Editor’s note: The odds below are courtesy of Heavy’s partners at OddsShark. Click here for more NBA playoff odds and betting info at OddsShark.com.
While the NBA playoff structure lends itself to the best team usually winning, the Portland Trail Blazers possess upset potential in the NBA Western Conference first round.
Granted, the fifth-seeded Trail Blazers ousting the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers might not rank as a huge upset. The Clippers, though, are a -304 favorite on the series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. after winning three of four regular-season matchups against Portland, which is a +200 underdog.
Portland is 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games against Los Angeles. The matchup’s X factor will also be the mind game revolving around Clippers C DeAndre Jordan, whose Achilles heel is free-throw shooting. Portland coach Terry Stotts has proven willing to employ a ‘hack-a-Jordan’ strategy to slow down the Clippers.
Portland also has a capable backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and Clippers PF Blake Griffin has not found a groove after missing much of the regular season with hand and quadriceps injuries. The Clippers, across 82 games, have not developed alternate lineups in the event that Jordan is taken out of the flow of a game.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are a -1431 favorite against the Dallas Mavericks, a +600 underdog, in the 3 vs. 6 series. Oklahoma City is just 5-5 straight-up and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games against Dallas, and their propensity for getting sucked into high-scoring games is troublesome.
However, this season Durant and cohorts are 4-0 SU against Dallas and scored at least 103 points in each of those victories. Mavericks PF Dirk Nowitzki will also have a tough check with Thunder PF Serge Ibaka guarding him.
The other two series are such massive mismatches that it might be hard to find odds on the San Antonio Spurs and defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors winning their first-round sets.
The Memphis Grizzlies are +9500 to defeat the Spurs, whom they are 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS against in their past 10 games according to the OddsShark NBA Database. San Antonio is 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS against Memphis across the last three seasons, including a 4-0 SU season-series sweep.
The Spurs and C Tim Duncan are stronger than the teams that were a combined 6-5 SU and 3-8 ATS in April playoff games in 2014 and 2015. Memphis also finished the season in a desultory 1-9 SU slump.
Shooting guard James Harden and the Houston Rockets are +7100 underdogs against PG Stephen Curry and Golden State, who tallied a NBA-record 73 wins. The Warriors are 9-1 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games against Houston, including a five-game playoff win in the 2015 Western Conference Finals.