Expert NBA Betting Predictions for 2018 Eastern Conference Playoffs

Posted by Eric Williams on Thursday,April 12, 2018 4:11, EDT in

Can the Washington Wizards upset a top-seeded Toronto Raptors team that is looking to overcome their repeated failures in the playoffs this postseason? Will the incendiary Philadelphia Sixers blow the Miami Heat off the court in their first-round matchup? If you’ve got questions about the Eastern Conference Playoffs, then I’ve got some first round answers thanks to my NBA betting Preview on the four matchups. Now, let’s check the latest NBA Playoffs odds and get this party started.

Expert NBA Betting Predictions for 2018 Eastern Conference Playoffs

(1) Toronto Raptors (59-23) vs. (8) Washington Wizards (43-39)

  • Game 1 Sat. April 14 Wizards at Raptors, 5:30 (ESPN)
  • Game 2 Tue. April 17 Wizards at Raptors, 7 (NBA TV)
  • Game 3 Fri. April 20 Raptors at Wizards, 8 (ESPN2)
  • Game 4 Sun. April 22 Raptors at Wizards, 6 (TNT)
  • Game 5* Wed. April 25 Wizards at Raptors, TBD
  • Game 6* Fri. April 27 Raptors at Wizards, TBD
  • Game 7* Sun. April 29 Wizards at Raptors, TBD

Toronto had a fantastic season this year, but now it’s time to put up or shut up after they’ve come up short in the postseason in each of the last few seasons. The Raptors finished the regular season ranked a stellar fourth in scoring (111.7 ppg) and equally impressive seventh in points allowed (103.9 ppg). Toronto also has excellent balance with five double-digit scorers and a whopping six players that average between 5.5 and 8.6 points per game as well.

Washington closed out the regular season ranked 13th in scoring (106.6 ppg) and 15th in points allowed (106.0 ppg), but they could be a lot better in the playoffs thanks to the recent return of veteran all-star point guard John Wall who played in just half of his team’s 82 games. Ironically, the Wizards also had five players average double figures in scoring while five more players put up between 5.9 and 8.8 points per game. The bad news is that Washington closed out the regular season by going 3-7 over their last 10 games.

While I’m not expecting Washington to simply roll over in what looks like a very exciting first round series just waiting to happen, I do like a more determined Raptors team to win and advance – while extracting some revenge for their 2015 playoff sweep at the hands of the Wizards in 5 games.

NBA Betting Pick: Toronto in 5

(2) Boston Celtics (55-27) vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)

  • Game 1 Sun. April 15 Bucks at Celtics, 1 (TNT)
  • Game 2 Tue. April 17 Bucks at Celtics, 8 (TNT)
  • Game 3 Fri. April 20 Celtics at Bucks, 9:30 (ESPN)
  • Game 4 Sun. April 22 Celtics at Bucks, 1 (ABC)
  • Game 5* Tue. April 24 Bucks at Celtics, TBD
  • Game 6* Thu. April 26 Celtics at Bucks, TBD
  • Game 7* Sat. April 28 Bucks at Celtics, TBD

The Celtics have a ton of injuries heading into the playoffs. First, they lost Gordon Hayward for the entire season on opening night. Now, they hit the postseason without all-star guard Kyrie Irving and forward Adam Theis. Veteran point guard Marcus Smart will likely miss the entire first round as well, but there’s still some good news for the C’s.

First and foremost, Boston ranked a stellar third in points allowed (100.4 ppg) while also ranking second in field goal shooting defense and first in three-point shooting defense, so they’ve got an elite defense. Next, the Celtics still have one of the game’s most competent big men in all-star center Al Horford and they’ve also got a bunch of young talent with guys like Jaylen Brown (14.5 ppg), Jayson Tatum (13.9 ppg) and backup point guard Terry Rozier (11.2 ppg).

Milwaukee has a supremely gifted superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo (26.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 52.9% FG), but they also underachieved all season long, even after firing former head coach Jason Kidd early in the season after struggling out of the gate. While the Bucks do have some talent with guys like swingman guard Khris Middleton (20.1 ppg), point guard Eric Bledsoe (17.8 ppg) and shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon (13.0 ppg), Milwaukee just doesn’t seem very cohesive to me no matter who’s coaching them. The C’s have the big edge here and in the end, I expect Boston win and advance in 6.

NBA Betting Pick: Boston in 6

(3) Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) vs. (6) Miami Heat (44-38)

  • Game 1 Sat. April 14 Heat at 76ers, 8 (ESPN)
  • Game 2 Mon. April 16 Heat at 76ers, 8 (TNT)
  • Game 3 Thu. April 19 76ers at Heat, 7 (TNT)
  • Game 4 Sat. April 21 76ers at Heat, 2:30 (TNT)
  • Game 5* Tue. April 24 Heat at 76ers, TBD
  • Game 6* Thu. April 26 76ers at Heat, TBD
  • Game 7* Sat. April 28 Heat at 76ers, TBD

Philadelphia is the hottest team in the postseason as they ride a phenomenal 16-game winning streak into the playoffs that has been fueled by the one-of-a-kind gifts of rookie point guard Ben Simmons (15.8 ppg, 8.2 apg, 8.1 rpg, 54.5% FG) and to a recently lesser degree, the eye-opening play of gifted center Joel Embiid (22.9 ppg, 11.0 rpg). Embiid, who has been out of the lineup for the better part of the last two weeks with an orbital fracture, will be back at some point very soon and the Sixers have an insane seven players averaging double figures in scoring, no wonder they are the NBA Betting favorites.

Miami closed out the regular season ranked 23r in scoring 9103.4 ppg), but they were elite defensively in finishing third in points allowed (102.9 ppg). The Heat had a mind-boggling nine players average double figures in scoring this season and they still have some really good players in veteran point guard Goran Dragic (17.3 ppg), future Hall of Fame shooting guard Dwyane Wade ( 12.0 ppg), center Hassan Whiteside (14.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg), even if they don’t have a true superstar.

The Sixers are on fire, which is why you should include them in your NBA Betting Picks for the First Round.

Philly’s confidence is bursting at the seams right now, plus the Sixers finished the regular season ranked seventh in scoring (109.8 ppg) and an encouraging 11th in points allowed (105.3 ppg). Miami certainly has to much pride to go out without a fight, but right now, the 76ers are firing on all cylinders. Sixers in 6!

NBA Betting Pick: Philadelphia in 6

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) vs. (5) Indiana Pacers (48-34)

  • Game 1 Sun. April 15 Pacers at Cavs, 3:30 (ABC)
  • Game 2 Wed. April 18 Pacers at Cavs, 7 (TNT)
  • Game 3 Fri. April 20 Cavs at Pacers, 7 (ESPN)
  • Game 4 Sun. April 22 Cavs at Pacers, 8:30 (TNT)
  • Game 5* Wed. April 25 Pacers at Cavs, TBD
  • Game 6* Fri. April 27 Cavs at Pacers, TBD
  • Game 7* Sun. April 29 Pacers at Cavs, TBD

The Cavaliers were awful defensively this season as they gave up a whopping 109.9 points per game to finish the regular season ranked 26th in points allowed while also ranking 28th in field goal shooting defense and 22nd in three-point shooting defense. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Cavs still have a guy by the name of LeBron James (27.5 ppg, 9.1 apg, 8.6 rpg, 54.2% FG) that has led the team to an insane seven consecutive NBA Finals out of the Eastern Conference. Still, Cleveland lost two of their final three regular-season games while splitting with the Knicks and losing to Philly over the span.

Indiana got a spectacular campaign out of all-star shooting guard Victor Oladipo (23.1 ppg, 2.4 spg) and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis (11.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 51.4% FG) and the Pacers had six players average double figures in scoring this season. Indiana won seven of its last 10 regular season games and beat the Cavs 3-1 in the regular season, but the playoffs are a different beast altogether and I’m expecting James and the Cavs to dial it up a notch to get past the Pacers in this series. However, it won’t be a cakewalk, so I’m going Cavs in 6!

NBA Betting Pick: Cleveland in 6