The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday and the lines for both the Game 1s and the series have been released. Let's take a look. Lines provided by Sportsbook.com and Bovada.lv.
Series: Pacers -700, 1-to-7 (Sportsbook), -650, 2-to-13 (Bovada)
It says quite a bit that this line is this low. The Pacers have been in freefall, but they're facing a team that finished six games under .500 and are without their best player. Their team relies heavilyi on untested young players and their team's strengths (pick and roll offense, Paul Millsap's inside-out game) plays right into the Pacers' defensive identity.
And yet, the Pacers are just -700 at most. That's how bad things got for the Pacers in the last two months of the season.
Game 1: The Pacers are -7.5 at home vs. Atlanta. It's low, but it's not pitifully low. This feels more like a combination of action pushing the action back towards Atlanta and a concern over Indiana being able to put the hammer down.
Series: Heat -3600, 1-to-36 (Sportsbook), -2500, 1-to-25 (Bovada)
They think this will be a massacre, we think it will be a massacre, and if you were to pick this one and it came true, you'd have earned the rewards for boldness alone. Not a lot to dissect here.
Game 1: Heat -10 over Bobcats. At home, part of me is honestly surprised this isn't higher. I've noticed the books will open soft until they see how a series goes, however. Action on the Cats keeping this tighter with a low pace and tough defense is likely, though. This could be a seven-point win that feels like a blowout.
Series: Nets -145, 5-to-7 (Sportsbook), Nets -160 (5-to-8)
The widely held assumption was that the more experienced 6-seed would come out with being a favorite here, but you can see how close this is, essentially flirting with a pick 'em. I'd have love to see if this line moes at all from the time the books opened until tip. The Raptors have picked up steam in te past 24 hours as a more trendy pick despite Brooklyn's bonafide credentials.
Game 1: Raptors -3
Iiiiiinteresting. The Nets will win the series but the Raptors should open with a win at home. The ACC is going to be crazy for this early game, and the Raps will likely have more energy. It may take Brooklyn some time to settle in.
Series: Bulls -205, 1-to-2 (Sportsbook); -200, 1-to-2 (Bovada)
Even at a 4-5 matchup, it's shocking that this is low. The initial reaction from most pundits was that Chicago will dominate this series with toughness and defense. But a closer look at the Wizards' roster shows this could be a series if the right things fall into place. The line behind that low kind of reflects that. I might even put this lower, somewhere in the -150 range.
Game 1: Bulls -5. I'm wondering if this got pushed up by people trusting the Bulls' heart and intensity. You can definitely see a scenario where Wall has a breakout game and this one is tight to the end.
Series: Spurs -950, 2-to-19 (Sportsbook); Spurs -900, 1-to-9 (Bovada)
Wait, the Pacers are only slightly better favorites than the Spurs? What madness is this? I would have pegged this well over 10-to-1 for the Mavs. It's a nightmare matchup for them. Is action really pushing this the Mavs' way?
Either way, this seems like pretty soft. Payout's pitiful, but it's hard to see a scenario where the Mavericks make this much of a series, much less win it. But that line has me spooked. Keep an eye on this one.
Game 1: Spurs -9 over Mavericks. See, that's more like it. But now the contrast has me confused. Stay away from this one till we at least see what Game 1 is like.
Series: Thunder -460, 5-to-23 (Sportsbook); Thunder -420, 5-to-21 (Bovada)
I get why this is so soft, but I'd feel OK with OKC -700, honestly. And that was before the Nick Calathes suspension. Memphis just doesn't have the offensive weapons to hang in this. The Grizzlies are getting a massive amount of respect here, and the public expectation of this being a long series likely plays a roll.
Game 1: Thunder -7
Sounds about right. Not quite a blowout, not quite a close game. This also seems pretty soft and I'd imagine it stretching to 9 or 10 by tip.
Series: Clippers -380, 5-to-19 (Sportsbook); Clippers -400, 1-to-4 (Bovada)
This feels soft, too, and makes you nervous about the possibility of Andrew Bogut coming back at some point. That's a crazy low line for a three-seed with an MVP candidate, championship-caliber coach, the best point guard in the league and homecourt advantage vs. a team without its starting center.
Weird. I can see the public hammering the Warriors, though. They're a sexy pick.
Game 1: Clipppers -7
Kind of think that's too high, especialy considering the series line. I'd feel a lot better about this at 3.5 or less. That just seems destined to be ruined by a late Stephen Curry flurry.
Series: Rockets -220, 5-to-11 (Sportsbook); -220, 5-to-11 (Bovada)
The two books agree, and this sounds right. It's low, but for a 4-5 matchup against a dangerous Blazers team with the Rockets' defense, you have to mitigate this a bit. I'd bet this stretches before tip of Game 1, but not by much.
Game 1: Rockets -5.5
Perfect. That's just a killer line. If you can get it lower, grab the Rox, if you can get it higher, grab the Blazers. Right there, it's a stayaway. We need to see how this one plays out before we can get a sense of it.