It’s for realsies this time. The NBA playoffs are about to get underway, and we’ve got our prime-rib basketball picks loaded up for each of the four first-round series in the Eastern Conference.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 16: 72-72-5 ATS, 10-15 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
Well, that was an entertaining Game 82 of the regular season. The last playoff spots in both conferences were decided, as well as some critical seeding along the way. So now that we’ve eaten our basketball broccoli, it’s time for the basketball steak. Or maybe a nice polenta. Whatever floats your boat. It’s the playoffs, so there’s plenty of tasty money to be made with your NBA picks, given all those casual bettors jumping into the marketplace.
Let’s start with the easy stuff: the Eastern Conference. We’re making basketball picks on the series price, using the NBA odds from The Greek at press time, and we’ll also give some ATS advice while we’re at it. May the sphere be with you.
No. 1 Atlanta Hawks (–1100) vs. No. 8 Brooklyn Nets
In case you missed it elsewhere, No. 1 seeds are 197-122 SU and 148-166-5 ATS in the playoffs over the past 10 seasons. I compared this year’s Hawks (60-22 SU, 50-30-2 ATS) to last year’s Indiana Pacers, who went 9-10 ATS and ran out of gas in the Eastern Finals. The Hawks look better to me than Indiana did, but they have similar properties.
The Nets (38-44 SU, 39-41-2 ATS) would be easier to support if they still had Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and head coach Jason Kidd. I can still see them being pesky enough to take a game or two from Atlanta, and to make a profit ATS, but let’s eat the chalk on the series price.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Hawks
No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers (–4000) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
Really? The Cavs (53-29 SU, 39-43 ATS) are clearly the better of the two teams here, but –4000 is a hell of a price to pay. We’ll definitely be putting some weight behind the Celtics (40-42 SU, 49-32-1 ATS) as a solid basketball pick ATS, even though both Kelly Olynyk (15.9 PER) and Avery Bradley (11.5 PER) are both questionable for Game 1. Let’s stick with Cleveland to win the series, but great horny toads, don’t bet the farm on it.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Cavaliers
No. 3 Chicago Bulls (–700) vs. No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks
Speaking of Kidd, he’s coaching the Bucks (41-41 SU, 46-35-1 ATS), and he did a fantastic job of getting the most out of them, just like he eventually did with the Nets last year. Then he went and traded for Michael Carter-Williams (16.3 PER). Well, it was a boondoggle at first, but guess what: Milwaukee is 7-5 SU and ATS over its past dozen games, as Williams has found his groove at both ends of the court.
We’re still going to pick the Bulls (50-32 SU, 39-43 ATS) to win the series. They’ve got so much talent and depth this year, unlike seasons past. But again, we can see Kidd and the Bucks making it difficult for Chicago.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Bulls
No. 4 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 5 Washington Wizards (+160)
And now, the leftovers. You won’t find two playoff teams more mentally vulnerable than the Raptors (49-33 SU, 37-44-1 ATS) and the Wizards (46-36 SU, 33-46-3 ATS), who have plenty more in common besides their awful ATS records. Yes, even more vulnerable than the Nets.
Toronto is carrying too much chalk here after winning the Atlantic Division. Kyle Lowry (19.3 PER) isn’t healthy like he was early in the season, and head coach Dwyane Casey isn’t maximizing the talent on his roster with his substitution patterns. We’ll take the Wizards; they’ve got Pierce, who’s anything but soft, and buried the Raptors in Game 7 of last year’s quarterfinal.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Wizards