2015 NBA Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Futures Update

Jason Lake

Thursday, May 7, 2015 7:10 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 7, 2015 7:10 PM UTC

The 2014-15 Golden State Warriors are one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled. But are the Dubs too chalky to put in our Western Conference NBA picks?

Jason’s record as of May 7: 75-77-5 ATS, 13-18 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-2 Series (plus-4.0 units)

Five years ago, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors for $450 million. It was a record price at the time. Now the Warriors are worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes. Not a bad investment. But would you believe the Dubs are still undervalued? The best team in the NBA – arguably one of the best teams of all time and space – ranks No. 7 in the league according to price tag. Let's see how that value translates to their NBA odds on the futures market at Bovada.


Golden State Warriors (4-9 West, 11-10 title)
Let's hope you got in early on the Warriors (72-16 SU, 49-38-1 ATS). They set a very high standard for themselves during the regular season, and as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, their basketball odds have been coated in chalk. The New Orleans Pelicans covered three of their four games in the opening round; now Golden State is tied 1-1 with the Memphis Grizzlies in their Western semifinal.

If we were predicting the next NBA champion, we'd go with the Warriors in a heartbeat. But that's not what we're doing when we make our NBA picks. How can we recommend the Dubs at these prices? The road through the playoffs is covered with land mines, and it only takes one key injury to send you flying into the ditch. Just ask the next team on our list.


Los Angeles Clippers (9-2 West, 8-1 title)
Full marks to the Clippers (61-30 SU, 42-48-1 ATS) for disposing of the defending champions in the first round, even if they went 3-4 ATS against the San Antonio Spurs and won by a single bucket in Game 7. That series was NBA Finals-worthy. Unfortunately, Chris Paul (26.0 PER) suffered a strained left hamstring in the finale, and has yet to play in the second round. He's considered questionable for Friday's Game 3 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

This should be it for the Clips if Paul can't play. But they earned a split against the Houston Rockets in the first two games on the road, covering the spread in both games. And they did it with Austin Rivers (10.6 PER, minus-2.4 BPM) in the starting backcourt. Here we go again. Rivers has some talent, but he's limited, he's inconsistent, and we wouldn't want to put money on him.


Houston Rockets (6-1 West, 10-1 title)
The Rockets (61-28 SU, 52-37 ATS) are more our speed, with their analytic-friendly approach and their overall depth. That depth has been tested by injuries, but we're more comfortable with guys like Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni (each 11.4 PER, minus-0.4 BPM) as a steady offense-defense platoon than we are with Rivers.

We also can't ignore how well Houston has done at the pay window this year – including that 4-1 ATS first-round performance against the Dallas Mavericks. And as much as we think Paul has been overlooked when it comes to MVP voting year after year, James Harden (26.7 PER) is the best player in this series, even if Paul comes back healthy. We're going to Value Town.


Memphis Grizzlies (9-1 West, 16-1 title)
So you may have noticed that Mike Conley (18.6 PER) and his broken face ended up playing in Game 2 against the Warriors. We were a bit surprised, but Conley did say he wanted to make an early return, and he did just that, scoring 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting in a 97-90 win (+10 away). That result illustrates how dangerous the Grizzlies (60-29 SU, 44-42-3 ATS) can be when they've got their full complement of players.

But we can't help but feel a bit queasy. Conley looks like his face could fall off at any moment. It makes it difficult to recommend Memphis as a futures bet, but on a game-per-game basis, the Grizz might be worth it against the chalky Dubs. Face... off.

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