The Daily Sweat: Nuggets need to find some support for Nikola Jokic vs. Suns
If you'd have been able to see Nikola Jokic's stat line for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, you'd have been convinced the Denver Nuggets swept the Phoenix Suns.
Jokic has been on a historic roll the past couple games. In the last two games, Jokic is averaging 41.5 points, 14 assists, 10.5 rebounds and shooting 63% from the field. He's the first player in NBA playoff history to average a 40-point triple-double and shoot better than 60% from the field over a two-game span, according to ESPN Stats and Info. And the Nuggets wasted both efforts, going 0-2 in Phoenix.
That's because the Suns are getting their own otherworldly performances from Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, and actually got a little help around them in Game 4 too. Jokic could use a boost from his teammates in Game 5. The Nuggets are 5.5-point favorites at BetMGM.
Denver has been excellent at home all season and looked like the better team in the first two games of the series. But Phoenix has confidence after the last two games. And if Jokic is off a bit, can the Nuggets win?
It's a pivotal game in what has been an entertaining series that's now locked at 2-2. The Nuggets need to figure out some way to slow down Booker or Durant if they want to survive the series. The same could be said for the Suns figuring out how to defend Jokic, but they've been winning no matter what Jokic does against them.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Tuesday:
76ers-Celtics in Game 5
Oddsmakers aren't worried about the Boston Celtics. Boston is still the favorite to win the NBA title at +165 and it's a hefty 7.5-point favorite for Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers have won a couple of close games in the series, which is tied 2-2. They're going as James Harden does; when Harden plays well the 76ers have won and when he's off, they're not competitive. It should be clear early if the 76ers can keep Game 5 close.
Devils, Stars need Game 4 wins
The New Jersey Devils started their series against the Carolina Hurricanes in a bad way, being blown out in Game 1 and 2. Then they turned the tables and blew out the Hurricanes, 8-4, in Game 3. What comes next after the first three games were each decided by at least four goals? The Devils are -155 favorites, which might underestimate how good the Hurricanes have been this postseason.
In the other NHL Game 4 on Tuesday, the Dallas Stars are on the road and down 1-2 in the series against the Seattle Kraken, but still -135 favorites. The Kraken have been a tough out, but the Stars will be desperate for a win.
Full Tuesday for MLB
There are 15 games on the MLB schedule as usual for a Tuesday. The biggest game on the schedule is the Houston Astros at the Los Angeles Angels, who have MVP frontrunner Shohei Ohtani on the mound. The Angels are -140 favorites. The Angels are 6-1 in Ohtani's starts this season.
What's the best bet?
I don't like laying many points for what should be competitive Game 5s in the NBA. I'll make it a co-best bet and go with each underdog, the 76ers and Suns, in what should be close games on Tuesday.