NBA Handicapping: Any Chance for the Lower Seeds?
by George Monroy - 4/23/2013
The NBA Playoffs are finally underway, and if Game 1 was any indication of the things to come, then most of the first-round matchups will end quickly. The home teams won each of their respective games and covered six of their eight spreads along with a push and a loss. Each of the top two-seeded teams in both conferences won their games by no less than seven points and left their opponents looking overmatched and scrambling to make adjustment.
The playoffs are still only beginning, and the tempo can turn very quickly during a seven-game series. However, after watching the first games unfold, the main take-away from the Game 1s is that the bottom-seeded teams look severely overmatched. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami Heat could easily sweep their first-round matchups while the other top-seeded teams could all end their matchups within six games. Let’s take a closer look at the bottom seeds’ chances in this edition of NBA toss-up.
Which eight-seed is more likely to cover a spread, the Houston Rockets or Milwaukee Bucks?
The Rockets entered their Game 1 matchup against the Thunder as a 10-point underdog, according to the Bovada lines, and ended up losing by 29 points. The Bucks opened up as a 13-point underdog and lost by 23 points. Milwaukee has been a horrible ATS team all season and had a horrendous 16-25 regular-season home ATS record. The Bucks will have a very difficult time even covering one game and should get swept out of their series.
The Rockets had one of the best home ATS records in the league and went 25-16-1 during the regular season. The team should be able to cover at least a spread once the series moves to Houston. The Rockets play fast and have multiple offensive weapons and could even steal a game in Oklahoma.
Which seven-seed is more likely to actually win a game, the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics?
The Celtics played the New York Knicks close for most of their Game 1 matchup and even held the lead late in the fourth quarter. Boston might not steal a game from the Knicks inside of Madison Square Garden, but the team has a real shot at winning and covering a spread once the series shifts to the TD Garden.
The Lakers’ struggles have been well-documented, and, after their Game 1 performance, they look like a team that will be swept out of the playoffs. Los Angeles has trouble creating any type of perimeter offense outside of what Kobe Bryant used to provide. According to Sportsbook.ag, the Lakers are nine-point underdog for their Game 2 matchup and will probably be returning to the Staples Center down a 0-2 deficit. The Lakers could win a game in this series, but the odds are that they will probably get swept.
Can either six-seed win more than one game?
The Golden State Warriors had a real shot at pulling off an upset, or at the very least making their series against the Denver Nuggets interesting. The Warriors were the only underdog to cover its spread during their first game of the playoffs and nearly won the game outright. However, David Lee’s hip injury might have derailed their playoff hopes. Lee is not a star by any means, but he contributes solid numbers to the team. The Warriors will remain competitive in this matchup because of Stephen Curry and should be able to extend the series to a sixth game.
The Atlanta Hawks are constant underachievers, and, if their 17-point Game 1 loss to Indiana is of any indication, they will probably get swept out of this series. The Hawks could conceivably win one game once the series shifts to Atlanta, but expecting them to win multiple games is simply too much to ask. Expect this series to end 4-0 or 4-1 at best.
Which five-seed is more likely to pull off an upset?
The Memphis Grizzlies’ upset hopes were just crushed by the hand of Chris Paul. The Clippers guard took over a close game at the end of regulation and made a difficult game-winning layup to give Los Angeles a 2-0 series lead. The Grizzlies have not been the same team since they got rid of Rudy Gay in a salary dump during the middle of the season, and they will have a difficult time defending their home court. Expect the Clippers to return home for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead.
The Chicago Bulls just evened their series against the Brooklyn Nets at one game apiece. If there is any first-round upset during these playoffs, it will be done by the Bulls. Sportsbook.ag currently has the series price at -110 for each team after it originally opened with the Nets as -165 favorites and moved to -250 after their Game 1 win. Chicago is not the best team in this matchup, but they are the more experienced and determined team.
Read more articles by George Monroy
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