The second round of the playoffs got underway in the Eastern Conference with the Raptors easily taking care of the Sixers in Game 1. Today, we shift our attention to the Western conference and provide our best bets for the two upcoming series! Check them out below and good luck to everyone following!
First up we look at the mouth-watering second round series between the Houston Rockets and the defending champion Golden State Warriors. This is the best of all modern-day rivalries and it should include some great games between two of the best teams in the league.
The Rockets got their season off to a very slow start with injuries being the main factor. However, they got things together pretty quickly and finished off the season strong enough to give themselves home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Reigning MVP James Harden was huge for the Rockets all season and joins Giannis Antetokounmpo as the favourites for this seasons MVP award as a result.
Houston began their playoff run strongly with a dominant 4-1 job over the Jazz. The Jazz simply didn’t have enough firepower to keep up with James Harden and the Rockets, which is something a lot of teams can relate with.
Golden State Warriors
Like most teams, the Warriors endured their fair share of problems throughout the 82-game regular season. Injuries plagued them for the most part, although they still did enough to claim top spot in the Western Conference for the fourth time in five seasons.
In what looked like a straight forward first round match-up against the Clippers on paper, certainly didn’t work out that way. The defending champs were pushed to six games on the back of some poor play from them and some inspiring play from their opponents. Despite the challenge, the Warriors, led by Kevin Durant, were too much to handle and progressed to the second round once again.
If not for the Chris Paul injury in Game 6 last year the Rockets may very well be the defending champs. Further, the Rockets defeating the warriors on three of their four meetings during the regular season and they also come into this with the better form. All things considered; we believe the value lies with the Rockets +1.5 games in this series.
Second up in the Western Conference semis we’ve got the Portland Trail Blazers taking on the Denver Nuggets. With all the hype around some of the other series, this one has definitely flown under the radar. It should be an extremely exciting match-up between two superstars of the NBA in Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard.
Portland Trail Blazers
As they usually do, the Blazers exceeded everyone’s expectation with yet another terrific regular season. They finished with a record of 53-29 which earned them the third seed in the stacked Western Confernce. Damian Lillard had another fantastic season averaging 25.8 points and 6.9 assists, while CJ McCollum was no slouch as a second option (averaged 21 points per game).
The Blazers backed up their successful regular season with a brilliant performance in the first round of the playoffs against the Thunder. Damian Lillard was playing like a man possessed and hit one of the all-time great buzzer-beater shots to send the Thunder packing in Game 5.
The Nuggets were perhaps the surprise team this season as they pushed the Warriors all the way in a big for the one seed in the West. Whilst they eventually fell short, 2ndseed in a stacked Western Conference is a fantastic result for the youngest team in the playoffs. Nikola Jokic was dominant all year long and is quickly becoming a top 10 player in the league.
While they would eventually advance, the Nuggets were given an all-mighty scare in their first round series against the Spurs. Mike Malone’s young team showed their inexperience at times and found themselves in trouble against the veteran Spurs. However, all’s well that ends well and Jokic and the Nuggets will live to fight another day.
This is a fairly difficult series to predict due to there being a lot of unknown. The Nuggets weren’t at all convincing in their 4-3 win against the Spurs, while the Blazers will likely be without Enes Kanter which could be a big blow. Look at the price, we lean towards the Blazers to advance at decent odds.
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