Miami Heat – Charlotte Bobcats
With some unpredicted outcomes on the opening day of the NBA Playoffs, you can bet even the title favourites will be taking nothing for granted when the other four first-round series get under way on Sunday.
And while the Charlotte Bobcats are 5.25 to upset the Miami Heat in Game 1, the reigning champions will have watched slip-ups by rivals Indiana, Toronto and the LA Clippers to lower seeds which confirmed this is the most open post-season in years.
Miami, like the Pacers, faltered into the playoffs but they don’t seem short of confidence despite acknowledging the battle fatigue from a long season.
They’ve won 15 straight against the Bobcats and although the Heat are 2.50 to sweep the best-of-seven series, their unheralded foes are 20-9 since the All Star break with a defence which forces bad shots.
During four losses this term though, they’ve had no answer for LeBron James who’s averaged 37.8 points including a 61-point blast. On the other end, Bobcats centre Al Jefferson has notched 25.3 in his three outings against Miami.
While the defending champs should win, there’s best value on Charlotte on the handicap of +7.5 at 2.25 to give the rest of the league more food for thought.
The San Antonio Spurs are 1.94 to deliver on a handicap of -9.5 in their Game 1 with the Dallas Mavericks and 3.00 to get a 4-0 sweep. However the other two series getting off the mark look more evenly poised.
The Washington Wizards are worth a punt at 9.00 to take their scramble with the Chicago Bulls 4-3 with so little to choose between either. If the Bulls prevail, it will be because they can keep up their offensive surge without losing their defensive grip. Look at going under the total points line of 177.5 at 2.20.
Maybe the most evenly-poised series is the Portland Trail Blazers against Houston Rockets with the latter at 4.85 to win 4-2.
The Blazers haven’t made the second round since 2000 and they lost the regular season series 3-1 but with both offenses firing, there will be one or two shots making a difference in some games with great value in going over 220.5 total points in the opener at 2.20.
Best bet: Back Charlotte at +7.5 on the handicap against Miami at 2.25.