NBA Playoffs 2018: First-Round Predictions, Betting Odds, Preview For Every Series

NBA Playoffs 2018: First-Round Predictions, Betting Odds, Preview For Every Series

NBA Playoffs 2018: First-Round Predictions, Betting Odds, Preview For Every Series

Home court advantage in any round does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead to the team with the better regular season record.

As for Melas' selection, well, he has one heck of a reason for going with a Rockets-Clippers game from January that was decided by 11 points.

This year, the playoff games have strong winds at their backs, as ESPN is reporting that National Basketball Association viewership for the 2017-18 regular season was up across all platforms as measured by Nielsen.

Eastern Conference matchups Toronto Raptors (1) vs Washington Wizards (8) - The Raptors have all sorts of pressure on them this postseason, but they couldn't have done much better than facing the fledgling Wizards at the start. After the Minnesota Timberwolves escaped a late push by the Denver Nuggets, that forced overtime, the 16-team field was set.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the fourth-year forward who finds himself playing all five positions for the Milwaukee Bucks, earned the moniker "The Greek Freak" with his preternatural abilities on all areas of the floor.

No. 3 76ers vs. Never mind that All-Star big man Joel Embiid went down with an orbital fracture in his left eye eight games into the stretch, the Sixers just kept rolling.

Second-placed Boston Celtics will take on seventh-placed Milwaukee Bucks without star player Kyrie Irving, the first game of the series at Boston. Also rounding out the conference are likely Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers, who shocked everyone by locking up the fifth seed despite trading away Paul George this summer.

Suggestions the combination of Chris Paul and leading MVP candidate James Harden would not work have been emphatically brushed aside, with the Rockets entering the playoffs with the best record in the regular season (65-17). The Rockets, meanwhile, lost key defender Luc Mbah a Moute to a dislocated shoulder on Tuesday, and he's expected to miss the first round-if not longer. The Rockets went 4-0 against the Timberwolves in the regular season, averaging 122 points per game.

DEFENDING CHAMPS - The Golden State Warriors have been to the finals three years in a row, winning titles in both 2015 and last season, and they certainly have the talent to make it back despite a less-than-dominating regular season that prompted coach Steve Kerr at one point to call out their effort as "pathetic". In 2017, the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in five games.

Portland Trail Blazers (-210) vs.

Third-placed Portland Trail Blazers come into the playoff with a secret weapon called Damian Lillard when they take on sixth-placed New Orleans Pelicans, the first game in Portland. While injuries forced him to miss 22 games this season, he still managed to post strong numbers.

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