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The Philadelphia 76ers are looking to close out their first-round series with the Toronto Raptors on Monday night. The Sixers are also looking for one other thing — much-needed rest for star big man Joel Embiid.
Embiid is playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb. Embiid injured the thumb in Game 3 — the same game he hit a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime to give the Sixers a 3-0 series lead.
Toronto extended the series with a victory in Game 4 and Embiid, at times, seemed tentative as he played through an injury that is clearly very painful. He scored 21 points, but was not as aggressive on the glass or as a rim protector. It’s an injury that will require surgery, but Embiid has vowed to put that off until after the season.
On Monday, the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 5. The Sixers won by double-digits and covered the spread at home in Games 1 and 2. This time around, they are favored by 7.5 points at BetMGM with the total listed at 209.5.
The betting on the point spread has been pretty split. According to BetMGM, 51% of the bets and 60% of the money is on the Sixers. With the total, 83% of the bets and 90% of the money is on the over 209.5.
The Sixers want to close this series out now and not give the Raptors any glimmer of hope to complete an epic comeback. And if they can end the series Monday night, Embiid will have a few extra days to rest that ailing thumb before Round 2.
Celtics look to sweep Nets, Jazz-Mavs Game 5
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics can complete a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.
The three games in this series have been decided by a total of 14 points, but the Celtics have emerged victorious in all three, including Saturday’s 109-103 victory in Brooklyn. The Nets were favored by 3.5 points in that one and are again the favorites for Game 4. This time around, the Nets are just 1.5-point favorites at BetMGM with the total listed at 219.5.
Despite the 3-0 series edge for Boston, the betting is pretty even for Game 4. According to BetMGM, 52% of the bets and 51% of the money is on the Nets -1.5. Similarly, the bets on the total are nearly even (51% on the under), but 71% of the money is on the under 219.5.
Over in the Western Conference is a much more competitive series. The Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks are tied at 2-2 entering Game 5 in Dallas on Monday night.
Luka Doncic returned to the lineup for the Mavs and dropped 30 points, including what looked like a dagger 3-pointer with 39.6 seconds to play. That triple gave the Mavs a 99-95 lead and put them on the verge of a 3-1 series lead. However, the Jazz scored the game’s final five points and eked out a 100-99 victory.
For Game 5, the Mavericks are favored by 2.5 points with the total listed at 212.5. Bettors are all over Dallas in this one. According to BetMGM, 88% of the bets and 87% of the money is on the Mavs -2.5.
New favorite to go No. 1 in NFL draft
There’s a new favorite to go No. 1 in the NFL draft. For weeks, Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson was the betting favorite at BetMGM, but now it’s Georgia’s Travon Walker as the favorite at -175 with Hutchinson next at +135.
Walker opened at +3000 to go No. 1, but has risen up draft boards over the last several months. The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the No. 1 pick and Walker is a guy with all the traits NFL evaluators look for. Hutchinson, though, was one of the nation’s most productive pass rushers last season.
These odds will surely continue to move as the week progresses. As of Monday morning, though, Walker has received the most money of any prospect. According to BetMGM, Walker has received 18.9% of the bets and 35.0% of the money. Hutchinson has received 19.5% of the bets and 25.3% of the money. Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal has received the second-most bets (19.3%) and third-most money (15.1%).
What else is there to bet on?
It's a little lighter of a day in baseball with seven games, but there are a few intriguing matchups. Included in the bunch is the New York Mets, who have baseball’s best record at 12-5. Max Scherzer is on the mound on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Mets are -150 favorites.
There’s also a bizarre single game for the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers. It’s one of the games that was postponed and later squeezed into the schedule due to the MLB lockout. The Brewers are -200 favorites before heading to Pittsburgh. For the Giants, it’s the end of an 11-game road trip with no off day on the books until Thursday. That’s a lot of traveling.
What's the best bet?
It's a very public side, but I'm going with the Mavericks -2.5 over the Jazz. Even though he dropped 30 in his return, it took Doncic some time to get going after returning from his calf injury. I think he'll be much sharper in Game 5 with Jalen Brunson also turning in a big performance.