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How quickly things change.
Last week, the Philadelphia 76ers were in dire straits. They were staring at a 2-0 deficit to the Miami Heat and looked helpless without star Joel Embiid in the lineup.
Embiid was already dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb, and then he suffered a fractured orbital bone and concussion in Game 6 of their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors. It wasn’t clear when — if at all — Embiid would return during the Miami series. But once he cleared concussion protocols, he was back on the floor – mask and all.
While clearly not 100 percent healthy, Embiid’s presence made a world of difference as the Sixers rallied back with two home wins to tie the series at 2-2.
All of a sudden, the Sixers are just slight underdogs to win the series entering Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday night. The Heat, with home-court advantage, are -145 favorites at BetMGM. The Sixers, though, are just +120. Entering Game 3, the Heat were -1000 to win the series with the Sixers at +650. That’s a huge change.
On top of that, Philadelphia has seen its NBA title odds jump from +2500 to +1400.
For Game 5 itself, the Heat are favored by 3.5 points at BetMGM with the total listed at 209.5. The home team has won and covered the spread in all four of the games in this series, but the presence of Embiid cannot be overstated for Philly. Miami was a 7.5-point favorite in Game 1 and an 8-point favorite in Game 2.
Embiid makes such a significant difference for his team defensively while the attention he commands on the offensive end opens things up for his teammates to get more open shots. At the same time, you’ve got to expect better outside shooting from Miami back in its own arena.
This is going to be a battle.
Can Chris Paul, Suns respond in Game 5 vs. Mavs?
Just like in the Miami-Philadelphia series, the home team has won and covered the spread in all four of the games in the Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks series. Will that continue in Game 5?
The Suns jumped to a 2-0 lead, but the series is tied 2-2 in Phoenix on Tuesday night. The Suns, with the NBA’s best record, haven’t lost three consecutive games all season. They are favored by 5.5 points on Tuesday night at BetMGM. The total is listed at 213.5.
To win Game 5, the Suns will need a much better effort out of Chris Paul, who turned in uncharacteristic performances in Dallas for Games 3 and 4. Paul had seven turnovers in Game 3 and then fouled out in just 23 minutes in Game 4.
Even with things tied 2-2, the Suns are -250 favorites to win the series at BetMGM with the Mavs at +200.
NHL playoffs continue
The NHL playoffs have been mighty competitive thus far. All but two first-round series are currently tied up 2-2, including all four of the series that continue on Tuesday night.
In the East, the Carolina Hurricanes are -150 favorites for Game 5 at home against the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs are -125 home favorites for Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the West, the Minnesota Wild are -140 home favorites for Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers are -200 home favorites for Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Full MLB slate
There are 16 MLB games to sort through on Tuesday, including an unconventional doubleheader between the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers. The games will be played at Comerica Park in Detroit, but Oakland will actually be the home team for the first of the two matchups.
This is a quirk of the delayed start to the season that came with the lockout. Detroit was supposed to play a three-game series in Oakland during the first week of the season, but the lockout caused a change of plans. For Game 1 — with Oakland as the home team — the teams are both -110 on the money line. In Game 2, the Tigers are home favorites at -145.
Other intriguing matchups on the card include the New York Yankees (-160) at home against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins as +115 home underdogs versus the Houston Astros.