The best second-season in professional sports (sorry hockey fans…just my opinion) kicks off today with the 2011 NBA Playoffs. We’ll be picking winners all through the NBA Finals – but first let’s kick it off with some series predictions as well as some good value bets to capture the NBA Title.
NBA Playoff Series Betting Picks:
EASTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS:
#1 Chicago Bulls v #8 Indiana Pacers
The young Bulls should have very little difficulty dispatching the Indiana Pacers; clearly the worst of the 16 teams still playing with a record of 37-45. The Pacers do have some offensive punch, and could possibly steal a game at home, but there is no possible way they take this series.
Pick: Chicago -4000
#2 Miami Heat v #7 Philadelphia 76’ers
The Heat had little trouble with the Sixers this season, beating them in all three matchups and by no less than 9 points. Miami is the Eastern Conference team with the most to prove in the postseason, and I think they come out focused and hungry and quickly, and relatively easily (sweep possible, no more than 5 games), discard Philly.
Pick: Miami -2100
#3 Boston Celtics v #6 New York Knicks
This is the glamour series of the first round, and many in the media have recently jumped on the Knick bandwagon. I’ve heard more than a few experts pick them to get to the Conference Finals. Consider this expert unconvinced. Boston’s is so much better defensively, and the discrepancy will be evident in this series. I like the Celtics in 6, possibly five.
Pick: Boston -350 (Favorite First Round Value-Pick)
#4 Orlando Magic v # 5 Atlanta Hawks
Remember the absolute shaming the Magic dropped on Atlanta last year? If not, don’t worry, you’ll get to see it again this season. Dwight Howard will dominate the series, and the depth of Orlando’s backcourt will have little difficulty scoring enough points to power the dangerous Magic to Round 2.
Pick: Orlando -650
WESTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS:
#1 San Antonio Spurs v #8 Memphis Grizzlies
This is the series most ripe for a shocker. The Spurs have struggled down the stretch and now must endure the potential loss of Manu Ginobili. Add in a hungry, red-hot Grizzlies team and we could have the makings of a first-round stunner. Either way, the value pick here is Memphis. They may not win the series, but at +325 it is a great value.
Pick: Memphis +325
#2 Los Angeles Lakers v #7 New Orleans Hornets
It will be fun to watch Chris Paul in some rare national TV appearances, but don’t be lulled into thinking the Lakers late-season swoon is a sign of any vulnerability in the first round. This is a real bad matchup for New Orleans, even with Andrew Bynum hurt for LA.
Pick: Los Angeles – 2100
#3 Dallas Mavericks v #6 Portland Trailblazers
I love the Trailblazers pulling the first round upset in this series. With Brandon Roy back and healthy, Portland may be the lower seed, but they are easily the more talented team. Expect the Blazers quickness to fluster the aging Mav backcourt, and expect Dirk to have his hands full with emerging star LaMarcus Alderidge.
Pick: Portland + 160
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder v #5 Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are one heck of a great story, and no one really thought they’d be even close to this good without Carmello (let alone markedly better). However, this OKC team has the talent, poise, and momentum to make a real run at winning the entire thing. No way Denver derails that in the first round.
Pick: Oklahoma City -210
Top Value Picks for NBA Championship:
I’m not revealing my pick for this segment, merely highlighting the teams with the best value prop (the best payout against the realistic chance of winning the title).
# 3: Miami Heat +350 – Click here to bet it
I agree, it isn’t a huge “value” prop, per se, but being able to nearly triple your money on the Heat isn’t a bad place to wager. They have the easiest first round draw of anyone other than Chicago. In the second round they get either the slightly-battered Celtics or upstart Knicks; both of whom they can handle. In the conference finals, they have either a youthful Chicago team trying to make a seismic leap, or the Magic, whom they will handle.
#2: Orlando Magic +1500 – Click here to bet it
Same exact logic as the Heat above, only in the reverse order of play and a 15:1 return on your investment
#1. Oklahoma City Thunder +1000 – Click here to bet it
Love, love, love the Thunder going into the Playoffs. Their second round opponent is either Memphis or a San Antonio team that can’t match up with their athleticism, and a Western Conference Final against a Laker team that is silently petrified of this Thunder team. Add in the Kendrick Perkins ‘defend the rim’ factor – and this is a team that can legitimately win the title – NOW.