The NBA conference semifinals are upon us with the favorites by-and-large dominating in Round 1, and many NBA betting fans cleaned up with the top teams getting the job done against the spread. However, the second round is a different animal and should equate to more balanced results.
The Western Conference is bringing us the same excitement it always does. Now we enter a second round that showcases a likely NBA Finals champion in the Rockets and Warriors, while Portland heads to Denver well-rested vs. the upstart and young Nuggets.
Western Conference 2019 Second-Round Betting Preview
Two similarities the road teams have in Round 2 is rest. The Warriors and Nuggets each have one game off entering the semifinals. This matters, and while more relevant when the home team is on more rest, it still pertains to road teams. The Rockets arrived in Oakland before the Warriors had even closed out the Clippers on Friday night.
Rockets vs Warriors Betting Odds & Tips
Series odds: Warriors -435, Rockets +325
This series will be simpler than people expect. The Rockets will either hit their 3s or they won’t. They shot an NBA record 52% of their shots from 3 this season. One thing I am worried about with the Rockets is the refs teaming up against James Harden.
Will they call this series the same as the regular season for Harden? He did not get as many calls vs the Jazz as he usually does. The Warriors have fouled 3-point shooters at a high rate this season, and nobody draws those fouls better than Harden. Shout out to Jamal Crawford.
If he gets his regular calls, the Rockets can win this series. If he does not, they don’t stand much of a chance. They will need all the points they need. I see tight games the entire series.
The Warriors are 65% ATS under Kerr when single-digit favorites in playoffs. Keep this in mind this series. We will likely see that single-digit Warriors favorite line four times this series. Part of the reason the Warriors are covering at a high rate in playoffs under Kerr is the defense.
However, I almost don’t recognize this Warriors offense right now. Less slashing to basket, less screens, less movement. It’s been a lot of give the ball to Kevin Durant and get out of the way. The Rockets have been playing some great defense lately, and have been doing a solid job of rotating at the perimeter. Don’t expect a high-scoring series.
BEST BETS: Take the unders in this series as the totals will be inflated, and the Rockets stealing Game 2 on the Road. For the series, back the Houston Rockets at +325 to end the Warriors reign.
Blazers vs Nuggets Betting Odds & Tips
Series odds: Nuggets -155, Trail Blazers +125
The Blazers enter the series with tons of rest, playing their last game at home on April 23. Five days rest in between series will be a major advantage. Denver on the other hand has a short turnaround after its Game 7 win over the Spurs.
The Blazers are playing elite basketball right now on both sides of the ball. Damian Lillard claimed superior over Russell Westbrook in their personal one-on-one battle. His biggest nemesis now is Jamal Murray, who runs lights-out hot or brick-house cold. He does not have an in-between. The Nuggets will need Murray to play his best ball to have a chance.
The Nuggets are the higher seed, but the Blazers are the much better team. I fully expect the Blazers to steal at least one game in Denver, eyeing Game 1 especially. It would not surprise me if they swept in Denver before heading back to Portland.
The Nuggets played some sub-par games vs the Spurs and do not enter this series with much momentum. They almost collapsed in game, showing some mentally weak capabilities. If the Nuggets play defense like they did vs the Spurs, they could get swept. They cannot afford to be playing average ball vs this Portland team.
BEST BETS: I think the Blazers wrap this series up in 5 games. They are the clear superior team, more motivated and more experienced in the playoffs. Backing the Blazers to win the series at +130 is a steal of a lifetime. Pound this. We should see some high efficiency offense and a quick pace, leading to some good value on overs in this series. Chase the over each game.
Eastern Conference 2019 Second-Round Betting Preview
Rest matters. Well-rested teams at home last 13 years are hitting 63% against the spread. By well-rested, we’re talking about four days rest or more. The openers will also see two road teams needing to make huge adjustments against superior teams, meaning a quarter of dismal basketball for the visitors.
Bucks vs Celtics Betting Odds & Tips
Series odds: Bucks -275, Celtics +215
The Bucks swept the lowly Pistons and now play the Celtics, who swept the Pacers. The Bucks have the advantage here with being at home on plenty of rest. You may say, “Well their opponent swept and has had plenty of rest as well.” True, but even in that case, with two teams off plenty of rest, the home team still covers at a 64% clip against the spread.
While looking at the Bucks vs Celtics series, we can identify why these teams excelled. The Celtics played outstanding defense and really looked like a different team than in the the regular season. Kyrie Irving held his undefeated first-round career record and moved to 16-0 all-time in the first round.
The Pacers only eclipsed the 100-point mark one time. I credit Coach Brad Stevens for getting these guys ready for the real stage. The master of the scheme. The Bucks were almost as good on the defensive side, holding the Pistons to 86, 99, 103 and 104. In today’s NBA, any coach would take that.
The Celtics will surprise some people and take this deeper than expected. This is a different team than in the regular season and more motivated in playoffs. The biggest difference is the Celtics have a true closer in Kyrie and the Bucks don’t. Kyrie has proven to be as clutch as they get from anywhere on the court.
BEST BETS: Take the Bucks to cover the -7.5 in Sunday’s Game 1 as well as under 224 total points. For the series, back the Milwaukee Bucks at -275 to advance.
76ers vs Raptors Betting Odds & Tips
Series odds: Raptors -250, 76ers +200
This very same rest trend puts the Raptors at an advantage as well. Both the Raptors and 76ers are off a 4-1 first-round breezes. Both teams are well-rested, and again, the advantage goes to the home team off rest.
The Raptors are 21-3 against Philly since 2013 and have won 13 straight. The 76ers only win vs. the Raptors this year was with Kawhi Leonard out. Now, this is a completely different team that Philadelphia is riding with since the beginning of the season. With the trades involved, these are new rosters who have not really played each other.
JJ Reddick said Philly needs to take care of the ball as the Raptors are a long, defensively athletic team that takes advantage of turnovers. If you watched the Raptors-Magic series, you saw the Raptors force Orlando to take tons of 3s and not play their game.
They will have the same approach vs. Philly and try not to allow Embiid to dominate down low. 76ers turnover issues have been a problem, with 16+ in three of their playoff games vs. the Nets.
The Raptors stuff the paint and force teams to play outside-in. This will hurt Philly, which is a team that thrives in transition. Do not expect this against a swarming Raptors defense that will force them out of their game and make them play half-court offense.
BEST BETS: Take the Raptors to cover the -6 in Saturday’s Game 1 as well as under 223.5 total points. For the series, back the Toronto Raptors at -250 to advance. And while you are at it, why not throw in a two-team parlay for the Eastern Game 1s?