NBA First-Round Playoff Preview | Odds, Stats, and Picks for 8/18/20

The NBA Playoffs kicked off yesterday and the action was exciting as ever. It was shocking to see all four favorites cover their respective point-spreads, as we usually see plenty of upsets in Game 1 of the opening round.

I went 3-1 on the picks in yesterday’s article, with the Nets +9.5 being the only miss. Today’s slate looks like more of the same, but the end of the night has two very intriguing matchups – Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the odds and best value plays from all four of the playoff games on the NBA slate. All of these lines are according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

1:30 p.m. EST | Watch: TNT

Total: 225.5 points | Over: -109 | Under: -112
ORL | Spread: +12.5 (-109) | Moneyline: +700
MIL | Spread: -12.5 (-110) | Moneyline: -1000

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Where’s the Money Going? (As of 9:30 a.m. EST today)

Spread: MIL, 76% of bets | MIL, 77% of money
Moneyline: MIL, 73% of bets | MIL, 93% of money
Total: Over, 70% of bets | Over, 79% of money

Betting Pick: Bucks -12.5 (-110)

We saw the Bucks dismantle a decent Pistons team in the first round in four games last season, and we’ll probably see the same thing this time around. Milwaukee knows that this is a put-up or shut-up type of playoffs and there’s no way Orlando will step in the way of that. Giannis Antetokounmpo is just simply too much for the Magic, so we’ll see very quickly how short of a series this is going to be. Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba aren’t playing for Orlando, giving the team limited options to throw at The Greek Freak.

Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

4:00 p.m. EST | Watch: TNT

Total: 215 points | Over: -112 | Under: -109
MIA | Spread: -4.5 (-112) | Moneyline: -195
IND | Spread: +4.5 (-109) | Moneyline: +160

Where’s the Money Going? (As of 9:30 a.m. EST today)

Spread: MIA, 60% of bets | MIA, 67% of money
Moneyline: MIA, 64% of bets | IND, 52% of money
Total: Over, 60% of bets | Under, 69% of money

Betting Pick: Heat -4.5

We should really call this series Jimmy Butler vs. TJ Warren because that’s all anything will be talking about. Warren has been this whole new player in the bubble, but we saw him get locked up by Butler in one of these matchups in the bubble. Both guys will continue to downplay this personal rivalry, yet we all know the deal. The Pacers team total took at -1 hit today, which is not good news for them. I’m taking the Heat with relative ease in this one.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

6:30 p.m. EST | Watch: TNT

Total: 224.5 points | Over: -112 | Under: -109
OKC | Spread: -1.5 (-110) | Moneyline: -120
HOU | Spread: +1.5 (-109) | Moneyline: +102

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Where’s the Money Going? (As of 9:30 a.m. EST today)

Spread: HOU, 56% of bets | OKC, 58% of money
Moneyline: HOU, 67% of bets | HOU, 80% of money
Total: Over, 71% of bets | Under, 79% of money

Betting Pick: Thunder Moneyline (-120)

The absence of Russell Westbrook is going to hurt the Rockets early in this series, more specifically tonight. Sure, James Harden is doing some magical things on offense being the primary ball-handler without Westbrook, but it may not come easy in this series. OKC has Luguentz Dort that can be an absolute pest, as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Back on Jan. 20, Dort held Harden to a 2-for-13 (1-for-11 from 3PT) and forced two turnovers in eight minutes of guarding him. Not to mention, Chris Paul would love a crack at The Beard too. Lastly, I’m taking the moneyline here because it’s not that much more expensive than taking the spread.

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

9:00 p.m. EST | Watch: TNT

Total: 230.5 points | Over: -112 | Under: -109
POR | Spread: +6 (-110) | Moneyline: +205
LAL | Spread: -6 (-110) | Moneyline: -250

Where’s the Money Going? (As of 9:30 a.m. EST today)

Spread: LAL, 60% of bets | LAL, 54% of money
Moneyline: LAL, 55% of bets | LAL, 61% of money
Total: Over, 81% of bets | Over, 93% of money

Betting Pick: Over 230.5 points

Over the years, I’ve learned to not question the oddsmakers – even when the line makes you shake your head numerous times. With that being said, it is absolutely crazy to see the Trail Blazers as single-digit underdogs in this game; if anything, I figured +10 would’ve been accurate. Portland might be worth a nice bet on the moneyline tonight, but the total is where I have my eyes set. If the Blazers are indeed going to have a big night, it’ll be because the offense is clicking. The Lakers have a ton of size on this team, so we should expect them to score in bunches as well. LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be too much for the Blazers, but Damian Lillard will be too for the Lakers with the absence of Avery Bradley.

Al Walsh
Al Walsh Chief Sports Writer