The first round in the NBA Western Conference Playoffs has finally come to an end after a couple of epic seven game series. We now move into the second round of action, which will kick off on Friday morning. Catch our full preview and betting tips for both the Nuggets vs Clippers and Rockets vs Lakers series below!
Remember, we’ll have a full preview and betting tips for EVERY series throughout the NBA Playoffs and Finals, so make sure you check out our NBA Betting Tips page for regular updates.
Game 1, Friday 11am (AEST)
The Clippers found themselves in a surprisingly competitive opening round matchup with the Mavericks, which they were able to win in six games. They would’ve been a touch nervous when it was all square at 2-2, but their squad depth and the superstar that is Kawhi Leonard proved too good in the long run. Leonard was clearly his team’s best player in the first round, averaging 33/10/5 on 54% shooting, while Paul George was extremely disappointing with his 18/7/4 split on 35% shooting.
The Nuggets first round series with the Jazz was clearly the most entertaining of any series so far, and deservingly went down to the wire in Game 7. They became just the 12th team in NBA history to come from 3-1 down in a playoff series, and much of the credit has to go to Jamal Murray. The young guard averaged a split of 32/6/6 across the seven games, which is way up on his regular season averages (19/4/5). Nikola Jokic had his moments as well, including what turned out to be the game-winning basket in Game 7, but he’ll need to find an even higher level of play in Round 2.
These two teams met on three occasions during the regular season, one of which was in the Orlando Bubble. The Nuggets won their first matchup, but the Clippers replied with wins in the last two to clinch the regular season series. As we all know, the playoffs is a completely different beast and experience is everything.
The Clippers are led by a 2x Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard, who has proven himself time and time again in the post-season, and got off to a fantastic start in the first round. On the other hand, the Nuggets will be relying on Jamal Murray to average 30+ for another series to stand a slim chance of progressing, which just won’t happen when he’s guarded by two of the best wing defenders in the league in Leonard and George.
If Paul George stops shooting bricks and actually plays like we all know he can, then this series has all the makings of a sweep. We recommend backing Clippers -2.5 games to be safe, but also play the 4-0 series score for some more value.
Game 1, Saturday 11am (AEST)
The Lakers looked as though they may have a battle on their hands when they lost the opening game of their first round series against Portland. The cream rose to the top in the second game of the series however, and the #1 seed in the West never looked back as they went on to claim the series win in five games. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both had their fair share of big games, while KCP was the most reliable of the ‘other guys’, posting 4x 10+ point games on 40% shooting from deep.
The Rockets scraped over the line against a plucky OKC Thunder line-up in the first round of the playoffs. It took until the dying moments of Game 7 for the Rockets to earn their way through to the second round, but they wouldn’t have gained any confidence from the way they played, especially James Harden who was very poor in the deciding game. On a positive note, Eric Gordon was able to find his stroke in the series decider, and Russell Westbrook improved from his embarrassing Game 6 performance.
LA and Houston met each other on three occasions during the regular season. The Lakers won their first encounter, but the Rockets were able to win Game’s 2 and 3 of the series, the latter being in the Orlando Bubble.
Despite the success the Rockets had over the Lakers in their two most recent encounters, you can expect a LeBron James led Laker team to up the ante in the playoffs and for his teammates to follow suit. There’s still a massive query over whether James Harden can perform at a very high level in the post-season, and the doubts only became greater after his lacklustre Game 7 performance in the first round.
All things considered, we expect the big bodies of LeBron and AD to have their way with the small-ball style Rockets, and for this series to be over in 5-6 games.
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