Tue, Apr 22, 6:32am by Daryl Curnow
The Western Conference includes eight teams that could easily contest for the title with match-ups between the Thunder vs. Grizzlies, Warriors vs. Clippers, Spurs vs. Mavericks and the Rockets vs. Blazers.
NBA fans will know just how more powerful the Western Conference is than the league’s Eastern Conference. The eighth-seeded team (Dallas) in the West finished with a season record of 49-33 – enough wins for the Mavericks to have finished as a third seed in the East, which saw Atlanta sneak into the post-season with a 38-44 record.
We kick off this preview with the series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies, who are looking to bounce back after being defeated in Game One.
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The Thunder ran up and down the court far too easily in game one as they notched up a 14-point win against the Grizzlies. It was a game of quarters as the Thunder dominated the first two, getting out to a 25-point lead on the back of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. However, the Grizzlies came out of the halftime break with their game plan set in stone and they enforced their defensive strategies well. They made the Thunder turn the ball over and in return they found easier buckets down the other end. Zach Randolph was being his usual self and scoring inside, but the big forward got into foul trouble and had to sit out minutes in the final quarter.
On the back of their stern defense the Grizzlies were able to bridge the gap to only two points before the Thunder kicked away again, showing that they can turn it on whenever they like, a daunting task that again awaits the Grizzlies. The Thunder are once again favoured in Game Two but Sportsbet have many other series betting options for punters to make money on.
Series total games: 5 games – $2.70 @ Sportsbet.com.au. We think the Thunder will win Game Two at home and in doing so putting too much pressure on Memphis to win at home. The Grizzlies do have good defense but when you have to defend multiple scorers the task becomes tough. The Thunder proved no match for Memphis the last time they faced in the finals and we expected similar results once again.
Series handicap: Thunder -1.5 @ $1.35. Short odds they may be but include this bet in your multi’s and you won’t have too much trouble. This series won’t go to game seven and you can secure your profit nice and early.
Overall, the Thunder will prove too strong for the eighth seeded Grizzlies as they simply have too much scoring prowess in every aspect. Durant is hungry to win a championship and the MVP favourite eyes a future match-up against the Miami Heat later this season.
The Warriors shocked the Clippers on their home court with a 109-105 victory in Game One. The Warriors took away home court advantage by taking the first game and they forced the high flying Clippers into mistakes on both ends of the floor. Many people wrote off the Warriors after losing Australia’s own Andrew Bogut, but they showed if you have an even offense with good jump shooting ability, you can beat any team in this league.
The Warriors did all of this in Game One with their best player, Stephen Curry, scoring only 14 points and turning the ball over seven times. But when he isn’t on top of his game then he has the likes of Clay Thompson and David Lee to chime in. This all came after the Warriors were down 12-1 early which proved to be the Clippers undoing. They were overly pumped and that aggression didn’t pay off as they made costly mental errors. Chris Paul did his best to keep the home side in tact with 28 points but they missed a total of 12 free throws, the glaring difference in this game.
Despite losing Game One, the Clippers are still favoured to win the series at $1.64. Therefore, there is good value with the Warriors at $2.33. The Clippers have always been a hot and cold team that thrives on making large runs throughout the game, but in the finals that isn’t easy to do. They will likely take Game Two but it won’t be easy for them to win on the Warriors home court.
Series total games: 7 games @ $2.50. This has all the makings of a series that will be contested in Game Seven. Both teams are evenly matched and we don’t expect either team to give up if they get two games down in the series. It won’t be won in five games so there is an opportunity to make a 50% return by taking both 6 games/7 games options.
Series handicap: Warriors +1.5 @ $1.36. Another short priced favourite that is a good multi bet. With the Warriors already 1-0 up, this option is the safest bet, especially if they cause another upset and take Game Two.
Series points – Curry vs. Griffin: We think Curry is a very good bet in this after only scoring 14 points. Griffin had 16 so he has the slight edge but Curry will get hot soon and he can put up big numbers. The jump shooter is classy at best and the $2.10 at Sportsbet is great value.
Clearly there is no value in taking the Spurs to win this series outright, and we too think the Spurs are likely title contenders, therefore the fighting Mavs’ have little chance in this series. Game One was a little closer than most expected with the Mavs’ getting a lead late in the game before the Spurs finished over the top of them. The Spurs are now 32-9 at home this season and Dallas face another uphill battle if they are to contest in this series.
There was nothing wrong with the way Dallas played, with Nowitzki and Ellis both scoring good numbers, but like most of the season the Mavs’ just couldn’t close out a tight game. The all-round play of the Spurs was too much to handle as they come at you with multiple scoring options. Whether it’s Parker tip-toeing through the lane, Duncan hitting his sky hook or the likes of Green and Leonard shooting from the outside, the Spurs have it all.
If the Mavericks are to make something of this series they will need to take Game Two away from home, and that will be tough seeing as their record against the Spurs is dreadful. However, there is still money to be made in this match-up.
Series Handicap: Spurs -1.5 @ $1.22. Yes, these odds are very short but 22% interest isn’t easy to come by and this bet looks a certainty. The Spurs dominate the Mavs’ in every aspect and they should take a 2-0 lead to Dallas. Home court advantage hasn’t determined much between these two sides in recent history therefore we expect the Spurs to take at least one or two games away from home and wrap up this series quickly.
Correct score after three games: Spurs 3-0 @ $2.10. The Spurs will take Game Two and then travel to Dallas where they will pound the pressure on the home side. Being down 2-0 isn’t fun by any stretch and playing in front of your home crowd who expect a great performance can often leave teams flat. There is some risk in betting this option, hence the good odds, but the Spurs will be less than $2.10 to win Game Three so there is good value.
The Spurs are $4.33 at Sportingbet to win the title and we think that is great value. That price will only drop as the playoffs continue so get in now to secure the early value.
If Game One was anything to go by, this series will be a humdinger! The Blazers shocked the Houston crowd by coming back from a 15-point deficit late in the game to win in overtime. Led by the rising superstar Damian Lillard, the Blazers scorched their way to a 1-0 lead and took control of home court advantage. It’s fair to say Houston were shocked, they even held a 6-point lead during overtime, only to see it withered away late in the piece. It’s fair to say Houston are in trouble and they will be nervous heading into Game Two.
When teams give up big leads to lose it puts a massive amount of doubt in their minds. If you establish a healthy lead throughout the game and still lose then what do you need to do in order to win? That’s what the Rockets will be asking themselves and this is no time to start doubting your team. James Harden wasn’t as effective as he usually is and they often relied on Dwight Howard to score from inside the paint.
The Blazers on the other hand were electric in the fourth quarter and if they can remain hot for the rest of the series they will be awfully tough to beat. Surprisingly they are now favoured to win the series, unlike the Clippers who still hold favouritism, but they should be squared 1-1 if the Rockets can hold them off in Game Two.
Series total games: 7 games @ $2.70. This series has the potential to go all the way and we expect the series to be tied after two games. Both teams are similar in nature and scoring ability therefore we see this one going down to the wire back on Houston’s home court.
Correct series score after three games: Blazers 2-1 – $1.72 @ Sportingbet.com.au. We’re expecting the next two games to be won by the home team and so are the bookmakers. The Rockets are heavily favoured in Game Two and we would expect the Blazers to be favoured at home at around $1.60 in Game Three.
Series rebounds – Aldridge vs. Howard: We like Howard to score more rebounds than his counterpart and he is the current favourite at $1.81. The man dubbed ‘Superman’ is a beast on the boards and this looks like a nice exotic bet to follow with interest.
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