2018 NBA Playoffs Betting Preview – Eastern Conference

cavs-pacers-playoffsThe 2017-18 NBA season is finished, and the playoffs are set. The Eastern Conference features some playoff teams that were expected, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics. But it also includes surprises like the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.

Like any other edition of the NBA playoffs, the East features some exciting first-round matchups. It also presents some good betting opportunities.

That said, let’s discuss each of the Eastern Conference’s first-round matchups and cover the odds on the first game of every series.

Also keep in mind that you can bet on every NBA playoff game at GTBets.eu. And you can see the Western Conference playoffs preview here.

2018 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs Matchups & Betting

No. 1 Toronto Raptors (59-23) vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards (43-39)

toronto-washington-2018-oddsThe Toronto Raptors have a talented team that’s been to the playoffs for several seasons in a row. But they still have yet to get over the hump and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

They can change that this year, though. The team has won a franchise-record 59 games and earned the East’s first seed. Toronto has one of the best offenses in the league with guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan leading the way. They also have their best supporting cast in years, which explains the improvement.

The Washington Wizards, on the other hand, have had a disappointing season after stumbling to the eighth seed. But what the Wizards do have is a recent playoff victory over the Raptors, beating them in 2015 despite being the lower seed.

Washington is a youngish team, led by John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr, Kelly Oubre Jr, and Markieff Morris. They expected more from themselves this year and a higher playoff seed.

I don’t see Toronto as a clear favorite in this matchup, despite their lofty position. But with improved role players, I think that they can beat the Wizards in six games.

2018 Wizards vs. Raptors Odds (Game 1)

  • Toronto -8 (-109); moneyline +370
  • Washington +8 (-109); moneyline +312
  • Over 211 (-108)
  • Under 211 (-111)

Raptors Wizards Playoffs Schedule

  • Game 1 @TOR: 5:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 14 (ESPN)
  • Game 2 @TOR: 7 p.m. ET, Tuesday, April 17 (NBA)
  • Game 3 @WAS: 8 p.m. ET, Friday, April 20 (ESPN2)
  • Game 4 @WAS: 6 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 22 (TNT)
  • Game 5 @TOR: TBD, Wednesday, April 25 (TBD)*
  • Game 6 @WAS: TBD, Friday, April 27 (TBD)*
  • Game 7 @TOR: TBD, Sunday, April 29 (TBD)*

*If necessary

No. 2 Boston Celtics (55-27) vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)

celtics-bucks-2018It’s interesting to think how Boston would be a heavy favorite in the East right now if they had a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Neither player will see the court again until next season. Making matters worse is that starting guard Marcus Smart may not play until the end of this series (hand).

Irving and Smart did play long enough, though, to help their team land the second-overall seed. The cupboard isn’t totally bare either, because they still have All-Star center Al Horford, talented forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, reserve point guard Terry Rozier, and veteran forward Marcus Morris.

Milwaukee comes into this juicy matchup as the higher seed with a chance of winning. They’re led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s taken his game to incredible heights this season. They also have other good scorers in Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Eric Bledsoe.

It’s no lock that the Bucks will take advantage of an injury riddled Celtics team. They’ve under-performed throughout 2018, despite having considerable talent. This is the main reason why coach Jason Kidd was canned halfway through the season.

This is a tough series to call. Boston has home court and a great coach in Brad Stevens. But they’ve also had tremendous difficulty scoring without Kyrie on the floor.

Milwaukee doesn’t have the appearance of a giant slayer. But they at least have enough healthy starters to take this series in seven games.

2018 Bucks vs. Celtics Odds (Game 1)

  • Boston -4 (-110); moneyline -180
  • Milwaukee +4 (-108); moneyline +158
  • Over 201.5 (-111)
  • Under 201.5 (-108)

Celtics Bucks Playoffs Schedule

  • Game 1 @BOS: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 15 (TNT)
  • Game 2 @BOS: 8 p.m. ET, Tuesday, April 17 (TNT)
  • Game 3 @MIL: 9:30 p.m. ET, Friday, April 20 (ESPN)
  • Game 4 @MIL: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 22 (ABC)
  • Game 5 @BOS: TBD, Tuesday, April 24 (TBD)*
  • Game 6 @MIL: TBD, Thursday, April 26 (TBD)*
  • Game 7 @BOS: TBD, Saturday, April 28 (TBD)*

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) vs. No. 6 Miami Heat (44-38)

Philadelphia tanked for a long time to accumulate young talent within the past few years. And it appears that former GM Sam Hinkie’s self-described “Process” has finally paid off this season.

Rookie Ben Simmons has looked like the second-coming of Magic Johnson, averaging a triple double during Philly’s 15-game winning streak. The Sixers’ big streak has vaulted them into the playoffs and into the third seed, just ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This team also has other strong young players in Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz, the latter of whom became the youngest player to record a triple double in NBA history. What’s impressive is that Philly has done all this without All-Star center Joel Embid.

The Miami Heat don’t come into this matchup with the same pedigree as the 76ers. They have an old Dywane Wade and a collection of late first-rounders, second-rounders, and average free agents. But somehow, Pat Riley has still crafted a lineup that’s in the playoffs.

This squad is led by point guard Goran Dragic, forward James Johnson, and center Hassan Whiteside. They also have a championship coach in Erik Spoelstra.

As tough as the Celtics-Bucks series is to call, this is even more difficult. Philadelphia’s extremely young core is on this stage for the first time. Meanwhile, the Heat don’t have the same talent level as the Sixers.

I pick Philly to survive their first postseason test in seven games and move on to the second round, where they should have the services of Embid again.

2018 Heat vs. Sixers Odds (Game 1)

  • Boston -4 (-110); moneyline -180
  • Milwaukee +4 (-108); moneyline +158
  • Over 201.5 (-111)
  • Under 201.5 (-108)

Sixers Heat Playoffs Schedule

  • Game 1 @PHI: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 14 (ESPN)
  • Game 2 @PHI: 8 p.m. ET, Monday, April 16 (TNT)
  • Game 3 @MIA: 7 p.m. ET, Thursday, April 19 (TNT)
  • Game 4 @MIA: 2:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 21 (TNT)
  • Game 5 @PHI: TBD, Tuesday, April 24 (TBD)*
  • Game 6 @MIA: TBD, Thursday, April 26 (TBD)*
  • Game 7 @PHI: TBD, Saturday, April 28 (TBD)*

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers (48-34)

cavs-pacers-odds-2018-playoffsIt’s tough to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are still favorites in a crowded East. This is especially the case when considering that they did a roster overhaul just a couple of months ago.

It’s hard to count out LeBron James, given that he’s been to the NBA Finals for seven straight years. He also has good veteran help in Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, along with strong role players like Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and Geoge Hill.

The Indiana Pacers are perhaps the NBA’s biggest surprise this year. They traded longtime star Paul George in free agency, and “only” got guard Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis return. Oladipo has suddenly become a legitimate star and possible All-NBA selection.

Forward-center Myles Turner is another strong player who leads this team. Beyond Turner and Oladipo, Indiana has a collection of little-known role players who somehow serve as the perfect pieces.

I want the feel-good story of the Pacers to continue. But then again, LeBron always wakes up around this time of year. I expect Cleveland to sweep this series, just like they did last year.

2018 Pacers vs. Cavs Playoffs Odds (Game 1)

  • Cleveland -6.5 (-109); moneyline -286
  • Indiana +6.5 (-109); moneyline +242
  • Over 206 (-113)
  • Under 206 (-106)

Cavs Pacers Playoffs Schedule

Game 1 @CLE: 3:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 15 (ABC)
Game 2 @CLE: 7 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 18 (TNT)
Game 3 @IND: 7 p.m. ET, Friday, April 20 (ESPN)
Game 4 @IND: 8:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 22 (TNT)
Game 5 @CLE: TBD, Wednesday, April 25 (TBD)*
Game 6 @IND: TBD, Friday, April 27 (TBD)*
Game 7 @CLE: TBD, Sunday, April 29 (TBD)*

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