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Can Gregg Popovich lead the underdog Spurs to a first-round upset over the Nuggets? Photo by Zereshk [CC License].
  • The Denver Nuggets finished the regular season just 5-6 in their final 11 games.
  • The Toronto Raptors are now 2-14 all-time in Game 1 of a playoff series.
  • Joel Embiid played just 24 minutes in Game 1 for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The opening Saturday of the 2019 NBA playoffs delivered a slew of upsets. Three road teams won Game 1, all cashing as dogs of 5.5 or greater. Are any of those teams a good bet to win their series now? Let’s take a closer look:

Spurs-Nuggets Series Odds

Team Odds at
San Antonio Spurs -115
Denver Nuggets -105

Nuggets Game 1 Performance Is A Concern

The Nuggets have been a surprise team this season, ascending all the way to the No. 2 seed in the West. However, their Game 1 performance is a big concern. Remember, this is a team that faded down the stretch of the season. They were 37-15 on February 2nd but finished 17-13, including a 5-6 run in their final 11 contests.

Their offense has gone into the tank, ranking 28th in points per game since the All-Star break. The 102.0 points per game they scored in their final 11 games was the second-worst in the NBA. Much of that carried over into Game 1 where they had quarters of 20 and 17 points.

They have been and still are slumping, which is why they were only -240 to win this series to begin with. The Spurs are a good bet. They’re not going to beat the elites in the Western Conference but beating a team with a listless offense in a defensive series is right up their alley.

Magic-Raptors Series Odds

Team Odds at BetOnline
Orlando Magic +235
Toronto Raptors -280

Raptors Should Be Fine

The Raptors lost Game 1 of a playoff series. Are you really that surprised? They are 2-14 all-time in Game 1’s in franchise history. Let’s all take a deep breath and calm down.

Kyle Lowry, who is being paid $33 million a year, has to play better. He went scoreless in Game 1 while journeyman point guard D.J. Augustin went for 25. That won’t last. And even in that setting, the Magic still barely won.

The Magic did win 11 of their final 13 contests to end the season but I’m not expecting them to win this series.

Nets-76ers Series Odds

Team Odds at BetOnline
Brooklyn Nets +185
Philadelphia 76ers -215

76ers Could Get Upset

The Nets win in Game 1 was no fluke. They led almost wire-to-wire as the 76ers looked lost.

While the 76ers are supposedly a four-headed monster, three of the heads don’t look that good. Point guard Ben Simmons can’t hit an outside jumper, so he’s mostly a non-factor. Joel Embiid played reasonably well but only lasted 24 minutes as a knee injury is hampering him. Meanwhile, Tobias Harris had just four points.

I think this series will be a dog fight, so I wouldn’t bet this either way. The 76ers should play better as J.J. Redick, Simmons and Harris combined for just 18 points in Game 1 but they averaged 55.0 per game in the regular season. However, with Embiid’s knee being an issue and the Nets being hungry, I wouldn’t be surprised if they advanced.