NBA Betting Picks for First Round of 2018 Western Conference Playoffs
What’s wrong with the NBA betting favorites Golden State Warriors and can they fix their problems now that the real season gets underway? Are the third-seeded Portland Trailblazers in trouble against Anthony Davis and what suddenly looks like a scary New Orleans Pelicans? If you’re looking for answers as the start of the Playoffs gets underway in just over 48 hours, then I’ve got answers based on the latest NBA odds for the Western Conference matchups.
NBA Betting Picks for First Round of 2018 Western Conference Playoffs
Russ is tired of the questions about stat-padding. pic.twitter.com/wQBsg2pdLN
— ESPN (@espn) 11 de abril de 2018
(1) Houston Rockets (65-17) vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves (47-35)
- Game 1 Sun. April 15 Wolves at Rockets, 9 (TNT)
- Game 2 Wed. April 18 Wolves at Rockets, 9:30 (TNT)
- Game 3 Sat. April 21 Rockets at Wolves, 7:30 (ESPN)
- Game 4 Mon. April 23 Rockets at Wolves, 8 (TNT)
- Game 5* Wed. April 25 Wolves at Rockets, TBD
- Game 6* Fri. April 27 Rockets at Wolves, TBD
- Game 7* Sun. April 29 Wolves at Rockets, TBD
First off, hats off to the rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves on ending their 13-year year playoff drought by winning their final three regular season games. The T-Wolves ranked an encouraging eighth in scoring (109.5 ppg) even if they were a modest 17th in point allowed (107.3 ppg) under defensive taskmaster head coach Tom Thibodeau. Minnesota has arguably the best big man in the game today in young center Karl Anthony Towns (21.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg) and they’ve got a pair of all-star caliber perimeter players in veteran Jimmy Butler (22.3 ppg) and Andrew Wiggins (17.7 ppg).
Unfortunately, they don’t have much depth and they just doesn’t bode well as they get set to face a Houston Rockets team that finished the regular season ranked second in scoring 9112.4 ppg) and a surprising sixth in points allowed (103.9 ppg). Not only that, but the Rockets also have six players that average double figures in scoring and five more players that all put up at least 6.0 points per game as well.
While the Rockets are the pick to win and advance to the second round here and swept Minnesota 4-0 in the regular season, they won’t get it done with a sweep in this first-round playoff series. This one is going five games at the very least and potentially is if the Rockets can’t stop K.A.T.
NBA Betting Pick: Houston in 5
(2) Golden State Warriors (58-24) vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs (47-35)
- Game 1 Sat. April 14 Spurs at Warriors, 3 (ABC)
- Game 2 Mon. April 16 Spurs at Warriors, 10:30 (TNT)
- Game 3 Thu. April 19 Warriors at Spurs, 9:30 (TNT)
- Game 4 Sun. April 22 Warriors at Spurs, 3:30 (ABC)
- Game 5* Tue. April 24 Spurs at Warriors, TBD
- Game 6* Thu. April 26 Warriors at Spurs, TBD
- Game 7* Sat. April 28 Spurs at Warriors, TBD
I know the Golden State Warriors struggled mightily down the stretch run of the regular season by limping to a struggling 7-10 record in its final 17 games and that they got completely blown out of the water by Utah by a mind-boggling 40 points in their regular-season finale. Golden State ranks first across the board in scoring (113.5 ppg), field goal shooting percentage (50.3%), three-point shooting (39.1%) and free throw shooting (81.5%).
I know the Warriors finished just 18t in points allowed (107.5 ppg), but they did rank third in defensive field goal percentage (44.7%) and 10th in three-point defense (35.7%), so clearly they still play good defense when they want to. The Dubs need to get back superstar point guard Steph Curry and get their desire back in a big way, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t after some of the beatings – and criticism – they’ve taken recently.
The Spurs failed to win 50 games for the first time in almost two decades this season and they’re without their best player in Kawhi Leonard, but San Antonio did rank first in points allowed (99.8ppg).
Unfortunately, the Spurs just don’t have the offensive firepower necessary to keep pace with the explosive Warriors and they won’t have an answer for Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
NBA Betting Pick: Golden State in 5
(3) Portland Trail Blazers (49-33) vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans (48-34)
- Game 1 Sat. April 14 Pelicans at Blazers, 10:30 (ESPN)
- Game 2 Tue. April 17 Pelicans at Blazers, 10:30 (TNT)
- Game 3 Thu. April 19 Blazers at Pelicans, 9 (NBA TV)
- Game 4 Sat. April 21 Blazers at Pelicans, 5 (TNT)
- Game 5* Tue. April 24 Pelicans at Blazers, TBD
- Game 6* Thu. April 26 Blazers at Pelicans, TBD
- Game 7* Sat. April 28 Pelicans at Blazers, TBD
Portland caught fire in the second half of the season to earn the No. 3 spot in the west and there’s no doubt that the Blazers have a pair of legitimate stars in superstar point guard Damian Lillard (26.9 ppg) and backcourt mate C.J. McCollum (21.4 ppg). Center Jusuf Nurkic is also very good (14.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and the Blazers have seven players that all put up between 5.3 and 9.3 points per game as well. Portland finished the regular season ranked a modest 16t in scoring but were pretty elite defensively as they ranked fifth in points allowed (103.0 ppg).
Still, the Blazers look like they’ll have their hands full against a New Orleans team that won just one fewer game than they did and one that has looked a lot better since all-star big man DeMarcus Cousins got hurt.
New Orleans can score the ball with almost any team in the league as they ranked an impressive third in scoring (111.7 ppg), even if their 29th-ranked defense (110.4 ppg) does leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, New Orleans’ lack of desire to play defense is going to cost them in this first round matchup, although I can see this first-round series going six games at the very least before the Blazers advance!
NBA Betting Pick: Portland in 6
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34) vs. (5) Utah Jazz (48-34)
- Game 1 Sun. April 15 Jazz at Thunder, 6:30 (TNT)
- Game 2 Wed. April 18 Jazz at Thunder, 8 (NBA TV)
- Game 3 Sat. April 21 Thunder at Jazz, 10 (ESPN)
- Game 4 Mon. April 23 Thunder at Jazz, 10:30 (TNT)
- Game 5* Wed. April 25 Jazz at Thunder, TBD
- Game 6* Fri. April 27 Thunder at Jazz, TBD
- Game 7* Sun. April 29 Jazz at Thunder, TBD
The Oklahoma City finished the regular season ranked 12th in scoring (107.9 ppg) and a respectable 10t in points allowed (104.4 ppg). The Thunder also have a trio of ‘big name’ players in superstar point guard Russell Westbrook (25.4 ppg, 10.2 apg, 10.0 rpg), all-star forward Paul George (21.9 ppg) and aging former all-star Carmelo Anthony (16.2 ppg). Unfortunately what Oklahoma City doesn’t have is a sense of team unity or much depth on their bench. While Oklahoma City has five players that average double figures in scoring, they have just three players besides that average between 5.0 and 8.4 points per game.
On the flip side of the coin, Utah enters the playoffs as one of the hottest teams around, having won an insane 17 of their last 21 games to clinch the No. 5 seed in the western conference. The Jazz ranked a modest 19t in scoring (104.1 ppg), but they were phenomenal in finishing second in points allowed (99.8 ppg).
Utah had six players average double digits in scoring, including a team-high 20.5 points per game from Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell.
For me, the Thunder have underachieved while the Jazz has maximized their talent and play far more of a team game where anyone on the floor can hurt you.
NBA Betting Pick: Utah in 6