The Los Angeles Lakers are still favored to win the Western Conference. On Tuesday night, they might be fighting for their first-round playoff lives.
Not that the Lakers couldn't come back from 0-2 against the Phoenix Suns, but it's a hard road. According to Land of Basketball, teams that go down 0-2 in an NBA playoff series have advanced only 27 times in 426 opportunities. That's 6.3 percent.
The Lakers are 1.5-point favorites at BetMGM for Game 2, which is a big shift from Game 1 and not based on much other than blind faith in the Lakers and the belief they can't fall behind 0-2. The Lakers were 2.5-point underdogs in Game 1 and never really came close to covering. The Suns won 99-90 and looked like the better team.
LeBron James wasn't great in Game 1 and Anthony Davis was awful. The Lakers had no answer for Devin Booker and the Suns repeatedly exploited Los Angeles' pick-and-roll defense with Chris Paul setting up DeAndre Ayton. If you had no frame of reference other than Game 1, you'd have no idea why the Lakers are favored in Game 2.
Playoff series are all about adjustments and teams coming off a loss are more likely to make changes — this is a reason the zig-zag theory is so popular among bettors — so we'll see a different Game 2. The Lakers' urgency should be much higher given the history of teams that have fallen in an 0-2 hole. The Lakers have the talent to make that Game 1 loss look like a distant memory when they're winning another NBA title in July.
Yet, it's a huge line move and it's not based on anything we saw in Game 1. The Suns +2 looks like the right side based on the big line move alone. The Suns were a 51-21 team this season without a clear weakness and obvious stars in Paul and Booker. The Lakers have a real challenge on their hands. Wouldn't it be something if the West favorites didn't even make it out of the first round?
Here's a first glance at what we have to look forward to in the sports betting world on Tuesday:
Clippers also looking to avoid 0-2
The second favorite in the West? That would be the Clippers (+280; the Lakers are +200 to win the West), who are also down 0-1 in their first-round series.
The Clippers are going to have some issues containing Dallas' Luka Doncic. That doesn't mean the Clippers can't win the series, but they'll have to do so knowing Doncic can beat them in every game.
The Clippers are in a better spot than the Lakers because they're at home for Game 2, the zig-zag theory is strong for this one and the 6.5-point line doesn't seem too steep. In last year's playoffs, the Mavericks couldn't win two in a row against the Clippers, and Doncic struggled a bit after both wins in the series. The Clippers are still the superior team. And they better win, because that 0-2 hole is daunting.
Nets big favorites again
The Brooklyn Nets didn't blow away the Boston Celtics in Game 1, but still won by 11 to cover the 8-point spread. The Nets are 9.5-point favorites in Game 2, and it's hard to take the Celtics. When the Nets are right, their ceiling is higher than any other team. That's why they're the favorites to win it all. You'd like to trust a playoff team that is a 9.5-point underdog, but it would be a nervous couple hours fading the Nets.
Who cashed tickets on Monday?
The Bucks and Nuggets looked great on Monday. The Bucks had a first quarter teams dream of. They couldn't miss from 3 (something had to give after Game 1, right?), and cruised against the Miami Heat after that as 5-point favorites. The Heat beat the Bucks easily in the playoffs last season but this time around Milwaukee has a 2-0 lead. The Nuggets, in an easy zig-zag spot after losing Game 1 at home, led by double digits for most of an entertaining Game 2 against Portland. The Nuggets were just 2-point favorites and got an easy cover. Oh, and that bettor who put $4,000 on Jusuf Nurkic over 10.5 rebounds cashed that ticket.
In the NHL, all Edmonton Oilers futures bets can be ripped up. Edmonton was shockingly swept by the Winnipeg Jets, with the Jets getting out the broom in triple overtime. The Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild held off elimination and the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders got wins in series that were tied up.
In baseball, the Cleveland Indians got a win as an underdog against a Detroit Tigers team that hadn't been favored since April 22. Maybe there was a reason for that. The Seattle Mariners were the biggest underdogs to cash, as a +145 winner against the Oakland A's.
Anything stand out with the MLB slate?
No afternoon action unfortunately (the Tampa Bay Rays finally made good for matinee bettors on Monday to win their 11th in a row) but it's a solid full slate at night. The New York Yankees are big -175 favorites (and a team you might look to bet against Tuesday) over the Toronto Blue Jays as Corey Kluber tries to follow up his no-hitter. The Rays are -175 at BetMGM against the Kansas City Royals as they try to win again. The New York Mets are -250 as Jacob deGrom returns from the IL.
We also have the Los Angeles Dodgers coming perilously close to being underdogs for the first time all season. They are -120 at BetMGM against the Houston Texans, with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke squaring off. Anytime you can get the Dodgers as a short favorite like that, you can do worse than automatically taking it.
The NHL playoffs have been great, as usual
If you're not betting the NHL playoffs, you're missing out on some excellent action. There are two games on Tuesday night and both in tight series. The Maple Leafs, with high hopes this season but a long history of disappointing their fans, take on the Canadiens in Game 4 after a crucial win in Game 3. The Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes square off in Game 5 with the series tied up 2-2.
There was a double overtime and a triple overtime game on Monday night. The odds of the Toronto-Montreal game going to overtime are +280 at BetMGM, and it's +290 for Nashville-Carolina. This postseason 12 of 35 games have gone to overtime (34 percent), a little higher than the historic rate. So while there might be some regression coming, "yes" bets on overtime props have done pretty well so far this postseason. Also: The NHL playoffs are really fun, and really fun to bet on.
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