After an uneventful first round (excluding that legendary Los Angeles versus San Antonio series), the NBA playoffs are finally beginning to heat up. Three of the four series underdogs managed to snag Game 1 on the road, while the other managed to win Game 2, and now all four are heading into their home portions of the postseason tied at one game apiece. The overall series prices have not changed much as the original favorites continue to have the oddsmaker backing heading into Game 3, with the exception of the Houston Rockets.
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Los Angeles is now the series favorite heading into Games 3 and 4 inside the Staples Center, where they will almost certainly see the return of point guard Chris Paul, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Let's take a closer look at the updated series prices odds heading into the next set of games and figure out where the value lies for each. All odds come from Bookmaker.
Houston Rockets (+140) @ Los Angeles Clippers (-160): Series tied 1-1 : this is the one series where the original underdog and lower seed has control in the minds of the oddsmakers. The Clippers won the first game in the matchup without Paul and nearly won Game 2 behind a monster first-half performance from Blake Griffin. Houston has always been a flawed team that relies too much on James Harden while being devoid of a late-game offensive scheme and not being able to hit free throws.
Los Angeles may have their own flaws, but the team is better-coached, has a second superstar in Griffin (Dwight Howard still has not returned to form after an injury-plagued season), and it simply looks like the superior team. The series price is still reasonable at -160, and jumping on it before Game 3 should be a solid bet. Expect Los Angeles to win this series in five or six games.
Golden State Warriors (-600) @ Memphis Grizzlies (+450): Series tied 1-1 : the return of Mike Conley during Game 2 sparked a Memphis win, yet the oddsmakers still do not believe the Grizzlies to be a legitimate threat to Golden State. Memphis, however, seems to have all the betting value in this series at +450. If basketball fans will remember, the Grizzlies started off the year red-hot during the first third of the season and played like the second-best team in the league for long stretches of the year.
Memphis can provide huge matchup problems for a largely untested Warriors squad that produced a double-digit point differential during the season and did not play many close games throughout the year. Most experts would still expect Golden State to come out the winner of this matchup, but there is excellent value wagering on the Grizzlies. The team has as good a shot as any other underdog to win this matchup while receiving far better odds. Remember, does Golden State really have an answer for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol?
Cleveland Cavaliers (-160) @ Chicago Bulls (+140): Series tied 1-1 : Chicago has managed to win three straight Game 1s versus LeBron James, but the team has yet to actually win a series against the two-time NBA champion. Both squads traded knockout blows during the first two matchups in this series, and the Cavaliers are still the favorite (-160) heading into Chicago for Games 3 and 4. Derrick Rose seems to be the key in this matchup as the Bulls can't compete when he is off of his game, particularly when he is coming off of one day of rest, where his numbers drastically decrease.
Cleveland is without Kevin Love and might miss Iman Shumpert, who suffered a sprained ankle in Game 2. The good news is the team will be getting J.R. Smith back after a two-game suspension. Chicago has the talent to win this series, and bettors might make more of a profit by wagering on each individual game instead of the series price. Expect a long back-and-forth series that goes six or seven games.
Atlanta Hawks (-185) @ Washington Wizards (+165): Series tied 1-1 : Washington's John Wall missed Game 2 because of a hand injury, and the news coming out is that the point guard has a fractured wrist. At the moment the Wizards have not declared Wall out of the series, and there is speculation that he will continue to play. Either way, the news is a huge disappointment for the team as Wall will probably not be able to perform at a high level if he does play.
Atlanta struggled through its first-round series against Brooklyn and during the first two matchups against Washington. The Hawks, however, spent much of the year as the best team in the Eastern Conference, and even if they struggle because of a lack of experience in the post season they still have the talent, system and coaching to beat a Washington squad with an injured Wall. Expect Atlanta to win this series.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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