NBA Betting: Western Conference Playoffs
The Spurs enter the playoffs fresh and have knocked off all the teams they will have to go through to come out of the West.
In the second part of his NBA Playoffs series, as much as he loves the Thunder, Matt Reid's value bet is the Spurs, who he believes go into the Western Conference playoffs ready and raring to have a real crack at winning the title.
San Antonio (6.4)
In my mind the Spurs are still the value bet of all teams, despite them consistently firming from as high as 50-1 to win the title. They thoroughly deserve to be in the same bracket as the Bulls, Heat and Thunder, who are all a much shorter quote than the Spurs. Tony Parker has led the team while playing at an MVP level and Gregg Popovich has expertly managed his players through the compressed schedule. They enter the playoffs fresh and have knocked off all the teams they will have to go through to come out of the West. Utah have always had a strong home court advantage so it wouldn't surprise to see them drop a game or two, but an important point for the Spurs is that they won't have to face either the Lakers or Thunder until the Conference finals.
Oklahoma City Thunder (5.5)
Like most people I am a big fan of the Thunder and I particularly like the fact they have ended up playing Dallas in the first round. Dallas look well past their best and I know everyone wrote them off last year, but they aren't last year's team and I can't see them troubling the Thunder. Their likely second round opponent will be the Lakers, who they have had the wood over in recent times. Excluding the recent game marred by the Metta World Peace ejection, the Lakers haven't been able to compete with the athleticism of the Thunder. I expect the Thunder at a minimum to make the Western Conference Finals for the second year in succession, which makes their odds on offer spot on.
LA Lakers (19.0)
The Lakers price has drifted significantly in the last week thanks to the World Peace suspension that will see him miss a minimum of six playoff games. Their depth has been an issue all year and they could ill-afford to lose a player from their rotation, particularly one who had been playing well. They face Denver, the big wildcard heading into the playoffs. Since trading Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets have done things by committee but have numerous weapons capable of causing a boilover. The Lakers will lin all likelihood have to beat Denver, Oklahoma City & San Antonio just to make it out of the west. I think it's too tall an order and their price is an under.
Memphis Grizzlies (36)
For mine the sleeper of the playoffs comes from this Grizzlies-Clippers series. Both sides have enormous talent and many are predicting the Grizzlies to be the team to knock off their more fancied opponents. As the eighth seed last year the Grizzlies beat the Spurs before losing a great series to the Thunder. They gain Rudy Gay from last year's playoff team and have received improvement from Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and OJ Mayo. They now bring Zach Randolph off the bench, which is an enormous luxury to have. It is definitely worth having something on the Grizzlies at a big price.
LA Clippers (38)
Any team with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be difficult to contend with but the Heat have shown that talent alone does not win you a title. I'm really not sold on what the Clippers are able to do. Outside of their two all-stars the team is really full of role players and their offense is solely reliant on Chris Paul to create at the end of games. If the Clipper supporting cast steps up they can beat anyone they will come across in the playoffs; if they don't, they won't make it past Memphis. At the odds of 38 it's probably worth the punt that the Clippers can progress.
Denver Nuggets (100)
As I mentioned earlier, the Nuggets are really an unknown entering the playoffs. They have an enormously deep roster but their team hasn't been in tact for the majority of the year due to injury. The Lakers and Nuggets had some great series a few years back and I honestly think this will be another one. Without a superstar to close games, I can't see Denver advancing past round two but I do see them giving the Lakers all they can handle. They will be value in the head to head betting during that series.
Dallas Mavericks (60)
Those who won on the Mavericks last year are the only ones I'd be recommending to back them again this year as they won't owe you anything. I just can't see them beating the Thunder four times in a seven-game series. They are too reliant on Nowitzki and Terry to carry the scoring, and 80% of their rotation peaked five years ago. The fact that the Mavs aren't triple figure odds is only a reflection of the damage they did last year.
Utah Jazz (250)
A great effort by the Jazz to exceed expectations and make it into the post season but that is where their run will end. It will be great experience for their younger players to play in a playoff atmosphere but ultimately the Spurs will be too good for them in Round one.