The Daily Sweat: Cheer up Boston, Celtics have a clear path to win the East
The Boston Bruins saw their record-setting season come to an abrupt end with a Game 7 loss in overtime on Sunday night.
On the bright side, Boston fans can put more of their focus on the Celtics now.
The Celtics start their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, and things look pretty good for them. Boston needs eight more wins to make the NBA Finals, but they're a -225 favorite to win the East at BetMGM.
In this series, Boston starts against a 76ers team that is unlikely to have star center Joel Embiid. Embiid is doubtful for Game 1 on Monday with a sprained knee. It's unclear when Embiid will be available, and it's hard to see Philadelphia winning many games against Boston without him. The Celtics are a heavy 10.5-point favorite for Game 1.
On the other side of the bracket, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled a Bruins and went from the best record in the NBA to out in the first round. The New York Knicks and Miami Heat are both capable of giving the Celtics a challenge in the Eastern Conference finals, if the Celtics get past the 76ers, but Boston would be a big favorite against either.
As we've seen in the NBA and NHL playoffs, being a big favorite doesn't mean you'll advance. But as the Celtics begin their second round series, it would be a pretty big shock if they're not back in the NBA Finals in a few weeks.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
Can Suns get a split?
The Denver Nuggets looked very good in Game 1 of their series against the Phoenix Suns, but all the Suns want is a split in Denver. They can still pull that off, though it won't be easy.
The Nuggets are 4.5-point favorites for Game 2 on Monday. They won 125-107 in Game 1 on Saturday. Denver has been an undervalued No. 1 seed this postseason, but the Nuggets are finally up to the second favorite to win the NBA title behind the Celtics.
Phoenix will be fine if it can get one win on its way back home for Game 3. They'll need to figure out a way to slow Denver down to get it.
Game 7 in New Jersey
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils have had a wild series, and it comes down to a Game 7 on Monday night. The Rangers forced Game 7 by beating the Devils 5-2 in Game 6. The Devils are a -120 favorite.
The Rangers won the first two games of the series in New Jersey by identical 5-1 scores, so being on the road won't intimidate them. It has been an entertaining series, and it's hard to be confident in either side for Game 7.
MLB gets started early
There's baseball as well on Monday. It starts in the afternoon with a doubleheader between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, who got rained out on Saturday and Sunday. The Braves are -225 favorites in Game 1 (Cy Young candidate Spencer Strider is on the mound) and -120 in the second game.
There are eight games in total. After Braves-Mets the best series this week could be the Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers, a matchup of two talented teams that are barely above .500 early in the season. In Monday's opener the Dodgers are -160.
What's the best bet?
I'll take the Suns and the points. The Nuggets are a very good team, especially at home, but after a bad Game 1 the Suns will have plenty of urgency. It should be a close game in Denver on Monday night.