2018 NBA Playoffs: Odds, trends and picks

No Steph Curry in Round 1 for Golden State. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With 82 games down and an added 5 minutes of overtime for the final spot in the West brings us here. The NBA Playoffs, let the games begin.

Updated Playoff NBA Championship Odds

2017-18 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS                  

Golden State Warriors    +135

Houston Rockets    +160

Cleveland Cavaliers    +650

Toronto Raptors    +850     

Philadelphia 76ers    +1500

Oklahoma City Thunder    +2500

Portland Trail Blazers    +3300

Utah Jazz    +4500

San Antonio Spurs    +6000

Boston Celtics    +7000

Minnesota Timberwolves    +9000

Washington Wizards    +10000

New Orleans Pelicans    +10000

Milwaukee Bucks    +10000

Indiana Pacers    +10000

Miami Heat    +15000

As expected. Houston and Golden State lead the way paying out substantially less than the rest of the field. The next team up in term of betting odds, Cleveland, sits at +650 leading the East, although they finished fourth in the conference. Before the season started, the inevitable finals clash between the Warriors and Cavaliers had LeBron James and company priced at +500, now after all the turmoil of this season, you can get greater odds.

The sleeper on everyone's radar seems to be Philidelphia sitting at +1500. While this might seem like a decent price for a team playing as well as anyone in the league, the truth is someone is sitting out there with a pre-NBA season ticket with the 76ers at +15000. In this year's field, there are a few preseason longshots, before the season tipping off the Blazers, Jazz, Timberwolves, and Pacers were all +15000 to win the title.

The hometown Houston Rockets odds dropped considerably from the beginning of the year, where preseason they could be had at +700, now you're getting +160/+190.

While some teams overexceeded expectations and lost odds, others played under the radar and pay out larger amounts than betting them at the beginning of the year leaving backers scratching their heads.

             Current  | Pre Season

Spurs      +6000   +1500

Celitics   +7000   +2000

Wizards  +10000   +5000

Bucks      +10000 +7500

Heat        +15000 +12500

Series odds

Eastern Conference - First Round

Boston vs. Milwaukee

Celtics (-150)

Bucks (+130)

Philadelphia vs. Miami

76ers (-550)

Heat (+420)

Toronto vs. Washington

Raptors (-650)

Wizards (+480)

Cleveland vs. Indiana

Cavaliers (-650)

Pacers (+480)

Western Conference - First Round

Oklahoma City vs. Utah

Thunder (-135)

Jazz (+115)

Portland vs. New Orleans

Trail Blazers (-225)

Pelicans (+190)

Golden State vs. San Antonio

Warriors (-1500)

Spurs (+900)

Houston vs. Minnesota

Rockets (-6000)

Timberwolves (+2000)

ATS Trends

Boston vs. Milwaukee

Boston 50-30-2 ATS

Boston 22-17-2 ATS at home

Boston 30-25-2 ATS as the favorite

Milwaukee 35-44-3 ATS

Milwaukee 22-18-1 ATS on the road

Milwaukee 15-18-1 ATS as a dog.

Philadelphia vs. Miami

Philadelphia 47-33-2 ATS

Philadelphia 27-14 ATS at home

Philadelphia  34-21 as the favorite

Miami 40-36-6 ATS

Miami 24-15-2 ATS on the road

Miami 22-15-3 ATS as the dog

Toronto vs. Washington

Toronto  43-38-1 ATS

Toronto 21-19-1 ATS at home

Toronto 34-33-1 ATS as the favorite

Washington 37-44-1  ATS

Washington  21-20 ATS on the road

Washington 18-11 ATS as the dog

Cleveland vs. Indiana

Cleveland 32-49-1 ATS

Cleveland  13-27-1 ATS at home

Cleveland 19-44-1 ATS as the favorite

Indiana 47-35 ATS   

Indiana 23-18 ATS on the road   

Indiana 22-22 ATS as the dog   

Oklahoma City vs. Utah

Oklahoma City   34-47-1 ATS

Oklahoma City  16-24-1 ATS at home

Oklahoma City   27-41-1 ATS as the favorite

Utah  43-38-1 ATS

Utah  21-19-1 ATS on the road

Utah 20-17 ATS as the dog

Portland vs. New Orleans

Portland 45-31-6 ATS

Portland 22-14-5 ATS at home

Portland 28-20-4 ATS as the favorite

New Orleans  45-36-1 ATS

New Orleans  19-21-1 ATS on the road

New Orleans  18-18 ATS as the dog   

Golden State vs. San Antonio

Golden State 34-47-1 ATS   

Golden State 16-24-1 ATS at home

Golden State 33-42-1 ATS as the favorite

San Antonio 40-38-4 ATS

San Antonio 15-24-2 ATS on the road

San Antonio 10-12-1 ATS as the dog

Houston vs. Minnesota

Houston 41-39-2 ATS

Houston 17-23-1 ATS at home

Houston 39-34-2 ATS as the favorite   

Minnesota 37-42-3 ATS

Minnesota 17-23-1 ATS on the road

Minnesota 13-18 ATS as the dog

Weekend Picks

Thunder vs Jazz Game 1

Under 205

Rockets vs. Thunder Game 1

Rockets Team Total over 114

Warriors vs. Spurs Game 1


Blazers vs. Pelicans Game 1

Over 217

Blazers Team Total over 111

76ers vs. Heat Game 1

76ers 1st quarter -2

76ers first half -4

Celtics win series

Thunder win series

For any questions or comments reach me @JerryBoknowz on Twitter


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Justin Verlander is breaking the bank. Composite image by Jack Brame.

If you’re real quiet you can almost hear the sighs of relief coming from Astros owner Jim Crane after hearing that Justin Verlander signed with the New York Mets on Monday.

Verlander has been a model citizen and at times an amazing pitcher for the Astros since being traded to Houston in 2017. He won two Cy Young Awards and was instrumental in the Astros two World Series titles.

But the simple fact is, the Astros don’t need him and certainly don’t need to pay a pitcher turning 40 years old $86 million over the next two seasons. Remember, he also spent almost all of 2020-21 on the injured list with Tommy John surgery.

That’s how loaded the Astros pitching staff is for 2023 and years after. They can say goodbye to the best pitcher in baseball and not sweat the future.

Sometimes a team’s best signings are the ones they don’t make. We don’t know what the Astros offered Verlander to stay but this sounds like a similar situation to last year when the Astros made a half-hearted effort to keep All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa eventually signed with the Minnesota Twins and the Astros reloaded with rookie Jeremy Pena. How’d that work out? The rookie was named MVP of the ALCS and the World Series and won the Gold Glove at short.

Here’s how the Astros starting pitching lines up for 2023: Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia – with Hunter Brown waiting in the wings. That should be more than enough and, all things considered, cheap.

Heck, they won 106 games last season, won the AL West by 16 games and roared through the postseason 11-2 including the World Series title. And they’ve already signed coveted free agent first baseman Jose Abreu.

While Verlander was simply outstanding during the regular season, the Astros are built for the World Series, where Verlander historically has been disappointing. He entered the 2022 Fall Classic with a 0-6 career mark.

He gave up five runs in five innings in the Astros’ Game 1 loss this year. Verlander got a no-decision. In Game 5 the Astros were wringing their hands hoping he’d go five innings. Verlander gave up one run over five and the Astros won, 3-2, with JV getting his first Series win.

If you were building a team from scratch for 2023, who’d you rather have – Justin Verlander or 29-year-old, quality start machine Framber Valdez?

Verlander, age 40, will make $43 million next year. Valdez, a decade younger, will make one-fourth that. Valdez won both of his World Series starts in 2022.

Pitchers typically don’t get better and healthier after the big 4-0. Not $86 million better.

Of course, this is the Age of Stupid Money, in baseball. Last year, the Mets signed Max Scherzer for $130 million over three seasons. Scherzer won 11 games for the Mets in 2022 and got pummeled, seven runs in 4.2 innings, in his one postseason start.

The Texas Rangers just signed the supposed “best pitcher in baseball,” Jacob deGrom for $185 million over five seasons. Let’s go to the videotape, deGrom has pitched nine full seasons in the big leagues. His record is 82-57. That averages out to 9-6 per injury-riddled season. He was 5-4 last season. In his last three seasons, he’s won 5, 7, and 4 games. That’s worth $185 million? What’s that they say about the best ability … availability?

I know, deGrom has had startling earned run numbers over his career, when he actually gets on the mound. Charlie Pallilo and I have had a long-running argument. He says a pitcher’s value is based on earned run average and other statistics that can melt your mind. I say there’s only one stat that counts – wins. Jacob deGrom is not the best pitcher in baseball. The best pitcher last season was Justin Verlander, right up to the end. And then he wasn’t.

With the Astros “saving” $86 million over the next two years, they can focus on filling needs in the outfield. It will be easier to find money to keep Yuli Gurriel and Michael Brantley. The Astros can plan ahead for Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman becoming free agents after the 2024 season, and Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez a year later. Those guys won’t come cheap.

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