I hit both of my NBA betting picks on Wednesday night. There was only one game on the agenda, but I nailed it as the Boston Celtics easily covered the number against the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that went under the total by 10.5 points. Philly could only score 38 points after halftime, and the Sixers know that needs to change if they are hoping to win Game 3 at home.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Boston Celtics -1.5 at Philadelphia 76ers
The buyers’ remorse from voters who expressed their regret about voting Joel Embiid for league MVP went into overdrive after a poor performance in Game 2. Embiid missed Game 1 of the series, and the Sixers pulled together around James Harden to knock off the Celtics. However, Philly was much less competitive upon Embiid’s return as he was only to score 15 points and pull down three rebounds in 27 minutes of action. It was a dreadful performance for a league MVP, and many voters have stated that they should have bucked the narrative and backed Nikola Jokic to win the award for a third straight season.
Harden wasn’t great either after an outstanding performance in Game 1. He went just 2 of 14 from the floor and finished with only 12 points as he went 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey had decent performances, but the Sixers were terrible without their two superstars playing well.
Meanwhile, Boston dominated despite an awful performance from star Jayson Tatum. The Celtics’ best player went just 1 of 7 from the floor and finished with just seven points in a 34-point win. Al Horford was bad too, as the guards needed to step up in a big way. Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 48 points and shot the lights out from three, and Marcus Smart and Derrick White played well too.
Embiid is going to take the court again in Game 3, and he is looking to put forward a better performance on his home court. However, it’s unlikely that Tatum and Horford have another poor outing, so it’s best to back the Celtics as short favorites by the NBA betting odds.
Denver Nuggets +4 at Phoenix Suns
It’s a little surprising to see the Phoenix Suns installed as moderate home favorites by the basketball betting odds even though Chris Paul is injured. CP3 injured his groin in Game 2, and it looks like the Suns are kind of lost as a team. They will be heavily reliant on the pick and roll game with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, and those two players may need to combine for 70-75 points if the Suns are to win given the lack of talent on the roster.
Phoenix jumped at the chance to acquire Durant after Mat Ishbia bought the team from Robert Sarver, but they no longer have a bench and are extremely thin aside from their four best players. That has led to Booker and Durant averaging 43 MPG, and Deandre Ayton will have to play big minutes in this game too since there aren’t many other options down the roster. Ayton is averaging 15.4 PPG and 10.1 RPG this postseason, but he has been a big disappointment as he has the skillset to do more but doesn’t seem to be able to get to the next level.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are a very well-balanced team. They were continually overlooked throughout the season despite finishing with the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season. Nikola Jokic has been fantastic in the playoffs even though his numbers don’t jump off the page, as he leads the team with 27.7 PPG, 13.9 RPG, and 7.9 APG. The presence of Jamal Murray has been huge too, giving Jokic a quality second scoring option.
Denver is going to win this series in five games. The Nuggets match up very well with the Suns, and they have a lot of bigs they can use to control the glass and limit Durant. They won’t have the advantage of playing at high elevation, but they should be closer to a pick ‘em than a four-point underdog.