2008 NBA Playoffs Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 04/17/2008
The NBA playoffs are here, and it is time to look at the series one-by-one. As I take a look at what is in store, I break them into four different groups - the locks, the potential upsets, the deserved favorites, and the wide-open contests. Here's a look at how I split the different series up (all odds are from Bodog):
Boston vs. Atlanta - I am thrilled that the Hawks found a way to make the playoffs after years of futility, but this isn't going to be pretty. The Celtics won all three games during the year fairly easily, and they match up well virtually everywhere. The biggest interest comes in determining whether Boston can sweep or not - they are 23/20 to sweep, and 7/1 to take it in seven. You'd get 99/1 if you bet that the Hawks would sweep and you were right. Don't make that bet.
The Deserved Favorites
Detroit vs. Philadelphia - The Sixers have really been coming into their own down the stretch, but they are in tough against the Pistons. Detroit is a deeper, more talented team, and they have boatloads of experience. According to the odds, Detroit is most likely to win it in five games (9/4). If it goes to seven games it could be interesting - Detroit is 4/1 and Philly is 5/1.
Orlando vs. Toronto - The Raptors have been lousy down the stretch, but they could create some problems for the Magic in that they shoot fouls better, and they don't turn the ball over. Still, this is Orlando's series to lose. The odds are a bit strange here. Orlando is favored to win it in four, five or seven games, but oddsmakers say that the Raps are more likely to win if it ends in six.
Lakers vs. Denver - Bettors don't like the Nuggets. The lowest odds in the West, and the third lowest overall, are for the Lakers to win it in five. This makes sense - L.A. is rolling, and the Nuggets have the distraction of Melo's arrest to deal with. The longer this one goes, the better for the Nuggets - the odds are the same for both teams to win it in seven (13/2).
Utah vs. Houston - The Rockets put together the best run in recent history this year, but reality is catching up to them. They can't replace Yao Ming, and that has caught up with them. They will be competitive in this one, but Deron Williams and the Jazz should be in control if they play their best. The most likely outcome is for Utah to win in five - they are 3/1.
The Potential Upset
Washington vs. Cleveland - Gilbert Arenas missed 68 games, but he is back and is the best sixth man in the playoffs. He gives his team a huge boost against a Cleveland team that hasn't exactly come together after the trade that changed up their chemistry completely. If you like the Wizards then there is good value in all potential outcomes in the series - The Cavs are favored to win in four, five or seven games, so there are good prices available for the Wizards all over the board.
The Wide Open Contests
New Orleans vs. Dallas - This one is closer according to the odds than I would have thought it would be. The Hornets are favored to win it in five games (9/2 to 7/1), but The Mavs are favored if it stretches to six (7/2 to 5/1). If it goes seven it is virtually a coin toss - New Orleans is favored 7/2 to 15/4. The one thing that seems unlikely is a sweep - both teams are at 12/1 to win it in four.
San Antonio vs. Phoenix - This is the kind of slugfest that is wasted on the first round. These teams have a history of impressive playoff battles, and this one should be no exception. The Spurs are limping into the playoffs off of some ugly losses, while Phoenix is still not entirely convincing in their new identity with Shaq. Again, the odds are interesting here depending on how many games you think it will go - San Antonio is favored to win it if it goes four, five or seven, but not six.