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The challenge for the Boston Celtics is pretty clear if they want to keep their NBA championship hopes alive past the second round.
They're going to have to go to Milwaukee and win at least one game vs. the defending champions. They have only two chances left to do it.
The Bucks won Game 3, barely, and are a slight 1.5-point favorite at BetMGM for Game 4 on Monday night. If Game 3 is an indication, Monday night should be a close one.
The Bucks had a great third quarter in Game 3 but the Celtics almost erased a double-digit deficit to win. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday had clutch shots late in the game and Boston was the victim of some questionable calls late (Marcus Smart should have been given three free throws in the final seconds, which would have given Smart a chance to tie the game, but officials said he wasn't shooting). Boston still nearly tipped in a rebound to tie it, but it came just after the buzzer.
The Bucks got a monster game from Antetokounmpo (though a 42-12-8 line for the best player in the world isn't even that crazy anymore) and Boston had a horrible night from Jayson Tatum, who shot 4-of-19 from the field. And Boston still lost by just two points. Maybe that's a good sign for the Celtics.
The Bucks are -165 favorites to win the series after Game 3, and that seems steep. Boston came very close to winning an important third game and should feel like it can get that win in Milwaukee. On the other side, the defending champs know all they need to do to advance to the Eastern Conference finals is defend their home court. Antetokounmpo is fully capable of carrying Milwaukee to the next round and maybe back to the NBA Finals. It should be a great series going forward.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
Shorthanded Memphis battles Golden State
The Warriors-Grizzlies series was great for the first two games. Then Game 3 changed the trajectory of the series. Golden State blew out Memphis and the Grizzlies' do-everything star Ja Morant suffered a knee injury. He is likely to miss Game 4. The Warriors are a 10.5-point favorite.
The Grizzlies did very well without Morant in the regular season, but it's different in the playoffs. It's possible Memphis fights hard and covers a big spread, but winning in San Francisco without Morant is a big ask. It's unfortunate because that series looked like a potential classic through two games.
NHL continues on
Perhaps the biggest game in the NHL happens in Washington. The Florida Panthers, who had the best record in the NHL in the regular season, suffered a blowout loss in Game 3 to the Washington Capitals and need to win Monday to avoid going down 3-1 in their first-round series. The Panthers are -175 favorites and that seems really inflated given how Washington has looked this series.
There are four first-round games on Monday in the NHL. The Rangers and Penguins continue an entertaining series (both teams are -110 odds), the Colorado Avalanche (-250) try to sweep the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames (-155) try to bounce back from a Game 3 loss to even their series against the Dallas Stars.
MLB has 11 games
There are a couple afternoon games on a Monday in MLB, with the Kansas City Royals vs. the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees hosting the Texas Rangers. The Yankees are a big -225 favorite in that game.
There isn't a lot around the MLB slate to take your attention off the playoff games elsewhere, though the Los Angeles Angels (-130) try to continue their hot start against a very good Tampa Bay Rays team in the best game of the night.
What's the best bet?
The Grizzlies were 20-5 without Ja Morant this season. It's a tough team that has been good all season and I think they can cover a double-digit spread.