After 70 games in the regular season, the NBA playoffs have finally begun. This is not only one of the most anticipated moments on the sports calendar every year, but also a busy time for online bookmakers in the United States.
The NBA is one of the most popular sports in the country, which means it generates huge interest from the betting public. You have to try to play this game to understand how great it is. Demand is growing in the postseason and bookmakers are responding by offering a wide variety of markets throughout the playoffs.
While there will always be options for betting on a single game, there are also many futures markets for each streak that takes place in each round. Here we will preview each streak of the first round and place bets on each of them.
NBA 2021 First Round Selection: Bet Predictions for Each Series
Only a crystal ball knows which teams are built for playoff basketball. The beginning of the NBA playoffs can be unrecognizable, and that's okay. The postseason format was among the changes made this season, and this led us to learn a little differently about first-round playoffs.
Rather than admitting the top eight teams from each conference, only the top six teams from each side received guaranteed seats. From that point on, the game tournament for teams numbered 7 through 10 was used to determine the last two places in the playoff standings for each conference.
But no matter how we get there, the end result will still be eight teams on each side, and from that point on, the postseason grid looks fine. Using odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, we look at matches and provide a couple of NBA first round playoff betting picks for each series. * All odds provided by DraftKings as of Thursday 20th May.
NBA Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Betting Picks
No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 8 Pacers or Wizards
The top-seeded Sixers won 49 games to finish No. 1 in the conference, including a gaudy 29-7 record at home. Philadelphia awaits the winner of the Pacers-Wizards play-in game for their opening round series. Picks will be made after the match has been determined and the odds are published.
No. 2 Brooklyn Nets (-1430) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics (+700)
The Brooklyn Nets will face Boston in the most lopsided series that doesn't involve a No. 1 seed. While the Nets' astronomical odds to win the series hold no value at all, there are still ways to bet on the Nets in the opening round if that's what you're looking for.
Boston made its way through the play-in round and has a star player in Jayson Tatum, but he isn't beating Brooklyn on his own. With Jaylen Brown sidelined, the pressure will be on Kemba Walker to produce enough offensively for the Celtics to remain in games. In the end, the Nets are just going to be too much to match.
Brooklyn had the top offensive rating this season and its big three is fully healthy following James Harden's recent return. Once you consider that and the depth it has on the bench at center, this really is a herculean task for a Boston team dealing with Brown's injury.
Even though we've seen the Nets lose focus and drop games they should win in the regular season, the playoffs should bring with it a renewed focus for a team that knows it can win it all. We're taking Brooklyn in a short series but gaining some value by picking an exact result.
Series Pick: Brooklyn Nets Win Series 4-1 (+175)
Secondary Pick: Total Games Under 5.5 (-167)
No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks (-305) vs. No. 6 Miami Heat (+240)
In a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals in last season's playoff bubble, the Bucks get another crack at the Heat as huge betting favorites at DraftKings. This time around, it's time for Milwaukee to exact some revenge.
The Bucks are a complete team, sporting the fifth-highest offensive rating and the seventh-highest defensive rating for the season. They mostly flew under the radar this season while going 46-26, and perhaps that's just how they like it since we saw where the hype train ended up last year.
It wasn't just a win for the Heat, it was utter domination. Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled with Miami's defense while several young players and Jimmy Butler were able to shine in a five-game series win for the eventual conference champs.
So what's different this time? Not much, except for Jrue Holiday, who contributes on both sides. He will take Butler away from defending Giannis and leave that to Bam Adebayo in many cases. Holiday will also play defense on Butler, who he's defended well in the past.
Otherwise, we are really banking on the Heat not catching fire in the same way they did in the bubble. That, and the veteran-laden Bucks including Giannis playing how they did for most of the season and not disappearing now that the playoffs have arrived.
Series Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5 Games (-143)
Secondary Pick: Game 1/Series Double: Milwaukee/Milwaukee (-155)
No. 4 New York Knicks (+100) vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks (-121)
The Hawks played the Knicks three times in the regular season, with New York winning all three. While that has absolutely no bearing on the playoff series, what we saw in those games and the entire season tells us where to go in this matchup.
Despite its apparent offensive woes, New York is a top-three team in three-point shooting percentage and the No.1-ranked group in the same category on defense. Over the course of a seven-game set, it will take a huge effort for the Hawks to turn the tables.
Series Pick: New York Knicks To Win (+100)
Secondary Pick: Total Games Over 5.5 (-200)
No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Warriors or Grizzlies
Utah awaits the winner of Golden State and Memphis, either of which makes for an interesting opponent. Picks to come once the matchup is determined and odds are released.
No. 2 Phoenix Suns (+154) vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers (-190)
The Suns may have finished nine games ahead of the Lakers in the standings, but Los Angeles is still a pretty heavy favorite going into the first round. This matchup pits strength against strength. The Suns had the seventh-highest offensive rating in the NBA while the Lakers were the top defensive group for the season.
Series Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -1.5 Games (-103)
Secondary Pick: Lakers Win Series 4-2 (+300)
No. 3 Denver Nuggets (-110) vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers (-110)
A rematch of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals, Denver has home court and opened as a slight favorite over Portland as a result. Damian Lillard remains the catalyst and one of the most important players in the entire postseason, but the Blazers also have a supporting cast that can pile on the points if the Nuggets choose to focus on him.
Series Pick: Portland Portland Trail Blazers To Win (-110)
Secondary Pick: Trail Blazers Win Series 4-2 (+400)
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (-400) vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks (+300)
Los Angeles is one of a small number of teams that ranked in the top 10 in offensive rating (No. 3 to be exact) and defensive rating (No. 8) over the course of the whole season. There's also a huge advantage to having playoff veterans like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to lean on when Dallas will be forced to go to the highly-used Doncic over and over.
The Clippers are an excellent three-point shooting team, leading the NBA in percentage from long range over the course of the season.They also ranked sixth at defending the three-point line. Dallas ranks in the middle of the pack in both categories and there's a chance the Mavs just can't hang with a Los Angeles team trying to wash away last year's playoff collapse.
Series Pick: Portland Los Angeles Clippers -1.5 Games (-165)
Secondary Pick: Game 1/Series Double: Mavericks/Clippers (+450)
It's really just a series of educated guesses forged from a season's worth of statistics and film, but that's enough to break down everything with a round-by-round prediction of the championship race.
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