2019 NBA Playoffs series odds and picks: Handicapping the first round
2019 NBA Playoffs series odds and picks: Handicapping the first round
The Golden State Warriors embark on their quest for a three-peat as the 2019 NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday. Here's a preview of all the first-round series.
It's going to be weird not seeing LeBron James in the playoffs, but that doesn't mean these 2019 NBA Playoffs are going to be boring. The postseason gets underway this weekend with eight first-round series, and all eyes will be on the Golden State Warriors as they try to three-peat before the potential (likely?) exit of Kevin Durant. While the Warriors [are the heavy favorites to win it all](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-futures-odds-2019-playoffs-rockets-thunder) at -200 odds at Westgate LV SuperBook (I think this will be the final title of their run), the Houston Rockets (+800) are hot and will be looking for revenge after last year's Western Conference Finals collapse. The Eastern Conference has the makings of a bloodbath, with the Milwaukee Bucks (+600), Toronto Raptors (+1200), Philadelphia 76ers (+1800) and Boston Celtics (+1800) all in the running to win the East and challenge the West champion, whether it's the Warriors or somebody else. But in order to get to the NBA Finals and win a championship, you first have to win the opening round. Let's take a look at the eight first-round series, complete with odds for each. ## NBA West first-round series odds ### 1. Warriors (-50000) vs. 8. Clippers (+10000) The Clippers have been a great story and set themselves up well for the future. They won 48 games after [entering the season with a win total of 37.5 in Las Vegas](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-title-odds-win-totals-bulls-2018). Perhaps even more impressive, L.A. didn't miss a beat after trading away its best player, Tobias Harris, at the trade deadline. But the fun stops here, at least until a potentially massive offseason. The Warriors may not have been as dominant as past years and have had their share of drama, but they're ready to lock in as they go for their three-peat. They simply have too much talent and should advance rather easily, either in four or five games depending on if they can keep their focus level throughout the entire series. Also, don't worry about Stephen Curry's ankle injury. ### 2. Nuggets (-260) vs. 7. Spurs (+210) While the odds moved early in Denver's direction, this should be a fascinating series. The Nuggets are the young, up-and-coming team with no playoff experience, while the Spurs are the Spurs, even if they're not the Spurs we're used to seeing. These two teams split the season series 2-2, with the home team winning both times. Denver (34-7) and San Antonio (32-9) were two of the best home teams this season, and I'm going to go with the Nuggets in this series because of the home-court advantage. However, the Spurs aren't a bad bet at better than 2/1 odds because it wouldn't be a surprise if they won a Game 7 on the road against an inexperienced Denver squad. ### 3. Trail Blazers (+145) vs. 6. Thunder (-170) There's good reason why [OKC is favored despite having the lower seed](https://www.betchicago.com/2019-nba-playoffs-series-odds-thunder-blazers-first-round). While the Thunder, who opened -150, faded a bit down the stretch of the season, they still have an incredible star duo in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, plus the beastly Steven Adams in the middle. The Blazers may have a star backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but McCollum just returned from a knee injury, and Jusuf Nurkic's absence will be felt. Oklahoma City won all four regular-season matchups, so a six-game series with them advancing feels about right, though nobody would be surprised if it goes seven or if Portland wins. ### 4. Rockets (-350) vs. 5. Jazz (+275) The Rockets beat the Jazz in five games in the second round last season, but this time around it should be more competitive. Both Houston and Utah started the year slow before streaking into the playoffs, so these teams are peaking at the right time. A seven-game set here wouldn't be crazy, especially given these teams split the regular-season matchups. But while early action has come in on the Jazz (the series priced opened Houston -400, Utah +300), James Harden and Chris Paul will prove to be too much. Plus, we really need to see the Warriors-Rockets rematch. ## NBA East first-round series odds ### 1. Bucks (-10000) vs. 8. Pistons (+2000) This may have been a more interesting series if Blake Griffin was healthy, but the All-Star has been battling a knee problem and almost certainly won't be 100%, and maybe not even close. Griffin had been enjoying a career season in Detroit prior to the injury, so this is a tough blow. Meanwhile, the Bucks were the most dominant team throughout the regular season. They were the only 60-win team and have the [possible MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-awards-giannis-antetokounmpo-mvp-favorite-2018-19-season), who's in line to finally win his first playoff series. With Griffin banged up, Milwaukee should sweep. I'm also leaning toward the Bucks coming out of the East (+125), but it really is up in the air between four teams. ### 2. Raptors (-1600) vs. 7. Magic (+900) The Magic went on quite the tear over the second half of the season to earn their first playoff berth since Dwight Howard was traded. Orlando finished the season 21-9 with the fourth-best net rating in the league since Feb. 1, [per NBA.com](https://stats.nba.com/teams/advanced/?sort=NET_RATING&dir=-1&Season=2018-19&SeasonType=Regular%20Season&DateFrom=02%2F01%2F2019), and promising youngster Jonathan Isaac will be ready for Game 1 after entering the NBA's concussion protocol. Of course, the Raptors were even better over that stretch and wound up with 58 wins. Toronto went all in this season by acquiring Kawhi Leonard in the summer and Marc Gasol at the trade deadline, and they're feeling primed for a deep run. Toronto, which was bet up after opening -1400 in this series. should win in five games. ### 3. 76ers (-750) vs. 6. Nets (+525) The Nets, who have taken the early money after opening +550, were one of the best stories of the regular season, and D'Angelo Russell will be ready to show out in the playoffs. The idea of Brooklyn making this a series or even winning is tempting to think about, especially considering Joel Embiid's mysterious knee issues. If Embiid is healthy, though, the Sixers have a massive edge. While their new-look starting five of Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick didn't play all that much together, [they smashed teams by 17.6 points per 100 possessions in 161 regular-season minutes](https://stats.nba.com/team/1610612755/lineups-advanced/). Philly went -2 when they've all been in the lineup, and this should be a five-game series if given good health. If not, it could be a real battle. ### 4. Celtics (-550) vs. 5. Pacers (+400) The Celtics were an enigma all season and finished well below their win total of 59.5 by going 49-33. Marcus Smart's oblique injury is an untimely one given he's their heart and soul. However, Gordon Hayward is finally finding his rhythm after last season's devastating injury, and Boston's depth can help mitigate Smart's absence. While the Pacers deserve a lot of credit for staying strong after the devastating Victor Oladipo injury, they just don't have enough against Kyrie Irving and Co. The Celtics should win this series in five games, or six at most. My pick goes against the early line move, as the Celtics opened -700 at the Westgate. __Play for free, win BetChicago merch__: [Daily NBA playoff pick 'em contest](https://betchicago.chalkline.com/games/nba-three-point-challenge)2019-04-12T14:20:59.161Z2019-04-12T10:20-04:00