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.
With four teams tying with 48-34 records, it wouldn’t be an upset if the lower seed wins one or both matchups in the middle of the NBA Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
The Miami Heat, led by veteran SG Dwyane Wade and SF Joe Johnson, snuck into the third seed late by going 12-8 straight-up and 9-11 against the spread during their final 20 games. Miami is a slim -171 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com to defeat the Charlotte Hornets, who are a +125 underdog.
The Hornets are a tempting pick. Charlotte went 14-6 SU over their last 20 games, and the PG tandem of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin should get open looks against Heat counterparts Goren Dragic and Josh Richardson, a rookie.
The teams split their season series. If Miami fails to limit Charlotte’s three-point shooting, the Hornets could reach Round 2 for the first time in team history. Miami is 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS in the teams’ last 10 games according to the OddsShark NBA Database.
The Atlanta Hawks are a -238 favorite against the +170 underdog Boston Celtics in the 4 vs. 5 matchup. Atlanta has won the past three meetings with Boston, and their frontcourt combo of PF Paul Millsap and C Al Horford pose a mighty challenge for the Celtics. Boston will have to keep games running at a high tempo while getting a big series from PG Isaiah Thomas.
Due to losing in the first round the last three times they went into the playoffs as the Atlantic Division champion, the Toronto Raptors are a relatively modest -337 favorite against the Indiana Pacers. Indiana, which is a -222 underdog, is 2-8 SU and 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games against Toronto.
The Pacers’ best player, SF Paul George, averages 19.2 points but averaged only 16.3 in four games against the Raptors. Toronto might also have wing defender DeMarre Carroll fully healthy and ready to hassle George. Carroll returned from knee surgery two weeks ago.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are -2564 favorites against the Detroit Pistons, who are a +800 underdog. Cleveland lost their two most recent matchups against Detroit, but the main cast of James, PG Kyrie Irving and PF Kevin Love are rested and injury-free entering the postseason.
LeBron and the Cavaliers are 8-1 SU and 4-5 ATS in their last nine April playoff games overall.