The first round is done and it’s time for the next round of playoff action. We’re down to just eight teams and the NBA championship is getting even closer. There are some pretty big question marks going forward, mostly having to due with the Warriors and Steph Curry’s knee, but it feels like the top three teams are going to end up where we think they are going to. That being said, anything can happen as we’ve seen with the Clippers and the injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
We’ve got some great series in this round though and it won’t be easy for any of these teams to move onto the next round. Let’s take a look at the four second round playoff series and the current odds from 5Dimes. Reminder that you can bet any of these at http://www.5Dimes.com
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks +380 (series)
Cleveland Cavaliers -475 (series)
A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals goes down in round two this year. This will be an interesting one as there was only one game in this series that was decided by less than eight points last year, a Cavs sweep. It feels like the Hawks are a little bit better this year and they have a much better defense, but they still got killed last year with mostly the same cast of characters.
The big question here is if the Cavs can keep playing the type of harmonious basketball they showed in the first round. This team played better together than they have since being assembled in that series against Detroit and if that’s the team the Hawks are facing this could be another sweep. Of course, there is always the threat of a collapse with all of the clashing personalities here.
Toronto Raptors/Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat/Charlotte Hornets
Toronto Raptors -155 (series)
Miami Heat +130 (series)
This should be a fun series. The Raptors completed their goal of the postseason by finally winning a first round playoff series. What do they do now? Are they satisfied with that? Or do they want more? If Lowry and DeRozan shoot like they did in the first round, they will have a really tough time moving on.
The Heat beat the Hornets in probably the toughest first round match-up of the entire playoffs and now get a team that they can absolutely beat. They have the better superstar, the better coach and the better system.
Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers/Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State Warriors -1100 (series)
Portland Trailblazers +750 (series)
This line is about what you would expect it to be. The Blazers are the lowest seed left in the Western Conference and the Warriors, even without Curry for at least the first two games, are still a 73 win team. Before the Clippers injuries, it seemed like the Blazers were exposed and on their way out. The only two guys who could really make a shot were Damion Lillard and CJ McCollum, but neither of them could play great defense to the point where McCollum was benched at one point. A lot of the tricks Portland used to beat LA won’t work here. Klay Thompson is a top notch defender, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut will be a lot tougher on Portland’s bigs and the Warriors won’t struggle to score like the Clippers did at the end of that series. This should be a four or five game series, tops.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder +255 (series)
San Antonio Spurs -310 (series)
I honestly don’t see this series being as close as this line would indicate. The Spurs have built an all-time great defensive team and the Thunder’s offense was kind of exploited in that last round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Oklahoma City mostly relies on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook getting the ball and doing something awesome with it and I don’t think that will be enough against the Spurs defense. Kawhi Leonard will make life hell for Kevin Durant and I think the Spurs will do their best to close the driving lines for Westbrook who shot below 30% from three this season. The Thunder really struggled in close games down the stretch as well and that is something that the Spurs will feast on in this series.
This is just not a fair match-up from a coaching and defense perspective. Billy Donovan was a great college coach, but he is seriously out of his element in this series against Greg Poppovich.