The Conference Finals are proving to be just as exciting as one of the best semifinals we have seen in a very long time. The Atlanta Hawks continue to impress, stealing one in Milwaukee despite a late-game backcourt violation. Last year’s deadline acquisition of Clint Capela turned the baby Hawks into a team to watch. The additions of Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Bogdan Bogdanovic (who said no to a Bucks trade) turned them into playoff contenders. Tonight, we get Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The Phoenix Suns are up 2-0 and are expected to welcome back superstar point guard Chris Paul.
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1. Suns -1 | -109 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Suns being road favorites is telltale. The Los Angeles Clippers can still reel off wins behind Paul George’s heroics, but with Chris Paul returning, the outlook is bleak without Kawhi. The adage suggests that a series doesn’t truly start until a home team loses, making tonight’s game a pivotal contest that will determine the direction of this series. The Suns are simply the better team than a Clippers team, sans Kawhi. And as we saw when Chris Paul was out, this was true even when the Suns were short-handed.
With that said, this is the game the Clippers are expected to win. The probabilities are always against a sweep, so we could potentially see a spread flip by game time, especially once casual money starts to pour in. However, probability and betting handle do not dictate the on-court product each team can produce. The Clippers will need their mercenaries to show up for a chance tonight, while the Suns will just need to be themselves. Our model suggests a Suns victory, and with the spread being negligible, they are also the value despite being listed as the road favorite.
2. Reggie Jackson Over 18.5 Points | -127 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Los Angeles Clippers acquisition of Reggie Jackson was met with a lot of confusion, but with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, it now looks like a shrewd move. Jackson, a volume shooter from his days in Detroit, has been able to step up as the team’s number two option in the absence of their star player. He has scored 19 or more points in each of his last four contests. He will probably hit at least 19 points in each game of this series, as the shot volume will be there. Only a poor shooting night from the field should be able to stop him when he’s taking 15+ shots and attempting seven or more threes. This has already proven to be one of the more popular props of the day, so lock this one in before the odds move in a less favorable direction.
3. Chris Paul Over 8.5 Assists | -127 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Chris Paul is set to return to action tonight for the Phoenix Suns. While he is expected to make some key shots, minutes restrictions and game legs may keep him from playing a full complement of minutes. The uncertainty here makes his point prop too risky, regardless of the lean our model suggests. However, what we can be sure of is that he will be in rare form as far as being a court general and distributor. CP3 can hit nine assists in his sleep and will only need to see about 30 minutes total for the over to click, especially with how well his teammates have been playing as of late. Expect both teams to treat this game as a must-win.
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