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NBA odds, need-to-know notes and best bets for the Western Conference playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are here, with games tipping off this Saturday. If you’re betting on the NBA odds this postseason, we’ve got eight need-to-know notes for the eight Western Conference teams vying for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

NO. 1 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Season Record: 57-25

ATS Record: 35-46-1

Over/Under Record: 38-44

Odds to win NBA title: -251 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: -371 at PointsBet

At this point in their dynasty, the Warriors care about the regular season as much as Boogie Cousins does for NBA referees. Need evidence?

How about a 110-132-5 record against the spread over the past three regular season campaigns, including a 35-46-1 ATS count this season which tied as the second-worst bet in the league. Granted, the public appeal and talent-rich roster help puff up those nightly spreads.

However, come the playoffs, the Dubs flip the switch. Golden State is 37-25 ATS in the playoffs the past three postseasons, covering almost 60 percent of the time. A little motivation goes a long way with the Warriors, so don’t be afraid to lay the lumber with the defending champs.

NO. 2 DENVER NUGGETS

Season Record: 54-28

ATS Record: 42-40-0

Over/Under Record: 34-47-1

Odds to win NBA title: +3,500 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +900 at PointsBet

The Nuggets have an edge as the No. 2 seed, earning home-court advantage in the opening two rounds of the NBA Playoffs. That means that opponents not only must battle the rigors of postseason play, but also climb the mountain and play in the thin air and altitude of the Pepsi Center more often than they’d like.

Denver compounds that energy-sapping edge with the best second-half defense in the NBA, allowing only 26.3 points per third quarter and an average of just 24.8 points in the fourth.

Bettors should look to jump on their second-half lines or in-game odds, especially when playing at home deep into a series.

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NO. 3 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Season Record: 53-29

ATS Record: 45-36-1

Over/Under Record: 43-37-2

Odds to win NBA title: +8,000 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +2,500 at PointsBet

The Blazers battled their way to the No. 3 spot in the West, thanks in part to a soft schedule at the end of the season. Portland finished with a 14-3 SU run in its last 17 games but went just 8-8-1 ATS in that span.

Granted, the Trail Blazers were missing C.J. McCollum (who returned before the end of the season) and Jusuf Nurkic (out with a broken leg) for a chunk of that sked (those missing players are factored into the spreads), but faced only six playoff-bound teams during that streak and three of them were from the East (Detroit twice, Brooklyn, and Indiana).

Portland lost and failed to cover the spread in all four meeting with Oklahoma City – its first-round opponent – and is actually a +105 underdog in the series price, with the Thunder coming back as -130 favorites.

NO. 4 HOUSTON ROCKETS

Season Record: 53-29

ATS Record: 40-39-3

Over/Under Record: 39-41-2

Odds to win NBA title: +1,050 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +600 at PointsBet

The Rockets do plenty right. Houston is 11th in scoring with the most dangerous player in the NBA on its roster – James Harden – capable to taking over any game. On defense, the Rockets allow just over 109 points per game (10th lowest) and rank as the second-best 3-point defense, a huge feather in their cap given today’s bomb-first NBA.

There is one big gap in Houston’s game plan and that’s getting down and dirty in the paint. Unfortunately, the Rockets’ first-round opponents, the Utah Jazz, thrive around the rim. Houston gives up 51.8 points in the paint per game – third most in the NBA – and allow 11 offensive rebounds per contests. Utah is among the best rebounding teams and picks up 47.7 points in the paint per outing – almost 43 percent of its total offense.

Houston is in for a first-round war. It’s a war the Rockets can win, but one that could take its toll and leave them gassed for a deep postseason run.

NO. 5 UTAH JAZZ

Season Record: 50-32

ATS Record: 44-36-2

Over/Under Record: 39-42-1

Odds to win NBA title: +5,000 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +2,500 at PointsBet

As mentioned above, the Jazz are no strangers to getting their hands dirty. The big question this postseason is will they have enough healthy hands to finish the job. Utah enters the playoffs with a number of players either nursing or recently returning from injury, which is nothing new for a squad that’s rolled out 10 different starting lineups this season.

It’s the backcourt that should be the main concern for Jazz backers. They’ve been without versatile guard Dante Exum for most of 2019, sharp-shooting Kyle Korver is dealing with a bum knee, veteran PG Ricky Rubio has a quadricep issue, backup Raul Neto has a sore ankle, and superstar Donovan Mitchell has recently been treated for back spasms.

Cue the Rockets and their three-head backcourt beast of Harden, Chris Paul and Eric Gordon.

NO. 6 OKLAHOMA CIY THUNDER

Season Record: 49-33

ATS Record: 42-40-0

Over/Under Record: 40-41-1

Odds to win NBA title: +4,000 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +1,600 at PointsBet

Oklahoma City is the hot “upset” pick in the first round, if you can call being the series price chalk an underdog. Sure, the Thunder are stuck with the sixth seed, but we’re dealing with two of arguably the Top 6 players in the NBA in Paul George and Russell Westbrook – both of which play with massive (and spicy) chips on their shoulder.

The thing you have to know about OKC – or perhaps watch out for – has been the team’s slow starts in recent months. Since the All-Star break, the Thunder have been outscored by an average of 3.6 points per first quarter.

However, OKC knows how to finish, outscoring opponents 28.6 to 25.7 in the fourth quarter during that same span. Bettors should look for value fading the Thunder in the first quarter and first half lines, then keep watch on the live odds for a chance to cash in on those late-game surges.

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NO. 7 SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Season Record: 48-34

ATS Record: 43-37-2

Over/Under Record: 43-38-1

Odds to win NBA title: +10,000 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +3,000 at PointsBet

The old guard of the Western Conference is back in the playoffs for the 22nd straight year. And while bettors may not fear the San Antonio Spurs like they once did, they better as hell respect them. The Spurs were a competitive 7-8 SU and 7-7-1 ATS against the Top 4 seeds in the West this season and are a tough out at home, going 32-9 SU (24-17 ATS) inside the AT&T Center.

This will be the Spurs’ first Kawhi-less playoff run since 2012 and the question on the minds of San Antonio backers is “who will take the shot?” The wild card is the play of DeMar DeRozan, who did well in his first season south of the border. During his time with the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan was counted on to carry the team during the postseason but had plenty of playoff flops and never really looked like the guy who wanted to take the big shot.

DeRozan slowed down in the second half of the schedule and sputtered toward the end of the season. He averaged 20 points on 54.5 percent shooting in four matchups with Denver – the Spurs’ first-round opponent – this season.

NO. 8 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Season Record: 48-34

ATS Record: 45-36-1

Over/Under Record: 45-36-1

Odds to win NBA title: +15,000 at PointsBet

Odds to win West: +8,000 at PointsBet

Someone forgot to explain the finer details of “tanking” because the L.A. Clippers did it wrong. Sure, they traded away their best player midway through the season and fielded a lineup lacking star power, with their best player coming off the bench. Wasn’t it the other Los Angeles team that was supposed to be here?

The Clippers run one of the fastest paces in the NBA and knock down 38.8 percent of their looks from distance, yet don’t depend on the 3-ball like some of their Western Conference competition. Los Angeles picks up just over 26 percent of its points from beyond the arc – second fewest in the NBA.

The team’s surprise 2018-19 campaign naturally had them ranked among the best bets in the league, covering the spread almost 56 percent of the time, including a 23-17-1 ATS mark on the road. Funny enough, the Clips went just 16-21-1 against the spread as underdogs and will be getting the points in every game against the Warriors to open the playoffs. Golden State blasted L.A. in their two most recent meetings.

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