Hawks-Celtics in NBA Playoffs Game 3 and a Friday night MLB parlay: Best Bets for April 21

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks to pass while covered by Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter, left, during the second half of Game 2 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, April 21:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA playoffs, Hawks +1½ over Celtics in first half

The odds/bet: -108

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: We couldn’t get enough 3-pointers to fall in the first half to hit Thursday night’s parlay, but here’s another home team down 2-0 in Game 3 that should be in a desperate situation. Let’s take advantage.

The difference between the Warriors and the Hawks, of course, is that Atlanta is a sizable underdog in the series and in this Game 3. Taking the Hawks with the points for the full game isn’t a bad idea (you can get 5½ as of this writing), but we’re going to zero in on the first half.

Logic says the Hawks will come out strong with their season on the line and the energy of a home crowd behind them for the first time in the postseason. The Celtics are the better team and may wear down the hosts in the second half, but we’ll take the point and a half and see if Atlanta can lead at the break.

AL WEST PARLAY

The play: MLB money line parlay, Rangers over A’s/Angels over Royals

The odds/bet: -104

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: A’s-Rangers, 8:05 p.m.; Royals-Angels, 9:38 p.m. (both MLB.tv)

Our take: There’s a great MLB slate on Friday, with an afternoon game between the Dodgers and Cubs, a possible World Series preview between the Astros and Braves, an AL East battle between Blue Jays and Yankees and several other meetings between contenders.

Instead, we’re going to focus our eyes on two big favorites — and more specifically two teams that have been terrible in the early going. The Athletics — besides announcing their owner’s greedy move to Las Vegas — are abjectly awful, ranking last in the majors in runs allowed by a full 28 runs. They have allowed four more home runs than any other team despite playing in a pitcher’s park, and they aren’t much better offensively, rankings 26th in runs and 27th in batting average.

Their opponent, the Rangers, is the surprise early leader in the AL West and has particularly feasted on some weak opposition thus far.

That weak schedule includes a 5-1 mark against the Kansas City Royals, the other team we’re picking on here. The Royals haven’t been quite as bad as the A’s and have some terrific young talent, but they also rank bottom five in baseball in both runs scored and runs allowed. That’s a bad combination when you’re facing Shohei Ohtani, who will take the mound in hopes of ending a two-game skid for the Angels.

Parlaying big favorites isn’t something you want to make a habit of, but in this case, the price is right.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

NBA playoffs parlay: Warriors money line/over 240 (LOST)

MLB: Cubs money line over Dodgers (LOST)

Thursday’s record: 0-2

Total for the week: 3-4, 1 pending

Total for April: 16-23, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 81-93, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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