NBA Playoff Betting Preview – 5/4

If the first round of the NBA playoffs was any indication, the Orlando Magic should have little trouble taking care of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Magic and Hawks meet in Game 1 of their second round set on Tuesday night at Amway Arena. Orlando is priced as a 9-point favorite for the opener.

The Magic swept the Charlotte Bobcats in four straight games in the first round, going 3-1 ATS for bettors. Many thought Charlotte would give Orlando a push, but the Bobcats were no match for the Magic.

Vince Carter had 21 points in Orlando’s 99-90 win over Charlotte in the clincher last Monday, as the Magic covered as 4-point road chalk. With the victory, the Magic have won 10 in a row (9-1 ATS), and are an impressive 24-3 SU (19-7-1 ATS) in their last 27 games dating back to the regular season.

The Hawks had a hard time with the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round, even if they finished the series strongly. Down 3-2 in the best-of-seven set to upstart Milwaukee, Atlanta won – and covered – on the road before taking down the Bucks 95-74 as 8.5-point faves at Philips Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Still, the Hawks should have had an easier go of it against the Bucks, who were without starting center Andrew Bogut for the series. Atlanta is afforded no such luck against Dwight Howard and Orlando, which went 3-1 SU and against the number in the teams’ four meetings in the regular season.

Later on Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers are 6-point favorites at Staples Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz.

The Lakers took the opener 104-99 on Sunday afternoon, but it was the Jazz that took home the payday as 7-point underdogs. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting, while Deron Williams went for 24 points and eight assists for Utah.

Both teams are dealing with injury issues heading into Tuesday night, and it’s the Jazz on the short end of the stick. Mehmet Okur (heel) is out for the season, while Andrei Kirilenko (calf) is questionable for Game 2. Williams is expected to play after tweaking his ankle in the first half on Sunday.

Andrew Bynum (knee) played through a slight meniscus tear in the opener, and he’s slated to be in the starting lineup on Tuesday night. Sasha Vujacic (ankle) remains out indefinitely for the Lakers.