The 2015-16 NBA season has reached the second round of the playoffs as it the series become a lot more competitive as each team will be looking to advance to their conference finals. Continue reading for our NBA Playoffs Round 2 Preview and Betting Tips.
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San Antonio Spurs (2) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (3)
These two sides were able to get through the opening round of the playoffs with relative ease and were also able to avoid any serious injuries to their players. It is a massive plus for them considering the injuries Western Conference rivals the Warriors and Clippers have had to face.
The Spurs were never troubled by the Grizzlies and were essentially able to defeat them in cruise control as they blew out the lead in every match they played against them. Their starting five will be well rested in this one and it will be key that two-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard is able to limit Kevin Durant’s production. Leonard was able to lead the Spurs to the championship in 2014 when he was awarded the Finals MVP award after he was able to lock down Lebron James. He will need a similar performance throughout this series as if he can slow down Durant, it will apply a lot more pressure on the shoulders of Russell Westbrook.
However, that could play into the hands of the Thunder as Westbrook has a clear athletic advantage against the aging Tony Parker. Westbrook’s game has been taken to another level this season as he has always been a dominant scorer but this year he has averaged second in assists for the season and has been a triple double machine. If he is able to continually penetrate and find his shot or an open team mate, the second highest averaging scoring team could cause a lot of issues for the best defensive team in the league.
The Spurs lost only one game on their home court this season and that advantage will be instrumental in this series. If they are able to hold their own in the opening two games it will put a massive amount of pressure on the Thunder to do the same when they head back to Oklahoma. If they aren’t then the Spurs will have a chance of closing it out on their home court in game 5. We believe this series will be incredibly close but the superiority and depth of the Spurs will allow them to win every match on their home court and pick off a match whilst at Oklahoma.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs Atlanta hawks (4)
This Round 2 series is a replay of the Eastern Conference finals from last year and despite the Hawks losing a lot more matches than last season they are confident they are a much-improved side this year. However, that didn’t show in the match ups against the Cavs in the regular season as they lost all four matches and by an average of almost 10-points. The Cavs swept the Pistons in the opening around and despite being challenged in the first match, it was a foregone conclusion that the top ranked Cavaliers would be advancing into the second round. Lebron James continues to take his game to another level in the playoffs as he increases his points, rebounds and assists and his dominance impacts his teammates around him positively as it forces the opposition defence to increase its focus on James which gives open shots to spot up shooters JR Smith and Kevin Love. It has also been evident that Cavs Coach Tyronn Lue has taken an approach of attempting to put James and Kyrie Irving on the floor at different times throughout the second and third quarters as James excels when playing with the unselfish Australian Matthew Delladova whilst he isn’t as efficient with the score first, pass second Irving. It will be interesting to see if he continues with this approach into this series, as each match should be a lot closer.
The core of Atlanta’s team remains the same, however they have a lot more pieces to add to the puzzle of trying to take down a team that has Lebron James in the side. Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha will need to step up as they will be in charge of slowing down James whilst they will still need to contribute to the scoring. Bazemore hit a couple of crucial threes in the series against the Celtics but as the pressure increases it could be too much for the rookie to handle.
Essentially, the Hawks will only stand a chance in this series if they are able to take advantage of Love’s lack of defence and power through him with Paul Millsap and Al Horford. This will force the Cavs defence to compress and should create opportunities for Kyle Korver to knock down 3s and he will need to be successful at this to ensure the defence can no longer collapse and thus it will give them a massive advantage on the offensive side of the court.
Whilst the Hawks were given a lot of credit for an improved defensive performance in their series victory against the Celtics, a lot of that can be contributed to the Celtics shooting themselves in the foot taking bad shots and turning the ball over by choosing poor passes. The Cavs won’t make those types of mistakes with a far more experienced and skilful side. This will be a better series than last season with the Hawks fresher and with an improved squad but the Cavaliers will still prevail, this time in 6.
Golden State Warriors (1) vs Portland Trail Blazers (5)
The Warriors will be without MVP Stephen Curry for the opening few games of this series but that shouldn’t deter the side too much as they have shown they can still be dominant without him in the line up. However, it will make for a closer series. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 4-1 and Curry only played in two of those games and was only able to manage one half of the match on each occasion. In the opening game of the series he went down with an ankle injury and as a result missed the second game. He returned in game 3 and injured his knee right on half time, which has resulted in him missing the next two weeks of action.
In game 5 the Warriors blew the Rockets off the park and they were never in the contest. On the back of their lock down defence and incredible ability to spread the floor and play an up paced offence they claimed the series on their home court.
Meanwhile the Trail Blazers were able to overcome a 2-0 deficit in their series against the Clippers but that can be contributed to the injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The Clippers had to play without their two superstars for the remaining two games and the Blazers were too strong in both of those contests despite the Clippers narrowly sending it to a game 7. Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum have a lot of pressure on their shoulders, as they are the main scorers and facilitators for this team. They will attempt to dominate in this series but the Warriors have a lot more superior wing defenders in their line up than the Clippers do and it will be hard for them to come out on top in that area.
The Warriors lost just the two regular season games on their home court this season and we are expecting them to hold onto their home court advantage across the first two games. If they are able to do this we expect them to possibly lose the third game on the road, as they will still be without Curry. They should steal game 4 and then claim the series on their home court in 5.
Toronto Raptors (2) vs Miami Heat (3)
These two sides were forced to go the length in the opening round of the playoff series as they were taken to seven games respectively. To their credit they were both able to get the job done on their home court and in impressive fashion. However, the Raptors almost blew in late down the stretch and had a couple of favourable calls go their way to ensure they won their first playoff series in 15 years.
The Raptors defeated the Indian Pacers and they were able to do it with Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan playing at a lower level than throughout the regular season. Combined Lowry and Derozan shot for just over 30% from the field and were no where near as efficient as they were as they led their team to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They will need to improve in this series if they are to stand a chance at being the all round side of the Heat. Derozan average just under 18 points throughout the series but it took him just under 20 shots a game to get those points.
Throughout the regular season, Toronto took the series 3-1 but the Heat’s one victory came prior to Chris Bosh suffering a season ending injury. However, the Heat have had a lot of time to improve without their best player on the court and they also acquired Joe Johnson who adds an extra threat for the team. Goran Dragic impressed a lot of people with his defence against Kemba Walker. The Hortnets point guard was able to have a couple of massive games but overall he was able to slow him down in the games where the Heat came out on top. Veteran shooting guard Dwayne Wade also showed that he still has a lot to give to the team as he came up huge down the stretch in game 6 as he hit a lot of clutch shots on the way to his sides victory.
We are expecting an incredibly close series in this one but with Lowry having an elbow injury and unable to impact the scoring like he did throughout the regular season, the Raptors will struggle without their point guard performing at a high level. The Heat also has a lot of experienced players and Hassan Whiteside protecting the paint. The Raptors have lost their last three game one’s on home court in a row and the Heat will be looking to pinch that one on the road and claim this series in six.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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