notched eight by submission. He stands 5’10” with a 72-inch reach.

Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Jim Miller-Jesse Butler Odds

Jim Miller: -245

Jesse Butler: +194

How to Watch Jim Miller vs. Jesse Butler


Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass, fuboTV

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)

*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why Jim Miller Will Win

Jim Miller continues to defy the odds as the most experienced fighter on today’s roster and he’s still giving strong fighters in the Lightweight Division a run for their money. Admittedly, Miller was a bit too aggressive against a fighter like Alex Hernandez. He mentioned this week that his fight style sometimes lends him to lose, but it’s the only way he knows how to fight. He’ll certainly be in for a war if he goes into this fight with the same mindset. If Miller can control the grappling exchanges and be defensive with his striking, he could have a chance to win this fight.

Jim Miller will also have the advantage in experience and has an extremely crafty game when on the ground. He’s been known to jump on a signature guillotine choke when his opponents are being lazy. If Butler shoots for a lazy takedown, don’t be surprised if Jim Miller can hop on a choke and end this fight in a flash. His opponent will be much younger than he is, so look for Miller to show off some veteran tricks int his one.

Why Jesse Butler Will Win

Jesse Butler is an absolute savage for accepting his debut fight on a main card on just 24 hours notice. This bout will most likely be at a catchweight to save both fighters from any unnecessary weight loss. This benefits Butler as his last fight was just in February of this year. He’s a champion over at Fury FC and fights a lot like a younger version of his opponent. Butler is eager to step to the center of the cage and swing with all his force. He has a solid chin and will be a tough opponent for Miller to put out – perhaps tougher than his original opponent.

Jesse Butler has nothing to lose by taking this fight. If he losses, it’ll be to one of the all-time greats as he stepped in on 24 hours notice. He has everything to gained by winning as beating Miller on a day’s notice would certainly propel his career in the UFC. Butler’s won his last five consecutive fights and will be eager to grapple with Miller in this one. While Miller may have had a grappling advantage over Jared Gordon, he might be to more vulnerable guy in this one.

Final Jim Miller-Jesse Butler Prediction & Pick

Jim Miller will have to come into this fight with the same game plan as his original opponent. It’s too late into a camp for Miller to switch his strategies up, so he should look to be extra-cautious defensively as he waits for Butler to throw the kitchen sink at him. If Miller can survive the onslaught in the opening round, he should be able to take control of this fight in the second and third rounds. While I’m not completely confident, the only pick that makes sense is to take Jim Miller to get the win, as he’s got more experience and will have had the longer training camp.

Final Jim Miller-Jesse Butler Prediction & Pick: Jim Miller (-245)

The post UFC Las Vegas Odds: Jim Miller vs. Jesse Butler prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

NASCAR Cup Series Odds: Enjoy Illinois 300 prediction and pick – 6/4/2023

The NASCAR Cup Series heads just outside of St. Louis to Madison, Illinois for the Enjoy Illinois 300. It is time to continue our NASCAR Cup Series odds series with an Enjoy Illinois 300 prediction, pick, and how-to-watch.

Last week Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag at the Coca-Cola 600. The race was delayed a day due to bad weather, but the Monday race on the 1.5-mile track was exciting. Chase Elliott was suspended for this race for his actions in the race while Kyle Larson did not finish the race, and ended up 30th. It is now off to a slightly shorter track. The World Wide Technology Raceway was initially a road course but is now a 1.25-mile oval. The first two turns are tighter than turns three and four, with different banking angles. This requires drivers to make sure they are positioned correctly in the different turns to avoid collision and makeup ground going into short straightaways.

Here are the NASCAR Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

NASCAR Odds: Enjoy Illinois 300 Odds

Kyle Larson +450

William Byron +650

Ryan Blaney +850

Denny Hamlin +1000

Martin Turex Jr. +1000

Christopher Bell +1000

Kyle Busch +1100

Joey Logano +1100

Tyler Reddick +1200

Kevin Harvick +1200

Ross Chastain +1400

Bubba Wallace +2800

Brad Keselowski +3000

Alex Bowman +3000

Chase Briscoe +3000

Corey Lajoie +3500

Chris Buescher +4000

Aric Almirola +4000

How to Watch Enjoy Illinois 300


Stream: Fox Sports App

Time: 3:30 PM ET/ 12:30 PM PT

*Watch Nascar LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Favorites To Win Enjoy Illinois 300

Only three drives sit with odds shorter than +1000, and one of them is going to be Kyle Larson. In the 2022 race, he was the top finisher on his team at this race, but that was a 12th-place finish. There is not much of a history on this track for this series, so looking at Larson’s work on similar tracks will be the best bet here. Darlington is the most similar track, and Larson ran well on that. He led 29 laps in the race but was taken out and ended up finishing 20th. He won at Richmond, which also has some similarities to this track. Those two show he can run well again here.

Right behind him on the board is William Byron. Last year, Joey Logano won Darlington and then won this race a month later. This year, William Byron won at Darlington. At Dover, he finished fourth, but at Richmond, it was a 24th-place finish. Byron has been racing very well as of late. In the last five points-scoring races, so taking out the All-Star Race, Byron has finished in the top ten in all of them. He was a runner-up last week, won Darlington, third in Kansas, and 4th in Dover. Byron has been one of the best on this style and size track this and should be worth backing.

The other driver with top odds is Ryan Blaney. Blaney is coming in off a win at the 1.5-mile track that went 600 miles in total. This race is half that size, and on a shorter track. Still, he is also racing well. He finished ninth at Darlington and third at Dover. He did struggle at Richmond but overall has performed well this season. Blaney is second in driver points this season, and has eight top tens, plus four top fives. Blaney did well in this race last year, finishing fourth in the race.

Winning this race last year was Joey Logano. Logano has not had the best year so far. Since his win in Atlanta, he has placed outside the top ten in six of the last nine point-scoring races. On this style of track this year, he has not been at his best either. He did finish seventh at Richmond, but Dover was a 31st-place finish, while he finished 18th at Darlington. Still, Logano has shown he can win this race, and did it just last year. If he has a good car, he will be a threat to take the win.

Sleepers To Win Enjoy Illinois 300

Outside of the top contenders, two guys stick out as options to win, with the first being Bubba Wallace. Ultimately the goal is to win the race, and Wallace has yet to do that this year. Still, he has come very close. Wallace has been great in his last four races. At Kansas he finished fourth, then he was fifth at Darlington. He was the runner up at the All-Star race, and last week it was a fourth-place finish. He has also improved each time on this style of track. At Richmond he was 22nd. Then at Dover, he was 12, before a 5th-place finish at Darlington. His recent racing and trajectory make him a threat to win.

For the way down the board play, look at Aric Almirola. He has not won since 2021, but that was at a track similar to this one. He also managed a fifth-place finish at this track last year. This year he only has one top ten, and that was at North Wilkesboro. At Darlington and Dover, he was outside of the top twenty but was 13th at Richmond this year. He was on a similar trajectory last year when he snuck up for fifth place in this race, and maybe he can do it again.

Enjoy Illinois 300 Prediction & Pick

This race favors a very particular style of driver. They must take good lines, and capitalize on the turns. It is a shorter track and a short race, so there is very little room for error here. With that, you take the driver that makes the fewest errors. That driver is William Byron. He has been racing well, and done well on this style of track. He will take the checkered flag in this one.

Enjoy Illinois Prediction & Pick: William Byron (+650)

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UFC Las Vegas Odds: Tim Elliott vs. Victor Altamirano prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023

The UFC Fight Night Main Card rolls on as we bring you another prediction and pick for this Flyweight (125 lb) bout between two slept-on contenders. No. 11 ranked UFC veteran Tim Elliott will take on Mexico’s rising Victor Altamirano. This could be one of the best fights on this card! Check out our UFC odds series for our Elliott-Altamirano prediction and pick.

Tim Elliott is 19-12-1 as a professional fighter and has gone 7-10 since joining the UFC in 2012. It’ll be more than a decade in the promotion for Elliott as he hangs in as the Flyweight Division’s key gatekeeper. After a few cancelled bouts, Elliott will finally return to the cage following a win over Tagir Ulanbekov over a year ago, making him 3-1 in his last four fights. Elliott stands 5’7″ with a 67-inch reach.

Victor Altamirano is 12-2 inside the cage and has gone 2-1 in the UFC since earning a contract on DWCS. He’s a previously undefeated 9-0 prospect out of LFA and has been involved in exciting fights each time out. After dropping his debut in a split-decision loss, Altamirano won his last two fights in convincing fashion and will look to overtake Elliott in the rankings. Altamirano stands 5’8″ with a 70.5-inch reach.

Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Tim Elliott-Victor Altamirano Odds

Tim Elliott: -196

Victor Altamirano: +152

Over (2.5) rounds: -280

Under (2.5) rounds: +210

How to Watch Tim Elliott vs. Victor Altamirano


Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass, fuboTV

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)

*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why Tim Elliott Will Win

Tim Elliott has one of the most unique fighting styles in MMA with the way he jerks back-and-forth with his head and foot movement. Elliott will shuffle his feet in one direction while moving his head in the other, reminiscent of how Dominick Cruz used to bounce around the octagon. He’ll land awkward jabs to knock opponents off rhythm and does a ton of damage with his leg kicks. In the clinch, Elliott is extremely aggressive and will look to cut opponents with elbows and land shots to the body.

To win this fight, Elliott can get the job done by using his patented style against Altamirano. Altamirano likes to set his feet and load up on shots. This plays perfectly into Elliott’s plan as he looks to land off-putting shots to disrupt the opponent’s flow. Elliott will also have the slight wrestling advantage in this one and should look to take Altamirano down against the fence while landing nasty ground-and-pound. If this fight goes all three rounds, there’s a solid chance Elliott comes out as the fresher fighter.

Why Victor Altamirano Will Win

Victor Altamirano has looked stellar in his last two fights and will have some momentum coming in here. A win over Elliott could propel Altamirano into the rankings, so it’s proving to be a true test for the prospect in seeing if he can hang with ranked fighters. Altamirano, too, has a very unorthodox style of fighting and uses unique tactics to evade his opponents. He loops his head in awkward angles and creates chaotic situations for his opponents. Against a similar striker like Elliott, Altamirano will have to be careful he doesn’t get caught playing his own game.

Altamirano did a great job grappling with his last two opponents, but he only did so after struggling with the striking a bit. He’ll mix his shots in randomly while striking and can gain top control if one of them lands. He’ll have to be perfect in finding a takedown against the 61% takedown defense of Elliott, but he could see some success if he’s able to hang out in Elliott’s guard. Altamirano will have stay cautious when grappling against Elliott, but should see some success if he can threaten with ground-and-pound.

Final Tim Elliott-Victor Altamirano Prediction & Pick

When breaking down the tape, these two have a very similar style in the way they move around their opponent. It’ll be very interesting to see which one of them can implement the strategy better, but you’d have to side with Tim Elliott to be the more efficient guy in this one. He’ll probably be the faster fighter and is much more cautious defensively. If he can be patient and read Altamirano’s head movement, he should find a few damaging shots on his chin. The wrestling will be a huge difference here if Elliott can find success with it. Let’s go with Elliott to get the win as he shows off his veteran prowess in this razor-thin fight.

Final Tim Elliott-Victor Altamirano Prediction & Pick: Tim Elliott (-196)

The post UFC Las Vegas Odds: Tim Elliott vs. Victor Altamirano prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Karine Silva vs. Ketlen Souza prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023

UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi continues live from Las Vegas as we bring you a prediction and pick for the second fight on the Main Card. Newcomers and fellow Brazilians Karine Silva and Ketlen Souza will square off in the Women’s Flyweight (125 lb) Division. Don’t miss these high-level prospects go to work! Check out our UFC odds series for our Silva-Souza prediction and pick.

Karine Silva is 15-4 as a fighter and has gone 1-0 in the UFC since winning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2021. Both of her appearances have been highlighted by submission wins (d’arce, guillotine), showing that she’s a serious threat on the ground. She fights out of a tough-nosed camp from her home in Curitiba, Brazil and will be a sizable favorite in this matchup. Silva stands 5’5″ with a 67-inch reach.

Ketlen Souza is 13-3 as a professional fighter and will be making her UFC debut in this fight. Souza will be stepping in after Silva’s fight with Priscila Cachoeira fell through and will be in a huge spot on the main card of an event. She comes in on a five-fight winning streak with her two most recent wins coming in Invicta FC. She’ll be in position for an upset here in her debut. Souza stands 5’3″ with a 64-inch reach.

Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

UFC Las Vegas Odds: Karine Silva-Ketlen Souza Odds

Karine Silva: -245

Ketlen Souza: +186

Over (2.5) rounds: -106

Under (2.5) rounds: -120

How to Watch Karine Silva vs. Ketlen Souza


Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass, fuboTV

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)

*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*

Why Karine Silva Will Win

Karine Silva comes in as a serious finishing threat to the flyweight division and has finished in all of her 15 wins (9 KO, 6 sub). She has a very strong build and out-muscles opponents in the grappling. She was very eager to stand and strike in her last fight, to which she saw success in small bursts. Silva has a lot of power behind her shots, but she’s still working on finding her range in the striking. She’s at her best when she’s being patient and letting the counter shots come naturally to her.

Silva was just patient enough in her last fight to find the counter-right into a takedown and notch the submission win. She should have a similar game plan here against Souza. A big focus for her will be conserving her gas tank. With the amount of strikes and leg kicks she throws, it’ll be interesting to see how her cardio holds up in the third round. Silva should look to take this fight to the ground and put Souza in a world where she’s uncomfortable. From there, it’s only a matter of time until she finds the submission.

Why Ketlen Souza Will Win

Souza captured the Invicta FC Flyweight Championship after her two decision-wins in the organization. She gets the call-up here as an exciting prospect ready to stand-and-bang for three rounds. While she lacks the experience of Silva, she actually matches up well in terms of size and strength as Souza has a similar stocky build. She starts slow and will methodically read her opponent before opening up her striking. She did a great job of being the smaller fighter in her title win as she landed heavy blows in the clinch and on the break-aways.

Souza does a great job with her defensive foot movement and moves out the way of strikes quickly. Against a slower opponent like Silva, Souza could tire her out with her movement alone. She’ll look to move in-and-out while sticking her straight shots on the entries. While Souza is strong against the fence, she’s shown a tendency to get taken down. Against a grappler like Silva, she’ll have to stay on her feet as long as possible to have a chance at the win.

Final Karine Silva-Ketlen Souza Prediction & Pick

Ketlen Souza has a serious chance to win this fight if she can kill Silva’s cardio with her foot movement. Souza should look to stay in constant motion while popping her shots on the end of her entries. If Karine Silva begins to tire by the second round, this could be Souza’s fight to win. However, the aggressiveness and power of Karine Silva may be too much for her to handle. If she’s smart, she’ll work for the takedown right away and try to lock in a submission here. As the sizable favorite, let’s go with Silva to get this win by submission.

Final Karine Silva-Ketlen Souza Prediction & Pick: Karine Silva (-245); Win by Submission (+170)

The post UFC Las Vegas Odds: Karine Silva vs. Ketlen Souza prediction, pick, how to watch – 6/3/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

3 reasons Nuggets’ NBA Finals Game 1 win over Heat shows they’re destined to win first title

The Denver Nuggets NBA Finals Game 1 win over the Miami Heat was a convincing one. The home team took it to the Eastern Conference visitors 104-93, and it never seemed that close. A convincing win in any NBA Finals game is huge, but this one seemed to have even more significance than usual. With the way Denver dominated Miami in Game 1, it now seems that the outcome of Nuggets-Heat is already decided, and Nikola Jokic and company are destined to win the franchise’s first NBA title.

3. Nikola Jokic is the best player in the series

With all due respect to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic is the best player in this series. The big man didn’t have his most dominating stat line of the playoffs. But that proves the point even more, when 27 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds are considered a ho-hum performance for “The Joker.”

Jokic is simply on another level right now, and there is nothing the Heat can do about it.

The best way to slow Jokic down is by putting Adebayo on him. That requires a Herculean effort from the Miami center and puts him at risk of getting in foul trouble. Against the Nuggets, the Heat need everything they can get on the offensive end from Bam, and guarding Jokic means that’s not possible.

Adebayo had an excellent offensive night in his NBA Finals Game 1 effort, leading his team with 26 points, but how much longer can he keep this up while battling with Jokic on the other end?

In addition to the talent gap at the top of the rosters, the Nuggets’ advantages in this area continue down the roster. Denver has four of the best six players in this series. The rankings go Jokic, Butler, Jamal Murray, Adebayo, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and everyone else below that.

Miami had an incredible run as an 8-seed making it to the NBA Finals, but Game 1 showed the Nuggets simply have too much top-end talent for the Heat to compete with.

2. Eric Spoelstra has met his match in Michael Malone

Heat coach Eric Spoelstra is one of the best stories in basketball. He went from film room grunt to LeBron James whipping boy to one of the top coaches in the NBA. He is a major reason the Heat beat all comers in the Eastern Conference and became just the second 8-seed ever (with the 1999 New York Knicks) to make the NBA Finals.

However, the coaches Spoelstra bested to reach this point weren’t exactly Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, and Red Auerbach.

Spoelstra outcoached Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks in Round 1, and the team fired the 1-seed coach shortly after. In Round 2, he took out Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks, and most New York fans hoped their coach would suffer the same fate.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, Spoelstra faced Joe Mazzulla, who was a back-bench assistant last season before leaping to the head spot after the Ime Udoka scandal. The Boston Celtics did well to force a Game 7 after going down 3-0, but it still wasn’t enough.

In Nuggets coach Michael Malone, Spoelstra has finally met his match. Malone is the son of a longtime NBA coach and assistant and is every bit the tactician and motivator that Spoelstra is.

Neither coach has a definitive advantage in the Nuggets-Heat series, and that takes away one of Miami’s biggest advantages, which will lead to a Nuggets trophy at the end.

1. The Heat can’t stay out of defensive mismatches with the Nuggets

The intersection of the talent gap and the coaching matchup in the Nuggets’ NBA Finals Game 1 win came when Denver had the ball.

As mentioned above, Bam Adebayo has to be on Nikola Jokic for the Heat to have a chance. And Jimmy Butler must guard Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray.

What all you basketball (or physics) aficionados may notice about the sentence above is that it is physically impossible for Butler to guard both Gordon and Murray at the same time, which creates a massive problem for the Heat.

Not to mention when there are cross-matchups in transition, Butler is also the best option to battle Jokic on the elbow if Adebayo gets stuck on someone else.

Again, this means either Gordon or Murray isn’t guarded by one of the Heat’s best defenders, to say nothing of the fact that Miami has no one to match up with the unique skill and size of Michael Porter Jr.

Miami hid some of its defensive deficiencies in the East by playing zone. However, against a passing magician like Jokic and a shooter like Murray, this is nearly impossible in the Nuggests-Heat series.

In the end, it’s these defensive matchups that will ultimately doom the Heat and win the Nuggets their first-ever NBA title.

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