As the Miami Heat look to win their third straight NBA Finals, they don’t enter the 2014 NBA playoffs as the top seed in their conference. Still, the defending champs are expected to have the easiest time in the first round.
Miami begins the postseason as the biggest favorite in their opening-round playoff series. Their odds of moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals are listed at -2000. They’ll face the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round, who have been named +1200 underdogs. Since Charlotte’s first season in 2004-2005, they have one playoff appearance and are still looking for their first postseason victory.
In the West, the top seed does have the best odds of reaching the conference semifinals. The San Antonio Spurs are -675 favorites over the Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs won all four matchups between the two teams this season and led the league with 62 wins.
The Brooklyn Nets are the only lowered-seeded team that is predicted to move on from their series. They are slight favorites over the No.3 seed Toronto Raptors. The two divisional rivals split their four regular-season meetings, but it might be difficult for Brooklyn to advance, without home-court advantage. The Raptors went 26-15 at home, while the Nets lost 25 games on the road.
Last year’s Western Conference semifinals saw the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. This year, however, the oddsmakers expect Kevin Durant’s squad to get its revenge. The Thunder are heavy favorites over the Grizzlies.
At +300, Memphis isn’t expected to be much of a threat. A look back at their run in 2011, though, could give Grizzlies’ supporters some hope. As the No.8 seed, they reached the second round, and took Oklahoma City to a seventh game.
While only one higher-seeded team is expected to slip up in the first round, recent history indicates that there will be multiple upsets. A year ago, three underdogs advanced to the second round. In 2012, two underdogs, including a No.8 seed, won their matchups.
Below are the betting odds for each first-round series off the 2014 NBA playoffs. The odds were reported by RJ Bell of pregame.com.
No.1 Indiana Pacers (-560) vs. No.8 Atlanta Hawks (+480)
No.2 Miami Heat (-2000) vs. No.7 Charlotte Bobcats (+1200)
No.3 Toronto Raptors (+110) vs. No.6 Brooklyn Nets (-130)
No.4 Chicago Bulls (-190) vs. No.5 Washington Wizards (+170)
No.1 San Antonio Spurs (-675) vs. No.8 Dallas Mavericks (+550)
No.2 Oklahoma City Thunder (-350) vs. No.7 Memphis Grizzlies (+300)
No.3 Los Angeles Clippers (-350) vs. No.6 Golden State Warriors (+300)
No.4 Houston Rockets (-190) vs. No.5 Portland Trail Blazers (+170)