I have to admit that I had a tough time getting into the NBA after the lockout. I don’t really know why as I’ve gotten passed being riled up over the absurdity of billionaires fighting millionaires. Possibly it was just the fact that the schedule was so compressed that getting a sense of what was really going on was actually more difficult than usual. There were nights that veteran teams were almost literally taking the night off because they had played so many games in a short stretch.
I originally thought this would lead to some upsets in the first round of the playoffs. For example, I don’t think the Mavericks are a typical 7th seed. I think they just had everything on cruise control to get through the jam packed schedule. But as the season was wrapping up they were the only team I was thinking had a chance to pull off a major first round upset according to the seeds, and they ended up with a terrible matchup against the Thunder. At this point the only team I still think can pull an upset in the first round is the Clippers, but if they beat the Grizzlies it would only be a 5 seed over a 4 seed.
For the heck of it I filled out a bracket ala the NCAA tournament (see below). In the West I have the Spurs over the Jazz, Lakers over the Nuggets, Thunder over Mavericks, and, again, the Clippers over the Grizzlies. In the East, I have the Bulls over Sixers, Celtics over the Hawks, Pacers over the Magic, and Heat over the Knicks.
Just to round out my bracket, I would take 3 of what would be the 4 favorites according to seed moving on to the conference finals – San Antonio over the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City over the Los Angeles Lakers in the West, and the Celtics pulling the “upset” over the Bulls while the Heat beat the Pacers. From there, I have the Spurs meeting the Heat in the NBA Finals, with the Spurs winning another title.
But nobody cares about NBA playoff brackets. So, let’s get to some actual picks. As usual the large series prices on the favorites makes parlaying series the only way to make the “points” worthwhile with picks. There is also a 5-team limit for this type of pick where I check the odds. I mixed and matched to come up with my two parlay picks:
NBA Parlay Pick #1: Bulls -1400, Heat -1000, Pacers -800, Thunder -550, Spurs -2000, for 100 points to win 64.53
NBA Parlay Pick #2: Heat -1000, Pacers -800, Lakers -250, Celtics -190, for 20 points to win 32.89
Obviously, I went heavier with the pick combining all of the largest favorites, then got conservative with the second pick, which drops the Thunder and replaces the two teams favored by the most with the two teams that I still liked enough to pick with the lowest odds for a bigger potential reward in terms of percentages. I know having the Thunder in the first pick goes a little bit against my thoughts on the Mavericks, but the odds at -550 are “speaking to me,” as Mike Missanelli might say. I also stayed away from the Clippers/Grizzlies series, and I am not making a pick on the NBA champion at the moment. If I decide to make an official pick on a team to win the championship (before the playoffs), I will do so in the style of a “tweet” before tipoff tomorrow.
I hope to have picks on individual games throughout the playoffs, so keep checking out the Ink.