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NBA teams can come back from 0-2 down to win a series. The Los Angeles Clippers just did it.
But it's rare, and the Milwaukee Bucks might not be able to rebound so easily from an 0-2 hole.
Imagine if the Bucks lose Game 2. They saw the Brooklyn Nets lose James Harden in the first minute of Game 1. They couldn't take advantage of that. Harden has already been ruled out of Game 2, and if the Bucks can't hit shots or make adjustments and win Game 2, they'll be down 0-2 with the Nets getting all of 43 seconds from one of the best players in the world.
The good news is the market thinks the Bucks have a shot to win Monday. They're just 2.5-point underdogs for Game 2 at BetMGM. The Bucks were 3-point underdogs in Game 1 and lost 115-107. The Bucks were never really in the game after the Nets started the third quarter with a run.
Not only would the Bucks presumably be suffering a confidence crisis after losing two in a row at Brooklyn, the odds against them would be daunting. Only 28 teams in 430 chances have come back from an 0-2 deficit in the NBA playoffs, and that counts the Clippers this postseason. And the Clippers beat a flawed Dallas Mavericks team that can't help Luka Doncic enough. The Nets aren't the Mavs; they're a fantastic team and a worthy title favorite.
On top of all that, the Bucks have some playoff baggage. They dominated the regular season in two of the three seasons before this one, without a NBA Finals appearance to show for it. They were one of those teams to blow a 2-0 series lead, to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals. They were run out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat in the second round last year. It's not like there's a great record of postseason success to fall back on if they're down 0-2.
Many have said Bucks-Nets feels like the real NBA Finals. If that's true, Game 2 feels like the Bucks' last call to stay in the championship hunt.
Here's a first look at the Monday betting slate:
Suns get back in action vs. Nuggets
The Phoenix Suns were disrespected and overlooked before the playoffs (I fell into that trap too). They went 51-21 but got matched up against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Los Angeles got all the attention. Lakers injuries or not, the Suns were simply the better team.
The market has corrected, and now the Suns are big favorites to go to the Western Conference finals. The Suns are 4.5-point favorites at BetMGM over the Denver Nuggets, who just dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers, for Game 1 on Monday. The Suns are a fairly heavy -190 favorite to win the series. The Suns were +800 to win the West as of last week, and they're +300 to start the second round.
The Suns look like a fine bet, because they have the size to not get flattened by Nikola Jokic and their guard depth could be a real problem for Denver. This could be a fairly short series.
Only three MLB games
It's a strange Monday schedule in baseball. It's not unusual to see an incomplete schedule on Monday, but it is rare to see only three games.
The Miami Marlins face the Boston Red Sox (the Red Sox are -150 at BetMGM; take the Marlins), the Kansas City Royals are at the Los Angeles Angels (Royals at +115 against struggling Dylan Bundy is fine) and the San Diego Padres get the Chicago Cubs (the Padres are a worthwhile play as a short -120 home favorite).
In other words, there aren't many games on the schedule in any sport to keep you from appointment viewing on Bucks vs. Nets.
What's up with the NHL on Monday?
The NHL has two games going, and somehow are overlapping on a night in which there are only five games on the schedule among the major team sports. The Montreal Canadiens are up 3-0 on the Winnipeg Jets, and Montreal is -150 favorites. It's hard to take the Jets.
The other series is very interesting. The New York Islanders and Boston Bruins are tied at 2-2. The Bruins are big -190 favorites, and considering how tight the series has been, it's either Islanders +155 or nothing.
Who cashed tickets on Sunday?
The Los Angeles Clippers kept some future bets alive by pulling out Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks, the first home team to win in that series. The Clippers get the Utah Jazz next, and the Jazz are -160 favorites in the series at BetMGM. Los Angeles is an interesting underdog there.
The Atlanta Hawks made a big statement on Sunday ... through about three-and-a-half quarters. The Hawks were cruising over the Philadelphia 76ers, then a pressing defense got them back in the game and almost pulled over a comeback for the ages. Atlanta got the win, which matters the most, and the Hawks look like a team that can upset the No. 1 seed 76ers in this series.
In the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights have come all the way back in their series against the Colorado Avalanche, tying it 2-2 after an impressive Game 4 win. Vegas, which looked overmatched during the first two games in Denver, won 5-1. The Avs are still favorites to win the Stanley Cup at +200 but they are in a tough series now.
In Major League Baseball, the most notable outcome was the Boston Red Sox completing a sweep of the New York Yankees with a fun extra-inning win. They won 6-5 as +135 underdogs on Sunday. The Yankees are now 31-29, in fourth place of the AL East, 6.5 games back of first place. And because they're consistently big favorites, the Yankees have been one of the worst teams in MLB for bettors this season.
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