There are plenty of series that should be competitive in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but there may not be a more intriguing one than the No. 4 seed Oklahoma CIty Thunder against the No. 5 seed Utah Jazz in the Western Conference.
The oddsmakers have given Oklahoma City the slightest of edges but this one could be the equivalent of a coin flip. The Thunder was able to surpass the Jazz late in the year for the home court advantage in the first round and that is the main reason it is favored.
These two teams are completely different but seem very evenly matched. It will be fun to watch if the star power of the Thunder can overcome the solid defense and depth of Utah. Many will be checking out the first game closely to see what trends emerge in NBA basketball wagering.
Game 1 of this NBA Playoff Series is on Sunday, April 15, 2018 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
We'll have NBA odds at Betcris available for every game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Oklahoma City is a slim -130 favorite to advance past the Jazz and into the second round, while Utah is listed as the +110 underdog. The betting public believes in Oklahoma City at those figures, as it is garnering more than 61 percent of the action to advance.
The Thunder is a 3.5-point favorite in Game 1, with more than 73 percent of the money on OKC to cover. The Thunder is -165 on the moneyline in the opening game while the Jazz are the +144 underdogs. The scoring total is 205 points as Utah’s slower tempo clashes with the Thunder’s preference to run. The “over” has been the more popular pick in NBA totals betting.
Neither of these teams are expected to do much damage beyond the first round. Oklahoma City’s odds to win the NBA championship are pegged at +4019. Utah’s title odds are listed at +5700 in NBA basketball gambling.
99.8. That’s the number of points the Jazz allow on the season. Utah is one of only two teams that allowed fewer than 100 points per game during the regular season, tying with the San Antonio Spurs for the league’s best defense by allowing 99.8 points per contest.
Rudy Gobert is the catalyst to the defensive dominance. He averaged 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game during the year and is a great deterrent in the middle of the lane. The Thunder boasts star point guard Russell Westbrook and explosive swingman Paul George, who both figure to test Gobert down low.
The team that can dictate the pace should have the advantage in this series.
Matchup To Watch
Russell Westbrook vs Donovan Mitchell -- The clash of these two star point guards will be one of the more intriguing storylines of the series. Westbrook is coming off his second straight season averaging a triple-double and Mitchell is Utah’s leading scorer, averaging 20.5 points per game.
In the most recent meeting between Oklahoma City and Utah back in late December, both players impressed. Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while Mitchell put up 29 points and five rebounds.
This will be the first postseason appearance for Mitchell, who is in his rookie season with the Jazz and inexperience could play a factor. Russell is no stranger to the spotlight and the postseason which could work in his favor.
Free NBA ATS Picks
Oklahoma City has the star power but don’t sleep on Utah. The Jazz were great down the stretch and have really found a solid groove. This should be one of then more entertaining series of the first round as many of the games should go down to the final minutes.
Look for Utah’s defense to flummox Oklahoma City, which has some trouble in the halfcourt at times. Take the Jazz to take care of business in this series in six games. Utah will get off to a good start by upsetting the Thunder in Game 1 in NBA basketball betting.
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