NBA Playoff Picks: First-Round Series Odds and Predictions
by George Monroy - 4/17/2014
The first-round of the NBA Playoffs are finally set to start on Saturday after a grueling 82-game season left many teams tired and broken through the last month of the year. Every Game 1 will be played this weekend, while the entire first-round is expected to conclude by May 4 if a seventh game is need in any series. The opening round will be filled with a few exciting matchups that could feature an upset or two. Let's have a look at the series prices for each matchup and Game 1 lines with predictions and analysis. All odds and lines come from BetOnline.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
Series Price : Spurs -1500; Mavericks +1040
Start Time : April 20, 1:00 p.m. EST
The West's No.1 versus No. 8 matchup has a bit of a throwback feel to it with two old rivals from the past decade squaring off one more time before their franchise superstars walk off into the sunset. The last time San Antonio and Dallas met in the playoffs, the Spurs eliminated the Mavericks as the No. 7 seed in 2010.
San Antonio swept the season series against Dallas and is simply the better team in this matchup. Dallas' offense does not go much further than Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis and will struggle against San Antonio for most of the season. The team should be able to win a game or two and stay competitive just based on Nowitzki alone, but don't expect much else.
Prediction : Spurs in five
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Series Price : Thunder -550; Grizzlies +445
Game 1 Lines : Thunder -7; Total: 191
Start Time: April 19, 6:30 p.m. EST
Last season the Grizzlies were able to take advantage of a Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City team and eliminate them in five games. This year, however, Memphis barely snuck into the playoffs and is not quite the same grind-in-the-paint team it used to be.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, seems intent on finally winning an NBA title and moving out of Miami and San Antonio's shadow. Kevin Durant finished up one of the great offensive seasons in league history and, at the movement, is the best player in the game.
Prediction : Thunder in five
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
Series Price : Clippers -420; Warriors +350
Game 1 Lines : Clippers -6.5; Total: 212
Start Time: April 19th, 3:30 p.m. EST
This series will probably win the award for most exciting first-round matchup. The in-state rivals already have a history of animosity against one another and always seem to engage in some sort of scuffle every time they play. And that's not even mentioning how exciting both teams are on the basketball court. A Chris Paul versus Stephen Curry matchup will be a complete joy to watch for six or seven games.
Golden State will face some adversity, however, with the loss of its center Andrew Bogut, who is out indefinitely due to a broken rib and is unlikely to play in the series. Los Angeles has upped its defensive presence during games, and a loss in this series would be a major disappointment for the team.
Prediction : Clippers in 7
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Series Price : Rockets -160; Trail Blazers +140
Game 1 Lines : Rockets -5; Total: -210
Start Time: April 20, 9:30 p.m. EST
Houston struggled at times trying to figure out a fourth-quarter offense and simply gave the ball to James Harden and moved out of the way. The team's offensive uncertainty may come back to haunt them late in games, especially once the pace of the game slows down and points become difficult to come by. The Rockets have talent and an excellent supporting cast surrounding its two superstars, and let's not forget that the team won 54 games during its first season together.
Portland started the year on a hot streak that eventual propelled the team to a 53-win season, which is an impressive feat for a young and inexperienced squad. The Trail Blazers match up well with Houston and are a similar team with a dynamic guard and big-man combination.
Prediction: Rockets in 7
Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Series Price : Pacers -730; Hawks +570
Game 1 Lines : Pacers -7.5; Total: 186.5
Start Time: April 19, 7:00 p.m. EST
Indiana limped to the finish line after starting off the season strong and then falling apart after the all-star break. The team struggled on offense and seemed to have a group of players looking to pad their own stats instead of playing as a unit. The Pacers lost nine of 15 games to end the year and will be on upset alert until they can prove otherwise.
The Hawks have value at +570 and may be able to take advantage of an imploding Indiana team. Atlanta limped into the playoff with a below-.500 record but does have a decent offense that can score points at times. The team averaged 101 points per game this season.
Prediction : Pacers in six
Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Series Price : Heat -2000; Bobcats +1200
Game 1 Lines : Heat -10; Total: 189
Start Time: April 20, 3:30 p.m. EST
Miami was another team that struggled toward the end of the season, but the major difference between the Heat and Pacers is that LeBron James and company have made three straight NBA Finals appearances, and they can afford to take games off late in the year. The Heat know when to step on the gas, and resting Dwyane Wade during the second half of the season was more important than grabbing the No. 1 seed.
Prediction : Heat in four
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Series Price : Nets -138; Raptors +118
Game 1 Lines : Raptors -2.5; Total: 196.5
Start Time: April 19, 12:30 p.m. EST
The general consensus in this matchup will be that the Raptors do not have enough experience to beat a veteran Brooklyn squad and will be in a deer-in-the-headlights situation. The fashionable pick over the next few days will be Brooklyn winning the series, and while that may be the most likely outcome, bettors should not sleep on a very good Toronto squad receiving +118 odds and home-court advantage.
Prediction : Raptors in 6
Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards
Series Price : Bulls -270; Wizards +230
Game 1 Lines : Bulls -5; Total: 182
Start Time: April 20, 7:00 p.m. EST
Chicago is a grizzled, veteran squad that has been through multiple playoff wars over the last four seasons, and if it had a healthy Derrick Rose, the team would probably be the favorite to win the East. Chicago may not be the most talented team in the league-heck, it might not be the most talented team in this series-but it plays with a tougher-than-nails attitude and is a monster on defense while playing efficient offense.
Prediction : Chicago in five
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