In 2019 and 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks blew No. 1 seeds. They failed to make the NBA Finals, losing in different but equally disappointing ways.
In most of the few decades before that, the Bucks just weren't very good. Playoff disappointments were an upgrade, because plenty of years before Giannis Antetokounmpo arrived the Bucks weren't even making the playoffs.
Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks was the type of game the Bucks haven't won too often over the years. It was another breakthrough. Heading into Game 4, the Bucks are 6.5-point favorites at BetMGM. Milwaukee is an eye-popping -1600 to win the series. They're -110 to win a championship.
Of course, Trae Young's injury affected Game 3 and it's affecting the Game 4 line. Young is a star who has gone to another level in the playoffs, but the trajectory of the series changed when he stepped on an official's foot and suffered a bone bruise. The Hawks struggled to score in the fourth quarter without him. Young is questionable for Game 4 and while it seems there's little doubt he'll play through pain, it's likely he won't be 100 percent.
Yet, injuries are part of the game in every sport's postseason, and the Bucks did still win a crucial game through some adversity. Atlanta, which won Game 1 in Milwaukee, had a 15-point lead in the first half. The crowd was fully engaged. In Toronto two years ago, the Bucks melted in similar situations. Not in Game 3. The Bucks chipped away, with role players like Bobby Portis Jr. playing big roles. Antetokounmpo got the team to the fourth quarter and then the Bucks called the bullpen for Khris Middleton to close, which he did with 20 points in the quarter.
Young's injury certainly played a role in the game; nobody would deny that. But it was also an important step for the Bucks. Other than Game 7 at Brooklyn in the second round, it might have been the most playoff-tough win Milwaukee has had with this group of players. It's the kind of game you have to win if you want to be a championship team.
The Bucks are big favorites in Game 4, and it's hard to bet. Young's health is an absolute wild card. But the Bucks seem more trustworthy than any other time under coach Mike Budenholzer. Maybe it's finally their time.
Here's a first look at the Monday betting slate:
Euro 2020 got interesting in a hurry
Euro 2020 had some fun moments before Monday, but Monday will go down as an epic day of soccer.
Spain and France, two of the favorites in the tournament, fell behind 1-0 early, led 3-1 and blew those leads in the final minutes of regulation. Spain advanced against Croatia with another barrage in extra time. France wasn't so lucky, losing to Switzerland in penalty kicks.
On Tuesday, we have a great England vs. Germany matchup at noon Eastern and Sweden vs. Ukraine at 3 p.m. Yahoo Sportsbook's Nick Bromberg has your picks here. If we get even one game as good as Monday's pair, it'll be a good day.
Who cashed tickets on Monday?
The Los Angeles Clippers won't quit. Every time they look dead, they come up with a season-saving win, and they did it again in Game 5. Kudos to my colleague Sam Cooper for seeing it coming (I surely didn't). There's some intrigue in that series now. Game 6 is back in Los Angeles and if the Clippers can survive again, anything can happen in Game 7.
The Tampa Bay Lightning might have sent a message in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Montreal Canadiens have had a great playoff run but looked overmatched in a 5-1 loss on Monday. We should know early in Game 2 if Montreal can rally and make it a series.
The highlight of the MLB games Monday was Shohei Ohtani, who somehow isn't the AL MVP favorite at BetMGM anymore, but hit a big first-inning homer at Yankee Stadium as the Los Angeles Angels beat the New York Yankees in the first game of that series.
What's on tap for MLB today?
Shohei Ohtani and the Angels are back in the Bronx and +125 underdogs against the Yankees and Jamison Taillon, who has not been great this season. The Angels are worth a look as an underdog.
The San Francisco Giants lost on Monday but are +125 underdogs on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they're always going to be worth considering as an underdog. They have earned that respect through the first three months of this season.
What's the best bet?
While England is tempting in this spot at +140, let's take the Chicago White Sox, who are -130 favorites over the Minnesota Twins. While Sox starter Lucas Giolito has been inconsistent this season, but has pitched better lately and Twins starter Kenta Maeda has been even harder to trust. The White Sox are the better team and not laying too big of a number, so let's take them for the best bet today.
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