NBA Playoff Matchups Betting Analysis & Play-In Tournament Odds
The NBA finished up its regular season on Sunday, and we now know where teams are ranked for the playoffs, which teams will compete in the play-in tournament, and which first-round matchups will provide us the most exciting storylines.
Seeds 7 through 10 will begin the Eastern Conference play-in tournament on Tuesday night. The Wizards visit the Celtics, with the winner of that game claiming the 7th seed and a date with the 2nd seeded Brooklyn Nets. Boston is currently a one-point favorite for that game at the sportsbook.
On Thursday, the loser of the Wizards-Celtics game will play the winner of Hornets at Pacers (the other Tuesday night game) for a chance to claim the 8th seed and a first-round matchup with the top seed, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Seeds 3 through 6
The Milwaukee Bucks finished the season as the 3rd seed, and they will take on the 6th seeded Miami Heat in the first round. Milwaukee has the defending MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, improved point guard play behind Jrue Holiday, and previous seasons of playoff disappointment to help fuel them.
Miami is who knocked the Bucks out of the bubble last season, so they’re no stranger to being the underdog against the Bucks and prevailing. However, they have a great defense that neutralized Giannis the last time around, before he got hurt, and if they can do that again, there could be another upset.
The 4th seed is the New York Knicks, relative newbies to the playoff season. Just two members of the team have postseason experience — Nerlens Noel and Reggie Bullock — and their best player, Julius Randle, will play in his first-ever playoff game when New York hosts the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Atlanta lost to the Knicks three times in the regular season, but each of the three games was within either five points or decided in overtime, so don’t let the 0-3 record fool you. As good as New York has been, Atlanta has been right there with them, and this should be a terrific first-round series.
Injuries were a big part of the Lakers season in 2021, so it isn’t surprising to see them out of the top spot in the West. What was not expected, however, was the Lakers in the play-in tournament.
Instead, they will host the Warriors and scoring champion Steph Curry on Wednesday for the 7th seed and a first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns. Oddsmakers have posted the Lakers as 4½-point chalk in this match.
Friday night, the loser of the Warriors-Lakers game will play the winner of the Spurs at Grizzlies (also a Wednesday game) for the 8th seed and a first-round series against the 52-win Utah Jazz.
Seeds 3 Through 6
The Nuggets were a Western-Conference finalist a year ago and boasted this season’s MVP favorite in Nikola Jokic. They don’t have last season’s playoff sensation in Jamal Murray, who twice scored 50 points against the Jazz, but they are a well-rounded 3rd seed and primed to make another playoff run.
Denver will take on Portland in a rematch of one of the best playoff series in recent memory. In 2019 the Blazers beat the Nuggets in seven games and won an epic quadruple overtime game, 140-137.
As was the case then, if Portland is to find success this year, it must come from a star performance by Damian Lillard.
The Clippers are the 4th seed, and without injuries this season, they could have easily finished in the top two. Inconsistent play has dogged them at times, but if Kawhi Leonard leads and Paul George scores, the Clippers should be in good shape.
Facing the 5th seed Dallas Mavericks, we are reminded of the Clippers’ inconsistent play. They lost to the Mavs by 51 points in the first week of the season, and that came after wins over the Lakers and Nuggets.
Luka Doncic was big that game, scoring 24 points in just 26 minutes, and overall this season, he averaged more than 30 ppg against the Clippers to go along with 11 assists per game.
NBA Draft Lottery
For the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, their focus turns to the draft and their chances of getting the top pick. The final odds of getting the No. 1 pick are:
Odds by BetUs
|Houston, Detroit, and Orlando:||14%|
|Cleveland and Oklahoma City:||11.5%|