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NBA Picks: May 15

By Michael Harty

Two best words in sports; Game 7. Basketball fans are being treated to not only one, but two of them on Sunday. The Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks in the afternoon game, while the Dallas Mavericks head to the desert to try and knock off the number one seed Phoenix Suns. The Celtics and Bucks series has been back and forth with teams splitting wins on their opponent’s home court, whereas the Suns and Mavericks series has been strictly home cooking, with each home team winning all 3 games.

In what was a playoff-defining performance, Celts star Jayson Tatum was otherworldly in Game 6. After a lacklustre Game 5 performance at home, Tatum responded with 46 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, while producing a team leading a +21 point differential. This heroic performance was needed to stop Giannis who continued his dominance with a 44-point, 20 rebound, 6 assist performance with another 40+% usage rate. From a viewer’s standpoint, fans will surely be treated to another classic at TD Garden Sunday afternoon.

The Bucks, who will be without Khris Middleton again for Game 7 desperately need someone to help out Giannis in order to have a chance in this game. Jrue Holiday, while he has produced decent stat lines, has been wildly inefficient and can’t seem to get into a rhythm with his jump shot. Grayson Allen has been getting hunted defensively and hasn’t looked himself on the offensive end of the court, he was a team worst -29. Coach Bud has yet to tip his cap, but you would have to think Allen will have a very short leash. With the exception of Giannis, Pat Connaughton was the lone bright spot for the Bucks and will most likely look to pick up the Allen minutes if/when he gets removed from the rotation. 

Ime Udoka continued to implement his small ball lineup with Robert Williams unavailable and Grant Williams struggling. The Celtics, who shot 17/43 from deep, had a clear gameplan coming into Game 6. Marcus Smart was phenomenal after his Game 5 woes, opening the game 4 of 5 from three and finishing with 21 points. Boston will once again look to exploit the Bucks from deep as they simply take what the defense gives them. If Boston knocks shots down at a similar clip, it will be a tall task for Giannis to overcome.

Game 7 presents such a different element from a mental standpoint, the added pressure and scrutiny these stars are under to perform can’t be understated. While I do think Giannis and Tatum will rise to the occasion, I’m looking to target someone that is no stranger to being a villain. With his struggles throughout the series, as well as the immediate boo’s from the crowd whenever he touches the ball, ill be looking to fade Grayson Allen in this spot. I just can’t see Coach Budenholzer leaving him out there if he’s not making shots given how bad he’s been defensively. Nothing more fun than sweating a couple unders in what should be a slug fest.

RECOMMENDED WAGER: Grayson Allen UNDER 7.5 Points (-125) & Grayson Allen UNDER 11.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-146) at bet365

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