Just a minor pet peeve: why are the Clippers and Suns playing before the Hawks and 76ers? There are logistical reasons for the NBA to start a second-round series before the first round ends. You can't wait forever when there are still so many teams left. But starting the Western Conference finals before the Eastern Conference finals matchup has even been set is unnecessary most of the time.
There are no games on Monday. The NBA easily could have slotted Suns-Clippers then, and it would have given both Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul an extra day to potentially recover. Then the East Finals could have started on Tuesday and they just could have alternated from there. Heck, they even could have flipped the timing of the two games. The Clippers and Suns are playing on the west coast. Why do they need to start first? If afternoon games make sense at all, why not let the Game 7 play while the sun is still up? And while we're at it, there doesn't need to be a two-hour break between the games.
I'm a curmudgeon. Sue me. Let's talk about basketball now.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Both the Clippers and Suns have proven capable of winning without their best players, so let's ignore the outcome here. If the Clippers can embarrass Rudy Gobert on the perimeter with their small-ball lineups, they can surely attack DeAndre Ayton the same way. The problem they're going to encounter is that Ayton is better equipped to punish the small Clippers on the other end than Gobert was. Yes, the Suns are better at denying dribble penetration than the Jazz were, and no, the Suns aren't as prolific behind the arc as Utah was, but expect a game heavy on offense here before these two teams really get to know one another later in the series. The pick: Over 221.5
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Game 7 matchups are notoriously low-scoring. The 76ers are notoriously low-scoring. Refs tend to be willing to let more things go, which obviously hurts both teams offensively. They combined to take 47 free throws in Game 6 and still combined for only 203 points. If Bogdan Bogdanovic is out or hobbled, Atlanta's shooting is again limited. The Sixers should be favored at home here, but at a seven-point line, they're a risky pick. Trusting their defense seems to be safer. The pick: Under 216.5