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NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Bucks vs. Celtics, Mavericks vs. Suns (May 15)

NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Bucks vs. Celtics, Mavericks vs. Suns (May 15) article feature image
Credit:

Via Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images. Pictured: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks on May 12, 2022.

  • Our Action Network NBA analysts break down their three best bets for Sunday's Game 7s.
  • Matt Moore and Brandon Anderson have bets on the Bucks vs. Celtics and Joe Dellera has a play on Mavericks vs. Suns.
  • Check out their analysis and picks below.

The NBA Playoffs continue on Sunday with two pivotal Game 7s. First, the Celtics host the Bucks at 3:30 p.m. ET in what could be another epic duel between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum. Then, the Suns host the Mavericks at 8 p.m. ET in the final game of a series in which the home team has won every game. Check out our NBA staff’s best picks and analysis on these games below.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
3:30 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
3:30 p.m. ET
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns
8 p.m. ET

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Bucks Under 101.5 (-115)
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
3:30 p.m. ET
TV
ABC

Matt Moore: Game 7 unders when the total is below 210 are 27-17-0, 61.4% since 2003, per Bet Labs.

Since 2006, only 15 of the past 60 Game 7 matchups have seen a differential in team totals for both sides. That means the home team total and road team total have either gone both over or both under in 45 of the last 60 Game 7 matchups.

The Bucks have seen their Expected Effective Field Goal Percentage drop as the series has gone on. Their expected eFG% was at its lowest in the past two games, including their Game 5 win. The Bucks shot at least seven percentage points worse than expected in three of the past four games of this series.

In short, the Celtics’ defense is working. They’ve managed to drag down the Bucks’ efficiency to 100 points per 100 possessions or worse in four of the six games.

So why not just play the under? Because Boston’s offense has quietly gotten a little bit better. The Celtics have a 113 or better Offensive Rating in five of the past six games. They’ve started to figure some things out against the Bucks, and that makes me nervous, even if teams usually don’t go over their team total if the combined total or opponent total goes under.

So let’s just play the team total under and bank on the Celtics making life difficult for a Bucks offense that has oftentimes had rough shooting performances in the playoffs. Let’s trust the Celtics offense at home against the Bucks without Khris Middleton.

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Bucks +950 to Win the Title
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
3:30 p.m. ET
TV
ABC

Brandon Anderson: Last summer, the Bucks and Suns met in the Finals. On Sunday, both teams face dangerous Game 7s. The defending champs are on the ropes, on the road and exhausted after a home Game 6 loss, while still missing Khris Middleton.

The Bucks are up against it. Milwaukee is a road dog. Grayson Allen has become completely unplayable, and Brook Lopez and George Hill haven’t been much better. Milwaukee is struggling to score at just 100.5 PPG, and the offense has devolved into occasional Jrue Holiday isos in between Giannis Antetokounmpo going God-mode.

Giannis is doing everything. He had 44/20/6 in Game 6, and it might have been his second- or third-best game of the week. Watch the Bucks and it feels absolutely hopeless. The Celtics are the deeper, more versatile, more rounded team. They have more ways to score and more ways to win. The Bucks — sans Giannis — have played like garbage much of the series.

And yet, Milwaukee has been right there late all but one game. Even in Game 6 when the Celtics were 10-of-17 on 3s at one point, when the Bucks weren’t scoring yet again, when Boston got 46 points from Jayson Tatum and a ridiculous 15-of-31 3s (48%) from Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart — even then, Milwaukee hung around long enough to have a shot before Boston pulled away late.

The Bucks’ elite defense is putting a ceiling on the opponent, and Giannis is so good that Milwaukee’s offensive floor is just higher than Boston’s. The Bucks have yet to pass 110 points — but they’ve scored at least 95 in all but one game. Game 7s are unpredictable, ugly, and low scoring. Boston is unlikely to get another outlier shooting performance. That means the ceiling gets even lower, and Milwaukee’s ugly but persistent floor will give the Bucks a chance. Giannis will give the Bucks a chance.

I’d make the Bucks a Game 7 underdog. I give them around a 40% chance to win. But if Milwaukee does survive, the Bucks could quickly be the title favorites.

They have the best player left in the playoffs, by a wide margin, and should get Middleton back soon. Golden State and Phoenix have not impressed against lesser opponents. Milwaukee matches up well with Miami and destroyed them last postseason. I’d make the Bucks around a 60% favorite against Miami and 60% against either West opponent. That puts them about 15% to win it all still.

Remember, the Bucks needed a road Game 7 win last year too before going on to win it all. The Raptors needed a memorable Kawhi Leonard shot in Game 7 en route to a title. We also saw the Warriors (2018), Spurs (2014), Heat (2013), Lakers (2009), and Celtics (2008) win a Game 7 and then go on to win the championship. Game 7 is not a death knell.

The best play on the board is also the most dangerous — it’s betting on the road underdog defending champs on the brink to win a Game 7 and go on to win the title. At +950, we’re getting an implied 9.5%, and the most likely outcome Sunday is our ticket being dead. But if Milwaukee survives, that +950 could be worth three or times its value in a few days.

We’re simply playing the number, and +950 is too good to pass on. The Bucks — and Giannis Antetokounmpo — are too good to pass on. This is Milwaukee’s last chance, but it’s also ours. Time to push the chips in.


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Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns

Pick
Deandre Ayton Over 17.5 Points
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Joe Dellera: Deandre Ayton has been extremely efficient with his shot attempts and usage on the floor. Throughout this series, he’s averaged 17.5 points per game while scoring 122.1 points per 100 shot attempts on 22.4% Usage. He is a mismatch against the Mavericks who are undersized on the interior, and he is someone whom the Suns should utilize in a winner-take-all Game 7.

Ayton has cleared this points prop in 3/6 games this series, but one of those was just an 18-minute effort due to foul trouble – something that is atypical for Ayton. Ayton should see at least 30 minutes in Game 7, and when he has played 30+ minutes, he has scored more than 17.5 points in seven of 10 games this postseason.

This number is too low, especially since the Mavericks are allowing the Suns to shoot 71.1% at the rim and 42.6% from short midrange. These are spots Ayton thrives from, and he outpaces both of those marks on the season, shooting 77% and 59% from those locations.

I’ll take Ayton to score over 17.5 points in Game 7.

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