In the NBA‘s eight first-round playoff series openers this past weekend, the home team was favored in each and won six of the eight. The two that were upset were the Portland Trail Blazers by the New Orleans Pelicans and the Cleveland Cavaliers by the Indiana Pacers.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
LeBron James’ Cavaliers losing was the biggest surprise because it ended an amazing streak of 21 straight first-round victories for James dating to his Miami Heat days. It surely wasn’t James’ fault on Sunday as he had a triple-double of 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds but got very little support in the 98-80 blowout. The other four starters combined for just 25 points.
Game 2 is Wednesday back in Cleveland and the Cavaliers are 8-point favorites. This is the seventh time since 2011 that James has trailed in a postseason series against an Eastern Conference opponent. His teams have rallied to win each of the previous six, last in the 2015 conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls. Of course, James-led teams have won the Eastern Conference an amazing seven straight times.
Indiana wasn’t even projected as a playoff team back in October, but the Pacers have likely the most improved player in the league in 2017-18 in All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. He was great in Game 1 with 32 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Oklahoma City Thunder held serve at home Sunday against the Utah Jazz, winning 116-108 as 4.5-point favorites. The Thunder are 4-point favoirtes for Game 2 on Wednesday in OKC.
Paul George, traded by Indiana this past offseason to Oklahoma City, had 36 points in the opening win and tied a franchise playoff record with eight made three-pointers. Russell Westbrook, Mr. Triple-Double, was just shy of one with 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Utah was led by rookie Donovan Mitchell’s 27 points. No other Jazz player had more than 14. Mitchell had an MRI on Monday on his left foot, which revealed a bruise. He’s expected to play Game 2, but if not that spread is going to rise.
To close out Wednesday’s Game 2 action, Houston is a 10.5-point favorite over Minnesota. The Timberwolves had their chances at the Game 1 upset, losing just 104-101. Houston got 44 points from James Harden, one shy of his postseason career high, but the rest of the team combined to shoot just 3-for-25 from three-point range.
Overall, the Rockets were 10-for-37 from deep. No team in league history relies more on the three-pointer than Houston.
The Timberwolves have no shot of a road upset without more from All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. He was very quiet offensively in the opener with just nine shot attempts and eight points – he averaged 21.3 points per game during the season. Expect Minnesota to get KAT much more involved Wednesday.