I placed a few futures bets on Wednesday:
- Suns over Clippers in four (+275) and Suns over Clippers in five (+175). Essentially, I’m convinced that this series will not make it to a third game in Los Angeles. With Chris Paul returning and Kawhi Leonard missing at least Game 3, I could see the Clippers taking one game at home through hot shooting, but I’m dubious that they can sweep the next two, and with Paul back, the Suns would be heavily favored in Phoenix for Game 5.
- Bucks over Hawks for the series (-150). There was no value in taking Milwaukee before the series, but after they lost Game 1? I was ready to toss my hat in that ring. Nothing the Hawks did particularly surprised me. Trae Young was always going to beat the Bucks from mid-range. Brook Lopez was minus-14 in 20 minutes, and I expect Milwaukee to lean even further into small-ball moving forward to combat those shots. The Bucks are the better team and the healthier one, so if one quick loss gets me more favorable odds, I’m going to take them.
- Suns to win the championship (even). If you believe in the East teams to win the title, great. Stick with them. All I’m suggesting is that if you’re a Suns backer, your last chance to get them above minus-money is probably now, because they’re going to dispatch the Clippers pretty quickly while the Bucks and Hawks could take awhile. Phoenix will be rested for the Finals and they’ll have home-court in that series. The championship isn’t locked up, but they’ve crossed the 50 percent threshold with their stellar recent play.
Now, onto Game 3 between the Clippers and Suns,
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
Game 3: Phoenix leads series 2-0
Time: 9 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
In case I wasn’t clear, I’m backing the Suns in this series, and that won’t change even as the venue shifts to California. The Clippers are only 4-3 at home this postseason and the Suns, at 24-12, had nearly as strong a record on the road as the Clippers did at home (26-10). With Leonard still out and Paul returning, any advantage that playing at home might have provided should vanish. The Suns are playing immaculate basketball right now. A team as injured as the Clippers isn’t going to stand in the way now that Phoenix is complete again. The pick: Suns -1.
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I’m going to continue riding the Reggie Jackson train until it comes to a stop. He’s topped this point total in all four games Leonard has missed, and for the postseason as a whole, he has averaged 18.6 points as a starter. The Clippers sorely need shot-creation with Leonard out, Jackson is the one providing it. The pick: Jackson over 18.5 points.
The Clippers reverted mostly to big lineups against the Suns in Game 2. It didn’t work. Deandre Ayton had 24 points on 12 of 15 shooting and pulled in 14 rebounds. In all likelihood, the Clippers will realize the futility of playing traditionally and devote more minutes to smaller lineups, and if that happens, Ayton should have no trouble on the glass. The pick: Ayton over 10.5 rebounds.