In a weird quirk of NBA scheduling, we’re getting Game 3s in the Miami-Philly and Phoenix-Dallas series tonight, despite their Game 2s occurring more recently than those of the other two series.
In other words, these guys are playing on two days’ rest, while Milwaukee, Boston, Golden State, and Memphis get four.
Philly certainly could have used some extra time with Joel Embiid still recovering from an orbital injury. He’s questionable against Miami at home in what feels like a must-win game for the Sixers.
Out West, Dallas is in a similar position, also at home, having lost two in a row to start its series with the league-best Suns. Can they stop Chris Paul and Phoenix’s historically prolific offense?
We’re not betting on it. Here’s why there’s value on both favorites in tonight’s NBA playoff games:
Miami @ Philadelphia
The Bet: Heat -1
The big question in this one surrounds the availability of Joel Embiid. Books seemingly wanted to protect themselves against his return and opened this game at Philadelphia -1, but it was quickly bet back so that the Heat are short road favorites. Without any clarity about the Sixers’ MVP candidate, Miami -1 is a bargain.
This Philadelphia team has been overvalued at home all season, maybe on the assumption that without Ben Simmons on the court, the usually raucous home crowd would be less antagonistic than usual. Whatever the case, the Sixers ran just 19-25 ATS in Philly this season, including 4-5 as home underdogs. They’ve also just covered one of their last five games. It felt as though the team’s season was hanging by a thread before a second-half explosion of offense against Toronto in Game 6. Maybe that was an aberration more than a stable recovery.
And Miami has been exceptional both against Philly (4-2 ATS on the season with three double digit victories) and on the road overall this season (26-16-1 ATS). If Embiid doesn’t play in this game, bookmakers are suggesting the shift to Philly is worth 6.5 points to the Game 2 spread. It’s not. Take the Heat.
Phoenix @ Dallas
The Bet: Suns -1
Like the Miami-Philly series, this one feels like an enormous mismatch through two games. Unlike the Miami-Philly series, there’s no real reason to expect the team in the hole right now can emerge from it and make this one competitive. Philly can explain its poor play away through the absence of its best player. Dallas is just not good enough to play with this Suns squad.
That shouldn’t take away from Luka Doncic’s offensive performance, which has been inspired. He’s averaging 40 points per game in the series so far, but it’s no good when Jalen Brunson shoots 3-12 and Spencer Dinwiddie 3-10. Luka needs help, and the Suns outrageously good perimeter defenders aren’t going to allow it.
Like the Miami-Philly series, there’s an assumption that a switch in venues will make this contest much more competitive, but Phoenix is 27-17 ATS on the road this season and 12-4 ATS in games with spreads of three points or fewer. They should move this series one step closer to a sweep with a road victory tonight.
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