You could technically say that the playoffs began with the play-in game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies, which Portland won to nab the #8 spot in the Western Conference. The reality, though, is that the playoffs proper begin on Monday, with 4 games set to go over the course of the day. Things are about to heat up and given what we have seen since the return of the NBA, we should probably be preparing ourselves from some shocks in the up coming series. The favorites have been set in each of the 8 first round matchups, but which of those favorites is actually worth a bet? We are going to take and see if we can find some favorites at a decent price, along with their NBA odds.
NBA Playoffs Analysis & Series Favorites Worth a Wager
Denver Nuggets (-280) over Utah Jazz
The Denver Nuggets come into the postseason as the #3 seed in the Western Conference, yet they are not getting a ton of love. Perhaps it is because they did not look great in the 8-game stretch that closed out the regular season, ending it on a 3-game losing skid. What we need to remember here, though, is that the Nuggets won all 3 meetings with the Jazz this season. Yes, the games were all close, with one of them actually going into double overtime, but Denver found a way to win each time. You would certainly like their chances in a best of 7 series.
Boston Celtics (-435) over Philadelphia 76ers
This looks like a series that is destined not to be over quickly, especially when you consider that these teams have evenly split their last 10 meetings. The 76ers took 3 of 4 from the Celtics in the regular season, but they have also not been totally convincing in their return to play. The Celtics started out with a wobble in the restart, but they settled in nicely and won 4 of their last 5 games in the regular season. The truth is that Philly tend to struggle when not playing on home court, all of which adds up to Boston winning the series.
Houston Rockets (-160) over Oklahoma City Thunder
I will be honest and say that this one makes me more than a little nervous. The big storyline here is Russell Westbrook going against his old team in the postseason, but Westbrook will miss the opening game of the series with a quad injury. You also have the Thunder having had the best of this series, winning 7 of the last 10 meetings, yet I still feel that the Rockets can win what will be a long series. James Harden often saves his best for the big games, so look for him to step up and use his playoff experience to help ride the Rockets to the win.
LA Lakers (-585) over Portland Trail Blazers
What has been odd about the return to action in the NBA is that it has been the teams in the lower half of the standings who have played the best ball. The Portland Trail Blazers have essentially been playing playoff basketball every night since the return, including getting the win over the Grizzlies in the play-in game to set up this series with the Lakers. LeBron and company have not looked great in their 8 games back, nut you get a feeling that this team can easily step it up a gear or two. Not a blowout win, but the Lakers should take this series.