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NBA Playoffs: Betting Preview

The NBA playoffs get started on Saturday. Here’s a quick rundown of all the matchups with series odds.

You can see all the NBA playoff odds here.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers (-4000) vs. Chicago Bulls (+1100)

LeBron James finally returns to the court after sitting out the Cavaliers’ final four games of the regular season. Cleveland lost all four of those games, including one to the Bulls.

With LeBron in the lineup the Cavs were 2-1 against the Bulls this season and they could also have Shaquille O’Neal if he’s ready to return from thumb surgery. The Bulls have advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once since the Michael Jordan era and their chances of changing that against the Cavs this year don’t look good.

Orlando Magic (-1100) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (+700)

The Bobcats are in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. To earn their first playoff series win they’ll have to find a way to upset the Magic.

During the regular season Orlando was 3-1 against Charlotte. That win came in their last matchup during the regular season and prior to that Orlando had won seven in a row against the Bobcats.

The Bobcats’ roster doesn’t have the star power to match up with an Orlando lineup of Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis, and a series sweep by the Magic wouldn’t be a surprise.

Atlanta Hawks (+500) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (-800)

The Hawks made it past the first round last season for the first time since 1999. They look like they should get there again this year after getting matched up with a shorthanded Bucks squad.

Milwaukee has been without Michael Redd for almost the entire season and an even bigger loss was Andrew Bogut a few weeks ago. The Bucks were 4-2 after Bogut went down, but one of those losses came against Atlanta.

Boston Celtics (-180) vs. Miami Heat (+160)

The aging Celtics make what could be their last run at a championship with the current lineup. The Celtics are still dangerous in a seven-game series with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, but can all three of them last throughout a long playoff run?

The Heat may need a solid playoff run to help coax Dwyane Wade into staying in Miami after the season. It doesn’t look good for Miami, though, as they were 0-3 against Boston during the regular season.

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers (-800) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (+500)

The Lakers’ repeat bid begins against the Thunder and it looks like it will also begin with the return of Andrew Bynum. The Lakers’ center hasn’t played since mid-March due to an injured Achilles, but all signs point to him being ready for Sunday’s series opener.

Kevin Durant has led the Thunder back to the postseason after becoming the youngest player to lead the league in scoring. The Thunder were 1-3 against the Lakers this season, but could deliver a shocking upset if the Lakers continue the lethargic play that has dogged them the last month of the season.

Dallas Mavericks (-160) vs. San Antonio Spurs (+140)

For the second straight season the Mavericks and Spurs clash in the opening round of the playoffs. Last year it was Dallas that advanced after a 4-1 series win. Dallas could be headed for another series win after taking three-of-four from San Antonio during the regular season.

Don’t take too much from those regular season wins, though. In one of those games the Spurs were without Tony Parker and in another they were missing Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Suns lost the regular season series against Portland 1-2, but that may not matter versus a Trail Blazers lineup that could be severely shorthanded in the playoffs.

Injuries have been hurting the Blazers all season and it’s really hit hard at the end of the season. Brandon Roy has a torn meniscus and could be done for the season after having surgery this week.

LaMarcus Aldridge was a late addition to the injury report this week after missing the regular-season finale with a stomach virus that landed him in the hospital. Keep an eye on the injury reports for news on both heading into Sunday’s game.

Denver Nuggets (-175) vs. Utah Jazz (+155)

The Nuggets exorcised their playoff demons last season with their first series win since 1994 while making it to the conference final. Before last season the Nuggets had been eliminated in the first round five years in a row while going 4-16.

They posted good numbers against the Jazz this season with a 3-1 record in four games. Also worth noting is that in that one loss they played without Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Utah knows all about injuries as well and could be shorthanded in the series. Carlos Boozer missed the regular-season finale with a strained right oblique and Andrei Kirilenko has only played twice in Utah’s last 17 games due to a strained left calf.