Betting on the NBA Playoffs: Round 1

Eastern Conference

  • (1) Milwaukee Bucks (-10000) over (8) Orlando Magic (+1600) in 4 games

Both of these numbers are so ridiculous that it’s almost not even fun to make a bet on this series, which is why I won’t. At a monster number of -15000, you have to lay $150 to win a single dollar on the Bucks to win the series; conversely, to play the long shot Magic you only get a 30-to-1 return, less than one-sixth of the inverse. If you can find a prop for a Milwaukee sweep, which I don’t currently have the number on, I think that would be your best bet.

  • (2) Toronto Raptors (-2300) over (7) Brooklyn Nets (+1025) in 4 games

All the Raptors do is win basketball games. They went 46-18 during the pre-COVID season, then they went on and won 7 out of 8 games in the post-COVID Orlando bubble. They’ve got heart. Again I’ll say I have no particular interest in betting $23 to get back $1, nor do I care to bet on a depleted Brooklyn team at 10.25-to-1, because that ain’t happening. I think the Raptors are going to sweep because (again) all the Raptors do is win basketball games. They don’t know any other way.

  • (3) Boston Celtics (-440) over (6) Philadelphia 76ers (+320) in 5 games

Ever since Brad Stevens got to Boston I’ve kind of been under the impression his teams go through the motions during the regular season, and really clamp down in the playoffs. That’s good news for them since the 76ers don’t appear too interested in playing basketball in the bubble, and since they will be without their biggest playmakers — Ben Simmons — in the playoffs. I like Boston to make a run at the Eastern Conference Finals, and I like Philly to pack it in, knowing this isn’t their year. Boston -440 is the play if you don’t care about paying some healthy vigorish, though I would look seriously in Boston under 5.5 games assuming you can find it at plus money.

  • (5) Miami Heat (-340) over (4) Indiana Pacers (+270) in 6 games

I’m sure I write this every year, but it seems like the oddsmakers did a really good job of pricing all these series’. I obviously like the Heat to take care of the Pacers, but I don’t know I was hoping and/or expecting for it to be a lot closer to -150 than -500. At -340 I have to take the lesser-seeded team and lay about three dollars and fifty cents. The Pacers are a proud franchise and will play hard, but the Heat are a bit too talented I’m afraid.

Western Conference

  • (1) Los Angeles Lakers (-550) over Portland Trailblazers (+375) in 6 games 

I think before Portland’s narrow 134-133 win over the Brooklyn Nets, they were viewed by the public as a team that could seriously challenge the Lakers in round one. I also think that the public soured a bit on the Lakers after they went 3-5 in the bubble and 1-7 against the spread. Being that Portland looked gassed in their game against the Grizzlies the other night, along with an injury to CJ McCollum, it makes sense that Vegas is charging some extra juice on LA. -550 is too steep of a price, especially because Portland has one of the 10- or 15-best players in the league in Damion Lillard. He’s going to keep the Blazers competitive.

  • (2) Los Angeles Clippers (-650) over Dallas Mavericks (+425) in 5 games

I see the Clippers as the favorites to win the whole thing.

  • (3) Denver Nuggets (-290) over Utah Jazz (+240) in 6 games
  • (4) Houston Rockets (-155) over Oklahoma City Thunder (+135) in 6 games

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