The NBA Playoff are finally here, and the good news, aside from the fact we will have three or four televised games a day for the next two weeks is that the games MATTER. Everyone will be TRYING and the level of play should amplify immediately. The best athletes on Earth playing every possession like their lives depended on it – who could ask for anything more??
We will be here with picks every day throughout the Playoffs, but let’s kick off the series with a look at a few of the more attractive series prices.
NBA OPENING ROUND SERIES PRICES:
Oklahoma City Thunder +300 vs. Houston Rockets -360
This is my favorite value play of the opening round. Oklahoma City’s “lack of talent” has been a little overplayed as it feeds nicely in the Russ-diculous season story line. Is Russell Westbrook the most athletic human being (or alien? Maybe?) to ever put on an NBA uniform? I’d lean, yes. But is he doing this ALL by himself? No.
The Thunder aren’t deep on the wing, but Russ covers up that gaping weakness. They are deep and big and tough on the interior with Kanter, Adams and Sabonis and that siz could cause some problems for the Houston Rockets.
Houston will get up the court and gun, and because of that, will undoubtedly win a game or two in this series by a lopsided margin. But on nights when it isn’t falling, OKC should have a good chance to win. Houston’s record is dramatically better with 8 more wins, but a lot of their winning was done early. Over the last few months, these teams aren’t much different, certainly not different enough to justify a -360 laydown for the Rockets.
I think this series goes the distance, and I’ll bet on Russ. If nothing else, if it does get to say 2-1 Thunder or even 3-2 or 3-3, we have some built in hedging opportunities.
MY PICK: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER SERIES +300
Atlanta Hawks +170 vs Washington Wizards -205
This is my second favorite series line. It is the narrowest, but I am not sure why. Washington is substantially better than the medicore Hawks and I think they get this thing done in five games, maybe six. Atlanta has an inefficient backcourt with Schroeder and Hardaway and will be outclassed by the best backcourt in the East of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington’s core lineup has made some playoff runs together, yet is still young enough to mostly be in their prime (Gortat a little past, but still solid).
I think Washington caught a nice break with Boston sneaking into the one seed. I have Washington meeting Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals in a series that could prove far more difficult than Cleveland expects.
In the meantime, -200 is a slim price to pay for a series that I don’t see being very dramatic. If I were drafting all eight teams in the East, I’d take the Hawks last, after Indiana and Chicago even. Heck, I’d pick them ninth if I could draft the Heat. I don’t think Atlanta has the offensive punch or the heart to beat Washington in a series.
MY PICK: WASHINGTON WIZARDS SERIES -205