The second round continues on Sunday. The action begins at 3:30 p.m. ET with the Dallas Mavericks hosting the Phoenix Suns. In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers will face the Miami Heat at 8:00 p.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the slate and choose the best bets for Sunday.
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76ers -2 (-110)
We have a series, but it’s not because Joel Embiid is back. It’s not because Jimmy Butler had a bad game (33 points and nine rebounds in Game 3). The 76ers were led by unlikely heroes with incredible performances in Game 3. Danny Green hit seven of nine 3-pointers and Tyrese Maxey hit five of six. If they shoot like this again, they can win without Embiid.
The Heat must find a way to respond to the threat of secondary scorers. It’s a tall order because focusing on Green and Maxey will open up James Harden and Embiid. As if that wasn’t a big enough issue, the Heat also need to find a way to score points. The Heat posted an NCAA score in Game 3 – 79 points won’t be enough. The Heat saw two players score in double figures – Butler and Tyler Herro with 14 points (33% FG%).
Green and Maxey won’t replicate their Game 3 shot, and the Heat can survive one of those two getting hot again. They can’t survive if Embiid or Harden wake up, nor can they survive with another anemic offensive performance. Someone has to step in for the Heat, and with Embiid on the floor, that gets a whole lot harder, as evidenced in Game 3. It wasn’t just that the Heat were cold on Friday. Embiid was back and the Heat offense went into hibernation.
Mavericks +1.5 (-110)
Dallas will not leave. The Jazz made the fatal mistake of neglecting this team and paid the price in the first round. The Suns looked past the Pelicans and almost made an early exit from the playoffs. Phoenix learned from that mistake and won Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, but they got too comfortable going into Game 3. The Mavs took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and the Suns have never come close.
The Mavs are not a good team on paper. It’s not a good team on the pitch. Dallas has one thing that appeals to the analytics community: the heart. There is no way around it. It’s not quantitative and you can feel it more than you can see it. This is the most Mark Cuban Maverick team ever. Throw away the statistics and the record book. Their passion effectiveness rating is off the charts. It sounds cliché, but there’s no better explanation for why the Mavericks won Game 3. The Suns shot better from the field and from beyond the arc, and they bounced back against the Mavs. They turned the ball over more than the Mavs, but that doesn’t explain why Game 3 was never close. The Mavs just wanted more. Back at home on Sunday, the Mavericks will want even more.
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