2014 NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series Betting Picks

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For the better part of the NBA regular season the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat dominated the Eastern Conference standings, but heading into the start of the NBA Playoffs you cannot help but get the feeling that there are a few other teams in the East ready to make some noise. The following is a brief betting preview for the four matchups on the slate in the opening round with series betting odds provided by 5Dimes.
No. 6 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 3 Toronto Raptors
Series Odds: Brooklyn -155 Toronto +135
The Nets will kick off this year's playoffs with a 12:30 tip this Saturday in Game 1 of this Atlantic Division best-of-seven clash. Brooklyn made a solid run at the division title down the stretch, but it closed out the season just 1-4 straight-up in its last five games while failing to cover against the spread in all five games.
The season series between these two was tied 2-2 both SU and ATS with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Oddsmakers have not showed Toronto much respect by opening the No. 3 seed at 20/1 odds to win the East while setting Brooklyn as a 9/1 third-favorite to win this conference. When the smoke clears in this one, the Raptors will no longer be under the radar.
Toronto in 7

No. 8 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 1 Indiana Pacers
Series Odds: Atlanta +480 Indiana -570
Atlanta had to hold off New York to secure a spot in this year's playoffs by rallying for seven SU wins in its last 10 games after losing its previous six games. The Hawks have also been profitable down the stretch with a 7-1 record ATS in their last eight outings. The total has stayed UNDER in five of their last six games.
A few months ago we would be talking about a four-game sweep in this series, but the way Indiana has played over the last several weeks there has to be some level of concern that the Pacers could actually struggle to get past the opening round. This season series was split 2-2 SU with Atlanta rolling to a 107-88 victory in the last meeting on April 6 as an eight-point road underdog. I do not think the Hawks have the juice to actually pull off the upset, but they will make the Pacers sweat a bit.
Indiana in 6

No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats vs. No. 2 Miami Heat
Series Odds: Charlotte +480 Indiana-570
Give credit to the Bobcats for turning things around with 43-39 SU record this season after winning just 21 games last year. Charlotte closed out the regular season on a strong note with an 8-1 SU (6-3 ATS) in its last nine games and it finished the year with a defense that was ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed (97.1).
Will the real Miami Heat please stand up. This series should give us a pretty good indication as to whether or not the Heat were playing possum down the stretch with a 2-6 record both SU and ATS in their final eight games or there are some deep and serious problems that stand in the way of pulling off the three-peat. I see a slow return to form against the Bobcats after sweeping them 4-0 SU (3-1 ATS) in the regular season.
Miami in 5

No. 5 Washington Wizards vs. No. 4 Chicago Bulls
Series Odds: Washington +175 Chicago -190
Washington is another team that turned things around this season after finishing 12th in the East last season with a record of 29-53. The Wizards won their final four regular season games SU and ATS to finish 44-38 with a record of 22-19 both at home and on the road. They can play defense and they have the ability to spread the ball around, which should add up to a few more wins in this series.
The Bulls were forced to forge on for the second season in a row without their best player in the lineup, but they had success after embracing the concept of team play on offense complementing a shutdown defense at the other end of the court that was ranked first in the NBA in points allowed (91.8). This combination puts Chicago in solid shape to play the role of spoiler in this year's playoffs. Washington had a 2-1 SU edge in the regular season series, but the Bulls come out on top when it matters the most.
Chicago in 7