With no offense to Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid or LeBron James as he nears 40, the Milwaukee Bucks have the best player in the world.
They’ll ask Giannis Antetokounmpo to do it all in normal times, as they should. When Khris Middleton is out with a knee injury, it’s all on the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s shoulders. That wasn’t a great formula on Monday night.
Having Antetokounmpo is a good place to start, but he’s probably going to need some help if the Bucks are going to survive the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The Bucks are 5.5-point underdogs at BetMGM going into Game 5 of their series against the Boston Celtics, which is tied 2-2. Game 4 showed that while Antetokounmpo is a phenomenal player, he probably has too much on his shoulders. Giannis played 41 minutes in Game 4, his most in any game this season, and he scored 34 points with 18 rebounds. The Bucks faded in the fourth quarter and the Celtics stole a crucial Game 4.
Antetokounmpo takes a tremendous amount of punishment (he gives out plenty too). The Bucks aren’t getting past the Celtics without Antetokounmpo doing more than any other player in these playoffs will be asked to do. But he might not have much left even if the Bucks take the series.
The Bucks need Antetokounmpo to be great and also have others chip in. Jrue Holiday was 5-of-22 in Game 4 and posted a grisly -23 when he was on the floor. None of the Bucks’ role players had a big game. Milwaukee won’t beat Boston if that doesn’t change.
If you want to bet on Antetokounmpo carrying the Bucks to at least a cover in Game 5, it’s reasonable. He’s capable. But at times in Game 4 it felt like he was taking on a very good Celtics team all by himself, and that’s not going to be sustainable. And you have to wonder if he’ll feel some effects from Monday’s loss on a quick turnaround for Game 5.
Here’s a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
Memphis moves forward without Ja
The Memphis Grizzlies went into Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors knowing they wouldn’t have Ja Morant, but there was still some hope he’d return soon. On Tuesday the Grizzlies announced that Morant is unlikely to return in these playoffs due to a bone bruise in his knee.
We’ll see how the Grizzlies react. They covered easily in Game 4 and almost won straight up, before Stephen Curry went off in the fourth quarter. They have a great against-the-spread record when Morant has missed games. But it might be hard for them to keep up that energy knowing their star is done for the playoffs, especially being down 3-1 in the series. The Warriors are 4.5-point favorites for Game 5 and it’s hard to back the Grizzlies, no matter how good they have been.
The NHL playoffs continue
The NHL’s first round resumes on Wednesday night with three games. The New York Rangers are -135 favorites over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Florida Panthers are -225 favorites over the Washington Capitals and the Calgary Flames are also -225 over the Dallas Stars. The Colorado Avalanche have already moved on to the second round.
The most interesting game might be the Caps-Panthers. The Panthers were great in the regular season, but have been pushed by Washington. Florida won in overtime of Game 4 to even the series. The odds have continued to heavily favor the Panthers, but it doesn’t seem like the Capitals are going to back down.
MLB has a full slate
There are 15 games in MLB on Wednesday, with eight afternoon starts. The best game could be the Toronto Blue Jays at the New York Yankees a night after Aaron Judge’s walk-off three-run homer got the Yankees the win. The Yankees are -145 favorites.
The Los Angeles Angels have been red hot and on Tuesday night they got a no-hitter from Reid Detmers. The Angels are -125 against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday with Shohei Ohtani on the mound.
What’s the bestbet?
Let’s go back to the Blue Jays, who let one slip away on Tuesday. They have Jose Berrios on the mound and are a worthwhile underdog, even against a Yankees team that is playing as well as anyone this season.