What a ridiculously entertaining first round of playoffs it has been. Hopefully that continues.
Portland Trailblazers (5) at San Antonio Spurs (1)
Both teams feature pretty much the same types of players at all five starting positions. A driving point guard who can spot up from anywhere. A sizable shooting guard capable of getting hot and making a lot of threes. A lengthy small forward who can do everything including shooting threes and playing great defense. An all star power forward and an active, hustling center. Portland's individual stars are slightly better though, as both Lillard and Aldridge have better range than their respective counterparts. The Spurs, however, have the best bench in the playoffs, and it will come down to how far Portland can ride their starting five. With four of their five starters averaging 40 minutes a game in the first round, Portland's best chance is to win 3 of the first 4 games and make it a short series.
Prediction: Portland 4-2 or San Antonio 4-3
Possible bets: Bet Portland to win the series. Great odds at around +300.
Los Angeles Clippers (3) at Oklahoma City Thunder (2)
I thought the Clippers would show some signs of an improved defense in the first round against the Warriors, but that wasn't the case. Couple that with Chris Paul, their best individual defender, playing hurt, and I don't see how this series will be particularly competitive. Memphis was able to slow down the Thunder with their grit and grind approach and a resurgent Tony Allen defensive performance on Durant. If this ends up being a nightly race to get to 110 points first, I don't see how the Clippers can keep up with the Thunder.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 4-1
Possible bets: Bet Oklahoma City to win the series. Good odds at around -200. Also parlay OKC spread with the over every game. If the Clippers can't get their defense to come together, the Thunder will win games very easily.
Washington Wizards (5) at Indiana Pacers (1)
This is another nightmare matchup for the top seeded Pacers. Even though Gortat and Nene aren't three point shooters, almost every player in the Wizards' top 7 (inc. Booker and Webster) can shoot to some extent, and that should create enough spacing to render Hibbert ineffective once again. The Wizards' backcourt is even better than the Hawks' one, which Indiana had plenty of trouble dealing with.
Prediction: Washington 4-2
Possible bets: Bet the over in every game.
Brooklyn Nets (6) at Miami Heat (2)
It's hard to gauge how well the Heat are playing as Charlotte was not very competitive with their best player hurt. The Heat kind of just let Lebron do his thing, and there was only one game (game 3) when Miami's aggressive trapping scheme in the backcourt really seemed to have its act together. But I don't think the Heat will need to be anywhere near their best to dispose of this Brooklyn team, one of the few remaining playoff teams who really can't take advantage of Miami's weak interior presence.
Prediction: Miami Heat 4-1
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me.
While we're at it, let's see how my first round predictions for the Eastern and Western conferences went.
Overall Series Predictions vs Actual Result:
Prediction Indiana 4-1, Actual Oklahoma City 4-3
Prediction Miami 4-0, Actual Miami 4-0
Prediction Toronto 4-1, Actual Brooklyn 4-3
Prediction Chicago 4-3, Actual Washington 4-1
Prediction San Antonio 4-0, Actual San Antonio 4-3
Prediction Oklahoma City 4-2, Actual Oklahoma City 4-3
Prediction Los Angeles 4-0, Actual Los Angeles 4-3
Prediction Portland 4-2, Actual Portland 4-2
Under in the first ATL@IND games, then over in the next IND@ATL games. 1-3 for the series.
Under in every BKNvsTOR game went 3-3-1, while Toronto to win the series was a loss. 3-4 for the series.
Taking the underdog every WASvsCHI game worked out really well, winning 4 of 5 for +4.9 units.
Over in every DALvsSAS game. 5-2 for the series.
Under in every GSWvsLAC game. 2-5 for the series.
While I correctly predicted the PORvsHOU result, I was also right that it was too close of a series and that the odds on Portland didn't represent much value.
Overall results: 15-15 +.9 unit.