NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Series Preview and Predictions
NBA Western Conference first-round odds are courtesy of William Hill.
Houston Rockets (-2000) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (+1000)
James Harden has had a remarkable season, leading the NBA in scoring with 30.4 points. Harden and the Rockets, who posted a 65-win campaign to top the Western Conference, will take on the pesky Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs.
The Rockets have owned the Timberwolves over the last 10 meetings, winning 9 games during that stretch and out scoring their opponents 121.7 to 112. As good as the Rockets have been this season, the club has been mediocre against the spread with a 41-39-2 record.
The Timberwolves squeaked into the playoffs after wrapping up the regular season with a 47-35 record — a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets for the 8th seed. The Rockets will roll through this series in four.
Pick: Houston Rockets (-2000)
Golden State Warriors (-1000) vs. San Antonio Spurs (+650)
The defending NBA champions are flying under the radar heading into the playoffs as the No. 2 seeds. The Golden State Warriors open the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs as heavy favourites at -1000.
The Warriors capped off their seasons with a 58-24 record but did not top the Western Conference for the first time in three years. Golden State will be without its star point guard Stephen Curry, who is expected to miss the entire series with a sprained MCL.
The head-to-head series over the last 10 meetings between these two Western Conference foes has been tilted in Golden State’s direction as the Warriors heave defeated the Spurs 8 times during that stretch. This series will go the distance with Golden State pulling through in the end.
Portland Trail Blazers (-222) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (+180)
The Portland Trail Blazers clinched third place in the West, earning home-court advantage in their opening round series against the New Orleans Pelicans. Damian Lillard often doesn’t get the respect in a star-studded Western Conference, but the forward finished 4th in league scoring with 26.9 points per game.
Lillard and the Blazers are -222 favourites going into the opening round, which begins on April 14. Despite going in as the frontrunners to win the series, Portland has actually struggled against the Pelicans over the last 10 meetings.
New Orleans, which is an enticing +180 underdog pick, has won 6 of the last 10 against the Blazers. This is another series that will go the distance, but the Blazers will come out on top.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-130) vs. Utah Jazz (+110)
There were high expectations pinned on the Oklahoma City Thunder after the club added offensive threats Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the off-season.
Following a 4th-place finish in the Western Conference, OKC will face the surging Utah Jazz in the first round. The Thunder, who are -130 favourites, sputtered down the stretch, winning 5 of their last 10 games. Bettors will be reluctant to take a chance on the Jazz, who’ve dropped 8 of their last 10 against OKC.
Utah will rely on its stingy defence to keep the Thunder’s best scorers — including Russell Westbrook — from putting up big numbers throughout the series. Utah will put up a fight but OKC’s offence will be too much to handle in what will be a 5 or 6 game series.
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