Free Basketball Picks: Finding Value in 1st Round Series

Utah Jazz players celebrating

Jordan Sharp

Saturday, April 15, 2017 1:52 PM GMT

Saturday, Apr. 15, 2017 1:52 PM GMT

It’s NBA playoff season and with eight different first round matchups about to tip off this weekend, it’s time to start thinking about which series prop odds have enough value to pull the trigger. Along with an interesting future odds play, here are the three NBA Picks. 

Spurs beat Grizzlies in 5 games (+200)

Last season when the Grizzlies and Spurs played one another in the first round, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both missed the series and the Grizzlies were promptly swept out of the first round. At +260, that might not be a bad bet again this season, even with Memphis healthy.

However, this was a tight series in the regular season and at least before the All-Star Break, the Grizzlies were looking like a team that could give some of the other higher seeds in the West trouble. In the second half, however, their defense fell apart, they were forced to play it safe when Marc Gasol got banged up and now they are faced with the Spurs for the third time since they beat them in the 2011 playoffs in the first round.

The problem for the Grizzlies is San Antonio has swept three of their last five first round opponents and Memphis has lost eight straight playoff games to the Spurs dating back to the 2013 Western Conference Finals.

Even going into the postseason relatively healthy, this Spurs team is better than any of the past years these two have played in the playoffs and they might be as good or better than the 2014 team that won it all. With a fortified presence in the paint and an MVP candidate in Kawhi Leonard, I can’t see the Grizzlies winning more than one game in this series and that is also the odds favorite from BetOnline

 

Raptors beat Bucks in 7 games (+350)

With the way the Cavaliers have struggled down the stretch, there is a small contingent of sharps and number crunchers that think the Raptors have a chance to get past Cleveland and get to the NBA Finals. We’re a long way from that ticket of +650 cashing, especially because Toronto’s first round matchup is against a tough and gritty Bucks team.

Last season the Raptors were taken to seven games in both of their first round series against the Pacers and Heat before getting beaten by Cleveland in six games in the conference finals. With Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and a young core and coach, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. After the injury to Jabari Parker, all expectations went out the window for them and they are playing with house money.

Improved from last season with the additions of P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors have Kyle Lowry back and are poised this season. They were trying to avoid Cleveland in the second round by grabbing the third seed, but the Cavs dropping to 2 will ensure they play each other assuming they both advance.

All that being said, it’s not going to be easy for the Raptors. I see this series going at least six games, but more likely it goes seven just like last season’s first round with the Raptors winning their Game 7 at home.

 

Jazz Beat Clippers in 6 games (+450)

If you can ignore that the Utah Jazz have only played a handful of games together as a healthy team this season, you might want to listen up and make some money with me. I am one of the biggest defenders of Doc Rivers and the Clippers. In another era of the NBA that doesn’t have a superstar Warriors team and Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, the Clippers probably would have won and NBA championship by now.

Alas, injuries and better teams have been their burden in the playoffs even though they have overcome the Spurs by beating them a few times recently. After a season where both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin only played 61 games and facing an upstart Jazz team, the mountain is pretty high for the Clippers even with home court advantage.

Both these teams were hurt this year and subsequently underperformed at times, but both are healthy now and both teams won 51 games despite their injuries. That in itself is pretty impressive, but the fact that the Clippers have beaten the Jazz three times this season cannot be overlooked.

However, the Jazz have the depth, the size and the offense to beat an impressive Clippers’ defense. This series is bound to be pretty low scoring, but if the Jazz can win one of these first two games, they are going to have a great shot at upsetting the Clippers with their very good home court advantage. Utah has four or five guys that can get hot at any time and while they won’t shut down Blake Griffin, if they can frustrate Chris Paul enough and cancel out DeAndre Jordan, they are going to win this series in the sixth game in Salt Lake City.

 

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