Pelicans vs. Warriors Odds – 2018 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals

pelicans-warriors-2018-playoffs-oddsThe New Orleans Pelicans whipped through their first-round playoff matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. No. 6 New Orleans pulled off a surprising sweep of the Blazers and are now locked in a semifinals series with the No. 2 Golden State Warriors.

Predictably, their first game at Oracle Arena wasn’t as easy as their contests against Portland. They dropped the game by a score of 123-101. Now the Pelicans will regroup and try to bring the same fire they did against the Trail Blazers.

But New Orleans will have an even tougher time, given that Steph Curry is expected to take the court for Game 2. Curry has been out since late March with an MCL sprain and will try to shake off the rust tomorrow night against the Pelicans.

The last time that the two-time NBA MVP had a long layoff before returning to the playoffs, he scored 40 points against Portland in a 132-125 victory. For good measure, Curry also grabbed nine rebounds and delivered eight assists.

Fellow Golden State star Kevin Durant looks forward to seeing his teammate back on the court.

“He loves the game just as much as anybody I ever been around and I know he wants to play. I’ve just been thinking about that, just worrying about how he feels not playing,” Durant said.

“Excited for him to get back just to be in a place where he enjoys most, which is playing ball, and the other stuff, we’ll figure it out. But I’m more so excited as his brother that he’s out there, he gets to play basketball, something that he loves to do.”

With another game at Oracle and Curry returning, the odds are stacked against New Orleans more than ever before. And you can see this reflected in our GTBets odds below.

Can the Pelicans shock people and even up the series, or at least play well enough to cover the spread? Find out as I discuss both teams’ prospects in Game 2 of this Western Conference semifinals series.

Warriors Pelicans Odds – 2018 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Game 2, May 1 at 10:35pm

  • New Orleans +10.5 (-109) / +550 moneyline
  • Golden State -10.5 (-109)/ -755 moneyline
  • Over/under 226.5 (-109)

Why the New Orleans Pelicans Will Cover +10.5

New Orleans struggled to continue the same offensive dominance against Golden State. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they still have four skilled veterans who can score.

Everything starts with forward Anthony Davis who’s averaging over 30 points in the playoffs. He wasn’t as dynamic against the Warriors in Game 1. But The Brow still put up a solid state line with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

Jrue Holiday had been on fire after torching Portland. But Golden State cooled him down. Nevertheless, Holiday is still averaging 24.4 PPG in the postseason.

Rajon Rondo has upped his game in the playoffs as usual. He’s averaging 10.6 PPG and giving the Pelicans gritty defense. Sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic remains a threat from anywhere on the court, and he’s averaging 16.4 PPG in the postseason.

New Orleans plays at the league’s fastest pace, with 102.73 possessions per game. This is even quicker than the Warriors, who ranked fifth with 101.5.

The Pelicans are one of the few teams in the NBA that can keep up with Golden State. And Warriors guard Klay Thompson discussed how tough it is to compete against this New Orleans squad.

“Man, it was tiring,” Thompson said. “The Spurs (first-round opponent), they are a little older, so they play a little more methodical. They try to beat us up in the half court and low block. This team is kind of like playing ourselves.

“It’s like, you make a bucket, you can’t relax. You have to sprint back, find a shooter and they are pushing the tempo. It’s a whole different ballgame.”

The Pelicans are up against a seemingly impossible task. They face a team with the NBA’s best offensive rating (112.3) and a strong defense. But they have enough star power, and a lightning fast pace that can give Golden State trouble.

Pelicans Playoffs ATS Record: 4-1 overall; 2-1 on the road

Why the Golden State Warriors Will Cover -10.5

durant-warriors-pelicans-oddsMissing Steph Curry hasn’t slowed the Warriors down too much so far. Kevin Durant is leading the charge with 27.8 PPG, while Klay Thompson has proven a worthy sidekick with 23.3 PPG. Even Shaun Livingston has stepped up his game with 9.5 PPG.

Then there’s the ultimate utility man in Draymond Green, who played a fantastic all-around game against San Antonio. Green is leading the team in rebounds (11.8), assists (8.5), steals (1.7), and blocks (1.2) in the postseason.

“Draymond is going to guard everybody,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “He started on Davis, but when (Looney) came in to guard Davis, Draymond slid over to (Rajon) Rondo. You know how Draymond is. He wants to be in the fray and he wants to be in the middle of the floor.

“Middle of the action, I should say. We’re going to put him on people that are going to be in the middle of the action and probably not guys who are spotting up and shooting, so that he can make an impact.”

Golden State has proven very tough to score on. Holiday is a perfect example, because he couldn’t find his shot with Durant draped on him. He also faced Iguodala, Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson en route to 11 points on just 4-for-16 shooting. Holiday was particularly stifled by Durant, finishing 1-for-9 when guarded by the 7-footer.

“Well, Holiday has been really, really good, in that last series and late in the year so he was a priority for us for sure,” Kerr said. “I thought Kevin’s size factored in and Kevin did a great job on him.”

Golden State also did a good job of throwing different looks at Mirotic. In Game 2, Livingston, Thompson, Looney, and Green all harassed Mirotic into 3-of-9 shooting.

With everybody on their game and Curry coming back, it doesn’t seem like Golden State will have too much trouble winning Game 2. The only question is how much they’ll win by.

Warriors Playoffs ATS Record: 4-2 overall; 3-1 at home

Final Thoughts on Warriors and Pelicans Odds

New Orleans has been a feel-good story so far. They’re the lowest seeded team remaining in the playoffs. And it’s no secret that many fans would love to see this David topple Goliath, especially considering the success that the Warriors have had in the past few years.

But Golden State likely won’t face any serious challenge if/until they play the Houston Rockets next round. They don’t have much to worry about at home. But maybe New Orleans can give them a serious run at the Smoothie King Center in Game 3.

Final Score Prediction: Golden State wins 117-106 – Warriors cover -10.5 spread

Cavs vs. Raptors Odds – 2018 NBA Playoffs Betting Game 1

cavs-raptors-2018-nba-playoffs-oddsNeither the Cleveland Cavaliers nor the Toronto Raptors had an easy time in the first round. But both teams managed to get by their initial playoff opponents and will meet in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Toronto is hoping to beat James and the Cavs in their third try in as many years. And it seems like they have a better chance to do this than ever before, considering that they won a franchise-best 59 games and have the East’s top seed.

They’re also playing better team basketball than ever before. Head coach Dwane Casey redesigned the offense to move away from repeated pick-and-roll sets with guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. This has helped the Raptors’ assist percentage to go from last in the league in 2016-17 (47.2 percent) to 11th this year (59.0 percent).

These numbers alone don’t mean that Toronto is going to get past Cleveland. They’ve gone to 2-8 against the Cavs in the last two postseasons. And the main reason why is because of LeBron James.

To be fair, nobody has stopped James from reaching the NBA Finals in the last seven years. And this is why GM Masai Ujiri Work has worked so hard to put versatile pieces in place that are capable of stopping Cleveland.

Will that be the case in 2018? Find out as I preview the first game of this Eastern Conference semifinals series. You can also see the odds on this game below and make your wagers at GTBets.

Cavs Raptors Odds – 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 1, May 1 at 8:00pm EST

Cleveland +6.5 (-113) / +221 moneyline
Toronto -6.5 (-105)/ -263 moneyline
Over/under 215.5 (-109)

Why the Cleveland Cavs Will Cover +6.5

Looking at stats from the Pacers series, one thing is clear: LeBron is carrying his team more than ever before.

kevin-love-cavs-raptorsJames averaged 34.4 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 7.7 APG in the first round, while scoring 45 points to extinguish Indiana in Game 7. Cleveland added a number of players in the offseason that they hoped could take the load off LeBron. But many of these players were sent packing in a midseason roster overall.

One thing’s for sure, and that’s how Kevin Love needs to step up in the second round. He averaged 11.1 PPG and 9.3 RPG against the Pacers. While not bad numbers, this isn’t what you’d expect from the team’s No. 2 option.

Of course, Love isn’t the only one who needs to contribute more for Cleveland to beat the Raptors. J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, and Jordan Clarkson have also been underwhelming so far. Meanwhile, George Hill, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance, and Tristan Thompson (namely Game 7) played up to their abilities during parts of the Indiana series.

Hood has especially been disappointing so far. He averaged 16.8 PPG and shot 38.9% from the three-point line before being acquired from Utah. However, he’s struggled in Cleveland, averaging 10.8 PPG and shooting 35.2% from the arc.

I chalk up some of this to Cleveland playing their first postseason series together. I can’t guarantee that they’ll gel enough to knock off the Raptors. But they should certainly play better as a unit with seven playoff games under their belt.

And Cleveland has one undeniable advantage in that nobody in the East can handle James one-on-one. This was evident in the Pacers series, and it will be true against Toronto as well. He’ll see a lot of rookie OG Anunoby, whom he shot 61.9% against in the regular season.

Another plus for Cleveland is that they led the league in spot-up shooting (1.08 points per possession) and rank well in transition offense (17.5 possessions per game). Defending against these areas is a strength of Toronto’s, but they won’t have these defensive advantages against Cleveland.

Cavs 2018 Playoffs ATS Record: 1-6 overall; 1-2 on the road

Why the Toronto Raptors Will Cover -6.5

As good a job as Toronto has done in sharing the ball, it’s clear that DeRozan and Lowry are still the leaders on this team. DeRozan averaged 26.2 PPG against Washington, while Lowry averaged 17.2 PPG and shot 43.6% from beyond the arc.

cavs-raptors-odds-2018-nba-playoffsLowry has a history of struggling every time that Toronto has exited the playoffs in the past three seasons. But if he plays as well as he did against Washington and John Wall, then this team has a definite shot to move on.

Point guard play should be a big strength for the Raptors, because they also have Fred VanVleet, who played well against the Wizards. This bench unit as a whole has been outstanding, showing the ability to flip games. Their offensive net rating led the lead (8.3) while their effective field goal percentage was 54.0%.

Toronto should also have the better defense in this series. They ranked eight in the league by allowing 104.9 points per 100 possessions, which makes them better than Indiana (16th, 106.3). It’s doubtful that this team defense will slow down James, but it could affect the supporting cast even more than the Pacers were able to do.

This looks like the Raptors’ best chance to take down James in years, especially since he no longer has Kyrie Irving as a sidekick.

Raptors 2018 Playoffs ATS Record: 4-2 overall; 3-0 at home

Final Thoughts on Cleveland and Toronto Odds

Cleveland has never looked more vulnerable in the four years since James has came back to the city. Of course, this has nothing to do with LeBron himself, but rather a supporting cast that hasn’t provided much support at all.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have been crafted to take down James. And they have the numbers and roster to back up this vision. However, they didn’t look so dominant against Washington. I think that they’re going to have another tough series when facing off against James.

They’ll most likely take down the first game in the series, but look for this to be another close affair for both teams.

Final Score Prediction: Toronto wins Game 1 by a score of 106-101 – Cleveland covers -5.5