There are 16 teams in the NBA playoffs, but only a few of them will be good NBA picks going forward. Let’s take a look at all 16 title hopefuls and see which teams have the staying power to make a deep run.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 18: 73-72-5 ATS, 10-15 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
The carnage is already underway. Game 1 of the NBA playoffs went largely as expected on Saturday; home favorites won three of the four openers that day, with only the Toronto Raptors (–4.5) coming up soft against the Washington Wizards. And yes, the Golden State Warriors (–12.5) were way too chalky in their Game 1 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Some NBA picks are easier than others.
The remaining four Games 1 are being played as we go to press, but let’s go ahead and project how far each of the 16 postseason teams is likely to travel in their quest for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Didn’t Make it off the Boat: Brooklyn, Dallas
We were willing to give the Mavericks a chance to prove that the Rajon Rondo deal would come to fruition in the playoffs, but while Rondo had his moments in Game 1, he was still a team-worst minus-25 in their 118-108 loss to the Houston Rockets (–5.5 at home). And things only got worse when back-up PG Devin Harris aggravated his toe injury on Saturday. Too bad, because this is a fun team and a fun series otherwise.
The Nets are the worst of the 16 teams in the playoffs, according to both their record (38-44 SU, 39-41-2 ATS) and the stats. They might be able to catch the Atlanta Hawks on a bad day once or twice, given Atlanta’s injury situation, but a sweep wouldn’t be terribly surprising here.
First-Round Fodder: New Orleans, Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto
As much as we like the Pelicans and the Celtics against the spread (and the Pellies at a series price of +2250), that’s only because the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are way too chalky. We expect the two conference favorites to advance without too much trouble. Milwaukee didn’t get it done in Saturday’s 103-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls (–8 at home), but there might be a couple of ATS wins and maybe even a straight-up victory or two to come. And the Raptors? SAWFT~!
Good Team, Good Effort: Portland, L.A. Clippers
The more we look at that Blazers-Grizzlies matchup, the more we wonder if Memphis is going to be able to pull this off. As we said in our first-round Western preview, it all depends on the health of Mike Conley and Tony Allen. We’re a lot more interested in watching the Clippers and Spurs go at it. While we’re picking the defending champions to advance at –160, it’s closer to a coinflip than the NBA odds might suggest.
Second-Round Rabble: Washington, Chicago, Memphis, Houston
Washington and Memphis are easy enough to write off at this point. The Wizards would advance to play Atlanta, while Memphis, presumably still not at 100 percent, would end up playing the Warriors. Houston will be a tougher get for whomever survives the Clippers-Spurs series, but we’ll stick with the champs. And while the Bulls won’t just roll over against the Cavaliers, we still like LeBron James and his cohorts to advance.
Final Four Ain’t So Bad: Atlanta, San Antonio
The basketball odds at Bovada say it’ll be Cleveland (1-2) winning the East and Golden State (1-1) winning the West. We’re not about to argue with that, although we might want to bet on the Spurs (2-1) once the Western Finals roll around, if the Dubs continue to carry that much chalk.
So what happens in the NBA Finals? Good question – and one that can wait for another day. We’re just projecting how deep these teams will get into the playoffs, and you can’t get any deeper than the Finals. Maybe the champs should go on to play a World Series with the Euroleague winners. Somebody call Adam Silver and get him on it.