After the Hawks held on for the Game 1 upset in Philly, things get interesting in a must-win for the 76ers. We also get Game 1 between the Clippers and Jazz, following completely different paths in the first round to get here.
There are a lot of different ways you can go at this one, and this is just one of three ways I’m betting the 76ers in this game/series. Game 1 was a disaster for Philly out of the gates, falling in a massive hole, despite Joel Embiid (knee) looking like himself. While the loss was disappointing, the 76ers clawed back in the second half, taking the game down to the wire. I’d almost certainly expect that momentum to carry into Game 2 at home, especially following the urgency of a bad loss.
Look for the 76ers to push the pace early, and Embiid to dominate in the half court when the game slows down. Not to say the Sixers can’t do this on their own, but if they struggle, they could also get some help from the refs in this spot, as going down 2-0 wouldn’t be a good thing for the league. Scott Foster and Tony Brothers are calling this game. If you know, you know.
The two other things I’ll be playing here are the 76ers for the series, which was priced at -122 on Monday but is starting to reach -150 territory, and the moneyline as a parlay piece. I see the moneyline in this game as one of the stronger NBA plays in a while, and would be shocked if it lost. It’s good value. Philly evens the series following a strong start to the game.
Mike Conley (hamstring) has in fact been ruled out for Game 1, which was the final straw to push me onto the Clippers. This team is terrifying to bet on at times, constantly battling from behind in the series against the Mavericks. They almost only got wins when they had to, and this game is far from a must-win.
However, the absence of Conley should play a big role here against a team as talented as the Clips. Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles are ready to step into expanded minutes, but there will be a trickle-down effect that obviously favors Los Angeles.
Of course, we know the Clippers are 3-0 straight up and against the spread on the road so far in the postseason, so the atmosphere shouldn’t be an issue. Let’s hope these last two wins locked Kawhi Leonard into the level he’s been playing at, which would be a huge advantage over a shorthanded Jazz team. In 47 postseason games so far in the NBA, the team that’s covered has also been the winner on 45 occasions. Forget the points, let’s target the plus-money.
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