If the Milwaukee Bucks win this second-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, then go on to win an elusive championship, it will be mentioned roughly a million times that they got lucky the Nets were injured.
It's not wrong. The Nets are the better team. But injuries happen. The Bucks, a franchise that hasn't been to the NBA Finals since 1974, wouldn't and shouldn't care. It's not like, years after the fact, anyone remembers which players were injured in the second round.
Here's the problem: The Bucks have a long way to go before they can realistically think about the NBA Finals. And that includes beating a short-handed Nets team. The Bucks are 4.5-point favorites at BetMGM for Game 5 on Tuesday night. They're also -175 favorites to win the series.
Imagine being so good that you can lose two of the top 20 players in the world (and maybe setting it at 20 is selling Kyrie Irving short) and are still just 4-point underdogs against a Bucks team that was the No. 1 seed in the East the past two seasons.
Irving and James Harden were ruled out Monday, which doesn't lead to much optimism about them playing Game 6 or 7 either. To say the Bucks caught the luckiest break of the playoffs is an understatement. But in a weird way, the pressure goes to them now.
If the Nets lose, well, they lost with two elite players on the sideline. It's understandable. If the Nets win? It will be an incredible story. And an absolute failure for the Bucks.
The Bucks were the No. 1 seed each of the last two seasons, but came up short in the playoffs. They became one of the rare teams to blow a 2-0 series lead the first time, against Toronto in 2019, and got destroyed by the Heat in the second round last season. Giannis Antetokounmpo will start to hear more criticism about playoff failures if the Bucks fall flat again, especially if it's against a Brooklyn team with Kevin Durant and not much else.
Take the Bucks in Game 5. It's hard to believe the Nets could win with Harden and Irving out, and we got a taste of what the matchup looks like in a lopsided Game 4. But you can't count the Nets out yet. The Bucks would have a lot of regrets if they can't finish this series.
Here's our first look at the Tuesday betting slate:
Wait, no other NBA? What do we do?
Bucks-Nets takes center stage on Tuesday, because it's the only NBA game. It's a reminder that the NBA season is winding down and we'll only be getting one game a night most nights going forward.
It's a good chance for the NHL to feature what is suddenly a compelling series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders. The Islanders have been disrespected all playoffs, but they keep winning. The Islanders won Game 1 as +165 underdogs, and they're +165 at BetMGM for Game 2 as well. The Islanders are now just -105 underdogs to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Lightning might be value at -115 to win the series. They are the defending champs and have turned it on in the playoffs. Then again, dismissing the Islanders has been a bad idea this postseason.
What's on the Euro 2020 slate?
There has been some good action from the Euro 2020 tournament. Spain and Sweden played a great 0-0 draw on Monday (yes, that is possible), with Sweden pulling off a shocking tie. There was also a fantastic goal from the Czech Republic from just past midfield.
Tuesday's matches are Hungary vs. Portugal at noon Eastern time and France vs. Germany at 3 p.m. Portugal is a healthy -250 favorite, and Germany and France are practically even (Germany is +180, France is +160 with the draw at +220). Yahoo Sportsbook's Nick Bromberg's picks are a great daily read during Euro 2020, and here are his Tuesday plays.
Who cashed tickets on Tuesday?
The Atlanta Hawks got a nice win as a 3-point underdog in Game 4, evening the series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers let one get away, and Joel Embiid in particular fell apart in the second half. He missed all 12 of his shots after halftime. It feels like the 76ers will still win the series, but it's certainly no guarantee.
In the other NBA game, the Los Angeles Clippers blew out the Utah Jazz as 5-point favorites. Even though the final margin was just 14, it was never a competitive game. Utah made a fourth-quarter run to make the score closer but the Clippers were in no danger. The series is tied at 2-2 and the Jazz still have home-court advantage, but the Clippers have completely turned the momentum in the series.
In the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens didn't have a good Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas, off of an impressive series win over the Colorado Avalanche, blew out Montreal. The Golden Knights are Stanley Cup favorites and it was easy to see why.
MLB has a full day
No afternoon action, but it's a full Tuesday slate. The biggest series is between the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox, perhaps the two best teams in the American League. Tampa Bay took the first game of the series, and there should be some concern the White Sox haven't played as well against the best competition this season. The Rays at -105 might be the right side Tuesday.
The red-hot Chicago Cubs will try to keep it going against the New York Mets, who have the edge in the pitching matchup with Taijuan Walker going against the Cubs' Alec Mills. The Mets are -145 favorites, and it might be worth looking at the Cubs at +120.
What's the best bet?
I'll go with a rare soccer play and take France at +165 over Germany in what should be one of the better matchups of the Euro 2020 group stage. France was the favorite to win Group F, they have a good shot to win the whole tournament, and I'll take them on Tuesday.
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