The Boston Celtics have looked off for a while now.
The talent is there and if the Celtics put it all together, they're the best team remaining. They're the clear betting favorites to win the championship. There's a reason for that.
Yet, nothing is coming easy for them. That includes dropping Game 1 of their second-round series at home to a Philadelphia 76ers team that didn't have NBA MVP Joel Embiid.
The Celtics can't afford another listless performance in Game 2. They're 9.5-point favorites over Philadelphia.
Boston also had a closer-than-expected call in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks, though the Celtics pulled it out. They also couldn't match the Milwaukee Bucks over the final month of the season in the race for the No. 1 seed. There have been plenty of strange losses from a team that, going by the odds, is considered the top team remaining by a clear margin.
It would be a pretty big shock if the Celtics lose on Wednesday night. But can they cover? The 76ers likely won't have Embiid again. But in Game 1, James Harden scored 45 points. He lifted Philly to the win. The Celtics should bounce back in a big way and it wouldn't be a shock to see them win by double digits, but it's getting hard to trust them.
If the Celtics are truly the best bet to win the NBA Finals, they should look the part on Wednesday.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
Two Game 1s in the NHL
Two series get started on the ice. The New Jersey Devils, right off a Game 7 win against the New York Rangers on Monday, face the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are -120 home favorites. In the West, the Edmonton Oilers are -115 road favorites at the Vegas Golden Knights. On Tuesday night, both road teams won in Game 1 to take 1-0 series leads. One of the losses was by the Toronto Maple Leafs, which changed the Oilers to the favorite to take the Stanley Cup at +375.
Full day in MLB
MLB has 16 games, which includes a doubleheader between the New York Mets and Detroit Tigers to make up for Tuesday's rainout.
There are five afternoon games. The highlight is the Philadelphia Phillies, with Aaron Nola on the mound, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gavin Stone, a fantastic prospect who put up great numbers in the minors, gets the start for the Dodgers in his MLB debut. Both teams are -110, which shows a lot of faith in Stone for his first start in the majors.
It's also Ohtani Day. Shohei Ohtani takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels at the St. Louis Cardinals. The Angels are -145 road favorites, and that's probably justified against struggling Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas.
What's the best bet?
Brandon Pfaadt is another exciting rookie pitcher making his MLB debut. He'll start for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Texas Rangers. I'll go with the Rangers, who are -125 favorites, at home and playing well. Pfaadt has some impressive numbers in the minors but he has a difficult assignment in his first start.