Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks suffered a sprained MCL in the third quarter of the team's loss to the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. It is an injury that has already shape-shifted the betting odds to win the NBA Finals, and it's one that will obviously have massive implications for the Bucks.
Naturally, then, this is where our fresh batch of 2022 NBA playoff picks will begin: investigating whether the heavily favored Bucks are in trouble against the Chicago Bulls. Because we love a great opportunity to bounce around the Association, we also have picks for each of the other games happening on Friday, April 22: Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks (Game 3) and Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans (Game 3).
Let's go ahead and start by looking at the latest NBA odds for all three playoff games happening on April 22:
|Miami Heat||-118||+100||Atlanta Hawks|
|Milwaukee Bucks||-138||+118||Chicago Bulls|
|Phoenix Suns||-120||+102||New Orleans Pelicans|
Definitely remember to double-check these betting odds on the NBA before officially making your picks. With so many injuries impacting rotations recently, these basketball betting lines could feasibly shift anytime before opening tipoffs.
Do yourself a favor and also spend some time reading our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. They have all the inside information you need to find the best betting sites for the NBA in 2022.
Should the Bucks be Worried Against the Bulls?
Attributing the Bucks' concerns in this series solely to Khris Middleton's sprained MCL would be incorrect. They were struggling before he ever went down.
Sure, Milwaukee took Game 1. But most would argue the Bulls were the better team, and that the Bucks got lucky. We'd argue that, too.
In particular, Chicago has done a masterful job on defense during this series, throwing all different kinds of looks at Milwaukee's primary scorers. Alex Caruso, specifically, is showing why he's an All-Defense candidate. Despite standing under 6'6", he's soaked up reps against Giannis Antetokounmpo and looked pretty good while doing it. The Bucks are averaging under 0.90 points per possessions whenever Caruso registers as the primary defender on Giannis—which, just so we're clear, is mind-meltingly wild.
Milwaukee's offense will now be further complicated by the absence of their second- or third-best player. And with the way Jrue Holiday has shot from the floor and Giannis has shot from the free-throw line in this series, that's a monumental problem.
Ultimately, we believe the Bucks will figure out how to survive. But we're surprised they're favorites to win Game 3. It'll be their first without Middleton, and the Bulls will be playing in front of a home crowd that hasn't seen playoff basketball in a half-decade.
OSB Prediction: Chicago Bulls (+118)
The Heat Look Poised to Sweep the Hawks
Many predicted the Heat would sweep the Hawks before the series began. We haven't seen anything to invalidate that stance heading into Game 3 on Friday.
Indeed, Atlanta fans will point to the fact that Trae Young inevitably has to shoot better from three. That's fine. He probably will. But the Heat have yet to get strong offensive performances from Bam Adebayo or Kyle Lowry. That's bound to change, as well.
It also doesn't help the Hawks that their defense will continue to be without their linchpin Clint Capela, who isn't expected to play again this series. Combined with Young's shooting struggles and the overall success of Miami's defense, we honestly don't see a realistic path to Atlanta winning the series—or even this game.
OSB Prediction: Miami Heat (-118)
Can the Suns Take Down the Pelicans without Devin Booker?
Milwaukee isn't the only team that'll be down a star on Friday night. Devin Booker is expected to miss the rest of the Suns' first-round series with the Pelicans—and maybe more games than that—with a hamstring sprain.
His absence is a genuine concern. The Suns have not shot the three-ball well this series, with the exception of Booker. Losing him puts the onus on Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Chris Paul to do a better job spacing the floor.
That's not the end of the world. The Suns outscored opponents by more than 10 points per 100 possessions during the regular season when CP3 played without Booker. Johnson has also been a statistical darling whenever he starts this year. The offense will be fine.
At the other end, the Suns must find a way to limit the Pelicans' wide-open threes and second-chance opportunities around the basket. They also need to do a better job countering New Orleans' Larry Nance Jr.-at-center minutes.
Spoil alert: We think Phoenix will do all those things. Though the Pelicans have been entertaining, they have largely played above their heads. That will start to show in Game 3.
OSB Prediction: Phoenix Suns (-120)
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your 2022 NBA playoff betting: