NBA Playoffs: A Look At Round 1 Matchups
The first round of NBA playoffs is set and ready to go as we kick off the 2017 postseason. Alongside a number of interesting matchups, we also get our first look at the NBA Finals betting odds. Each series is best-of-seven, and while some will most certainly be won in four or five games total, others will take it down to the last second in their battle to stay alive. Below, we’ll take a look at each of the eight series in round one of the NBA playoffs, noting strengths and weaknesses for both and giving our prediction for how long each series will last. We also include NBA Finals betting odds for each team for residents wanting to bet on sports in Massachusetts. These are the odds to win the Finals before anything is played, and as the postseason plays out, expect these to change. Historically, a 1 or 2 seed will take home the Title – as teams ranked that high have won it all 16 of the last 20 years. But change always happens, and teams that were longshots might prove that they have what it takes to win everything, while early favorites might fall to a more determined team. Just ask the 1995 Houston Rockets, the 6-seed that defied everything to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy that year.
Eastern Conference Matchups:
Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls
The Boston Celtics cruised into first place in the East, beating out the Cavs for the number one spot in the East as they spiraled at the end of the season. As a reward, the team from Boston will face the eight-seed Chicago Bulls. While Boston’s road to the postseason was relatively easy, Chicago struggled until the very end to find their way into the eighth seed.
Chicago has the upper hand when it comes to playoff experience, and Jimmy Butler will give the team a run for their money. Ultimately, though, the Celtics should be able to defeat the Bulls in six games. Chicago’s defense will more than likely hone in on Isaiah Thomas, giving Al Horford the opportunity to step up and make plays. Jae Crowder will cover Butler, and while this series won’t be an easy sweep, the depth of Boston’s bench and more talented coaching will be too much to handle for the struggling Chicago team.
Current Odds to win the Finals:
Boston +1600, Chicago +25000
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers have been fighting for their lives, so to speak, over the last few weeks, battling to make sure they earned a spot in the top eight. They won the last five games of the regular season and earned the 7-seed, but must now face arguably the best team in the Eastern conference to keep their postseason play alive.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the exact opposite of the Pacers at the end of the regular season, acting lackadaisical on defense and sleepwalking their way through their last few games. Everyone knows that LeBron and Kyrie bring it in the postseason, so no one expects this lazy style of play to continue in the postseason. But it wouldn’t be surprising if it takes the Cavs six games to defeat Indiana. This series should serve as the wake-up call Cleveland needs, especially if they want to get themselves back to the Finals.
NBA Finals betting odds:
Cleveland +333, Indiana +25000
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Raptors finished the season with 51 wins even after losing Kyle Lowry for most of the season and having DeMar DeRozan suffer from injuries throughout. Easily their two most important players, the Raptors were still able to have an extremely successful season, with Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker finding their stride with the team and putting up great years. DeRozan is back to full health and Kyle Lowry will be back in time to help the Raptors in their postseason push.
Even all of that doesn’t mean that the Raptors are going to have an easy time beating the 6-seed Bucks. This team had new life breathed into it by the return of Khris Middleton and the addition of Malcolm Brogdon. The Bucks also have the best player in the series in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averages 22.9 PPG and nearly 9 rebounds/game. Both teams are going to battle back and forth through this series but look to Toronto to pull out the victory in the end. This series goes to a full seven games though, almost no doubt.
Betting odds to win the 2017 NBA finals:
Toronto +1600, Milwaukee +25000
Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Wizards may be the number four seed, but they could have easily been higher than that if not for superstar John Wall struggling to recuperate from an injury. Bradley Beal found his stride and is now a shining new talent for Washington, shooting just over 40% from the 3-point line. This Wizards team is balanced on both sides of the ball and should be able to handily defeat a Hawks team that struggled to finish the year out.
The Hawks have Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap to bolster their playoff hopes, and Dennis Schroder can easily blow your mind with his gameplay – sometimes in a good way but unfortunately just as frequently in a bad way. With inconsistent play inside of a flailing organization, the Wizards shouldn’t have too much trouble wrapping up this series in five games. They may even sweep.
2017 Betting odds for NBA finals:
Washington +4000, Atlanta +25000
Western Conference Beting Odds:
Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers
“Blazers’ in six!” Damien Lillard said with a smirk to a local TV reporter after being asked whether they’d win in six or seven. While Damian Lillard’s clickbait answer falls right in line with his viral video-esque style of play, the Trailblazers are the heavy underdogs heading into this matchup and he and everyone else knows it. This is a true number 1 vs number 8 series, and unfortunately for Portland fans, it won’t be a close one.
Golden State has dominated the NBA season, losing only 15 games – and that’s without their best player. Kevin Durant missed a majority of the season with a knee injury but has recouped enough to join his team in their postseason push. As the heavy favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the Finals, the Warriors should have no trouble against the eight-seed Trailblazers. Let’s give Portland at least one W, as the Warriors wrap it up in five.
Current NBA Finals odds:
Golden State -160, Portland +30000
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
A San Antonio-Memphis matchup is nothing new to fans of either team. This will be the fourth time the team has met in the postseason in the last seven years. That being said, don’t expect the same level of play as years past. Memphis just barely slipped over the finish line after losing 13 of their last 20 games in the regular season. Losing Chandler Parsons for most of the season to injury didn’t help.
The Spurs may not have finished the season in first place but they still finished the season strong. Perhaps more importantly, they finished the season well-rested. Betting on this matchups’ point totals will more than likely trend under, as the Spurs have the highest rated defense in the league and the Grizzlies allow the fewest points in the paint of any team in the league. The Spurs should handily defeat the Grizzlies with their superior offensive skills, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they sweep Memphis 4-0.
Betting odds to win the 2017 NBA Finals:
San Antonio +600, Memphis +15000
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The matchup we’re all the most excited about – Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden in the fight for history. Oh, sorry, technically it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder vs the Houston Rockets to move forward to the next round of the playoffs. But really, everyone knows that this matchup is all about seeing two superstars battle it out for total domination and the honor of being named League MVP. Both players are the only two in actual contention for the title this year, and with the NBA switching things up and presenting the award after the playoffs instead of before, we get to see both players go all out to prove that they are the most valuable player.
Aside from watching these two face off, this should be an incredibly close series, giving fans andbettors a can’t-miss round one playoff series. In four meetings, the Rockets took home three wins over OK City, but each match was incredibly close. Houston ranks worst in the league for points allowed in the paint, while the Thunder are second in the NBA with points scored in the paint. As the higher seed, Houston is the home team and will use this to their advantage, but don’t expect this series to close out anytime soon. It will easily go to six games and more than likely will take all seven to close out the series. Houston will more than likely snuff out the Thunder and advance to the second round.
NBA Finals betting odds:
Houston +1600, Oklahoma City +6600
LA Clippers vs. Utah Jazz
The Clippers have disappointed year after year in the postseason. But 2017 might just be the year they break this trend and actually perform at the level they should, rather than throwing everything away on bad performances and stupid play calling. The Clippers have the upper hand in this series, earning the home court advantage. They also won three of the four regular-season meetings against the Jazz, all of which were by double points. The Clippers finished the regular season strong, winning their last seven games of the season.
The Jazz are organized, determined, and have all-star talent on their roster. But it still might not be enough to take home this series. Gordon Hayward will have to prove he’s worth the huge chunk of change the Jazz are shelling out for him this summer, and this series is the place to prove it. If he can continue his all-star ways, the Jazz might just be able to squeeze by this Clippers team. But if he repeats his 2012 playoff performance where he averaged 7.3 points through four games, Utah is in for a tough ride. Keep your eye on Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan, as well. These players will provide quite a show as they go at it in the paint. The Jazz are more determined but the Clippers are more experienced, and that, plus home court advantage, wins the day for LA. The Clippers take it in seven.
Betting odds to win the NBA Finals:
LA +5000, Utah +6600
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