We are on to the second round of the NBA playoffs, meaning we are down to the final eight teams. To this point, NJ online sports betting players who decided to back the higher seeds have been the most successful making NBA playoff picks. The second round, however, has more potential for upsets and madness as teams play for a spot in the conference finals.
On SugarHouse Sportsbook, the two-time defending champion Warriors remain favorites at -155 to win the NBA title, while the Milwaukee Bucks have the lowest odds of any Eastern Conference team at +550.
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Sauce’s Courtside Seat: NBA Betting Picks Against The Spread (ATS) Courtesy Of SugarHouse Sportsbook For NBA Conference Semifinals
Eastern Conference Playoff Picks
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks (-275) vs. No. 4 Boston Celtics (+215)
The top overall seed in the East are -275 favorites against Kyrie Irving and the Celtics in the second round, according to SugarHouse Sportsbook. The two teams meet in a rematch of last season’s series after sweeping first-round opponents.
Last season, the Celtics beat a lesser Bucks team in seven games without Irving and Gordon Hayward. Boston looks like it turned a corner in the first round, featuring a strong defense that was able to shut down the Pacers. The Bucks and MVP-favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo, however, are an entirely different animal on both sides of the ball. This year’s Milwaukee squad is more well-rounded and deep with superstar Giannis fully in his prime, plus they’ve proven over a long period of time that they’re the best team in the conference. Boston has the name, the experience and Irving...but the Bucks have everything else.
We are taking Milwaukee to narrowly seal the deal and advance to the conference finals, but that’s no knock on Boston. The Celtics are scrappy, strong on defense and have the star power to pull off the upset. In fact, from a value perspective, taking Boston wouldn’t be a bad move, although we like Mulwaukee in six or seven. Our most confident NBA playoff pick is that this series goes at least six games.
Series Pick: Milaukee Bucks (-275)
Additional Bet: Bucks in 7 Games (+350) or Over 5.5 Games (-157)
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers
The Raptors enter the Eastern Conference semifinals as -250 sports betting favorites over Philadelphia on the SugarHouse app. Both Atlantic Division teams lost Game 1 in the first round and routed their way to series wins in five games, matching up with one another for the second time in franchise history.
Toronto won the regular-season matchup 3-1 this season, but the pre-deadline versions of these teams were completely different. The Sixers have the most potent starting lineup in the East assuming Joel Embiid is healthy, and it makes them a popular NJ sports betting pick for this series. This is another series with an underdog providing great value, but we still like the favorite.
The fact is, Embiid is banged up and Toronto matches up with Ben Simmons and Embiid as well as any other team in the conference and are also an incredibly deep group. Foul trouble or lack of production won’t stop Nick Nurse from changing things up and throwing better secondary lineups at Philadelphia than they can handle. Toronto have been attempting to get over this hump for the better part of a decade, and it’s finally going to happen behind Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. For this NBA playoffs pick, we’ve got the Raptors in six games.
Series Pick: Toronto Raptors (-250)
Additional Bet: Raptors win 4-2 (+500)
Western Conference Playoff Picks
No. 1 Golden State Warriors (-286) vs. No. 4 Houston Rockets (+225)
The Rockets and Warriors meet for the fourth time in five postseasons with the defending champions as heavy favorites on SugarHouse Sportsbook. After scaring the Warriors in the Western Conference finals a season ago, can they close the deal?
The Warriors appeared to sleepwalk through parts of their first-round series with the Clippers, losing two games, including blowing a 31-point lead in one of them. Kevin Durant eventually eventually remembered he’s the best basketball player on Earth and helped deliver a series win. We don’t think the same lack of focus will manifest itself for a Warriors team knowing it faces a much more dangerous opponent. The Rockets on the other hand, dominated the Jazz even without really ever putting it all together.
But despite James Harden’s historic season and Houston’s definite ability to make things tough on GSW, we still need to go with the favorite. The Rockets need Harden to score as he did all season, Chris Paul to channel his inner hall-of-famer and for the offense as a whole to knock down its long-range shooting while its defense prevents murderous runs from the Warriors. That’s too many “ifs” to overcome Golden State, which has defeated the Rockets three times in the last four NBA playoffs.
The Warriors led by Durant are the best team in the NBA and worthy of sports betting picks to win a third consecutive title. In this series, though, it will not be easy. If the Clippers can take two from Golden State, the Rockets can too. Warriors start clicking on all cylinders for what we think is their final run together, but it goes six or seven games.
Series Pick: Golden State Warriors (-286)
No. 2 Denver Nuggets (-155) vs. No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers (+125)
Denver comes into the conference semifinals with Portland as -155 favorites on the SugarHouse Sportsbook app.
The Blazers dominated Oklahoma City in five games while the Nuggets went the distance with San Antonio, using home court advantage in Game 7. With the same luxury in this series, can Denver overcome Damian Lillard?
Lillard may be the hottest player on the planet right now after one of the great closeout games in history and that’s a scary proposition for any team. He and C.J. McCollum pose a threat that Denver isn’t going to stop, but hope to contain.
What Denver has other than home court is a huge size advantage in the paint with Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap. With the injury to Jusudf Nurfic, Portland is vulnerable defensively on the inside. That being said, Denver also has a deep bench and many capable options to go to for scoring. We think this is enough to overcome another heroic Lillard effort in a long series.
Series Pick: Nuggets (-155)
Additional Bet: Nuggets in 7 Games (+350)
Good luck with your NBA Conference Semifinal playoff picks!
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