NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Series Previews

The NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday and the big question is: “Is Golden State vulnerable?” At times this season, they looked very ordinary. Then again, they’ve learned to pace themselves through the long regular season to be rested and ready for the playoff run. They’re still the team to beat in the West. In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to be the class of the field though they could receive some competition from the Toronto Raptors. Tough to see any team other than Toronto giving them a good shot. NBA futures betting odds have Golden State installed as a -400 choice to win the Conference Title and a -225 choice to repeat as NBA Champions. Milwaukee is +150 to win the Eastern Conference with Toronto right behind at +200. The Bucks are +600 to win the NBA title with the Raptors at +800.

Here are the opening round series in the Western Conference:

NBA PLAYOFFS–WESTERN CONFERENCE ROUND 1 SERIES PREVIEWS

(1) GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS. (8) LA CLIPPERS

The Clippers tore it up during the month of March winning 13 of 15 games SU going 10-4-1 ATS. On the other hand, they looked miserable in their final four games going 1-3 SU/0-4 ATS that included losses by 20+ to the Warriors and Rockets. Clippers were a horrible underdog during the regular season going 13-26 SU/16-22-1 ATS. LA could have expended too much energy during their March run to be a factor here. Warriors flexed their muscles to close out the season winning 6 straight, 8 of 9 and 10 of 12 prior to a meaningless final game loss at Memphis. Some concern about a mild ankle sprain suffered by Steph Curry in the final week of the season though he’s listed as ‘Probable’ here. The Warriors are a massive -15000 favorite to win this series and for good reason. Clippers might win a game along the way but the more likely scenario is a sweep. WARRIORS IN FOUR

(2) DENVER NUGGETS VS. (8) SAN ANTONIO SPURS

If the Denver Nuggets could play every game at home they might be the favorite to win the NBA title. Unfortunately for them, even with home court advantage they’ll have to play at least some of the games on the road. Denver was dominating at home going 34-7 but mediocre on the road going 20-21. San Antonio was pretty nasty at home themselves going 32-9 SU but they struggled on the road as well going 16-25 SU. Spurs upgraded from last season and both DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are tough matchups for any team. Given the home/way dichotomy for each team we’ll give the Nuggets the edge in a very hard fought series. NUGGETS IN SEVEN

(3) PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS VS. (6) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Blazers inexplicably getting zero respect in this series. Despite having the higher seed and home court advantage Portland is a +138 dog to advance with OKC priced at -158. Blazers guard CJ McCollum suffered a knee strain in mid March and fingers are crossed that he’ll be 100%. If he stays healthy, Portland is a handful. They’ll miss center Jusuf Nurkic who was lost for the season with an ankle injury. Blazers won 14 of their last 17 to close out the season and while it might not be ‘Rip City’ with Drexler and Porter at Memorial Coliseum the arena formerly known as the Rose Garden (now the Moda Center) remains one of the nastiest places in the NBA for visiting teams. With all due respect to the Thunder, Paul George and Russell Westbrook we’re going with Portland. In the only first round series where the higher seed is the underdog we’ll take the price. BLAZERS IN SIX

(4) HOUSTON ROCKETS VS. (5) UTAH JAZZ

Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert upgraded to ‘Probable’ for the Jazz. Both teams closed out the season strong. Jazz won 13 of their final 16 games, Rockets won 16 of their last 20. A lot to like about Utah including their tough team defense (106.5 PPG against for #4 in the NBA) and the one-two punch of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Gobert may be the best all around player in the league. Houston has James Harden and Chris Paul which is a tough duo to deal with for any opponent. Jazz and Rockets split four games this season with each winning once on the opponent’s court. Utah not getting much respect in this series and they’re a better team than the price would suggest. We’ll take the price and call for the upset. JAZZ IN SIX

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