NBA Western Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet

NBA Western Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet

NBA Western Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet
By VIC TAFUR

So, the way a cheat sheet works is you take a quick look when the teacher's not looking. If you only take a glance at this, here is the key answer:

Los Angeles Lakers. To win the Western Conference (-400). To win the NBA title (+125). Lock and load.

That's it. Thanks for reading.

You have a little more time? OK. The Lakers have the most talent in the league, even before Andrew Bynum came back from his knee injury. They have home-court advantage. Did you know that coach Phil Jackson has never lost a playoff series after his team wins Game 1? The Lakers have the best clutch player in the game in Kobe Bryant (even though he may never win an MVP award again thanks to LeBron James).

Here is a quick breakdown of the Western Conference, since you have some spare time after wagering all of your money on the Lakers:

High seed with best first-round matchup

Lakers. Utah lost to Golden State at home last weekend. The Warriors had seven healthy players and were led by C.J. Watson, Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph. It is a little ironic that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and this team is imploding. Maybe a good time walk off into the sunset.

Worst bet on the board

Utah +800 to win the West.

High seed with worst first-round matchup

Denver gets the No. 2 seed and a date with New Orleans, who probably peaked last season but definitely has enough firepower in Chris Paul and David West to give the Nuggets all sorts of trouble and possibly a ticket to the couch for the second round. The teams split the regular-season series 2-2.

Best sleeper pick to win the West

Houston (+800) plays great defense, has a dominant low-post player in Yao, a streaky scorer and emotional X-factor in Ron Artest and a great bench. That said, while the Rockets don't miss all the drama and streakiness of injured Tracy McGrady, they do miss his ability to create his own shot in crunch time. Beating Portland and finally getting out of the first round would make it a great season for the Rockets, who could then dump McGrady, add another piece and try and win the NBA title next season. Which means ...

The more-bang-for-your-buck sleeper pick

Dallas at +2500. The Mavericks are playing their best ball of the season and should be able to get past the Manu-Ginobili-less Spurs in the first round. The problem is, Jason Kidd has gotten abused by most of the quicker point guards in the West.

MVP

Pau Gasol is the ideal foil to Bryant and can score and create for teammates in the high and low post. Bynum's return frees him up to crash the boards and Kevin Garnett's likely absence from the playoffs makes him the most dominant big man in the postseason (That's right, Dwight Howard, I said it).

Kid Dyn-o-mites

These guys could spark their teams to new heights or just blow the whole damn thing up, so buyer beware. Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, Josh Howard, Ron Artest and Andrei Kirilenko. Hey, three of those guys are on the same team.

Key matchups

Brandon Roy could carry Portland deep into the playoffs on his own, but really Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden are going to have to keep Yao Ming in check to get past Houston in the first round. And, if Nene can dominate New Orleans' Tyson Chandler inside, Denver would all of a sudden prove dangerous to non-believers like myself.

Weird stat that could come into play

Utah was 3-18 in games played on a second consecutive night. There are no back-to-back games in the playoffs, so Carlos Boozer can sit in an ice tube for like 30 straight hours between games.

Highest scoring series

The Lakers and Jazz averaged 224 points in their three games.

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