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2019 NBA Playoff First-Round Series Odds & Picks

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors have a lot to prove in the NBA Playoffs. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)
  • The Raptors hope to erase past playoff failures
  • The Blazers are in tough against Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Thunder
  • Who are the best bets to advance to the second round?

What a grueling NBA regular season. Your reward for witnessing:

a) Magic Johnson jump ship

b) Anthony Davis light a TNT stick in his own hand

c) Draymond Green verbally berate teammate Kevin Durant

d) James Harden become the most potent offensive force since some dude named Jordan

e) Giannis become modern day Shaq 2.0

f) Seeing who did enough sucking to land Zion; and

g) The end of hall of fame careers in Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki… is this.

The NBA Playoffs are here. Only, LeBron James isn’t.

With one of the wildest seasons in recent memory in the books, let’s look at what should happen in the first round.

2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs First-Round Match-Ups

Home Team Home Team Odds to Win Series at BetOnline Away Team Away Team Odds to Win Series at BetOnline
(1) Milwaukee Bucks -5000 (8) Detroit Pistons +1500
(2) Toronto Raptors -1050 (7) Orlando Magic +750
(3) Philadelphia 76ers -650 (6) Brooklyn Nets +500
(4) Boston Celtics -500 (5) Indiana Pacers +405

*Odds taken 04/11/19

Raptors Should Navigate Magic with Ease

The Raptors want to exorcise some demons and hit some lofty goals.

This team is centered around All-Star Kawhi Leonard, who will play his first postseason game since an ankle injury in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals.

On a maintenance plan since a thigh injury limited him to just nine games a year ago, Leonard showed he is again one of the top stars in the sport, averaging 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds on 49.6% from the field and 37.1% from beyond the arc, albeit in just 60 games. All restrictions are off now, and he will be unleashed.

The depth of the Raptors will be evident with veteran stars like Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol doing lots of the heavy lifting, and able role players in Danny Green, Fred VanVleet, and Jeremy Lin chipping in.

But their real ace in the hole is the emergence of Pascal Siakim, who, along with defending any position on the court at a high level, pumped in 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting close to 55% from the floor in a Most Improved Player campaign.

If he is anything near what he was this year, this series should be short and sweet.

Pick: Raptors (-1050)

Can Celtics Find Themselves in Time?

There is no team with higher peak and valley potential than the Celtics. They could compete with the Warriors if they get to the Finals.

They could also be eliminated in five games against the Pacers.

Inconsistency and infighting plagued one of the deepest and most gifted lineups in the league, led by the moodiness of Kyrie Irving to the regression of stud rookies Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

What kept them afloat was, on paper, a good defense, ranking top-8 in points allowed, and three-point and field goal percentage allowed. That and Kyrie, when he wasn’t talking, being absolutely clutch.

While they rank seventh overall in three-point percentage they don’t get easy points at the line, averaging just 19.5 free throw attempts per game. To put that in perspective, James Harden averaged 11 a game on his own this year.

But Indiana could be the right remedy for Boston. They play at a glacial pace (25th in the league),  and are without Victor Oladipo, out for the year with an ugly leg injury. They will force the Celtics to earn everything, but won’t have enough to upset them.

Pick: Celtics (-500)

2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs First-Round Match-Ups

Home Team Home Team Odds to Win Series at BetOnline Away Team Away Team Odds to Win Series at BetOnline
(1) Golden State Warriors -20000 (8) Los Angeles Clippers +5000
(2) Denver Nuggets -240 (7) San Antonio Sours +200
(3) Portland Trail Blazers +121 (6) Oklahoma City Thunder -141
(4) Houston Rockets -325 (5) Utah Jazz +270

Can Spurs Upend Nuggets?

You’ve got the upstart Nuggets, who finished second in the West when many doubted they would have staying power. All-Star center Nikola Jokic was magnificent, averaging a wild 7.3 assists a game, to go along with 19.9 points and 10.6 boards.

The only problem is, they looked absolutely ordinary in the home stretch, going just 5-6 in their final 11 games of the regular season.

The Nuggets went just 5-6 in their final 11 games of the regular season.

Enter the Spurs, who lead the NBA in shooting from the midrange. As a team, they attempt nearly 25 shots a game in that zone, with stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan averaging seven shots a game each. No other player in the NBA attempts more than five per.

The Nuggets are a stellar 34-7 at home, but just 20-21 away from the Pepsi Center. I’m seeing the savvy Spurs stealing one of the first two. I don’t like how it ends for Denver.

Pick: Spurs (+200)

Blazers Sent Packing Early Again

Last year they were ill-prepared. This year, the Portland Trail Blazers are short horses against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Portland enters the postseason minus big man Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a gruesome leg injury at the end of the season.

His interior heft is going to be sorely missed against the Thunder. OKC leads the league in offensive rebounding at 12.6 per game.

Dame Lillard will surely improve on last year’s disaster to New Orleans, but he’s going up against an intense Russ Westbrook, who has his own doubters to prove wrong after bowing out in the first round two years running.

The difference will be Paul George. After struggling through a shoulder injury three quarters of the way into the season, he finished the campaign strong, scoring 25 points or more in 12 of his last 14 games. If he’s back to his MVP level, this isn’t close.

Pick: Thunder (-141)

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