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Finally! The NBA playoffs are here. There were a few interesting things here and there during the regular season (outside of the Warriors getting 73), but mostly this season has been waiting for the playoffs to start so we can see how it goes. Can the Spurs beat the Warriors? Do the Cavs have a chance with a healthy squad? Can anyone stop the inevitable Cavs-Warriors match-up? These are the big questions facing this postseason, but we have to get there first. We have to get through the first round which starts this Saturday.
Right now we’re going to go through every series with our predictions and any bets that really stick out as having value. Just a quick note before we begin: the series picks of a winner should be bet on as a full unit. The picks where we pick the exact games should be made as 1/4 unit bets as the level of difficulty in projecting them is much higher. That being said, let’s get to the tips.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Detroit Pistons Betting Tips:
This is a tough one. On the one hand, you have the Cavaliers and Lebron James who has really turned it on lately and looks like his old self heading into these playoffs. He’s been the best player in the NBA over the past couple of months and if that guy shows up for this whole series, the Pistons don’t have a chance. On the other hand, you have Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons who went 3-1 against the Cavs in the regular season.
I think the Cavs are obviously going to win this series, but I think it will be much tougher than the Cavs would like it to be. Andre Drummond could absolutely kill this team on the boards and I think they will defend Lebron well as SVG should have a tight gameplan for this series. It’s hard not to remember the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, even though the personnel is much different.
Cavaliers in 6
Pick: Cavs win 4-2 +335 at Sports Interaction
Indiana Pacers vs Toronto Raptors Betting Tips:
Despite everything we’ve seen from the Raptors this season, it’s hard not to remember last season’s disaster of a first round when they were swept by the Washington Wizards in a series they had home court advantage in. The Raptors are a much better this season, but the worry is still there. They don’t have a superstar on the level of Paul George and they just haven’t proven they can get it done in the playoffs yet. That being said, they were 3-1 against the Pacers in the regular season. They outscored them by an average of three points a game and outrebounded them by seven boards per game.
The number that really sticks out in this matchup is offensive rating. The Pacers rating was just 104.6, 25th in the NBA, compared to the Raptors fifth best 110 rating.
Raptors in 6
Pick: Raptors win 4-2 +369 at Sports Interaction
Miami Heat vs Charlotte Hornets Betting Tips:
The Charlotte Hornets were 22-25 on January 9th and then got hot and finished the season on a 26-9 run. This could be the best series of the first round as it it is a real styles clash. The Heat love to slow it down, control the pace and get two point shots while the Hornets like to move and get as many three pointers as they can. For the season, the Hornets hit four more three pointers per game than the Heat and that could be a problem for them in this series.
This should be a very defensive series as these two teams finished 8th and 9th in defensive rating this season with just .1 point separating them. The big difference here will be the offensive game and I think the three pointers can carry the Hornets to the upset. We’ve seen in playoffs past what the heavy workload can do to Dwayne Wade’s aging body and I think the Heat might have to go with youth at some point in this series to keep up. If they do that, the Hornets win as they simply have better young guys right now. This should be a great series.
Hornets in 7
Pick: Hornets +126 at https://www.Bovada.lv
Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics Betting Tips:
Probably the greatest coaching match-up of the first round is this series between Brad Stevens of the Celtics and Mike Budenholzer of the Hawks. These guys just know their teams and get the most out of them on a nightly basis. That being said, I think this is the easiest series to pick in the entire Eastern Conference. The Atlanta Hawks are just scorching hot right now and are playing some of the best defense in the NBA. Their 101.4 defensive rating was second in the NBA to the Spurs and their points allowed per game went down in every month of the season (except April which only had a six game sample and was probably their toughest month from an opponent standpoint).
Isiah Thomas is the player to watch in this series because as he goes, so go the Celtics. The Hawks were 3-1 against the Celtics during the regular season and Thomas’ +/- was -7 in those games. If the Hawks are shutting him down in crunch time, this series is over.
Overall, I think Atlanta learned a lot from last season’s postseason and will be far more dangerous this year.
Hawks in 5
Pick: Hawks win 4-1 +331 at Sports Interaction