What are the odds: NBA Playoff weekend


Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

The Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic (9) dunks over the New York Knicks’ Mario Hezonja, left, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday, April 3. The Magic won, 114-100.

By Colin Martin, Staff Writer

From being the first team in NCAA history to lose to a No. 16 seed to winning the National Championship last Monday, the Virginia Cavaliers are an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary waiting to happen. Head coach Tony Bennett’s squad snuck past Auburn in the Final Four thanks to some controversial calls and were well-prepared against a Texas Tech team that beat down on Michigan State. I went 3-1 in my Final Four picks, helping my record get to 43-31 on the year.

The NBA regular season has come to an end, as the Golden State Warriors claimed the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the Milwaukee Bucks held on to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern nearly all season long. The NBA Playoffs officially start this weekend, with four games on both Saturday and Sunday. The Warriors are the favorite to win it all at 1-2 odds, with the Bucks at 6-1 and the Houston Rockets right behind at 8-1. It should be an exciting NBA Playoffs with many great games to bet on.

Never bet before? Here are two quick definitions. The spread is a figure that oddsmakers set that predicts by how much a team is expected to win or lose. The over/under is a prediction of the final combined score of both teams.

No. 7 Orlando Magic (42-40) vs. No. 2 Toronto Raptors (58-24)

Saturday, April 13 — 5 p.m. ET — ESPN

Spread: Toronto -8.5

Over/under: 216

Analysis: Surprising both analysts and fans, the Orlando Magic snuck into the playoffs this year for the first time in the past seven seasons. It’s also the first time the franchise has had a winning record since 2012. Many expected the Magic to keep tanking and build through younger players. However, the young players they do have — Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba — contributed behind a team full with veterans. Nikola Vucevic led the team with 20.8 points and 12 rebounds per game, which was good enough to earn his first ever All-Star selection. Gordon had a strong season as well, averaging 16 points per game. But he’s struggled this season against the Raptors and averaged only 9.5 points per game against them. If the Magic plan to upset Toronto, Gordon will need to step up and help slow down small forward Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors locked up homecourt advantage until the Conference Finals by getting the No. 2 seed — a huge bonus for a team that’s 32-9 at home. Raptors fans have been known to go crazy for playoff games, and this team will need their support if they hope to win the Eastern Conference. Leonard has been a silent leader for the Raptors in his first season with the team, averaging 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in dominant fashion. The team has enjoyed the growth of forward Pascal Siakam, who averaged a career-high 16.9 points per game, as well as the midseason addition of veteran center Marc Gasol. Toronto has its eyes set on the Eastern Conference Finals, but Orlando should be able to keep things close in Game 1.

Bet: Orlando should cover and bet the over.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected point total for Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors.

No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers (48-34) vs. No. 1 Golden State Warriors (57-25)

Saturday, April 13 — 8 p.m. ET — ABC

Spread: Golden State -12.5

Over/under: 232

Analysis: Like the Magic, many analysts thought the Los Angeles Clippers would tank this season in hopes of rebuilding through the draft. Instead, and to the pleasure of head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers proved many outlets wrong. “ESPN predicted 33 wins,” Rivers said enthusiastically as his team celebrated their playoff berth.

The Clippers are no longer the “Lob City” team with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but instead a gritty team filled with veteran players. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams led the team in scoring with 20 points per game. Playoff veteran Danilo Gallinari averaged 19.8 points in 68 games, a big jump from his 15.3 last season when he only played 21 games. The Clippers also got valuable play from former Louisville big man Montrezl Harrell, who averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. His energy and presence inside might give the Golden State Warriors trouble and could be the key to LA pulling off an upset.

Looking to become the first team to three-peat as NBA Champions since the 2000-02 Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors are the clear favorite this season. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant led the team in scoring with 27.3 points and 26 points per game, respectively.  Sharpshooter Klay Thompson wasn’t far behind and averaged 21.5 points per game. As if that wasn’t already unfair, the Warriors have a healthy DeMarcus Cousins for the first time. He averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, giving head coach Steve Kerr the dominant center he never had. Cousins makes the Warriors nearly impossible to defend for a seven-game series, and he’ll be the key to their playoff success this season.

Bet: The Clippers will cover and bet the over.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected point total for Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors.

No. 5 Indiana Pacers (48-34) vs. No. 4 Boston Celtics (49-33)

Sunday, April 14 — 1 p.m. ET — TNT

Spread: Boston -7

Over/under: 212

Analysis: Despite losing All-Star guard Victor Oladipo mid-season to injury, the Indiana Pacers battled hard and earned the No. 5 seed in a tight Eastern Conference. With Oladipo gone, forward Bojan Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 18 points per game. Big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner averaged 9.3 rebounds and 7.2 rebounds each, helping the Pacers succeed on the defensive end.

The Pacers’ stingy defense allowed just 104.7 points per game this season, the least in the NBA. Defense will be the key to beating Boston in the playoffs, as they cannot allow for Kyrie Irving or Jayson Tatum to get hot on offense. This series could easily go all seven games, where the tougher team should come out on top. Indiana would love nothing more than to steal a Game 1 victory in Boston.

The Boston Celtics came into the 2018-19 season as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. They had both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back from injury, in addition to young stars like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. But Hayward struggled for most of the season. The Celtics went 8-2 even without Kyrie Irving — a shocking stat that led some to question whether Boston is better without him.

The Celtics might have played better without Irving in the regular season, but we are yet to see playoff Irving for Boston. Their roster has not changed much at all from last season to next, and everyone except the recently injured Marcus Smart is healthy. The Celtics will have a tough path to the NBA Finals, potentially having to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the semifinals before facing either Toronto or Philadelphia.

Bet: Indiana covers and bet the over.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected point total for Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics.

Odds taken from https://www.oddsshark.com/nba