The NBA Conference finals began with the San Antonio Spurs thoroughly outclassing a Memphis Grizzlies team that suddenly went from looking like the best team in the playoffs, to resembling a ball club that was just happy to still be playing. At this point, NBA fans are probably aware that the Grizzlies lost both of their Game 1’s in the earlier rounds and managed to win each series, so there is still a lot of basketball left to play.
The Eastern Conference finals will finally get underway on Tuesday, and if the games are anything like the pregame trash talk, then NBA bettors should be in for a treat. If you missed the pre-series media hoopla, Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogal referred to the Miami Heat as ‘just another team’. And of course, LeBron James took offense to that statement, and went off on a media rant explaining how great the Heat really are, by call them a ‘great team’ that needs to be prepared for.
Let’s take a closer look at each conference finals series and go over the odds and make some predictions.
Miami Heat: -700
Indiana Pacers: +500
San Antonio Spurs: -250
Memphis Grizzlies: +200
According to the oddsmakers the Spurs, who are already up a game on the Grizzlies, are still more likely to lose its series than the Heat. Indiana is a big and physical team that will be able to challenge the Heat in a way that the Bulls were not, but it will still take a miracle or major injury for them to win this series. Unfortunately, there isn’t much value wagering on the Pacers at +500.
The Spurs may have been able to take a Game 1 win from the Grizzlies relatively easy, however, they still do not matchup well against a big and strong Memphis team that can dominate the paint. There is considerable value in getting Memphis +200
The Heat are probably going to win this year’s NBA title, but wagering on them at -300 seems like too steep a price. Both San Antonio and Memphis matchup very well against Miami, and are getting juicy odds at +400 and +1200 respectively. As a bettor I would much rather risk $100 on either the Spurs or Grizzlies than $300 on the Heat.
The four remaining teams have been covering spread throughout the playoffs and all have solid ATS records. The Heat are currently eight-point favorites over the Pacers and if their lines continue to stay in that range for the remainder of the Eastern Conference finals, then LeBron and company will probably have a hard time covering a spread. Indiana has both the defensive presence to slow down the Heat, and enough offensive fire power to keep games close. Miami giving away eight points is a big number at this stage in the postseason.
Do the Underdogs Have a Shot?—
Yes and no. The Indiana Pacers have little shot at upsetting the Heat. They simply are not good enough, and if for some reason they were, they would still lose because the other team has the best player in the last decade—LeBron James. The Pacers could make this a hard-fought five or six-game series.
The Grizzlies have the best shot at an upset during the conference finals. Remember, last year the Spurs had a two-game lead over the OKC Thunder and lost the next four in a row. The unfortunate truth for San Antonio is that with their advanced age, they are likely to wear down as the series progresses. Expect the tandem of Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol to be too much for the Spurs to handle—Memphis moves on to its first ever appearance in the NBA Finals.