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Eastern Conference Playoff Odds & Free NBA Playoff Picks

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Eastern Conference Playoff Odds

There is no team in the Eastern Conference Playoff Odds that have a chance against Miami Heat. We all thought we’d never see another Michael Jordan, and we won’t. But we got the next best thing in LeBron James, who is a completely different type of player, athlete and game breaker. Wade is hurt, and I think we’ve seen everything we’ll ever see from Chris Bosh as a player, but LeBron is the one guy who can take over every single game by sheer force of will.

NBA PicksBelow you’ll find a preview of the Eastern Conference Playoff series with the Futures for the Conference Championships next to the team names. Miami has overwhelming -550 odds as the favorites, but there is one team that stands a chance of thwarting them – the New York Knicks.

I’m not as confident in the Knicks as they are in themselves, but they have the best value on the board as +600 second favorites. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s break down each series in the first round.

#1 Miami Heat (-550) vs. #8 Milwaukee Bucks (+25000)
For the overreaching optimist, the Bucks have a tiny bit of upset potential worth discussing (I have to write something here, don’t I?). There’s the slimmest of chances that J.J. Reddick, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings spontaneously turn in to scoring dynamos, while Larry Sanders continues his ascension as a cult hero, for four straight games. But that’s a slim hope. Worth a flier on a series prop? Maybe. If you’re not desperate for beer money.

Miami is simply too big for Milwaukee, and I don’t mean that metaphysically. With Shane Battier, Chris Bosh and the always phenomenal LeBron James giving Miami length that Milwaukee can’t match (or contain), this should be a cake walk for the Heat. Miami went 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in their four games against Milwaukee.

Keep in mind that Milwaukee is the only team in the Playoffs with a losing record, and Miami is the best team in the league by a wide margin. The oddsmakers are making it hard to win money off of the Heat in the Eastern Conference futures, but there’s a damn good reason. They’re the best bet regardless of the poor value.

I’ll give one game to the trio of Reddick-Ellis-Jennings in this series just out of respect, but the Heat will win out the rest of this series and move on in five games. Ok fine, I’ll give it a sweep.

#2 New York Knicks (+600) vs. #7 Boston Celtics Playoff Odds (+4500)
Matching Boston up against the hated New York Knicks is like pouring salt on an open wound. The injury to Rondo was never fully addressed by Danny Ainge and the front office in Boston, and that’s going to make things even harder for Boston. Still, this series has the chance to be entertaining simply by virtue of the Boston-New York feud and Kevin Garnett’s veracious appetite for destroying his enemies.

The Mean Green are also limping in to this series as a piss poor betting team. They’re just 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games and don’t have the manpower to stop a New York Knicks team that is stiffer than anyone is willing to admit.

The match up between Carmelo and Pierce is going to be a dream to watch, but the edge here clearly goes to New York which simply has too many perimeter weapons. Almost all of Boston’s supporting characters are decent defenders, but none are breakout scorers unless you have some sort of blind faith in Jeff Green (which you shouldn’t).

J.R. Smith is dumb enough to think that winning the league’s 6th Man Award means that he’s the sixth best player in the NBA, but that’s actually a good thing for New York. Carmelo and Pierce may or may not cancel each other out, but the offensive output of guys like Smith, Novak and Felton will turn the tide permanently. Smith epitomes the New York conundrum: they’re a devastating team from a talent standpoint, but aren’t a great chemistry unit yet, though they play with the type of confidence that makes you think they actually believe they’re as good as the New York faithful hope.

New York is the only logical long term bet outside of Miami, and their 6-to-1 odds are tempting to some…well, mostly Knicks fans. This team was still one of the best bets in the entire league, covering in over 56-percent of their matchups. They’re also an unheralded defensive team, ranking seventh overall in points against (95.8 per game) so the shorthanded Celtics won’t be able to play upstart here.

I love the visceral feel of this series on paper, but on the court it won’t have the same type of appeal as it would if Rondo was fully healthy. The Celtics have reason to be optimistic for next season, but they’re looking at a first round exit courtesy of the red-hot New York Knicks.

Take the Knicks to win in 6 games.

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#3 Indiana Pacers (+800) vs. #6 Atlanta Hawks (+7000)
This season has been an outright disaster for Atlanta. They were a miserable betting team, going 14-25-2 ATS on their own court, and never once really looked like a team with a real identity. Though Josh Smith’s refusal to sign an extension didn’t generate the same insanity that Dwight’s did, it’s a dark cloud looming over the city. There’s a big chance that Smith leaves without Atlanta getting anything in return.

If Atlanta is a franchise heading in the wrong direction, Indiana has nowhere to go but up. The Pacers ended up third in the conference, but never flew under the radar. Gamblers thought Indiana would be a nice sneak play, but the Playoff Odds makers had them in the cross hairs all season long. The Pacers went just 42-38 ATS on the season, ending the season with a brutal 1-4 SU and ATS record.

They shouldn’t have any problems dispatching a Hawks team that has no backcourt to speak of. I like the Pacers, but they don’t have an x-factor. Danny Granger is the closest thing that they have in that regard, and while I’m willing to be surprised by George Hill or Paul George, I’m not willing to invest long term in the Pacers right now. This is still a very complete team, but they don’t boast the athleticism or scoring panache (that’s right – panache!) to outmuscle the Knicks or Heat in the playoffs.

But the Hawks? No problem there. The Pacers will use a strong defensive effort – as always – to mitigate any threat posed by Al Horford and Smith. Atlanta is lacking in heroes and is due for an extreme makeover, which will happen one way or the other this summer.

Indiana will man handle the Hawks and send them in to an off-season disarray centered around delusions of luring Dwight Howard to the Dirty Dirty. And that happens in five games.

#4 Brooklyn Nets (+3500) vs. #5 Chicago Bulls (+3000)
It’s hard to call this season anything but a success for Brooklyn. In their inaugural year across the bridge, they secured a winning record with a core built around Deron Williams (an elite show runner), Joe Smith (an elite scorer when he’s in the mood) and Brook Lopez (one of the better big men in the league). We all laughed and pointed fingers when Brooklyn built a laughable roster, but that was mostly because of what it cost them. The Nets have the second highest payroll in the league and this is good as it will ever get.

Keep in mind what I’ve already said about Indiana as a team on the up-and-up, and that Boston and Chicago should return to form next season. Unlike the latter two, Brooklyn didn’t suffer any major injuries and this painfully thin roster is also unproven in another realm: winning in the post season.

The Jazz never got that far with Deron Williams. Joe Johnson was a ghost in Atlanta whenever the Hawks made the playoffs. Brook Lopez? Please.

As for Chicago, they’re loaded with a roster full of playoff veterans and a coach who knows how to plan fortress like defensive schemes. Luol Deng has been the shining star in Chicago, scoring 16.6 points per game while playing his marquee brand of defense. Expect him to be a major foil here in upsetting the Nets, as he becomes a tour de force on offense in place of Derrick Rose while being making Joe Johnson a non-factor.

The biggest mismatch here is a literal one: Deron vs. Nate. The pint sized point guard for Chicago has done an admirable job of filling in for Rose, but he’s in a matchup nightmare for this series. Fortunately, Williams is not a great shooter and Chicago is one of the best teams when it comes to interior defense. They’ll clog the lane so that Williams can’t get a good look after he blows past Nate. If this was your “inside track” for this series, you now know that it’s an angle that doesn’t have any legs.

Chicago advances in five.

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