NBA playoffs, betting odds, picks: Bucks bounce back vs. Nets; Chris Paul’s health makes Suns risky Game 1 bet

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Victory lap time! I begged you all to bet on the Clippers to come back and beat the Mavericks when they were down 2-0. I did so again when they won Game 3 and were down 2-1. I very publicly put a rather substantial amount of my own money on them to do so, and even if I hadn’t, I picked the Clippers to win the championship. I was all-in on this thing, and I implored you to join me. 

Hopefully you did, because on Sunday, the Clippers completed the comeback and became the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series despite losing three home games. Now they’re about to face a Utah Jazz team with Mike Conley hobbled. There’s still time to jump on the Clippers train with me. The William Hill Sportsbook has them at plus-210 to win the Western Conference. I grabbed that line. I’m not quite as confident in it as I was in the Clippers coming back against the Mavericks, but I think anything better than 2-to-1 on the best player left in the Western Conference is good value. Speaking of value, here Monday’s best bets. 

All lines via William Hill Sportsbook

Featured Game | Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The things that went well for Milwaukee in Game 1 are entirely sustainable. The Bucks should score 72 points in the paint against a team with no rim protection. They should out-rebound Brooklyn by 11. The things that went well for the Nets are not at all sustainable. The Bucks probably are not going to shoot 6 of 30 from behind the arc again. We know this because of basic regression, but even if we didn’t, we just saw the same thing play out in the first round. The Bucks shot 5 of 31 against the Heat in Game 1… and 22 of 53 in Game 2. This is an elite shooting team, and they’ll be better on that front in Game 2. Mike James and Blake Griffin combined to score as many points as Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. That probably isn’t happening twice. When James Harden comes back, this series changes significantly, but for the time being, the Bucks should be considered the favorite on a game-to-game basis. The pick: Bucks +1.5

Featured Game | Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets

Lost in the hoopla of the Lakers loss and injury to Anthony Davis is the fact that we really don’t know how healthy Chris Paul is. He was great in Game 4 … and then shot 33.3 percent from the field in Games 5 and 6. The Suns won Game 6 by 13 points, but won Paul’s minutes by only three points. Denver has spent the past two months learning how to play without all of its injured guards, and has now hit a groove with Austin Rivers, Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris in the backcourt. Nikola Jokic averaged 25.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists in three games against the Suns this season. That’s not a coincidence. DeAndre Ayton is their only big man capable of defending him, and unless he can match Jokic’s minutes, there will be likely be minutes in which the presumptive MVP gets to feast against Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric. If Paul proves that he’s healthy, Phoenix should still be favored in this series. For now? I’m taking the points. The pick: Nuggets +5

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