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The Degenerate’s Guide To Gambling: NBA Playoffs, First Round

boston celtics nba playoffs

The best playoffs in all of sports — NHL — has thus far delivered almost every type of emotion that one can imagine. If you’re looking to be surprised, the Blackhawks are down 0-3 as they prepare to play the potentially series-deciding game on the road in Nashville. If you want suspense, the Capitals seem bound to blow a first round matchup against the upstart Maple Leafs with their first two games heading to overtime. If you want heartbreak, which I personally received as I was in attendance, you can watch the Blue Jackets score three goals in the first six and a half minutes only to lose in overtime to that jabroni Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Jamokes.

Speaking of that last game, if you want to talk about atmosphere for a sporting event, you need to put the Stanley Cup Playoffs on your sports bucket list. Even with all the sporting events that I’ve attended, when Cam Atkinson scored the first goal eleven seconds into the game, Nationwide Arena may have been the loudest venue I’ve ever been to. The place went absolutely bananas. Also, if you want to know how much these playoffs mean to the players, look no further than Zach Werenski. The kid got hit in the face with the puck, blood streaming from his dome. He gets stitches, puts a cage on his helmet, and heads back out to the ice for the third period. His head coach didn’t let him play in overtime because he couldn’t see out of his eye. Take a look for yourselves.

As John Tortorella said postgame, “He has balls as big as the building.”

Aside from hockey, the NBA playoffs are a game in — with few surprises. The Spurs did what the Spurs do and embarrassed a team, LeBron is in playoff mode, and your MVP of the league has absolutely no one around him. Joe Johnson did give a vintage Joe Johnson performance with his iso to win the game against the Clips, and Patrick Beverley might be more important than James Harden in this first round series. All in all it was a great week in sports, and this week provides more of the same.

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NBA

Eastern Conference

Not a whole lot shocked me through the first game for each team in the playoffs. There was a lot of talk coming in that Boston would have a tough time with Chicago, even though it is the 1-8 matchup. Even though Chicago took the first game, the game came with a bit of an asterisk. I’m sure we all know what IT4 is currently going through, and while he wasn’t bad, it wasn’t a performance that you would expect from a top five MVP candidate. While I can’t personally fathom the types of emotions he’s going through, I’d love to see him harness those emotions and take over the series, which is what I expect he’ll do. Prayers up to Isaiah and family. I’m going to ride Boston the rest of the series, and I suspect they close out Chicago in six. Even if it goes to seven, it’ll be in Beantown.

Cleveland did what Cleveland is going to do. Paul George is a great player, but the Cavs will be too much, and the series will be over in four or five games.

I’m a big Giannis guy. The man has the arguably best nickname in professional sports, and can do things on the court that are just scary to watch. I didn’t necessarily think coming in that Milwaukee could get it done against Toronto, but game one made me change my tune. I’m going to ride the Greek Freak the rest of the way in hopes they can handle what seems like the softest team in the league. After watching the Raptors play in game one, they do nothing that scares me.

What does scare me, however, is John Wall. People talk about how guard play can dominate a postseason, and what he did in game one against Atlanta was domination. Of course Atlanta is going to bow out early in the playoffs because they have perpetual loser Dwight Howard on their team, but I think John Wall is going to rip the Band-Aid off quick and send them packing in four, maybe five games. Ride the Wiz.

Picks: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards

Western Conference

Everything went 100% as I expected through game one in the West. The Warriors did what they have done countless times throughout the season, where they play an aggressively mediocre team tight through three quarters, then break away in the fourth. Given the talent level on the two teams, Golden State should be winning each game by fifty, so heading to the fourth tied against the Blazers is a sign for pause in my mind. Regardless, the Dubs will take care of Portland in four or five games, with Damien Lillard possibly taking one game with one of his ridiculous individual performances that we all know and love.

The Spurs made easy work of Memphis, which they will continue to do for the next three games. This will be a sweep, and the current line is San Antonio -11. Give up the points and make money on San Antonio doing what they do best: winning by a lot.

Houston and OKC was an absolute embarrassment of an NBA playoff game. The Thunder is such a bad team, which makes the fact that they won 47 games this year almost inconceivable. The reason, obviously, has been Russell Westbrook being a ridiculous human being all year, leading to his inevitable MVP trophy.

What it won’t lead to, however, is playoff wins. The Rockets will continue to stick Beverley on him and do whatever they have to do to keep him from dominating the game like he dominated all year long. Rockets will win in five, with OKC getting one game at home when Russ goes for 50/20/15, or something similarly ridiculous.

Utah and LAC was a fun game one between two of the most puzzling teams in the West. I’m convinced that the Clips will never win anything worth mentioning, and Utah, especially without Gobert, is the epitome of ‘meh.’ Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’s best player, is hopeful he’ll return during the series, but I see Chris Paul and the more talented team taking over this series and finishing Utah off. The Jazz are a very gritty team (though no, the whole team isn’t white), so they’ll push the Clippers to six or seven games, but the more experienced and talented team will take it home.

Picks: Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets

Image via Shutterstock

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MelKiperSr

Great American, mediocre student, terrible golfer. For lukewarm takes, you can find me at @mel_kiper_sr on twitter, or hit the inbox at melkipersr@gmail.com.

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