While the NBA Playoffs don’t have the crazy unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament, there could still be some upsets in the first round! All of the NBA Odds quoted are from Top Rated Sportsbooks.
Boston Celtics (+130) vs. Atlanta Hawks (-150)
In my eyes, and apparently the sportsbooks’ the best chance of an upset in the first round of the playoffs is a five seed over a four in the Hawks and Celtics series. The Hawks are a great team, and they have a good chance of getting back to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they also seem to have a good chance of getting beat by the Celtics in the first round.
Boston has and will likely continue to be one of the most undervalued teams in the playoffs. The NBA odds have them as a +5 ½ underdog in Atlanta for Game 1, which could really be a value taking the points and the moneyline. Even though the Hawks won three of the four meetings this season, if the Celtics can force the Hawks to play at their pace, I think Boston is a great play here to upset the Hawks.
Charlotte Hornets (+140) vs. Miami Heat (-160)
Another upset that has some nice potential is the Charlotte Hornets, who are probably the second most underrated team behind Boston. They are deep, they have Kemba Walker, and they know how to use him. Even Goran Dragic, an accomplished NBA defender will be no match for Walker. If Walker is the best player on the floor throughout this series, Charlotte is going to win.
All they have to do is steal one in Miami. If they can do that, and bring a 1-1 series back to Charlotte, they have Miami right where they want them. Charlotte was one of the best home defensive teams in the NBA this season, and they will defend their way to victory in this series, so back them with your NBA picks.
Indiana Pacers (+300) vs. Toronto Raptors (-400)
This is going to be a tough series for Toronto. If the Pacers come to play, they can win this series, and while it isn’t as good of a chance as say the Hornets or Celtics, the Raptors have historically underperformed in the playoffs. If Indiana can slow down either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, they have the firepower to win this series.
One thing going for Toronto is their inside play. If they are dominating the Pacers in the paint, then Indiana stands no chance. However, if Ian Mahinmi and Myles Turner have a big series, and Paul George turns into the best player on the floor, Indiana has about a 40/60 chance of winning this series, and for the price, that’s enough for a one-unit flier at Bovada.
Detroit Pistons (+800) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (-1600)
I’ll start by say that I don’t think the Pistons will win this series. That being said, I think they have a good chance of giving the Cavs a tougher series than most envision. Winning one or two games in this series is not out of the question for the Pistons, and all they need is another round of Cavs injuries to make it go from a possibility to a reality.
The Pistons are deep and they matchup well with Cleveland. LeBron James is going to get his, but if they can limit the other Cavaliers, I could see Detroit being tied going into the Palace for Game 3. It’s more than a long shot, and while I am not doing it myself, a one-unit flier on Detroit is not a bad play.