Unlike the NHL, where the top four playoff seeds were upset in the first round, NBA favorites have held serve so far in each postseason series.
That could change in the second round of the NBA playoffs, which open Saturday at 4:30 p.m. with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the 76ers and Raptors in Toronto.
Philadelphia is a plus 230 series underdog to Toronto (-280). The Boston Celtics are plus 250 underdogs to the top-seeded Bucks (-310) in a series that starts at 10 a.m. Sunday in Milwaukee.
In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets were listed as plus 240 series underdogs at the Westgate sportsbook to the Warriors (-300) before Friday night’s Game 6 between Golden State and the Clippers.
After eighth-seeded Los Angeles upset the Warriors twice at Oracle Arena, Golden State’s series price against Houston dropped from minus 400 to minus 300.
“Because of their lackadaisical play, you get a cheap price on Golden State in that series,” Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman said. “When is the last time Golden State was in a playoff series at that low a price?
“It’s based on perception. People think Golden State has some vulnerability now that they haven’t had the past few years.”
Rockets (+240) over Warriors, Western Conference semifinal series
Professional sports bettor Erin Rynning believes the Warriors are vulnerable and recommends a series wager on the Rockets.
“Golden State has had a lot go their way the last three or four years,” said Rynning (Bettoriq.com). “If Chris Paul didn’t get hurt last year, there was a decent chance (the Warriors) probably lose that series.
“Houston is obviously very motivated. They’ve looked forward to that series all season long. The Warriors continue to be lethargic. They always seem to raise the bar to get to another level. But as this series sets up, Houston is already in the Bay Area getting ready to try to steal a game. At over 2-1, I think that’s where the value lies.”
Bucks-Celtics Under 224, Game 1
Rynning (@ersports1) also played the under in Sunday morning’s Bucks-Celtics opener.
“That early start and both teams have had four-plus days off,” he said. “I think you’ll see slower, lethargic shooting and a little more defense in that game.”
Sherman and Rynning expect the Bucks and Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But they won’t lay minus 300.
“They’ll both be pretty competitive series,” Sherman said. “I still contend the 76ers have the second-best starting five in the league behind Golden State. If they can just get through the series without (Joel) Embiid missing time or being limited. When he’s healthy, they’re a different team.
“I’d be surprised if both favorites ended up losing. If I had to bet one (underdog) over the other, I’d probably go with the 76ers.”
Rynning also expects both series to be extremely competitive.
“I just cannot discount the Boston Celtics. They beat Milwaukee last year (in the playoffs) without Kyrie Irving. But Milwaukee is certainly a lot better coached this year,” he said. “I think Milwaukee wins but I don’t think there’s value.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boston steal one of the first two games in Milwaukee and certainly make it a series. The good thing for Boston is it does have a lot of depth and bodies to throw at Giannis (Antetokounmpo) to at least try to slow him down defensively.”