Tuesday gave us the NBA's first-ever neutral-court Game 7, and there were lessons to be learned from it. First and foremost, seeding, obviously, no longer applies. The home team wins around 80 percent of normal Game 7s, but there is no longer a home team to win those games. The importance of coaching came into play as well. Quin Snyder was a bit too conservative with his rotations, benching Rudy Gobert for the final seven minutes of the first half due to foul trouble and even overlapping some of that absence with Donovan Mitchell's time on the bench. That period was the difference.
The overriding message here is that the minutia of the regular season has been thrown out the window. There are no more schedule wins or losses. Teams don't win in their base systems. This is the time to go all out, to empty the bag of tricks and win games and series with intention. Denver did on that on Tuesday. That aggression will be key for the teams on Wednesday's schedule. Here are Wednesday's best bets.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat: Bucks -5
Milwaukee's Game 1 loss was predictable. Mike Budenholzer treated Game 1 like a regular-season game, as he tends to early in playoff series. But Giannis Antetokounmpo will take more than 12 shots in Game 2. He'll defend Jimmy Butler for stretches as well if it becomes necessary (expect more switches defensively at the very least). Milwaukee lost Game 1 of its second-round series a year ago as well. The Bucks ran Boston off the floor in the next four games. This series should be more competitive, but the Bucks still have the advantage.
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder +5.5
Houston's fundamental problem right now is that Russell Westbrook is not healthy enough to do the things that make playing Russell Westbrook worthwhile. Playing such a poor shooter, inconsistent defender and questionable decision-maker only makes sense when that player is the best athlete in the NBA. Westbrook isn't right now. He dragged Houston down in Game 6, and unless it admits that his only value comes as a shot-creator when James Harden needs to rest, he is going to do the same in Game 7.
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Under 218
Denver and Utah's Tuesday matchup might have been an extreme example, but scores tend to be low in Game 7s. Shooters tense up. Defenses go all out knowing there's no reason to save energy. Teams become so locked into their opponents' tendencies that running anything in the usual playbook becomes predictable. The past two games in this series came in under this total, and with Westbrook still nursing an injury, this one will as well.