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August 22, 2014

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Vegas odds and perspective on opening round of the NBA playoffs

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7) reaches for the ball as Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 11, 2013, in Chicago.

Odds to win the NBA Championship

  • Miami — 4-to-7
  • Oklahoma City — 4-to-1
  • San Antonio — 8-to-1
  • New York — 15-to-1
  • Los Angeles Clippers — 15-to-1
  • Indiana — 20-to-1
  • Denver — 20-to-1
  • Memphis — 30-to-1
  • Chicago — 40-to-1
  • Brooklyn — 50-to-1
  • Los Angeles Lakers — 60-to-1
  • Boston — 60-to-1
  • Atlanta — 100-to-1
  • Milwaukee — 300-to-1
  • Houston — 100-to-1
  • Golden State — 100-to-1
  • Source: LVH Superbook

The NBA Playoffs aren’t as bereft of upsets as some have come to believe.

The first round, which starts at noon today in New York, has played out with particular parity in recent years. At least two underdogs prevailed in the perceived nonvolatile best-of-seven series in each of the past four years.

That group includes two No. 8 seeds and one No. 7 seed. This year’s postseason could follow even further in that direction as five of eight first-round matchups feature a favorite at less than a 5-to-1 price.

Find all of William Hill sports books’ series and Game One lines below, accompanied by Las Vegas-style notes on the matchups and future odds to win the NBA championship to the side.

No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks

Series Price: Heat minus-20,000; Bucks plus-7,500

Game One: Heat minus-13.5 (Sunday at 4 p.m.)

What to consider: It’s hard to believe the Heat opened as co-favorites to win the NBA title with the Oklahoma City Thunder last fall. Both teams were plus-250 at the LVH Superbook, but no one’s near Miami anymore. At minus-160 to win another championship, sports books give the Heat better than a 60 percent chance to repeat. They’re also given an astounding 99 percent chance to beat Milwaukee.

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls

Series Price: Nets minus-135; Bulls plus-115

Game One: Nets minus-5 (Saturday at 5 p.m.)

What to consider: It’s rare to see a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in six years, Brooklyn, favored over one that advanced to its fifth straight, Chicago. At 93.2 points per game, the Bulls were the lowest-scoring team in the NBA this season. The Nets weren’t as offensive-minded as expected either, as they’re only ahead of four playoff teams with 96.9 points per game.

No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Atlanta Hawks

Series Price: Pacers minus-370; Hawks plus-310

Game One: Pacers minus-6.5 (Saturday at 10 a.m.)

What to consider: Sports books were dead-on with their reads on these teams before the season. Indiana’s over/under win total was 50, and it notched 49 victories with a game at Boston getting canceled earlier this week. The Hawks' mark was 43.5 victories, and they finished 44-38.

No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics

Series Price: Knicks minus-370; Celtics plus-310

Game One: Knicks minus-7 (Saturday at noon)

What to consider: Behind Carmelo Anthony’s first scoring title, the Knicks have made the biggest leap in their future odds from the start of the season. New York opened at 50-to-1 to win the NBA title but is now down to 15-to-1. Boston went in the opposite direction. At 15-to-1 before the season tipped off, the Celtics are now 60-to-1 before the start of the playoffs.

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets

Series Price: Thunder minus-2,000; Rockets plus-1,300

Game One: Thunder minus-10 (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)

What to consider: Despite losing two of three games both straight-up and against the spread versus his old team, Houston’s James Harden torched Oklahoma City for 29 points per game this season. But the Rockets will need to bounce back from a 2-4 straight-up, 1-5 against the spread run to close the season. The bad stretch dropped the team into the No. 8 seed after looking like a cinch to finish with the seventh-best record in the western conference.

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies

Series Price: Clippers minus-165; Grizzlies plus-145

Game One: Clippers minus-5 (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.)

What to consider: The road team went 4-2-1 against the spread in this same series last year, which Los Angeles won in seven games as the No. 5 seed. The Grizzlies failed to avenge their ouster this regular season as they went 1-3 both straight-up and against the spread versus the Clippers.

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors

Series Price: Nuggets minus-420; Warriors plus-350

Game One: Nuggets minus-7.5 (Saturday at 2:30 p.m.)

What to consider: At 49-32-2 against the spread, the Nuggets finished the regular season half a game behind the Thunder for the title as most profitable team in the league. Included in Denver’s successful mark against the Las Vegas number this season is a 3-1 against the spread and straight-up record versus Golden State.

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers

Series Price: Spurs minus-800; Lakers plus-600

Game One: Spurs minus-9 (Sunday at 12:30 p.m.)

What to consider: Despite one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, the Lakers still have a grip on Las Vegas. Their odds to win the series were trimmed nearly in half, from opening at plus-1,100, within a day at William Hill. That might also have something to do with the Spurs' recent postseason flameouts, as they are only 19-32-2 against the spread in the playoffs since winning the NBA Championship in 2007.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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