Are you betting the spreads for the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs? Do you need expert ATS basketball picks? Look no further. I am going to run down all eight first round NBA playoff matchups to give you the information you need to make a winning NBA ATS bet. Happy hunting!
NBA Playoff Round 1 Game 1 Spreads
Golden State Warriors -8 vs San Antonio Spurs
Sat. April 14, 3 PM ET, ABC
The Dubs are the defending champs and winners of two of the last three NBA titles. But Steph Curry will be sidelined in this series due to a MCL injury.
The Spurs will be playing in their 21st consecutive playoff appearance. Without Kawai Leonard, can the Spurs beat the Curry-less Warriors?
Toronto Raptors -8 vs Washington Wizards
Sat. April 14, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN
The Raptors surprised everyone by winning the East. Beating the Cavs, Celtics and the upstart 76ers. Four of the five Toronto starters are established veterans. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas are no strangers to the spotlights of April and May. Throw in their much-improved bench and the time is now for The Six.
John Wall is back and that makes the Wizards a dangerous 8th-seed. The Wizards have a lot of talent but also a core with plenty of playoff experience. The question is whether Washington can pull itself out from an up and down regular season to win four out of seven against the Raptors.
Philadelphia 76ers -7 vs Miami Heat
Sat. April 14, 8 PM ET, ESPN
Philadelphia has a bright future. The City of Brotherly Love is NFL (Eagles) and Men’s NCAA Basketball (Nova) champions. The Flyers are in the NHL playoffs and the 76ers should make quick work of the Heat. The 76ers will be a championship-caliber team for the next decade, but beating the Heat is as far as they go in 2018
The Miami Heat show up and play 110% every game. They’ve had 19 one-possession games. They’ve played nine overtime games. The Heat are 7-point underdogs in this game. They are riding a two-game win streak against the 76ers. I am betting that the Heat cover the 7-point spread if not win straight up.
Portland Trail Blazers -5½ vs New Orleans Pelicans
Sat. April 14, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN
Portland finished third in the West after hovering around the .500 mark through mid-February. The Blazers will need a huge game from Damian Lillard with plenty of scoring from CJ McCollum and a strong effort by Jusuf Nurkic to cover the spread.
The Pelicans were written off after losing DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending Achilles injury. The Pelicans lost five of six games after that injury. The team recovered by going 20-8 since Feb. 10, riding Anthony Davis’ MVP-caliber play. In the 2015 playoffs, Davis averaged 31.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.3 steals but NOLA was swept by Golden State.
Boston Celtics -4 vs Milwaukee Bucks
Sun. April 15, 1 PM ET, TNT
What could have been for the Boston Celtics. Offseason acquisitions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving made the Celtics the baddest team in East. After a trip to the East finals a season ago, the Celtics had high hopes this season. Now the Celtics brain-trust are all about any playoff experience the young Celtics can soak up.
Three words: The Greek Freak! This will be a fun series to watch. The Young Bucks like to run, none more so than Giannis Antetokounmpo. He recorded 57 dunks in transition this season, most in the NBA. Among those dunks, 31 have been made while contested, also most in the NBA this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers -6½ vs Indiana Pacers
Sun. April 15, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
Is this the last season LeBron plays in Cleveland? If he should he opt out of his contract and leave as a free agent this summer, he will make this a playoff series to watch.
Preseason predictions put the Pacers in rebuilding mode after the Paul George trade. GM Kevin Pritchard was supposedly swindled by Oklahoma City in the trade that brought in Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo is all in on the Pacers. He averaged 23.1 points per game this season. He had five games of at least 30 points against teams that made the playoffs. But he’s more than a scorer. Oladipo averaged career highs in rebounds, assists and steals including 64 straight games with at least one steal.
Oklahoma City Thunder -3½ vs Utah Jazz
Sat. April 14, 3 PM ET, ABC
The addition of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George hasn’t worked out for Russell Westbrook and the Thunder as everyone had envisioned. OKC needed a big final week of the regular season to even make the playoffs. This season the Thunder raised their level of play against the league’s best. They went 7-4 against the Rockets, Warriors, Raptors, and Cavaliers. But then played down to teams hovering at or below .500.
Utah is the best defensive team in the league in large thanks to 7’1 center Rudy Gobert protecting the rim. Rookie Donovan Mitchell’s ability to score in bunches and create momentum makes this team a dark horse. The Jazz are also tops in the league in creating open looks. They average 19.8 uncontested shots per game this season, best in the NBA.
Houston Rockets -11½ vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Sun. April 15, 9 PM ET, TNT
The duo of James Harden and Chris Paul combined a la Wonder Twins to propel the Rockets to the best record in the league. Both have playoff demons to slay. Can anyone slow them down?
Minnesota is back in the playoffs for the first tie since 2004 and it took all 82 games. The 2004 Timberwolves roster included Sam Cassell, Wally Szczerbiak, Latrell Sprewell and a fresh faced 27 year-old Kevin Garnett. This season it’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler. Towns has superior offensive talent but there are far too many defensive lapses are limiting his effectiveness. As for Wiggins, he hasn’t shown consistency on either end.