Suns look to survive vs. Nuggets, plus a pivotal Celtics-76ers pick: Best Bets for May 5

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Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, left, goes up for a basket over Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon and center Nikola Jokic in the second half of Game 2 of an NBA second-round playoff series Monday, May 1, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, May 5:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA playoffs, Phoenix Suns -4 over Denver Nuggets

The odds: -112

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 10 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: When the Golden State Warriors routed the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of their series on Thursday night, it marked the 16th straight time a home team that had lost Game 1 of an NBA Playoff series turned around and won Game 2. Conspiracy theorists may claim that has something to do with officiating and NBA directives that series should stay interesting, or perhaps it’s referees’ human nature to favor a desperate home team and crowd.

Whatever the case, it’s a real phenomenon, and please forgive my colleague Jim Derry for a bout of temporary insanity in going against such a strong trend with yesterday’s doomed Daily Best Bet.

Tonight’s pick isn’t an exact match, as this is Game 3 between the Suns and Nuggets, but it follows the same line of thinking. The desperate Suns return home to Phoenix, where they will pull out all the stops, especially without injured point guard Chris Paul, and they may get a friendly whistle, too.

There’s also evidence for a bit of a turnaround in this series, anyway. I’m not high on the Suns long-term (or even to win this series), but they’re also not going to keep shooting sub-30% from 3-point range, either. Expect a bounce-back performance from Kevin Durant and the Suns to get back in the series tonight.

CELTICS BACK ON TRACK

The play: NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics -2.5 over Philadelphia 76ers

The odds: -110

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Our take: After somehow losing Game 1 to the Sixers even though they were without Joel Embiid (more on that in a minute), the Celtics evened the series with a Game 2 thumping in Embiid’s return.

Now, the series that will determine the favorite in the Eastern Conference finals switches to Philadelphia, where the Sixers will have Embiid and a raucous home crowd to re-take control of the series.

Right? Wrong. Boston is the better overall team, and the Celtics cruised in Game 2 despite a poor performance from star guard Jayson Tatum, who won’t stay down for long. As for Embiid, here’s Philly’s dirty little secret: The 76ers have a better record without the MVP than with him.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

NBA playoffs: Lakers +7 over Warriors (LOST)

NBA playoffs, LeBron James UNDER 2.5 made 3-pointers (LOST)

Thursday’s record: 0-2

Total for the week: 4-3, 1 pending

Total for May: 4-3, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 92-108, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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