The NBA Playoffs are finally here. Only 4 months later than originally planned. In what felt like a new season the 8 game end of the “regular season” had plenty of story lines. The Suns go 8-0, the Lakers struggle, Lou Williams loves stripp….chicken wings, the list goes on. But now we finally get what we’ve been waiting for. The playoffs are here and it’s time to crown our 2020 NBA Champions. Here are the series prices for round one along with some picks.
(1) Milwaukee Bucks -10000 Vs (8)Orlando Magic +1600
In my opinion this will be the most boring matchup in the first round. Neither team is playing good ball right now with both going an underwhelming 3-5 during bubble play. Talent will win out in this matchup and the odds reflect that. The Bucks have the reigning NBA MVP and should get by this round easily. They better use this series to sharpen their game as the competition will only get harder. Although I think the Bucks win this one easily im not going to touch the series price as the risk is just not worth the return.
(2)Toronto Raptors -2300 vs (7)Brooklyn Nets +1025
With the 8-0 Suns missing out on the playoffs the raptors are the hottest team going 7-1 during bubble play. They will face a Nets team without their superstars. Call me crazy but I actually think losing the distraction of Kyrie helps the Nets. Not enough though as the defending champions should get by round 1. Once again the return to take toronto is just not good enough for me to take them at -2300 even though i think they win this series easily.
(3) Boston Celtics -440 vs (6)Philadelphia 76ers +320
During our NBA Return episode I outlined the reasons why I thought a young team who only cared about basketball could make a deep run. I have Boston as that team. The celtics went 5-3 during bubble play, but have been playing great of late. They will play 4-4 76ers team without Ben Simmons. I’m laying the money on the celtics in this one.
(4)Miami Heat -340 vs (5)Indiana Pacers +270
The pacers continue to make the playoffs, but can never seem to figure out how to advance. They lost only two games in the bubble one of which was a blowout loss to the Miami Heat. They are also shorthanded with Sabonis, Lamb, and Warren all sidelined. In my opinion Miami has been one of the most underrated teams all season. They did struggle going 3-5 in the bubble, but I think they will win this opening round because of the injuries to the pacers. I expect this series to go deep, and rather than take a winner i’m taking over 5.5 games at -140.
(1)Los Angeles Lakers -550 vs (8)Portland Trail Blazers +375
Here is where i’ll start to get controversial. I absolutely love portland at +375 here. Yes it’s Lebron and AD on the other side, but Portland has been in playoff mode since the reboot. The Lakers on the other hand? 3-5 and looking lackadaisical most of the time. The NBA probably more than any other sport allows you to “flip the switch” and start playing well once it matters, but I think the momentum Portland has will allow them to steal a game or two early and make this a series. That’s enough for me to take them at +375
(2)Los Angeles Clippers -650 vs (7) Dallas Mavericks +425
Dallas was another one of those young teams that I thought would be successful in this environment. I was wrong about that one as they went 3-5. On the other side you have probably the biggest fan of basketball in the league in Kawhi Leonard. That guy lives to ball. The Clippers have been my pick to come out of the West all year and i’m not changing my mind now. The price is a little high for the series in my opinion so I wont be placing any bets even though I think they win easy.
(3)Denver Nuggets -210 vs (6)Utah Jazz +175
This is one of the more intriguing matchups in my eyes. Both teams struggled during the return going 3-5. This one could really go either way which makes me lean towards Utah because of the plus money. Ultimately i’m not going to touch a team, but rather take over 5.5 games at -170 as I think this series is the most evenly matched and has the potential to go 7.
(4)Oklahoma City Thunder +130 vs (5)Houston Rockets -150
This series has storylines built in as Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were traded for each other last season. The irony? Chris Paul who has been injured for much of his career will be playing as Russell Westbrook will miss time which a quad injury. The Rockets do still have James Harden, but if Russ misses more than a game or two I like the Thunder at +130.