How will the 76ers handle the loss of Embiid? There’s some precedent from earlier in the season but not so much with the new look 76ers with Harden. Maxey could step up like he did in the first series, but I wouldn’t count on it. It will likely fall to Harden who doesn’t have a sterling playoff reputation, and hasn’t done anything this season to turn that around. Worse still, this is a nightmare matchup without Embiid. There won’t be anything in Bam Adebayo’s way of dominating the boards. Plus Harden hasn’t responded well to the tough, physical defense that Miami likes to play. The wild card is Maxey and if he can put out one of those star performances, the 76ers will have a chance to stay in it. But I like the odds better that it doesn’t happen in Game 1 on the road.
@KeepTheJuice21 NBA Playoff Picks - 5/2
Philadelphia 76ers (51-31) @ Miami Heat (53-29)
HEAT -7.5 @ -110
Dallas Mavericks (52-30) @ Phoenix Suns (64-18)
The Suns came into this year’s playoffs looking like a giant, and rightfully so. They completed a very impressive regular season and have every piece of a prototypical championship team. But the Pelicans exposed some cracks that aren’t as easy to explain as Devin Booker missing time. I think we’ve jumped the gun making the Warriors favorites to win the championship but the momentum has legitimately shifted. All that is to say I do think the Suns will win this series, but I think the Mavs are a much better team than the Pelicans. The issues the Suns had offensively will look worse here against a deeper and better organized team. Luka is also always an X Factor who might be the most difficult player in the league to game plan for. I like the Mavs to keep this one close to the buzzer.
MAVERICKS +5.5 @ -110
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