After a regular season that felt like it went for an eternity and a play-in tournament that was over in a flash, the NBA Playoffs are finally upon us!
Round 1 of the playoffs boasts eight great matchups to look forward. We’ll still be giving you our regular weekly betting tips for the key games, but today we’ve also got a short preview and betting tips for all eight matchups in Round 1!
Miami Heat vs Atlanta Hawks
Miami finished atop the Eastern Conference after a brilliant regular season and earned the right to face off against successful play-in competitors in the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks will likely be fatigued after two gruelling play-in fixtures, and the Heat go into the series in good health. Clint Capela will likely miss at least the start of the series due to a knee injury sustained in the win over the Cavs, which will make it even harder for these Hawks to compete with the Eastern Conference leading Heat.
Heat in 5 or 6
*Given there is unlikely to be a market on the Heat to win in 5 OR 6 games at most bookmakers, we have given you the effective odds if you placed two seperate bets (Heat in 5 AND Heat in 6) that both returned the same return.
Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets
The Boston Celtics were one of the hottest teams in the league after the All-Star break and just missed out on the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Jayson Tatum took his game to the next level but he’ll have his hands full as the Celts come up against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. This is set to be the best series of Round 1, and the Celtics will be desperate to avenge their loss to the Nets in the playoffs last year. Barring an unlikely return from Ben Simmons, who could help stem the flow of Tatum, I think the Celtics just have a little too much firepower at their disposal here, not to mention one of the best defences in the league.
Celtics in 6 or 7
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls
The Bulls held onto their spot in the top six in the Eastern Conference due to a really hot start to the season. The fact of the matter is, they were 7-14 in their last 21 games of the regular season and they were 0-3 against the Bucks during that stretch. The Bucks are a far superior team and should absolutely roll through them in this series.
Bucks in 4
Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors
Along with the Celts-Nets matchup, this one is the hardest to predict of the entire first round. The Sixers haven’t been the juggernaut they hoped they’d be since trading for James Harden. They certainly haven’t been horrible, but that’s in large part to Joel Embiid’s MVP caliber season. Can that form hold up in the playoffs? The majority of the Raptors squad have been there and done that in the playoffs, so in my opinion, this has the makings of a long and hard fought series. Back this one to go the distance.
76ers in 7
Phoenix Suns vs New Orleasns Pelicans
Can star forward Zion Williamson make a miraculous recovery in time to face off against the Suns? Probably not. Does it even matter if he does? Hell no. The Suns have been the best team in the league all season and I don’t see a way in which this Pelicans team can even be competitive, regardless of Williamson’s availability. Back Phoenix to absolutely roll through New Orleans here.
Suns in 4 or 5
Memphis Grizzlies vs Minnesota Timberwolves
This seems like it’s the battle of the next gen. Sure, Karl Anthony Towns has been in the league for a while now, but you just feel that he and these young Timberwolves are finally ready to make a run. On the other side of the floor, Memphis could set themselves up for a decade plus of success if they have a good outing in this post-season. This is going to be an absolute cracker of a series, happy to sit back and watch this one, hoping it goes into the 3rd week of playoffs.
Grizzlies in 7
Golden State Warriors vs Denver Nuggets
The job that Nikola Jokic did to get his team to this position is truly remarkable. With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. out for basically the whole season, the Serbian star put the Nuggets on his back, leading them to a 48 win season and likely another MVP award for himself. He’ll be without his running mates for the start of this series too, where he takes on Steph Curry and the Warriors. With Klay Thompson still woefully out of form and Draymond Green battling injuries, I think this series will be closer than the bookmakers suggest. Back it to go the distance.
Nuggets in 7
Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz
This last matchup is one that I could truly see going either way. The Mavs would have no doubt been favoured with the home court advantage but with star guard Luka Doncic out for at least Game 1 and potentially more, the pendulum has swung slightly in favour of the Jazz. I think that Luka is the type of player that can still have a massive impact on a game even if he is not 100% fit. He doesn’t rely a lot on athleticism so even if he misses just one game, I can still see the Mavs coming back to win this series. Back the value in the Mavs here.
Mavericks in 6