The NBA Playoffs have finally arrived after an interesting regular season in the betting market. Favorites and underdogs drew even over the season with a 601-601-27 record (according to the lines at Covers). That’s an incredible stat that we’ll never see again. Another one of the interesting numbers is that road favorites actually won a higher percentage of their games straight up than home favorites.
Sunday has another full slate of NBA action with games starting at 3:00 p.m. ET and finishing past midnight. All eyes will be on LeBron and the Cavs to start the day, but the game of the day is between the Spurs and Clippers, who play in the night cap. Can Los Angeles defend its home?
Boston Celtics (+11.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers
These teams played four times in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean much. One was back in November and two more were just a week ago when the Cavaliers had zero motivation and rested players. The only game that could be used was the one back on March 3 with the Cavs winning 110-79 at home. That could be a solid prediction for this first game.
The Celtics have surprised a lot of people this year and Brad Stevens is a great coach, but with the way Cleveland is playing at the moment, Boston just doesn’t have the talent to compete in a series with the Cavs and LeBron. The Celtics have been great ATS all year and are 27-14 ATS on the road, but that’s not enough to pick them here.
The Pick: Cavaliers -11.5
Brooklyn Nets (+10) at Atlanta Hawks
Can the Hawks get back into form after taking almost the entire final month off from the regular season? Paul Millsap isn’t 100% and probably won’t be for the playoffs. He played in the season finale and didn’t do much in 27 minutes, going just 2-of-9 from the floor. The obvious thing here is that the Hawks are just a better team than the Nets, and their sweep in the regular season showed that. A 131-99 drubbing on April 4 was the highlight, especially since the Nets were still playing for the playoffs at that point.
The vibe around this Brooklyn team isn’t great and they probably aren’t a team you want to put money on right now. Even though Atlanta isn’t playing its best basketball, there’s no reason to take the Nets in this situation.
The Pick: Hawks -10
Portland Trail Blazers (+5.5) at Memphis Grizzlies
The Trail Blazers are the 4-seed, but they are the road team in this series. They closed the season with tons of injuries and four straight losses, and while the Grizzlies haven’t been much better, Memphis is the favorite. The main issue here is the status of Mike Conley and Tony Allen.
Memphis has dominated this series in recent history, including nine of the last 11 and all four matchups this season. As long as Conley doesn’t miss Sunday’s game, the Grizzlies get the edge, as the Trail Blazers will be without Arron Afflalo at the least.
The Pick: Grizzlies -5.5
San Antonio Spurs (+1.5) at Los Angeles Clippers
And just like that, the Spurs went from a 2-seed all the way to the 6-seed playing against the Clippers. It’s an unfortunate turn, but the Spurs are once again a team that can make it to the finals out of the West. These teams haven’t played since February, so throw away those previous results.
Blake Griffin said a couple weeks ago that the Clippers didn’t have much of a home-court advantage and their 16-25 ATS home mark shows that. The Spurs weren’t great on the road this year, but that changed late in the season. San Antonio is the play against a bench-deficient Clippers squad in Game 1.
The Pick: Spurs +1.5