A Sunday in June doesn’t look much better than this, and our NBA picks have just what you need. If you are looking at placing any bets on tonight’s action, you’ll want to have a read of what we have on offer!
An intriguing Game One of the Western Conference Finals between the Clippers and Suns and a massive Game Seven between Philadelphia and Atlanta, with a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line.
Who advances? Who draws first blood? We have everything you need in tonight’s edition of the NBA picks!
Los Angeles Clippers @ Phoenix Suns (Game 1) – 3:30pm EDT
Well here we are, the Western Conference Finals. The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers are the last two standing, but at what costs? Both Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard have already been ruled out of this clash and there is no indication when either will return, leaving both sides with glaring holes to fill.
At least for the Clippers their last two games were without Leonard, giving them time to adjust, and it is safe to say that they did so extremely well. Going in as massive underdogs for game five, in Utah, the Clippers got the win and then closed out the series in six on their home floor on Friday night.
Paul George’s 37 point, 16 rebound night was the story of game five, but Terance Mann was the star of the show in game six. After scoring 20+ points just four times in his career with a career high of 25 heading into the game, Mann shot 7-10 from deep and 15-21 from the field to finish with 39 points.
🚨 THE LOS ANGELES CLIPPER EARN THEIR FIRST WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS BERTH IN FRANCHISE HISTORY 🚨 pic.twitter.com/LNYYUz88cx
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 19, 2021
LA found themselves down by 22 at halftime and 25 early in the third quarter but a 15-0 run was the driving force behind a 41-22 period and then they just ran over the top in the last. The Clippers won the final frame 40-25 to win 131-119, their second best scoring output of the entire postseason, and they did it all without Leonard.
While Utah were the one-seed in the West, Phoenix are a much better team and will pose as a much difficult task in this series. However, without Paul in the lineup that may be a different story. Paul missed just two games during the regular season and both came against teams that finished well below 0.500, so it is unfair to judge the Suns’ ability to perform without him purely on those games.
When looking at Phoenix’s 10 postseason games so far, they are a massive +78 when Paul is on the floor, but are still a very handy +24 in the minutes he spent on the bench. A big reason behind that was the play of Cameron Payne off the bench. While he isn’t a big scorer or shooter, Payne had four straight double digit scoring games against the Lakers in the first round but is a pesky defender and will be needed to get under the skin of Mann, Reggie Jackson and the Clippers’ guards.
The Phoenix Suns are headed to the 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬!
More to do, more to come.
𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐓𝐒. #RallyTheValleyhttps://t.co/Jb1oUUiaHM pic.twitter.com/Fto8xLyATo
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 14, 2021
But why the Suns are still favorites going into this game, on top of the fact that they are at home and have had a week off to prepare, is the exceptional play of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Booker is the lead man on the team, averaging 28 points per game and having three double doubles from his last five games. Ayton is the big man in the middle, dominating the interior on both ends of the floor, averaging 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds, but it will be interesting to see how his offensive production goes without Paul getting him easy looks.
Ultimately, Phoenix are the better side but there is a big drop off behind Paul in the rotation. LA has already proved that they can win meaningful games without Leonard, whereas the Suns are the great unknown without their playmaker on the floor. However, the Clippers may have had a peak performance in game six and they now have to travel to Phoenix in an attempt to win a fifth straight game.
Things will definitely get chippy, especially between Booker and George, but at home, we like the Suns to come out strong and set the tone for this series.
NBA Pick – Phoenix Suns (-184)
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Atlanta Hawks @ Philadelphia 76ers (Game 7) – 8pm EDT
The third Game Seven of the postseason and potentially the hardest of them all to predict. This series between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers has been unpredictable at the best of times, with massive leads blown and home court holding no advantage. Atlanta have won two of the three games in Philadelphia in the series, so home court advantage may not have as big of an impact as it potentially should.
With a 3-2 series lead and a 20-8 advantage in the first quarter of game six, in front of their fans, the Hawks looked like they could have been advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Sixers fought back, using a 33-25 third quarter to put their noses in front and then holding on for the 104-99 victory to tie the series and return home for game seven.
The Sixers hold off the Hawks to force Game 7 ‼️
Embiid: 22 Pts, 13 Reb
Curry: 24 Pts, 6 threes pic.twitter.com/yNP7mdcP2j
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 19, 2021
After scoring just four points in game five, Tobias Harris had 24 on Friday, becoming much more of an offensive threat and kept the Sixers in it when no one else really had it going early. Seth Curry continued his hot shooting to also finish with 24 thanks to going six of nine from three.
The big one was Joel Embiid, whose fourth quarter performances have been well documented so far this series. Sitting on just eight points at halftime, Philly needed a lift from their big man and he delivered, scoring seven in the third and seven in the fourth, finishing with 22 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for the game.
All of this was needed to offset another spectacular night from Trae Young. The Hawks’ dynamic point guard finished with 34 points, 12 assists and three steals, his third 30+ point, 10+ assist game of the postseason. With John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic struggling to get it going offensively, Young’s playmaking ability got others involved in the game, particularly Clint Capela.
Missed Free Throws This Postseason:
Ben Simmons: 45
Atlanta Hawks: 35
Phoenix Suns: 29
Brooklyn Nets: 22 pic.twitter.com/Pu0meg9UlQ
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) June 17, 2021
Capela made Embiid work on both ends of the floor, finishing with 14 points and 11 boards, while Kevin Huerter, who went scoreless in game five, lit it up with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. However, the Hawks ended up going just 10-31 from deep for the game, compared to the Sixers going 12-29, a clear advantage to Philly.
While the Hawks have been a pleasant surprise this postseason, we have to go with the home team here. Philadelphia worked hard to finish as the top seed during the regular season and have been rewarded with home court advantage for situations exactly like this, a game seven where they need all of the extra boost they can get.
NBA Pick – Philadelphia 76ers (-300)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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