Raptors & Hornets Will Advance In Their Eastern Conference Series

Jason Lake

Friday, April 15, 2016 10:17 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 15, 2016 10:17 PM GMT

The Toronto Raptors got tripped up in the first round last year, and the year before that. The NBA odds say they'll beat the Indiana Pacers, but are the Raps ready?

Jason's 2015-16 record as of April 14: 33-36-1 ATS, 6-3-1 Total

So how did you like your 2015-16 NBA regular season? Records were set, tears were shed, coaches were fired. And we ended up with a .500 record for our NBA picks here at the home office. That was the most likely outcome, of course. But now that the playoffs are here, recreational bettors are piling in, and they'll add more and more value to the marketplace as we get closer to the Finals.

The value in the Eastern Conference will be with every team aside from the Cleveland Cavaliers. But some of these teams will be on the golf course in a week or two. Let's look at two of the first-round series in the East, with their series prices (courtesy of SportsInteraction) as we go to press.

 

No. 2 Toronto Raptors (–337) vs. No. 7 Indiana Pacers
It's been 15 years since the Raptors (56-26 SU, 45-37 ATS) made it out of the first round. However, this is easily the best team in franchise history, assembled smartly by GM Masai Ujiri. They've got an All-Star backcourt in Kyle Lowry (22.1 PER, +6.8 BPM) and DeMar DeRozan (21.5 PER, +1.4 BPM), a legitimate Big Three counterpart in center Jonas Valancuinas (22.6 PER, +1.1 BPM), and quality depth at every position on the court.

The Pacers (45-37 SU, 41-40-1 ATS) are back in the playoffs now that Paul George (20.9 PER, +4.6 BPM) is healthy, and in theory, they could upset Toronto by playing with what the commentators call “playoff intensity.” That means “dirty” to the rest of us. Otherwise, FiveThirtyEight gives Toronto an 82-percent chance of winning this series, which works out to –455 on our SBR Betting Odds Converter. Smell the value.

Free NBA Pick: Raptors –337
Best Line Offered: at SportsInteraction

No. 3 Miami Heat (–171) vs. No. 6 Charlotte Hornets
The NBA odds aren't quite as kind toward the Heat (48-34 SU, 43-38-1 ATS), but that'll happen when arguably your best player is out of the lineup. Chris Bosh (20.2 PER, +2.1 BPM) is reportedly still on blood-thinners, and unlikely to return this season. But Miami still packs a punch with Dwyane Wade (20.3 PER, +0.8 BPM) and the incredible Hassan Whiteside (25.7 PER, +2.5 BPM). It's all a question of fit.

The Hornets (48-34 SU, 42-39-1 ATS) ended up in a three-way tie for the Southeast Division title with the Heat and the Atlanta Hawks, but the tiebreakers went Miami's way. FiveThirtyEight fittingly sees this series as a toss-up, with Miami a slight 51-percent favorite (–104), so let's go with the underdogs instead. Charlotte has also had to adapt this year without defensive stopper Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but Courtney Lee (11.2 PER, +0.2 BPM) will do in a pinch, and Kemba Walker (20.8 PER, +4.0 BPM) has done special things on offense.

Free NBA Pick: Hornets +125
Best Line Offered: at SportsInteraction

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