The Los Angeles Clippers have proven a lot this postseason, and they might not even make it out of the Western Conference finals.
The Clippers came back from down 0-2 in both of their first two series. They won the final two games in the second round against the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz without injured Kawhi Leonard. L.A. faced the red-hot Phoenix Suns without Leonard and have battled. In Game 5, when it seemed the Suns would celebrate a clincher at home, the Clippers played a great game and extended the series.
The Suns are the only healthy team left in the playoffs, the easy favorite to win it all after Giannis Antetokounmpo's knee injury. But they're 1-point underdogs at BetMGM for Game 6 on Wednesday night, mostly because the Clippers are the horror-movie villain nobody can kill.
The Clippers have survived without Leonard due to Paul George's heroics, Reggie Jackson being on the greatest hot streak of his career and other role players making plays in key moments. With the stage being set for the Suns to end the Clippers' season, Los Angeles came out hot in the first quarter to take a lead that was never really threatened. It was a strong win.
No matter what happens next, the Clippers' run has been impressive. It's a franchise that hasn't been known for much that's positive, but their resolve in elimination games will be remembered. I have an uneasy lean toward the Suns as slight underdogs in Game 6, because I respect what they've shown in the postseason as well and assume shots will fall more easily than they did on Monday night.
But at this point, given how well the Clippers have been in this situation, it might be best to not make plans for Friday. We might get a Game 7.
Here's the first look at the betting slate for Wednesday:
Can the Canadiens make the Stanley Cup Final interesting?
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning blew out the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. The good news is it was a competitive game for two periods before the Lightning blew it open with three third-period goals.
Maybe that means we'll still get a fun series. The odds aren't optimistic. The Lightning are -225 favorites at BetMGM for Game 2 on Wednesday night. When the moneyline is that high it gets tough to bet; either you're laying a lot of juice or taking a huge underdog when you might not believe in them. The puck line (taking the favorite at -1.5 goals) for the Lightning is +125. That might be worth a look if you don't trust the Canadiens to steal Game 2. Hockey fans just want a good series before the offseason starts.
Who cashed tickets on Tuesday?
The Atlanta Hawks not only won as nine-point underdogs without Trae Young, they blew out the Milwaukee Bucks. While nobody roots for injuries, Giannis Antetokounmpo's knee injury opens the door for the Hawks to get to the NBA Finals. It was a complete turnaround for Atlanta in one night.
The Los Angeles Angels got two homers from Shohei Ohtani and still lost 11-5 to the New York Yankees, which is the type of game that might stick with old MVP voters who will resist voting for Ohtani if the Angeles don't finish with a winning record. The Angels' struggles are surely not Ohtani's fault. Also in MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a huge two-game sweep over the San Francisco Giants, who still have the best record in baseball.
There was another awesome day at Euro 2020, as England moved on with a win over Germany, and Ukraine got an extra-time goal to knock off Sweden, after Sweden got a red card in the 99th minute. Euro 2020 takes a couple days off before the quarterfinals start on Friday. England is now BetMGM's tournament favorite at +200. That must be weird to see for long-suffering England soccer fans.
No Euro 2020? Is there at least afternoon baseball?
There's plenty of early baseball today to pass the afternoon. There are five games, with the best of the bunch probably the Chicago Cubs trying to salvage a game in their series against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers came into the series with a three-game lead in the NL Central and now they lead by five. That's the biggest lead of any first-place team in baseball. Milwaukee has won seven in a row. That line was off the board at BetMGM on Wednesday morning, due to the Brewers not announcing a starter (it has been reported Aaron Ashby will make his major-league debut).
Another intriguing afternoon game is the Tampa Bay Rays as -115 favorites against the Washington Nationals. The Nats got the best of the Rays on Tuesday with a 4-3 win as Kyle Schwarber stayed white hot, but the Rays are still a good play on Wednesday.
What's the best bet?
Here's the best bet I see on the BetMGM board: Hawks +800 to win the NBA title. That's down a ton after Tuesday night, but there's still value. It seems there's a much better chance we'll see Trae Young this series than Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Hawks' odds will be adjusted if Antetokounmpo is ruled out. Then if Young can make it back for the NBA Finals, there's no reason they can't beat the Suns or Clippers in this wild NBA postseason. It's at least worth +800 odds.
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