The first round of the NBA Playoffs gets under way this weekend with the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies set to start what should be a closely-contested match-up that could go the full distance of seven games.
Since 2006, home teams have won 68% of play-off games but will any team in action here overcome those odds?
Here’s Part Two of our Round 1 preview. Read Part One here.
New York v Boston
The Knicks have home advantage in the first round for the first time since 2001 and bid to end a 12-year wait for a crack at the Conference semi-finals. But to do that, they’ll need to see off their oldest rivals. New York won the head-to-head 3-1 but the Celtics were one of the few opponents to limit scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, holding him to 35% shooting and an average of 25.3 points. A repeat might give ageing Boston a shot but the Knicks just look too good.
Series odds: New York 1.20, Boston 4.35
Prediction: New York to win 4-1
LA Clippers v Memphis
The Grizzlies have only made it past the first round twice in franchise history and they’ve found the Clippers an awkward foe this term. Memphis lost their series 3-1, with LA finding ways to keep them away from the basket. Yet despite their best campaign ever, and seven wins in a row, there are still flaws aplenty within the Clippers. And with Memphis remembering their 4-3 loss in 2012, their stifling defence might see them take revenge.
Series odds: LA Clippers 1.32, Memphis 3.30
Prediction: Grizzlies to win 4-3
Indiana v Atlanta
The Pacers have become the darlings of over-achievement with their no-star squad and defensive excellence. That masks the fact that, on their night, they’re as good as anyone in the league. Atlanta split the season series 2-2, with every game going to the hosts, and if Indiana has one weakness, it is that they’re a poor road team with a drop of 7.7 in their scoring output. The Hawks could pull off the upset, but they’ll need to find their very best form.
Series odds: Indiana 1.32, Atlanta 3.30
Prediction: Pacers to win 4-2
Oklahoma City v Houston
For intrigue, look no further than the return of one of the Thunder’s favourite sons, James Harden, to face the team he helped lead to the Finals last year. Since joining Houston, he’s lost two of his three meetings with OKC but averaged 29.3 points per game. He’s shot poorly lately and the Rockets ended with only one win in their last four. While his former side will miss him later in the post-season, they’ll send him quickly on his way.
Series odds: Oklahoma City 1.03, Houston 11.00
Prediction: Thunder to win 4-0
Bet on the winner of the NBA with Unibet.