The Cleveland Cavaliers are the second seed in the Eastern Conference, but Vegas gives them the best odds to win the NBA championship at 9-4. Even though the Atlanta Hawks dominated the regular season and have the top seed in the East, they actually only have the fourth best odds at 12-1.
Anyone who has been keeping up with both teams would probably agree with that for a couple of reasons. The Cavaliers have been playing well toward the end of the season and look to be a dangerous team. The Hawks have dealt with injuries, which has clearly hampered them down the stretch. They built a big enough lead in the standings throughout the season where it didn’t impact them, though.
Out in the Western Conference, it’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors have the best odds at 5-2. They have dominated the regular season and never really tapered off, even when they had a big enough lead to coast at the end of the season. The Warriors are possibly the toughest team to beat in a seven game series, so their odds are right where they should be.
Next in the West is the Spurs at 4-1. A six seed has never won the NBA Finals, but you can’t put anything past the Spurs. Vegas surely isn’t worried about the history. They know that San Antonio has the pieces to make a run the way they played to end the season. If there’s any team that could defy history and win as a six seed, it’s the Spurs.
Other notable odds include the Rockets, Bulls and Clippers at 14-1 odds. The Rockets are an interesting team that is loaded with talent, but their past early exits likely has a lot to do with their odds being a little low. Another team to watch is the Memphis Grizzlies at 25-1. Memphis was in second place in the conference for most of the season, but faltered late. If they get back to their early season dominance, this could be a sleeper pick in the NBA Playoffs. We would have put Houston a little higher up, but for the most part, we believe Vegas has it right. Now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to play it safe or hope that a surprise team makes a run to the championship.
Looking at game one of the first round matchup against the Celtics, LeBron James didn’t even have the best statistical game on the team. In fact, he wasn’t even the second best. Irving exploded and took control with 30 points and looked like the leader of the team. Cleveland would like to see his assist totals be a little higher, but they won’t complain about a 30-point performance.
Kevin Love was a monster under the basket in game one as he recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds. Love finally is understanding his role within the offense and knows that he is a key player for their success. Cleveland wanted his aggressiveness and he is finally showing it. If he continues to build off of his first playoff performance, the Cavaliers will be in a good spot.
It’s hard to believe that LeBron wasn’t the storyline after a playoff win. He still had a solid 20 points and 7 assists, but he was a little overshadowed by the other members of the big three. You won’t hear LeBron complaining about not being headlined, though. He knows he can take control of a game whenever he wants to, but it will take a team effort to win a best of seven series.
There are usually mixed results when young players play in their first postseason game. Some guys don’t handle it well and let their nerves get the best of them. Others rise to the occasion and elevate their game to new heights. Irving and Love were definitely the latter in their first appearance. Now they will have to play with that intensity for the rest of the series.
Cleveland knows that they are a better team than Boston, but they can’t have that mentality. For this first series, the best thing that LeBron can do is make sure that the younger players stay level headed. They can’t allow their confidence to get too high, because anything can happen in the playoffs. If we see performances like we did in game one from the big three, then there’s no limit to how far this team can go. NBA predictions experts are saying that the Eastern Conference could be theirs and the NBA championship could be just within their reach.
The key player for the Grizzlies the rest of this series will be Mike Conley. If this were the regular season, Conley would likely be on the sideline for a few games because of some pain he is feeling. But since this is the playoffs, he is out on the court and playing through his injury and playing pretty well.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are the obvious big guys for Memphis, so they will be leaning on them more if Conley becomes limited. The Grizzlies have always played well at home in the playoffs, but it’s been a different story on the road. Portland can create a hostile environment as well, so Memphis will need to get off to a good start.
The duo of Lillard and Aldridge have been good enough to carry the Blazers this far, but it’s pretty evident that they won’t be able to win a seven game series against a quality team like the Grizzlies. They will need someone else to step up, particularly on the defensive side. Memphis has too many weapons on offense, so Portland will have to find an answer soon.
One of the answers they may be able to find at home is an offensive spark. The Blazers are capable of scoring a lot of points on anyone, but Memphis is good enough to be able to make adjustments and stop them. If Portland has to rely on offense, then it will take heroic efforts from Lillard and Aldridge, and that still may not be enough.
Even though the Blazers haven’t looked very good so far this series, we think they will be a much different team at home. Getting in their own hostile environment with the crowd behind them should keep their spirits up, even if they start struggling. Controlling the tempo of the game when they are at home will be key for Portland, but it is equally as important for Memphis on the road. The Grizzlies don’t want to give the Blazers any confidence, so they will be trying hard to win the first game in Portland. The Blazers will dig deep in this game, which is why we are picking them to win for our NBA picks for today. We won’t guarantee that they’ll win another game this series, but we like them for their playoff home opener.
Trail Blazers 108
Rondo is out because of a back injury, but that may not be a bad thing for the Mavericks. Rondo hasn’t been playing well and just hasn’t shown much interest in playing the game the right way. Owner Mark Cuban didn’t sign him for playing sloppy and careless basketball, but that’s what he is getting at the most critical point in the season.
With Parsons out and the only player that looks interested in playing defense being Tyson Chandler, coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t know where else to look. Dirk Nowitzki isn’t the same player as he was a few years ago, so there’s just not a lot of energy on the Dallas roster that is in desperate need of a spark. We will see if they play like they have their backs against the wall in game four.
The Rockets, on the other hand, have everything going for them. James Harden is easily their best player, but they haven’t really needed to rely on him much in this series. A lot of that has to do with the poor play from the Dallas defense, but it also has to do with the increasing confidence from the role players on Houston’s roster.
Houston will be looking to close out this series as soon as possible so they can prepare for their next opponent. The way they’ve played against the Mavericks, there’s little doubt that they won’t win the series. As long as the players don’t get cocky and overconfident, then the Rockets should be able to coast to a first round series win.
Playing the in-state rival Mavericks is probably the best thing for the Rockets at this point. It would be easy for teams to coast through the series after putting together dominating performances and clearly being the better team. But since there is a general animosity between the teams, there won’t be a lack of motivation in eliminating them as soon as possible. Look for the Rockets to try to take an early lead and put some doubt in the Mavs players and fans early in the game. Once that happens, the Rockets should be able to coast, so we are taking them to win easily for our NBA picks for today.
Even though they are the hottest team in baseball, they are still only 1.5 games ahead of the Braves in the division. Atlanta has been another surprise team so far in this young season, so we should be set up for a pretty entertaining series. Youth will definitely be the storylines to follow during this series, with both teams having young talent that may be developing faster than the franchises expected.
The last loss for the Mets came way back on April 11th, which was ironically to this Atlanta Braves team. New York started their winning streak the next day against the Braves, which is the team that will be trying to put an end to it. Playing at home will help the Mets out, but getting a series sweep of the Braves may be too much to ask for.
Jon Niese will take the mound in the first game with his 1.59 ERA. Niese has been stingy in his starts, which includes a game against the Braves where he gave up one run in five innings and earned a no decision. If Niese is able to extend the Mets streak to nine games, then it will be up to Dillon Gee to keep it going in game two.
If the Mets are able to win the first two games and extend their winning streak to ten, then they have to like their chances with Bartolo Colon starting in game three. Colon has had a surprising start to the season and provides a good veteran presence for the young Mets team.
The Braves are fortunate that they can avoid seeing Matt Harvey in this series. Harvey has looked like a Cy Young award contender through his first few starts, so the Braves can relax a little easier knowing that they won’t have to face him. There probably isn’t a lot of pressure to extend their winning streak this early in the season, but you know that it is in the back of every Mets player’s mind. Our expert MLB predictions have the Mets winning the first game against the Braves to extend their streak to nine. But they won’t be able to hit double digits as they fall in game two. Regardless of what happens, what the Mets are doing right now is pretty impressive considering their expectations at the start of the season.
The Tigers were projected by many MLB betting experts to win the World Series. They look like a team that can do just that through two weeks of the season. Their pitching has been dominant and timely hitting has helped the bullpen out. Playing in a difficult division hasn’t slowed down the Tigers yet, so they could be atop the standings for quite a while. And they should be getting Justin Verlander back soon.
The surprise team through the first two weeks of the season is easily the New York Mets. The Mets are riding an eight game winning streak and don’t want to slow down any time soon. Having Matt Harvey as the anchor of the starting rotation again has been huge for their confidence. The rest of the team is energized and has them playing at a high level right now.
The Dodgers made several moves in the offseason in hopes of being built for the playoffs. Even though Clayton Kershaw hasn’t looked much like a Cy Young award winner, the Dodgers are still winning through his struggles. Injuries have been a little concerning for them, but as long as they can remain healthy, then they should be a threat in the National League.
The defending American League champions were the last team in the majors to lose a game this season. They struggled a little bit after losing their first game, but are getting back on track quickly. Playing in a division with the Tigers is going to be tough for the rest of the season, but they proved last season that they can still get the job done.
The Cardinals will almost always find themselves in any power rankings because of their consistency. They currently have the best team ERA in the league, and it also helps that their offense is pretty solid. In what looks to be a fairly weak NL Central division, there may not be another team that can compete with the Cards.
NBA Playoff expert betting picks for Western Conference Game 3: Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans got off to a better start in game two than they did in game one. Instead of having to claw back for virtually the entire game, the Pelicans enjoyed an early lead before Golden State turned on the jets. If the Pelicans are able to get another big lead at home, they should get the crowd energized enough to be able to keep the momentum going.
Anthony Davis has had a lot of success in this series, so you can figure that trend will continue at home. But it’s when the Warriors contain Davis that the Pelicans get in a little bit of a slump. It seems that the success of the Pelicans rides on Davis’ shoulders, so they will have to find a way to keep him effective when he’s on the court.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are playing with the attitude that they know they will win every game. Even when they were down by a fairly sizable margin in game two, they kept their composure and just wore down the Pelicans eventually. The game was close midway through the fourth quarter, before Curry turned it on and pulled away.
Playing in New Orleans could be tricky for the Warriors. They lost the last time they played there just a couple of weeks ago, so that had to be looming in the back of their mind. They played a determined and motivated team that night, and will be facing the same again. Hot shooting will keep the crowd out of the game, so that will rest on Curry’s shoulders again.
It’s hard to imagine the Warriors sweeping the Pelicans, despite them being the best team in the league. New Orleans has proven that they can hang with them, but just haven’t been able to start or finish consistently. Expect them to be a more consistent team at home. With the crowd being energized for the first playoff game, we are going to ride that energy and take the Pelicans for our NBA picks for today. They may even open up a big enough lead that forces the Warriors to rest some players. New Orleans gets the big win at home.
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Betting predictions preview for Eastern Conference Game 3 Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have been playing with a ton of confidence in the first two games, which has fans wondering where that was during the season. John Wall and Bradley Beal have highlighted the success of the Wizards with their offensive play. They have definitely taken their games to a higher level now that the playoffs are finally here.
Washington players have done plenty of trash talking publicly, but they have also backed it up on the court with their play. Instead of being overconfident coming home with a 2-0 series lead, they insist that they will be playing like they are losing the series by two games. It’s safe to say that they are playing with an obvious chip on their shoulder.
On the other side, DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors insists that his team hasn’t lost any confidence. They have just simply gotten outplayed in the first two games, so they will be using the break to figure out a way to match the intensity that the Wizards are bringing. They have a huge obstacle to overcome, but if Washington can win two road games, then so can Toronto.
If nothing else, the Raptors should be able to use pride as a temporary motivating factor. They started the season near the top of the conference standings, but were still being criticized. Now those critics are out more than ever, so they will have a chance to prove them wrong by winning a game or two on the road.
Even though Washington players are saying that they are treating game three like they have their backs against the wall, they know deep down that they are in a pretty good position. Toronto is the desperate team, and we think they are going to play like it. This shouldn’t be a blowout either way in game three, but we really like the Raptors for our NBA picks for today. Getting a win will be huge for their confidence, so expect DeRozan to step up and lead his team to a close victory.
Considering the Yankees have played a pretty tough schedule so far, it’s not that terrible that they are hovering right around .500 this season. Of course, being average is never the standard in the Bronx. Having the Mets bringing more excitement in the state of New York also has to be burning up the fans and players alike.
The reality is, though, that the Mets are just playing better right now. When you look at their rosters, the Yankees probably have the best player in Rodriguez, but the Mets definitely have the best pitcher in Matt Harvey. Other than those two players, the rosters for both sides aren’t really stacked with a bunch of talent. That can only mean that the Mets are over performing right now and the Yankees are about where they should be.
Mets fans are hoping that their over performing team continues to win games instead of falling back down to reality. The good thing about it is that their roster has a bunch of young players that may not know any better. You can’t underestimate the power of a team that loves the game and plays well together. That’s why the Mets have been successful early in the season.
With the powerful Yankees franchise struggling in recent years, it’s easy to see why they are thinking about how to get better instead of just playing. Putting on a Yankees uniform doesn’t mean that they will be any better, so they have to get rid of any entitlement that they may have. Even though the Mets are better right now, it will be interesting to see if any entitlement shows up in the Yankees dugout for this series.
Returning home after a 10-game road trip should be beneficial for the Yankees. They fared pretty well on the road trip, so they should be ready to go for this three-game series against the Mets. The Mets, on the other hand, have been dominating anyone that has come in their path over the last couple of weeks. These games may be a little closer than what they’re used to, though. The rivalry between these two can’t be underestimated. You can almost throw out the records when these two play each other. For that reason, we are taking the New York Yankees to win the series for our MLB predictions, and take two out of three from the Mets to cool them down a little.
Despite losing their last game of the season and dropping from the second seed to the sixth seed, the Spurs were still one of the hottest team entering the playoffs. Lost in a lot of the discussion was how well the Clippers had been playing, though. They have usually fallen off a little bit late in the season, but they have stayed consistent this year. It has been a year of no excuses for Doc Rivers and his team, and that is continuing through the playoffs.
The Clippers play a different style of basketball than the Spurs, but it worked in game one. Los Angeles puts together highlight reels with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and that was the case again in game one. Getting the crowd into the game with high flying dunks may be the best chance that the Clippers have.
Coach Gregg Popovich knows how to play in and win playoff games. Don’t expect the Spurs to make many sweeping adjustments coming into game two. He may just put a different defender on guys or tweak their positioning on offense or defense. The Spurs style of basketball got them to where they are as a franchise, so they won’t be panicking at this point.
The Spurs really didn’t play a terrible game, but they just got outplayed and outhustled. They will be looking to keep the game closer early in game two and eliminate some of the big runs that the Clippers go on. When their crowd gets into the game, it brings out more intensity and aggressiveness. Controlling the tempo will be key for the Spurs in game two.
The Clippers haven’t been that great against the spread this season, but they easily covered in game one. San Antonio had won their first game of the series in their previous 11 playoff series. Now they will have to dig themselves out of a hole and try to steal a game to earn the split before returning home. The Clippers are on a mission to prove their doubters wrong and advance deep into the playoffs. They will have to get through the defending champions first, and starting the series 2-0 would be huge. This game will be closer, but you still have to take the Clippers at home for your NBA picks for today.
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