The following should provide you with a little insight for the upcoming postseason, as we approach the two-month stretch to determine your NBA champion. I am giving you predictions in each series of the Eastern Conference today, and will do the same later this evening in the Western Conference, except the ONE SERIES I feel is the BEST BET and will offer as part of a sales package this weekend – the Western Conference series between the Memphis Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers.
Hope you enjoy the write-ups!!!
No. 1 MIAMI HEAT (66-16 SU, 46-36 ATS) vs.
No. 8 MILWAUKEE BUCKS (38-44 SU, 36-45-1 ATS)
Season series: Heat 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS. The home team won three of the four meetings, with Miami stealing one on the road last month. I make that point because the road team had dominated since mid-season 2011. The visitor in this clash has won 5 of 9, while the Bucks are 6-3 ATS in those games. After taking the Heat to overtime in the first meeting on Nov. 21, and eventually losing 113-106, the Bucks pulled off the upset on Dec. 29, winning by 19 points. Miami dominated the last two meetings, winning by 13 last month in Milwaukee, 107-94, on March 15 and by 11 earlier this month on April 9, 94-83.
Miami Backstory: After winning the NBA Finals last season, the Heat seemingly breezed through their 2012-13 campaign, setting a franchise record with 66 victories that included a 27-game winning streak while finishing with the best record in the NBA. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to average 48 points, and lead a team that was 37-4 at home this season.
Milwaukee Backstory: The Bucks, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and just the second time in eight years, haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. They closed the season by losing 12 of their last 16 games, including five straight setbacks before a season-ending 95-89 victory over defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City.
ATS Notes: The Bucks are mired in spread skids of 6-20 in Eastern Conference play, 2-8 with a suitcase in hand and 2-11 versus teams out of the Southeast Division. The Heat begin this series on Vegas streaks of 7-1 against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 in South Beach, 4-1 in the conference quarters and 7-1 overall.
Over/Under: The Bucks were 40-41-1 this season with the totals, with vast differences in Milwaukee and on the road. When hosting games, the Bucks were 23-17-1. On the highway they were 17-24. Miami was 42-39-1 season-long, going 24-16-1 at home and 18-23 with a suitcase in hand.
Prediction: The Heat are going to be pumped to get the postseason started, and are far too experienced to dink around in the conference quarterfinals. Heat win this in 4.
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No. 2 NEW YORK KNICKS (54-28 SU, 47-34-1 ATS) vs.
No. 7 BOSTON CELTICS (41-40 SU, 36-41-4 ATS)
Season series: Knicks 3-1 SU and ATS. While New York won the season series with their arch-rivals for the first time since 2003-04, make note the road team was 3-1, a twist from last season when the home team swept the season series. The straight-up winner was a perfect 4-0 in this year’s games. The first meeting of the campaign became notorious when and Kevin Garnett exchanged words, and continued the argument outside Boston’s team bus after the game. After the teams split the first two in a pair of contentious games, the Knicks won by double digits in the last two contests, by 15 and 19.
New York Backstory: Just before acquiring Kenyon Martin at the end of February, the Knicks were playing mediocre basketball and couldn’t find a groove on the court. But since he joined the team, the Knicks are on a 22-8 run. And during a 13-game win streak New York’s offense produced triple figs in 10 of the games. They come into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NBA after ending the Boston’s five-year reign as Atlantic Division champs while capturing their first division title since 1994.
Boston Backstory: The Celtics, who have never lost in the first round with Garnett and Paul Pierce, lost three of their last four games, including three straight on the road – in Miami, Orlando and Toronto. In fact, dating back to a five-game win streak that highlighted the start of March, the Celtics have lost 13 of their last 20 games.
ATS Notes: Boston comes into the playoffs on spread streaks of 12-5 against winning teams, 3-8 on the highway and 0-4 against intradivision rivals. Meanwhile, the Knicks are in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 against intradivision foes, 14-3 against intraconference opponents, 46-21 at home, 10-1 against winning teams and 20-6 overall.
Over/Under: Boston was 42-38-1 this season with totals, going 21-18-1 in Beantown and 21-20 as the guest. The Knicks were pretty much a .500 team when it came to totals, as they were 40-41-1 overall, going 20-21 with a suitcase and 20-20-1 at Madison Square Garden.
Prediction: The Knicks have emerged as the No. 1 contender to the Heat, and know they can’t afford to get into a brawl in this series. Boston may steal one at home, but the Knicks win in 5.
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No. 3 INDIANA PACERS (49-32 SU, 42-39 ATS) vs.
No. 6 ATLANTA HAWKS (44-38 SU, 37-43-2 ATS)
Season series: Tied 2-2 both SU and ATS. The home teams were undefeated in this series, with the Hawks winning the first two meetings in Atlanta, and the Pacers capturing the final two clashes in Indianapolis. These two were about as even as they come, as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 400-395 in the four regular-season meetings. The home team has always dominated this series going back almost three years, as the host is on a 9-1 SU tear. Atlanta holds the slight edge at the window in those games, with a 6-4 advantage. The straight-up winner is on an 8-2 ATS run, with the two losses coming this season when the Pacers lost the first meeting but covered as a 4-point dog, and the Hawks covered as a 6-1/2-point pup in Indianapolis just last month.
Indiana Backstory: The Pacers, once considered the top threat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, closed the season by losing five of their last six contests. As the No. 3 seed, the Pacers return with four starters from last season’s playoff team: Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West. The one newcomer to the lineup is Lance Stephenson, who replaced former All-Star Danny Granger, who led the Pacers in scoring five straight seasons coming into this past one.
Atlanta Backstory: Atlanta, which is in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, has gone 11-15 since the start of March, and most recently looked far less than a playoff team, losing five of its last seven games. Though the Hawks were hammered in their last two games of the season, coach Larry Drew knows his players will be well-rested and healthy for what figures to be a physical series. The Hawks held out Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Kyle Korver in Wednesday’s season-finale at New York.
ATS Notes: Though the Hawks have covered 6 of 8 on the highway and are on a 10-4 spread streak in the first round of the playoffs, they’re also mired in ATS slides of 1-8 against the East, 3-7 against winning teams and 2-8 overall. Meanwhile, the Pacers are stuck in ATS ruts of 0-7 versus Eastern Conference foes, 0-5 at home and 0-6 overall.
Over/Under: Indiana was 39-42 with its totals this season, with a 21-20 mark in Indianapolis and 18-22 on the road. The Hawks, meanwhile, were 42-39-1 on the year, going 22-19 at home and 20-20-1 while traveling.
Prediction: This might be the most contentious first-round series, in terms of physicality, as the Pacers had the No. 2 defense while the Hawks were ranked 13th, in terms of scoring defense. Look for Indy to take this in 7.
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No. 4 BROOKLYN NETS (49-33 SU, 39-41-2 ATS) vs.
No. 5 CHICAGO BULLS (45-37 SU, 36-46 ATS)
Season series: Bulls, 3-1 SU and ATS. Other than Chicago’s 11-point win on March 2 at the United Center, these two played very close games, with the underdog covering three of the four meetings. The average margin in the four games was 4.5 points, and if you throw out Chicago’s double-digit win last month, the average margin dwindles to 2.3 points per game. In Brooklyn’s lone win the Bulls were sans Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich. The straight-up winner in the last 10 meetings has covered 7 of those games, while the road team has covered 7 of 9 meetings.
Brooklyn Backstory: The Nets are in the playoffs after concluding their first season in Brooklyn, and did so behind one of the better scoring defenses in the league, allowing just 95.1 points per game, which ranked sixth in the NBA. They closed the season winning six of their last seven games, putting up triple figures in every one of their wins. In fact, in their last 12 wins of the season – spanning 17 games they went 12-5 – they averaged 108.5 points per game
Chicago Backstory: The Bulls won 45 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference playoffs despite being without Derrick Rose the entire season. Chicago had the No. 3 scoring defense in the NBA this season, allowing just 92.87 points per game. The Bulls come into this one as healthy as they’ve been all season, and hold the distinction of halting the two hottest win streaks of the season – Miami’s 27-game spree and New York’s 13-game run. Now the Bulls look to avenge last year’s first-round exit from the postseason.
ATS Notes: Chicago is in on a variety of ATS streaks, including 6-1 against winning teams, 7-2 versus the Atlantic Division, 2-6 against the Eastern Conference, 2-6 overall and 4-0 when visiting the Nets. On the flipside, Brooklyn checks into the postseason on ATS runs of 6-1 on extended rest, 5-2 in the opening round and a disappointing 5-12 at home.
Over/Under: The Bulls were 37-45 this season with the totals, staying under predominately at home with a 16-25 mark, while going 21-20 on the road. Brooklyn was 41-39-2 with the over/unders, going 21-19-1 at home and 20-20-1 with a suitcase in hand.
Prediction: I like the Nets’ attitude and how it takes charge with a little confidence, and something tells me they’re going to feel like the superior team, despite these two being the 4 and 5. I like Brooklyn in 6 games.
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