Despite the abundance of quality basketball squads in the loaded Western Conference, the big question is the same for the third consecutive postseason. Can anyone derail the Golden State Warriors from making a third straight trip to the NBA Finals?
Will sure-fire MVP runner-up James Harden outplay just as certain NBA MVP winner Russell Westbrook when the third-seeded Houston Rockets take on the underdog sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in their highly intriguing first round Western Conference playoff series?
Will perennial all-star Chris Paul and Blake Griffin get past Gordon Hayward and the blossoming Rudy Gobert when the Los Angeles Clippers take the first step on their latest postseason NBA Championship quest?
While that remains to be determined for the time being, this look at each of the four opening round playoff series out west will undoubtedly assist you in your quest to cash in consistently over the course of the quickly approaching NBA playoffs. Now, let’s get to into this NBA betting preview for the Western Conference.
2017 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Betting Predictions & Matchups
No. 1 Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs. No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers (41-41)
Series OddsGolden State -1500 Portland +1000
Game 1: Sunday at Golden State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) Game 2: Wednesday at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (TNT) Game 3: Apr. 22 at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN) Game 4: Apr. 24 at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (TNT) Game 5*: Apr. 26 at Golden State Game 6*: Apr. 28 at Portland Game 7*: Apr. 30 at Golden State
Analysis: By now, you know the top-seeded Dubs are absolutely loaded with talent, starting with their quartet of all-stars. Former league MVP Kevin Durant (53.7% FG) is back from his knee injury and will have time to continue getting re-acclimated with Steph Curry and company as the postseason progresses.
Golden State caught fire down the stretch run of the regular season by winning 14 of 15 until losing to New Orleans in their next to last game of the regular season in a meaningless contest that saw Steph Curry (25.3 ppg) sit the entire fourth quarter. The Dub knocked off the lowly Lakers 109-94 on Wednesday night to close out the regular season.
Portland has a fantastic backcourt in Damian Lillard (27.0 ppg) and C.J. McCollum (23.0 ppg) and has a trio of other double-digit scorers in Jusuf Nurkic (15.2 ppg), Allen Crabbe (10.7 ppg) and Maurice Harkless (10.0 ppg). Unfortunately for the Blazers, they’re catching Golden State at a very bad time right now with the Dubs looking like they’re on a mission to get back the NBA Championship they lost to Cleveland in stunning fashion a year ago.
Portland will make the series interesting if for no other reason than they put up 108.0 points per game (seventh). Unfortunately, the Blazers are pretty generous on the defensive end of the floor in giving up 18.5 points per game defensively (25th).
The Warriors swept the regular season series 4-0 while going 2-2 ATS and covering the spread on the road as a 5-point favorite and at home as a whopping 14-point fave. Golden State wins this series 4-1 and 4-2 if they take a game off, which I don’t see happening.
NBA Playoff Pick: Golden State Wins 4-1
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs (61-21) vs. No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies (43-39)
Series OddsSan Antonio -550
Game 1: Saturday at San Antonio, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Monday at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Thursday at Memphis, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Apr. 22 at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 5*: Apr. 25 at San Antonio
Game 6*: Apr. 27 at Memphis
Game 7*: Apr. 29 at San Antonio
Analysis: Despite going 1-3 over their final four regular season games prior to their finale, MVP contender Kawhi Leonard (25.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 spg) and the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs posted a blistering 10-4 mark over their last 13 games while beating the Grizzlies twice along the way in addition to Cleveland and Oklahoma City.
Led by Leonard the Spurs rank 13th in scoring (105.4 ppg) while also ranking a stellar second in points allowed (98.1 ppg). In addition to their superstar small forward, the Spurs also have three other players that average double figures in veterans LaMarcus Aldridge (17.3 ppg), Pau Gasol (12.4 ppg) and Tony Parker (10.1 ppg).
On the flip side of the coin, Memphis ranks an uninspiring 29th in scoring (100.6 ppg) but a stellar third in defense (100.0 ppg). The Grizzlies still rely on their Big Three of Mike Conley (20.6 ppg), Marc Gasol (19.6 ppg) and Zach Randolph (14.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) to get the job done at the offensive end of the floor.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies dropped five of their final six regular season games and seven of 10 overall while losing to the Spurs twice during the stretch, However, it is Memphis’ uninspiring losses to lowly Sacramento, the L.A. Lakers and Pistons that tell me they’re going to lose to a San Antonio team that is far better at the offensive end of the floor and statistically better defensively as well.
The Spurs and Grizzlies split the regular season series 2-2 with both teams winning their two home contests, but I’m thinking the Spurs bounce the Grizz out 4-1 by stealing one road game in either Game 3 or 4. Keep in mind however that Memphis covered the NBA betting line in all four regular season meetings.
NBA Playoff Pick: San Antonio Wins 4-1
No. 3 Houston Rockets (55-27) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)
Series OddsHouston -260
Oklahoma City +220
Game 1: Sunday at Houston, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Wednesday at Houston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Apr. 21 at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Apr. 23 at Oklahoma City, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5*: Apr. 25 at Houston
Game 6*: Apr. 27 at Oklahoma City
Game 7*: Apr. 29 at Houston
Analysis: Well, NBA fans and betting enthusiasts alike are going to be treated to what promises to be an exciting first round playoff showdown when Russell Westbrook and the sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder look to knock off James Harden and the favored, third-seeded Houston Rockets in a matchup featuring the top two contenders to win this year’s MVP award. Westbrook, the likely winner of this season’s MVP award, is the first player in over six decades to average a triple-double after putting up a jaw-dropping 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game this season.
Oklahoma City ranks 11th in scoring (106.6 ppg) but just 16th in points allowed (105.8 ppg). Shooting guard Victor Oladipo (15.9 ppg), and centers, Enes Kanter (14.3 ppg) and Steven Adams (11.3 ppg) also average double figures in scoring for the Thunder. Houston’s James Harden had his own MVP kind of campaign this season by averaging a stellar 29.1 points, league-leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game while leading the Rockets to a phenomenal 55-win season all after moving to point guard for the first time and playing under a new head coach in Mike D’Antoni.
Despite ranking a dismal 26th in points allowed (190.6 ppg), the Rockets beat their opponents because of their powerful, second-ranked offense (115.3 ppg) and plethora of quality role players surrounding Harden. In addition to their resident superstar, the Rockets have an insane five other players averaging double figures in scoring in Eric Gordon (16.2 ppg), Lou Williams (14.9 ppg), Ryan Anderson (13.6 ppg), Clint Capela (12.6 ppg) and Trevor Ariza (11.7 ppg). In addition to all of that, Patrick Beverly, Nene and Montrezl Harrell all average over 9.0 points per contest.
The Rockets won each of the last three regular season meetings against Oklahoma City after dropping their opening meeting while posting an identical 3-1 ATS mark along the way. However, you should know that three of the four meetings were decided by three points or less, so this series could be even more entertaining than it looks, believe it or not.
In the end though, I’ve got to go with Houston’s far superior offensive firepower and impressive collection of veterans and young players to take down a Thunder team that, believe it or not, relies too much on Russell Westbrook to do everything for them. I like the Rockets to win this first round series 4-2, although I’m going on record to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if it went the distance.
NBA Playoffs Pick: Houston 4-2
No. 4 L.A. Clippers (51-31) vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz (51-31)
Series OddsLA Clippers -210
Utah Jazz +160
Game 1: Saturday at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Tuesday at Los Angeles. 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Apr. 21 at Utah, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Apr. 23 at Utah, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5*: Apr. 25 at Los Angeles
Game 6*: Apr. 28 at Utah
Game 7*: Apr. 30 at Los Angeles
Analysis: The fifth-seeded Utah Jazz will look to pull off the first round upset when they take the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in a first round playoff series that looks like it could go the distance.
Utah closed out the regular season by winning four of five while beating playoff participants, Portland, Golden State and San Antonio along the way. The Jazz are ranked an uninspiring 28th in scoring (100.7 ppg), but a surprising ninth in field goal shooting percentage (46.6%) and identical ninth in three-point shooting (37.2%).
Defensively, Utah led the league in points allowed by limiting the opposition to just 96.8 points per game while also ranking second in field goal shooting defense (44.3%) and first in rebounds allowed (40.2 per game).
In addition to all-star small forward Gordon Hayward (21.9 ppg), Utah gets double-digit scoring from veteran point guard George Hill (16.9 ppg), blossoming center Rudy Gobert (14.0 ppg) and athletic swingman Rodney Hood (12.7 ppg) while veterans Derek Favors and Joe Johnson each contribute just over 9.0 points per contest.
The Clippers closed out the regular season with seven straight wins and hold the tie-breaker against the Jazz by winning the regular season series. Los Angeles ranks an impressive sixth in scoring (108.7 ppg) and finished second in field goal shooting percentage (47.5%) and seventh in three-point shooting (37.5%).
Defensively, L.A. finished the regular season ranked 12th in points allowed (104.4 ppg) while also finishing 11th in field goal shooting defense (45.2%) and eighth in three-point defense (34.9%).
The Clippers have a trio of all-stars in point guard Chris Paul (18.1 points, 9.2 assists), forward Blake Griffin (21.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and center DeAndre Jordan (12.7 ppg, 13.8 rpg). L.A. also gets double figure scoring from veteran snipers J.J. Redick (15.0 ppg) and Jamal Crawford (12.3 ppg) and backup combo guard Austin Rivers (12.0 ppg).
As far as the outcome of this series is concerned, while I’d really like to see the Utah Jazz get the series win and believe they’re going to give the Clippers all they can handle and them some, I’m thinking L.A. escapes with a victory – although I’m expecting this one to go the full seven games.
Utah is phenomenal defensively and I’m excited about the improved offensive production out of Rudy Gobert in particular. However, the Clippers have a big edge in bench depth with veterans like Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton, Luc Mbah a Moute, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce having a huge edge over guys like Utah’s Shelvin Mack, Joe Ingle (who?), Alec Burks and the talented, but inexperienced Dante Exum.
Still this series looks like it will go six games at the very least and likely seven. I’m picking the perennially underachieving Clippers escape to get the series win in seven.
NBA Playoff Pick: L.A. Clippers 4-3