NBA Playoffs: Can anybody beat the Heat?
The NBA's “second season” tips off this weekend with the start of eight first-round, best-of-seven playoff series.
Play begins Saturday in New York as the Knicks, the two seed in the East, host the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics (3 pm ET, ABC).
Then out in Denver the Nuggets, the three seed in the West, host the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors (5:30 pm ET, ESPN).
Then in Brooklyn the fourth-seeded Nets host the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls (8 pm ET, ESPN).
And for a Saturday nightcap out in LA the fourth-seeded Clippers, in a rematch of a first-round series from last season that went the full seven games, host the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (10:30 pm ET, ESPN).
As of Friday morning most NBA betting outlets were listing the Knicks at -7 points for their Game 1 over Boston; the Nuggets at -8 over the Warriors; the Nets at -4.5 over the Bulls; and the Clippers at -5 over the Grizz.
Also, New York was lined at -400, Boston at +320 to win that series; Denver was listed at -550 over Golden State (+425) to win that series; Brooklyn at -140 over Chicago (+120) to win that series; and LA at -170 over Memphis (+150) to win that series.
Moving on to Sunday, the Indiana Pacers, the three seed in the East, host the sixth-seeded Atlanta Hawks (1 pm ET, TNT).
Then the San Antonio Spurs, the two seed in the West, host the seventh-seeded (and Kobe-less) Los Angeles Lakers (3:30 pm ET, ABC).
Then the top overall-seeded Miami Heat host the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (7 pm ET, TNT).
And the Oklahoma City Thunder, the top seed in the West, host the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets (9:30 pm ET, TNT).
In early Game 1 betting the Pacers were favored by seven points over the Hawks; the Spurs were favored by nine points over the Lakers; the Heat were favored by 13 points over the Bucks; and the Thunder was favored by 10 points over the Rockets.
For these series Indiana was favored by -420 over Atlanta (+330); San Antonio was chalked at -900 over Los Angeles (+675); and Oklahoma City was favored by -2000 over Houston (+1200).
Finally, on the NBA championship board the defending league champion Heat were listed as -150 favorites, followed by the Thunder at +300; the Spurs at +750; the Clippers at +1000; the Pacers and Knicks at +1500; the Nuggets at +1700; the Grizzlies at +2500; the Bulls at +3500; the Lakers at +4000; the Nets at +4500; the Celtics at +8000; the Hawks and Warriors at +10000; the Rockets at +15000; and the Bucks at +25000.