Saturday, April 19, 2014

2013-2014 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Preview: Eastern Conference (sport, gambling)

As the season ended, neither the Pacers nor the Heat seemed particularly bothered with getting the 1 seed. In the end, Indiana kept it, and it'll be interesting to see if this comes back to bite Miami in the ass.

Atlanta Hawks (8) at Indiana Pacers (1)

Indiana is still a heavy favorite despite some chatter about how Pero Antic's ability to shoot the three will draw Hibbert out of the middle and disrupt Indiana's vaunted defense. In the end, Atlanta's offense still flows through their go-to guy Paul Millsap, and he really hasn't had much success against the Pacers this year. It should be a low scoring series just the way Indiana likes it, although Atlanta should be able to take a home game by shooting lights out from the outside.

Prediction: Indiana 4-1
Possible bets: Bet the under for the first two games, then the over for the next two.

Charlotte Bobcats (7) at Miami Heat (2)

Miami really hasn't had any inside presence for a while now, but that hasn't stopped them from winning two of the last three championships. Al Jefferson will have his way with them, but I just don't see how the rest of the team will score enough points to overcome Miami. It doesn't help that their forwards can't shoot and their guards are undersized facing Miami's aggressive trap scheme.

Prediction: Miami 4-0
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me. Maybe a player prop taking the over on Al Jefferson's points or points+rebounds.

Brooklyn Nets (6) at Toronto Raptors (3)

Somehow the Nets are favored in this series despite being the 6th seed. They may have experience on their side, but they're lacking in both size down low and speed in the backcourt. One of the things people don't realize is that Toronto can play some pretty stifling defense. I see a lot of Joe Johnson or Paul Pierce isolations, and that won't get them through.

Prediction: Toronto 4-1
Possible bets: Bet Toronto to win the series. The odds for Toronto to win the series (around +130) represents great value. Bet the under in every game of the series as I expect that both teams will look to the defense as their best chance of winning the series.

Washington Wizards (5) at Chicago Bulls (4)

A really difficult matchup to predict as the Bulls' vaunted offense faces a team with as many as 7 different players who can put up double digit points. In the end, Chicago's defense should be too much, but Washington should hold their own in a close, tightly fought series.

Prediction: Chicago 4-3
Possible bets: Bet the underdog to win straight up every game. While I expect the series to go the distance, I think it's a punch-counterpunch situation where home field won't be enough of an edge to get a team through a tough game.

Please click here for my Western conference preview.

2013-2014 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Preview: Western Conference (sport, gambling)

The Western conference was even more stacked this year, and it wouldn't really surprise me if any of the lower seeds pulled off an upset.

Dallas Mavericks (8) at San Antonio Spurs (1)

I really like how this Dallas team has managed to be competitive this year, but this matchup is a real problem for them as San Antonio is a very similar team that just happens to do everything better. Dallas' best hope is to catch the Spurs during a cold shooting streak, but I don't think that will happen.

Prediction: San Antonio 4-0
Possible bets: Bet the over on every game. San Antonio should be willing to go back and forth scoring, assuming that their base defense will create enough separation by the time the game is over.

Memphis Grizzlies (7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (2)

During the last day of the regular season, I really thought Memphis was going to intentionally lose to play the Spurs instead of the Thunder. A more confident Reggie Jackson leading the second team and increased interior presence from the improved Adams specifically make them a harder matchup for the Grizzlies. By the way, I was watching the ESPN 30 for 30 on the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons earlier this week, and I think this Grit and Grind Grizzlies team of the past few years would've gotten much further in that era.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 4-2
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me.

Golden State Warriors (6) at Los Angeles Clippers (3)

Even though the Warriors were my dark horse pick a couple months back to go far in the playoffs, this is just the worst possible matchup for them, especially with Bogut hurt. The Clippers have the interior size and skill to take advantage, while Doc Rivers should be reinforcing discipline and the need to take care of business. He knows a good showing will build the confidence and swagger they need to be real title contenders.

Prediction: Los Angeles 4-0
Possible bets: Bet the under in every game. I really think the Clippers will clamp down here and use their size and skill to bully the Warriors.

Portland Trailblazers (5) at Houston Rockets (4)

Both teams are very capable but also very inconsistent. In the end, it will probably come down to three point shooting for both teams. While the return of Beverly will definitely affect Liliard, the rest of the Portland team matches up pretty well, and Lopez at least has a big body to go up against Dwight Howard with. If they can stop the other shooters and let Harden get his, they should be able to pull through.

Prediction: Portland 4-2
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me. The odds on a Portland upset (+160) don't offer much in the way of value.

Please click here for my Eastern conference preview.