Smart Money NBA Playoffs Picks For Friday 6/18/2021
Well, here we are. The two No. 1 seeds have their backs against the wall, both down 3-2, needing wins on the road to extend the series. The Sixers and Jazz are both trying to prevent what seemed like feel-good seasons from becoming massive disappointments. Who will rebound, and why? Let’s get into my picks for tonight’s NBA games.
Smart Money NBA Betting Picks for Tonight’s Action
This is, more so than anything, a bet on the Sixers not being able to wipe the stink off from Wednesday night’s all-time collapse. That was the type of game that can completely break a team psychologically. How can they possibly have any confidence left after blowing back-to-back massive leads?
Ben Simmons is rattled. Both he and the team overall have been impacted by hack-a-Ben. I can’t imagine Joel Embiid is feeling giddy about going to war with the rest of these guys at this point, given that he’s putting up huge numbers on one leg as the rest of the team can barely be found. Tobias Harris is limping to the finish line of what had been a very nice season.
The more you look at the anatomy of this series from the Sixers’ perspective, the uglier it gets. They no-showed for 46 minutes in Game 1. Then they blew a big lead in Game 2 before Shake Milton saved the day. They were good in Game 3. And then they blew massive leads in Games 4 and 5. The point being, they have only played one complete game in the entire series. After the embarrassment of Wednesday’s game, I’m betting against them putting together their second complete game of the series here tonight. So take the Hawks to cover here.
Kawhi Leonard’s absence has to be felt at some point, right? Especially given that it sounds like Mike Conley will return to the lineup tonight, I am very optimistic about Utah’s chances.
Paul George has been tremendous, and the Clippers have found their identity in this series – going small. But I have to believe that the lack of offensive shot creation from Leonard’s absence will catch up to them. Utah’s defense is too good, and on the offensive end, they’re due for a big Jordan Clarkson game. Take Utah to cover here.
Top Player Props for Tonight’s NBA Action
It hurts to bet against Joel Embiid. He has been an amazing story all season long. But I just think that, in this circumstance, Embiid has to be tired, frustrated, and hurting. He has certainly been slowed down considerably in each of the past two second halves, and I’m wondering if the injuries and fatigue are simply starting to catch up.
Also: I am not at all suggesting that this is likely to happen, but if the Sixers get rolled in the first half, I do think it’s possible that Embiid could go 2006 Kobe mode and stop shooting in an act of protest – in an effort to say, “do you see the supporting cast that I have?”
The big fella has to be tired and weary, and I’m thinking that he will not cross the 34 point threshold tonight.
Curry has to be due for a down night. He’s had an electric series, and my thinking here is that there will be some combination of him cooling off, as well as other Sixers (like Simmons and Harris) feeling the need to take more of the scoring load after the mountain of criticism that has come their way in the past couple days. As a result, Curry will be the one who has his touches eaten into.
As I suggested earlier, I think Paul George could cool off a bit tonight, and someone will have to occupy the scoring load in his place. Morris is the logical pick here, and the odds are tremendous on him crossing the 17 point threshold.
Regardless of whether the Clippers’ offense is humming or stagnant, Morris is capable of getting his. No matter what Utah throws at them defensively, I like the odds here.
Mike’s Year to Date Record: 51-68