While the Masters and Stanley Cup Playoffs have garnered most of the attention so far this week, that is all about to change on Saturday, as the NBA Playoffs are set to get underway. There are some terrific first round matchups on tap, and we have the best bets of the weekend to get your started. Check out our NBA betting rundown for insights and information that can help you cash in on the action.
Brooklyn Nets To COVER (+7.5) @ Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid’s status is still up in the air for Game 1 on Saturday, which could be a huge advantage for the Nets if he isn’t able to go. The big man’s 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game would certainly be missed. Not that it would be an easy feat for him if he sees the floor, as he will be forced to deal with young, defensive stud Jarrett Allen. The Sixers lost four of their final six games, including three losses to non-playoff teams (DAL, ATL, MIA). On the flip side, Brooklyn won their final three games, including road wins against Milwaukee and Indiana. The Nets have been one of the better COVER teams in the NBA, finishing 54.9 percent against the spread on the season. On the other hand, Philadelphia were just 46.3 percent ATS on the year. Furthermore, Brooklyn was 61 percent ATS on the road and 83.3 percent ATS as the road underdog. FanDuel has the spread set at 7.5 points, with the Nets covering in 6 of the last 11 head-to-head matches between these teams over the last three seasons.
Portland Trail Blazers To COVER (-3.5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
In what is without-a-doubt the most highly-anticipated player matchup of the first round, we will get to see Russell Westbrook face off against Damian Lillard for an entire series starting Sunday. Despite losing starting center Jusuf Nurkic for the remainder of the season, Portland was able to hold off the Houston Rockets to maintain the third seed in the West. With that being said, it seems like most NBA insiders are leaning towards the Thunder in this matchup. Of course, OKC has a dynamic, superstar duo in Westbrook and MVP candidate Paul George; however, Portland’s tandem of Lillard and CJ McCollum deserves to get a lot more credit. In terms of betting for Game 1, you should consider the fact that the Blazers remained near the top of the league in COVER percentage all season long, regardless of injuries. They finished the regular season covering at a rate of 55.6 percent, which ranks fourth in the NBA. Furthermore, they are 7-5 against the spread versus OKC over the last three seasons. Also, the Thunder are 1-9 ATS on Sundays this season and 12-26 ATS versus division opponents over the last two seasons. Look for Portland to protect their home court in Game 1.
Houston Rockets To COVER (-6) vs. Utah Jazz
Both of these teams finished the season hot, but Utah has been dealing with quite a few injuries down the stretch that caused them to lose two of their last three games and locking them into the fifth seed out West. Similarly, Houston dropped their final game of the season to fall from the third seed to the fourth seed but maintained home-court advantage nonetheless. The Jazz won 13 of their final 16 games, and the Rockets were victorious in 20 of their final 24 games to finish out the regular season. Whether they play or not, Jazz stars Rudy Gobert, Kyle Korver and Ricky Rubio all missed time late in the season due to injury. Of course, if they are unable to go or at less-than-100 percent, then Houston will have a tremendous advantage. Either way, the Rockets are 9-6 ATS versus Utah over the last three seasons. In addition, Houston ranks fifth in the NBA in home COVER percentage at 59 percent. They are also 57.1 percent ATS as the home favorite this season. Consider betting on James Harden and company to COVER at home on Sunday. The spread is currently set at six points, according to FanDuel.