Tue, Apr 17, 11:42am by Staff Writer
The 2017-18 NBA playoffs kicked off in style over the weekend with a number of close matches and unpredictable results.
The reigning champion Golden State Warriors began their series against San Antonio with a double-digit win and are favourites to win the NBA title at $2.20 at Sportsbet.
Despite being without point guard Steph Curry, the Warriors used their defense to stifle the Spurs and take game one. San Antonio has been without former finals MVP Kawhi Leonard for much of the season and it is starting to take its toll.
The Spurs are big outsiders to trouble the Warriors and are $151 to win the NBA title.
Houston’s regular season record of 65-17 was the best in the NBA by some margin and they are deservedly $2.50 to win the NBA title.
Off-season recruit Chris Paul has done wonders for the Rockets and James Harden will almost certainly take out MVP honours.
Houston’s first round series against Minnesota should be a formality, with the Timberwolves featuring in their first playoff series for 13 years. They are $151 to win the NBA title.
Toronto finally ended a 17-year hoodoo on the weekend when they won the opening match of the first round of the playoffs.
Toronto has traditionally been a franchise that has struggled in the post-season, never reaching a conference final, despite stellar regular season play.
The Raptors are $10 to win the NBA and the shortest priced team in the Eastern Conference.
Their first round series against Washington should be an interesting one, with the Wizards possessing a dynamic back-court duo in John Wall and Bradley Beal, but the team overall has regressed this season. They are $151 to win the NBA title.
LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a shock opening game loss at home to Indiana, with the Pacers jumping out to a 20-point first quarter lead and never looking back.
The Cavs are $11.50 to win the NBA title and it is the first time that LeBron James has lost the first game of a playoff series in his career.
The Pacers have been one of the surprise teams in the Eastern Conference this season. They are spending the least of any of the playoff teams in terms of player salaries but produced an exceptional season and are difficult to beat at home.
Their biggest playoff obstacle looks to be Cleveland and if they can miraculously beat the Cavs, their current price of $76 will drop dramatically.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ 16-game winning streak continued into the playoffs with a dominant second half to crush the Miami Heat.
The 76ers are finally enjoying some success after a number of lean years and opting to rebuild through the draft.
Philadelphia are $15 to win the NBA title and should have no trouble exiting the first round, with their opponents the Miami Heat at $126.
Oklahoma City are a dark horse in the Western Conference playoff picture. The team possesses three superstars in Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, who have shown glimpses during the regular season, but nothing to get fans or pundits genuinely excited about.
A first round playoff series against the Utah Jazz will not be easy, but the Thunder’s determination could see them reach the conference finals and their current price of $31 to win the NBA title is overs.
The Jazz rolled through the second half of the NBA season on their way to finishing fifth in the Western Conference, but are $76 outsiders to win the NBA title.
Portland suffered a shock loss to New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, with the Blazers shooters unable to find their range for almost three quarters. Despite a furious rally, the Blazers came up short and the Pelicans grabbed an important and deserved win. Portland are $61 to win the NBA title, with New Orleans priced at $126. It would be a shock if either franchise progressed past the second round.
Boston needed an overtime period to shake off Milwaukee in the most dramatic of the first round matches so far. The Celtics are $76 to win the NBA title and have been beset by injuries to their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
The Bucks are $126 to win the NBA title, but will fancy their chances of knocking off the injury-riddled and youthful Celtics lineup in their first round series.
NBA Championship Odds – Sportsbet
Golden State Warriors $2.20
Houston Rockets $2.50
Toronto Raptors $10
Cleveland Cavaliers $11.50
Philadelphia 76ers $15
Oklahoma City Thunder $31
Portland Trailblazers $61
Boston Celtics $76
Utah Jazz $76
Indiana Pacers $76
Milwaukee Bucks $126
New Orleans Pelicans $126
Miami Heat $126
San Antonio Spurs $151
Washington Wizards $151
Minnesota Timberwolves $151
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