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The decision to have Joel Embiid in during the Philadelphia 76ers' first-round clincher, when they were up 29 with four minutes to go, could cost the 76ers dearly.
Embiid suffered an orbital fracture late in that game. He won't be traveling with the team for the first two games of an Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat. There's optimism he could return by Game 3, but it's not guaranteed. The series could be all but over by the time he's ready to return.
Bettors have to figure out how good the 76ers are without Embiid. The 76ers are a 7.5-point underdog at BetMGM against Miami, the top seed in the East.
The Heat have been very good all season and it will be tough for Philadelphia to win without one of the top three candidates for NBA MVP this season. The series odds have the Heat at -350, and it wouldn't have been anywhere near that if Embiid was playing. Miami is very good, and it also caught an enormous break.
However, we also see teams rally for at least one game when they take on a big injury. The 76ers aren't devoid of talent with James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and others. But it's clearly a different team. Philadelphia was 6-8 without Embiid this season and 45-23 with him.
I have a lot of respect for Miami, but think Philadelphia plays hard and Harden and Maxey keep them somewhat close. They don't turn into the Orlando Magic just because Embiid is out; it's still a solid team. And if the 76ers can't come close on Monday, it could be a short series.
Here's the sports betting slate for Monday:
Mavericks try to keep it going vs. Suns
The Dallas Mavericks have been very good for a few weeks. The Kristaps Porzingis trade changed the roster, and for the better. The Mavs were able to get past the Utah Jazz even without Luka Doncic for the start of the series.
And yet, they're 5.5-point underdogs against the Phoenix Suns for Game 1 on Monday.
The Mavs lost all three meetings with the Suns this season and none were particularly close. However, if momentum matters, maybe the Mavs have a shot to cover on Monday and, if you're being really aggressive, to pull a huge upset in the series. The Mavs are +240 to win the series against Phoenix.
NHL playoffs begin with four games
Playoff hockey is phenomenal, and it starts in the NHL with four games on Monday. The Boston Bruins are at the Carolina Panthers (-120), the Tampa Bay Lightning is at the Toronto Maple Leafs (-130) in a great matchup, the St. Louis Blues are at the Minnesota Wild (-145) and the Los Angeles Kings are at the Edmonton Oilers (-190).
The first round of the NHL playoffs is generally more unpredictable than the first round of the NBA playoffs. There are a few interesting series for the first round. ESPN, which is showing all four games Monday on its networks, should have plenty of drama.
A short baseball schedule
We'll get just eight MLB games on Monday, with two afternoon games. In the afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals (-160) host the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox (-125) and Los Angeles Angels finish their series.
Both New York teams have good divisional series this week, with the Yankees (-115) traveling to meet the Toronto Blue Jays and the Mets (-115) hosting the Atlanta Braves.
What's the best bet?
While I do like Toronto's baseball and hockey teams on Monday, I'll go with the Mavericks getting 5.5 points. The Suns are very good but I like how the Mavs have played lately and think they can cover.