Joel Embiid may well have closed the door on this MVP race after his 52-point explosion in a close, but scary, win over the rival Boston Celtics. Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Jimmy Butler said they think Joel is the MVP.
It’s also certainly starting to look like Philadelphia and Boston could meet in the second round of the playoffs, if they’re both able to take care of business in round one.
The Sixers are now 52-27, with three games remaining on the merciless end of the regular season schedule. Hopefully they buy their core plenty of rest along the final (now basically meaningless from a playoff seeding vantage point) stretch. They’ve all but locked up the third seed. And unless they win out, and the Celtics lose out, they can’t reach Boston for the two seed. Darn it.
Let’s keep an eye out around the NBA tonight, while the Sixers have a night off before hosting the Miami Heat.
If you’re heavily invested in whether or not Embiid will win his first ever MVP, it certainly wouldn’t be bad for your cause should the Milwaukee Bucks fizzle down the stretch a bit. If somehow the Bucks run the table and hit 60 wins, you get the sense that impressive win total might sway a couple swing voters.
And those voters are probably not the type to dwell on the fact that Brook Lopez is a top two favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, or that Jrue Holiday may very well make an All-Star team (he already has), an All-NBA team, and an All-Defensive team. And all that before we even mention Khris Middleton.
These narrative-chugging swing voters may not even care if Giannis doesn’t play in a few of the final three games. They may simply see best player on a 60-win team and cast their ballots for the Greek Freak. You know coach Mike Budenholzer would love to win 60 games for a third time in his career, having already accomplished the feat back in 2019, as well as with the Atlanta Hawks in 2015.
Coach Bud has a chance to become the fourth coach in history (joining Steve Kerr, George Karl, and the late Jerry Sloan) to win 60 regular games three times.
So keep all that in mind. But we’re here to make some cash.
So let’s pop on a Single Game Parlay and offset our rooting interests, a bit. That way, either the Bucks lose or we have a shot to get paid. Win-win?
I’m starting with a Bucks’ alternative line of -3.5 (-180). I’m taking Giannis’ over 28.5 (-160) points, since he may have his sights set on his third regular season MVP honor. Jrue Holiday has averaged 7.3 dimes, 4 boards, and 16.6 points in a Bucks uniform vs. Chicago since the start of the 2020-2021 season in a decent eight-game sample. Let’s go with his over 4.5 dimes (-425) and over 3.5 boards (-220) here too.
Running that back the other way with DeMar DeRozan’s over 20.5 points (-200) and we’re up to +475 on an SGP. If you think Khris Middleton can get 17, add his over 16.5 (-180), to hit +750 total payout. And if you’re really living on the edge today add Zach LaVine’s under 28.5 (-170) and you’re all the way up to +1100.
Just $5 pays out $60 now if you pop on all of those plays. Go Bulls.
LeBron James has returned to the starting lineup and since then the Lakers have rattled off four in a row. In fact, dating back to the Austin Reaves breakout game vs. Orlando, the great citizens of L.A.’s preferred team has won seven out of the team’s last eight ballgames. The Clippers occupy the Western Conference’s sixth seed, and the Lakers hold the seventh. Both teams are 41-38.
Both L.A. squads you get the sense would love to to A) duck the play-in B) hang around in this side of the bracket which does not include the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. Taking your chances against the likes of the Grizzlies or Kings feels a lot more doable these days for banged up squads just finding their legs or trying to get healthy.
Superstar Clips’ forward Paul George was injured in late March, and the Boats are just 3-4 in their last seven, including that one-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the same game where PG landed awkwardly and sprained his knee.
It’s a bit curious to me that the Clippers are actually favored here. I suppose it’s a testament to their depth and owner Steve Ballmer’s uber-baller pockets.
The Clippers spend more than any other team in the league on talent, so I guess they can salvage losing a superstar for a stretch, and still earn the benefit of the doubt for even this nominal “home game,” played in the Crypto.com arena both teams call home.
(For context, Robert Covington hasn’t been a rotation player for them most of the year after signing an extension, and he’d be like the Sixers seventh man, lol.)
Let’s begin a Single Game Parlay like this. Lakers alternative line of +5.5 (-140) sort of feels like free money here, since they feel very live to win the game outright.
LeGOAT has averaged 23.4 points since returning, and one of those games was a laugher vs. the Rockets. In the last close one, an overtime win over the Jazz, he dropped a cool 37 points. A human marvel. I’m taking his over 23.5 points (-170). Kawhi is kind of weird. He’s averaging 23.6 points per game in the full five ballgames since PG went down. But two of those games he only scores 12, and one he drops 40. But I’m guessing in a game with such big playoff ramifications we get closer to that average or better. Run this back with Leonard’s over 24.5 (-205).
Anthony Davis has been on an absolute rampage, and it has not slowed down with James’ return. Gimme AD to top 24.5 (-205) points and 10.5 rebounds (-260).