We are getting one step closer to the NBA Finals as the second round starts Sunday. The first round had it’s share of excitement, but a lot of it felt like going through the motions and the level of competition should be very high in the second round. There are definitely some interesting series in this round with opportunities for upsets.
We’ll start with the Eastern Conference where all of the top four seeds advanced. It looked for a moment like the Bucks and Bulls might pull upsets, but the Raptors and Celtics righted the ship and move on to face far more dangerous opponents. There is definitely some value in these series so let’s take a look, starting with my favorite bet of the playoffs thus far.
|Sun 4/30||Washington Wizards (Series) +140|
|1:05PM||Boston Celtics (Series) -160|
|Game 1: Sunday, April 30, Washington at Boston, 1 p.m. (ABC)|
Game 2: Tuesday, May 2, Washington at Boston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Thursday, May 4, Boston at Washington, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, May 7, Boston at Washington, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 10, Washington at Boston, time TBD (TNT)
*Game 6: Friday, May 12, Boston at Washington, time TBD (ESPN)
*Game 7: Monday, May 15, Washington at Boston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
These two teams split the series 2-2 and did battle, and yes, I do mean battle. These two teams really don’t like each other and they showed it in the regular season. This series will be heated and it could be long.
The key match-up of the series will be John Wall
and Bradley Beal
against Isaiah Thomas
, Avery Bradley
and Marcus Smart
. Wall and Beal have been great in this series thus far, but Bradley and Smart should defend them well. How Boston hides Thomas on defense will be a question and should be something that the Wizards exploit. This could be a very big series for Otto Porter
as you have to think that the Celtics will just challenge him to beat them. If he is draining open three pointers in this one, it could be curtains for the Celtics.
Chicago beat Boston in the first two games by dominating the boards and Washington should be able to do that as well. Marcin Gortat usually plays well against this team and Al Horford is a great match-up for him down low. Markieff Morris should feast on Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerbko. This is a really bad match-up for Boston down low and they will definitely need to figure something out if they are going to advance in this series. In round one, that thing was Gerald Green. I don’t think that’s the answer here and I will be betting on the Wizards +140 to win the series.
|Mon 5/1||Toronto Raptors (Series) +380|
|7:05PM||Cleveland Cavaliers (Series) -475|
|Game 1: Monday, May 1, 7 p.m., Toronto at Cleveland (TNT)|
Game 2: Wednesday, May 3, 7 p.m, Toronto at Cleveland (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, May 5, 7 p.m., Cleveland at Toronto (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, May 7, 3:30 p.m., Cleveland at Toronto (ABC)
Game 5: Tuesday, May 9, TBD, Toronto at Cleveland (TNT) (if necessary)
Game 6: Thursday, May 11, TBD, Cleveland at Toronto (ESPN) (if necessary)
Game 7: Sunday, May 14, TBD, Toronto at Cleveland (TNT) (if necessary)
This series feels like the line should be higher. The performance of Cleveland in the first round against the performance of Toronto in the first round is night and day. It seemed like Toronto was lucky to escape that Milwaukee series and if it wasn’t for a few breaks here and there we might be looking at a different series.
Still, there were signs of a great Toronto team. The way they moved the ball in game five of that series was amazing and their defense was on point the whole series. There is a really great offense in here, but Kyle Lowry
and DeMar DeRozan
need to rely less on iso and more on ball movement. PJ Tucker and Serge Ibaka
have been great additions while Norman Powell
was finally unleashed against the Bucks. This is a tough team, but they seem slow to make adjustments and often feel like they are defiant of them. That won’t fly against the Cavs, but you can see how maybe they have a chance.
The big reason is the Cavaliers defense that has been leaking points all season and didn’t stop leaking points against the Pacers. They just outscored them by a lot and had the best player in the universe on their team. That helps. LeBron James can single handedly win this series and history points to him doing exactly that. Toronto might try to use Jonas Valanciunas down low to take advantage of the rebounding/defensive issues so they’ll likely need Tristan Thompson in this series. Kevin Love might have a tough time in this series thanks to Serge Ibaka and Kyrie Irving is basically a wash with Kyle Lowry. When it comes down to it, Cleveland has LeBron and Toronto doesn’t and that’s why Cleveland will be in the Eastern Conference Finals once again.
|Mon 5/1||Houston Rockets (Series) +205|
|9:35PM||San Antonio Spurs (Series) -245|
|Game 1 – Mon. May 1, Houston at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m. TNT|
Game 2 – Wed. May 3, Houston at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri. May 5, San Antonio at Houston, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 7, San Antonio at Houston, 9 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 9, Houston at San Antonio, TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Thu. May 11, San Antonio at Houston, TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sun. May 14, Houston at San Antonio, TBD, TBD
This should be a fun one and I could really see an upset here. We saw it in the last round as the Spurs struggled outside of Kawhi Leonard
. The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley
had his way with Tony Parker
, Patty Mills
and Manu Ginobili
and it’s easy to see James Harden
doing the same thing here. They’ll need a lot of help from Danny Green
. Plus, I love the idea of Patrick Beverley
guarding Parker and Mills. That will be an issue and the age factor is a real issue for the Spurs as it’s a question as to whether some of these guys are going to be able to keep up with the Rockets’ rapid fire offense.
San Antonio will figure stuff out because Gregg Poppovich is a genius, but they need more than what they’ve gotten so far out of LaMarcus Aldridge. A couple years ago he was the marquee free agent and now he’s struggling. If the Spurs are going to win this thing, they need a big series from him. Pau Gasol is an interesting case as well. I like him against bench units, but this bench unit could be a bit too fast. I also wonder if Lou Williams will be a factor in this series or if the Spurs will just bully his game. I think the latter.
This will be a great series, but I have to go with the Rockets in this one. Houston has the better supporting cast and they will be able to unlock something that is too fast for the Spurs. I don’t love this as much as I love Washington, but the odds are better here. I’ll be betting Rockets +240 to win this series.
|Jazz (Series) +1600|
|Golden State Warriors (Series) -3200|
|Game 1 – Tue. May 2, Utah at Golden State, 10:30 p.m., TNT|
Game 2 – Thu. May 4, Utah at Golden State, 10:30 p.m, ESPN
Game 3 – Sat. May 6, Golden State at Utah, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 4 – Mon. May 8, Golden State at Utah, TBD, TNT
Game 5 * Wed. May 10, Utah at Golden State, TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Fri. May 12, Golden State at Utah, TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sun. May 14, Utah at Golden State, TBD, TBD
This is the biggest line there is in the first round and for good reason, the Warriors are really awesome. I’d be picking the Warriors if they didn’t have Kevin Durant, but with him I am going for the sweep. His injury really unlocked what they do with Stephen Curry leading the offense, Klay Thompson draining threes and Draymond Green being all world on defense. This just feels like an easy win for the Warriors.
The Jazz will make a few games close. They were really impressive against the Clippers. Quinn Snyder is a hell of a coach. Gordon Hayward is going to get paid this summer and Rudy Gobert is imposing in the middle. They are a fun team, but the Warriors are just too fast and too dangerous for them to keep up. Prepare for another long Warriors layoff after the sweep.
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