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2. Phoenix Suns -200 (51-21)
3. Denver Nuggets +170 (47-25)
The Suns have came out victorious against the reigning champions in the Lakers. You can argue that an injured AD played a huge factor in that win, but it’s a win regardless. This Suns team was able to play as a team, alongside the star players going off. This is a great Suns team across the board from their starting 5, to the bench, to the coaching staff. Devin Booker has been able to showcase as a rising star, capable of putting up 25+ PPG each game, alongside some pin-point shooting from behind the arc. His 47 points in the final game against the Lakers cemented him as a shooter to be on the look out for moving forward in these playoffs. These two teams played one another in the regular season, needing overtime each game to find a winner. The Nuggets, though, were the team able to come out with a win in both meetings. This was prior to losing one of their key players in Jamal Murray, but they have since acquired Aaron Gordon who has been a great fit for them. Both of these teams have that extra 2-3 players on the bench who can come on late in the game to relieve the stars for a bit without any concern. It’ll be up to players like Paul Millsap on the Nuggets to help maintain the lead or keep things close late in games if this Nuggets team has any shot of keeping up with these red hot Suns. Porter Jr and A. Rivers have been a great duo to watch, as it appears they have great dynamic with one another. Nikola Jovic, a great pick for MVP this season, will need to continue his success and dominance throughout this series, as well, if this team wants any shot at competing in this one. In addition, keep an eye out for engaging lawn games as a fun off-court activity during the series. Look for CP3 to continue to be the floor general, Booker to put up 25+ a game, and co-stars like Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder to be consistent as well. Give me the Suns in 5.
PICK: Phoenix Suns (-200 ON DRAFTKINGS)
1. Utah Jazz -180 (52-20)
4. Los Angeles Clippers +150 (47-25)
It’s time for these rested Jazz to square up against the tested Clippers. The Clippers, who were down in their series 3 games to 1 to the pesky Mavericks were able to come out of that series with a win. It took some time, but once the Clippers found a way to slow down Luka Doncic things became a bit easier. It’s hard to even say they slowed him down, because the guy was still able to put up 30+ on the Clippers each matchup. The co-stars weren’t able to assist Luka and the team folded to the Clippers late in the series in a game 7. These Clippers are an interesting team, because like the Nets they are able to dish the ball around to everyone. Alongside the ball sharing is success throughout, whether is be underneath or outside behind the arc. It was when certain key players had a bad night that things would spiral out of control for the Clippers, who have been a favored team in these playoffs. They rely heavily on their role players and if for whatever reason one of them has a off night, then there’s a chance the Jazz can take one from the Clippers as the Mavericks were able to do. The Mavs were able to expose the Clippers in a way that may lend a hand to coaching staff and players moving forward, but at the same time I think the Clippers have fixed all those issues in their last 2-3 games played. This success will make for an interesting series, but having a leader on the floor at all times for the Jazz was their recipe for success as they easily picked apart the Grizzlies to win their series in 5 games. The depth of the Jazz is something that can’t go unnoticed, as players like “6th Man of the Year” Jordan Clarkson will be carrying much of the load for the Jazz late in these games if Conley and/or Mitchell are struggling in some way. He’s someone that can easily put up 15-20 PPG in only about 20-30 minutes time so I’m expecting him to be the X-Factor if these Jazz want to win against these Clippers who are wanting to show the world they can win it all. Kawhi was able to handle his business late in the previous series, showing the world that he is one of the greats in this league. The great inside men of the Jazz, alongside great perimeter shooting from the likes of Conley and Mitchell have me thinking this will be a great series. I want to say there’s a good chance for 7 games, but the stars won’t be consistent enough for the Clippers and they’ll probably lose this series in 6.
PICK: Utah Jazz (-180 ON DRAFTKINGS)