Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers

The Trend: NBA Series Prices, May 20th

Now that the play-in games are coming to an end, and I really am unsure as to how I feel about them, we can buckle down for the always quick and satisfying NBA playoffs that should be over in like three-and-a-half months or something like that. To be honest, there will be some excellent series and can we just point out that the most Arizona Sports thing of all-time happened and the two-seed Suns have to face the Lakers in round one which is just so unlucky. 

In this Trend, we will lay out some figures and analyze the best way to bet these series with the prices they currently have. Just remember, series prices change as the series go on. It is actually one of my favorite things because it is sort of like in-game live-betting but instead you get to take the outcome of an entire series. It’s a very micro thing that gets turned into a very macro-outcome.

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Let’s start out hot here and discuss the Knicks vs Hawks series which premieres the fourth and the fifth seed in the Eastern conference. The Knicks were a shock to everyone in the NBA while the Hawks seem to have completed an epic rebuild and Trae Young is ready to lead them into a deep-run. We have two head coaches in this series that have playoff experience but neither necessarily impressive. For Tom Thibodeau, his winning percentage is at 46 percent and Nate McMillan’s is at 40 percent. That tells me that these coaches are basically neck-and-neck when it comes to postseason management and strategy which is a bit of a tricky thing to manage. 

I really like New York in this series, but I have heard all week that this team has a good chance of being tired out in a deep series because statistically this is a squad that plays a ton of minutes, plays hard on the court, and plays in a scheme that demands effort plays on nearly every possession. So my immediate thought is that this will be a long series, I am talking 6 or 7 games. These two are so evenly matched, ending at exactly 41-31. New York swept the season series, but don’t pay attention to that, Trae was either hurt or out in those games and it’s not a fair sample size. Given how inexperienced both sides are in this, my favorite bet is to lean Knicks in 7 (+450) OR, and I know this is not a good break-even bet, OVER 5.5 games (-200). 

Next up, the Denver Nuggets vs the Portland Trail Blazers. I feel like Dame had a players-only meeting in April and said “get your shit together or my ass is out that door.” Seriously, this is one of the hottest teams in the NBA, winning 10 of their last 14 and entering this series on an 8-2 run over their last 10. The big key here is how far can Denver go without Jamal Murray? The wins have been there since he went down, but the Nuggets are now 10th best in offensive efficiency. On top of that, PJ Dozier isn’t expected to return right away. Sure, this is a Nuggets squad that came back from down 3-1 in back-to-back series last year, but do you remember how fucking on fire Murray was? 

Dame Lillard is 17-15 against Denver in recent years and while in past seasons he has struggled, this Blazers team has made a few moves to help Lillard create separation from some of the premier defenders that the Nuggets have with the pickups of guys like Norman Powell. The series price is currently Blazers (+110) and I would lean on that. Sure, this isn’t going to be an easy series, but without Murray, I am hesitant to lean that direction. 

Free Play: 
Penguins/Islanders UNDER 5.5 

Shame on me for making a free play an UNDER bet, but hear me out here. Semyon Varlamov is back in net for the Isles in game three and he allowed just two goals in game two. The Penguins are the more aggressive team when it comes to taking shots and it will be taught to get past Varlamov. Tristan Jarry stepped up in goal for Pittsburgh in game two, stopping 34 of 35. Expect strong goalie play yet again, and aim for under.

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