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NBA playoffs best bets: Series prices and Game 1 plays

The Pistons, Spurs and Rockets finished tied for the NBA’s worst road record this season at 8-33.

Surprisingly, the defending NBA champion Warriors had the fourth-worst road mark at 11-30.

Despite its struggles away from San Francisco, sixth-seeded Golden State is a -275 favorite to win its first-round playoff series over the No. 3 Kings, who have home-court advantage and are 1-point favorites Saturday in Game 1 at Sacramento.

“We don’t look at the seedings at all. We look at where the money’s going to go,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said. “If we made the Kings the favorite, money would pour in on the Warriors. It would be overwhelmingly one-sided.”

Golden State, which might get Andrew Wiggins back, has drawn most of the money in the series after opening at -240.

Kings to win series, +235

VSiN NBA betting analyst Jonathan Von Tobel says the price is inflated and recommends a play on Sacramento to win the series at +235.

”This is all about the price,” said Von Tobel (@meJVT). “Golden State was the third-worst road defense in the NBA in non-garbage time, and now they have to contain the best offense in the league.

“Sacramento is the worst defense in the field, but their probability of winning this series is much higher than the market says.”

Lakers to win series, +130

Von Tobel also likes the Lakers (+130) to upset the Grizzlies in their series.

“The injuries to (Memphis big men) Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke are not being factored enough by the market with this price,” he said. “The Lakers have a big edge in the frontcourt. If Jaren Jackson Jr., who averages 3.4 personal fouls per game, can’t stay out of trouble, this is a good matchup for Los Angeles.”

Professional sports bettor Erin Rynning, ESPN sports betting insider Doug Kezirian and Sherman also shared their best bets for the NBA playoffs (home team in CAPS).

Suns win series in five games, +220

Kezirian (@DougESPN) likes Phoenix to cruise past the Clippers in their series.

“I just don’t think the Clippers have the horses, especially in the first round without Paul George to start,” he said. “The Suns are really, really tough when they’re healthiest.”

SUNS (-7) over Clippers

Likewise, Rynning (@ersports1) expects Phoenix to cover Sunday’s series opener.

“The Suns loom large in the West, with the trade for Kevin Durant, as they finally expect to hit on all cylinders in the playoffs,” he said. “Meanwhile, the Clippers simply lack the manpower to match the Suns in this series with the loss of Paul George, while failing to upgrade their roster at the trade deadline.”

CELTICS-Hawks Over 230

Rynning also likes Game 1 of the Boston-Atlanta series to go over the total as the Hawks have played faster under coach Quin Snyder, hired in February to replace Nate McMillan.

“The adjusting has included more pace and also a more efficient offense centered around Trae Young,” he said. “The Celtics have shown visions of playing this style as well. When these two teams met a month ago, the total was 238½ and sailed over (in Boston’s 134-125 win).”

Knicks (+6) over CAVALIERS

Sherman recommends a play on New York to cover Game 1 at Cleveland, with or without star Julius Randle.

“The Knicks have been playing so well in the second half of the season,” he said. “I thought this number should be shorter, 4½ or 5 tops, not 6.”

Thunder (+5½) over TIMBERWOLVES

Sherman also leans to Oklahoma City over Minnesota in Friday’s play-in game.

“The Timberwolves are going to get (Rudy) Gobert back, but I still think there could be some issues on the court with their chemistry,” he said. “I made that just less than 4, and it’s 5½.”

GRIZZLIES over Lakers

Kezirian leans to Memphis to cover at home against the Lakers in the first half (-2) and full game (-3½) in Sunday’s noon PDT series opener.

“It’s an early start time for the Lakers’ internal clocks, and LeBron (James) starts slow and loses Game 1 at times,” he said.

Hello, trends

According to ESPN, in the last two NBA playoffs, the winning team has covered 158 of 172 games, meaning favorites won but failed to cover only 14 times. If that trend continues, it would be more profitable for bettors to back underdogs on the money line instead of the point spread.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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