The Phive - Free NBA Playoff Betting Predictions
Updated: Aug 17
Hope you all didn't miss me too much on my two-day break. The last time we spoke, I gave you two bets, one that was a huge underdog winner, and another that harmlessly pushed. Today, I'm going to be taking a look at the full NBA playoff bracket which is set to get underway tomorrow. While I will give my series winner for each series, unlike with the NHL, I don't think you should be making all these bets. Some of the lines are just massive (Bucks -10000). For the series that have a clear winner, I will try to correctly predict the final series score to see if we can win some money that way.
1 Milwaukee Bucks vs 8 Orlando Magic
This really won't be much of a series. The Bucks went just 3-5 during the restart, but a lot of that has to do with the benching of key players in meaningless games. They've had the number one seed locked up since the get-go and will now take on a much worse team which also only managed a 3-5 record in the bubble. However, while the Bucks were benching key players to get to that record, the Magic were simply that bad. They lost to teams throughout the seeding that weren't trying, and without Jonathan Isaac, I just don't see how they compete with Giannis and company. I do worry a bit that the Magic will sneak away with a victory in a game where the Bucks let their guard down, but if they try, this Bucks team should be able to win each game by double digits.
There is currently a flaw in betting logic over on DraftKings. The Bucks to win the series 4-0 is at -150, while the series under 4.5 games is at -121. Run out and hit the under for a much better price.
SERIES WINNER: Bucks (-10000) Not worth betting 10k to win 100.
SERIES PROP BET: Series under 4.5 games (-121)
2 Toronto Raptors vs 7 Brooklyn Nets
I don't think I'm alone in this thinking, but the Nets looked much better in the bubble than many anticipated. They finished with a 5-3 record, despite not having Kyrie or KD. Yes, some of their wins came against teams that absolutely weren't trying, but then again, there were quite a few games that the Nets won where they also weren't trying. Remember when they were double-digit dogs against the Bucks and Celtics and won both games. That's pretty wild.
They will be taking on a Raptors team that looked like the class of the bubble until they laid an egg against the Celtics. Now that the games mean something, I expect this Raptors team to come out firing to prove that they deserve to be taken seriously as repeat contenders even without Kawhi. Again, the price is way too big to take just the series line, but unlike in the first series discussed, I do like the Nets to steal at least one game here.
SERIES WINNER: Raptors (-5000) Not worth betting 5k to win 100.
SERIES PROP BET: Raptors 4-1 (+170)
3 Boston Celtics vs 6 Philadelphia 76ers
I think this series is a lot more uneven than we're being led to believe. Joel Embiid is healthy and the 76ers do have a lot of great supporting cast members, but without Ben Simmons, I don't see any way that they slow down Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker. It feels like this is going to be one of those series where when one player has a terrible game for the Celtics, another will just step in and take care of business to sure up the victory.
Add to that, I don't think that the 76ers are that well-coached of a team. They don't seem to do the little things right, and while the Celtics are certainly capable of disastrous decisions, they are currently much healthier, much more talented, and much better on the defensive side of things. I would be tempted to take the Celtics in a sweep here just because the price is so enticing (+500), but I'll stick with a safer route in a series that seems destined to be one-sided.
SERIES WINNER: Celtics (-360)
SERIES PROP BET: Celtics 4-1 (+300)
4 Indiana Pacers vs 5 Miami Heat
This one is by far the toughest series to pick in the East, and arguably the only one that is going to go more than five games. The Heat are currently favored by a lot, which I find surprising. It's not because the Pacers are the higher seed (that likely won't matter at all in these series where there is no home-court advantage), but because the Pacers actually looked really good in the seeding games. With TJ Warren on the court, anything feels possible. He missed the last two seeding games with an injury, but I don't think it will be serious enough to hold him out. There is also a very small chance that Indiana gets Domantas Sabonis back which would be massive for this team.
I do think the Heat are the better complete team. Jimmy Butler was resting for most of the restart, and will now be fresh as he tries to lead his guys on. They have great knockdown shooters, and have much more depth than the Pacers which is why it makes sense they are favored in a seven-game series. However, the series line is currently at -335, a number that seems just absolutely absurd considering the Celtics are only -360. I think that the Heat are ultimately going to pull this one out, but if you're going to bet on the series line, you should be taking the Pacers at a lofty +250.
SERIES WINNER: Pacers (+250)
SERIES PROP BET: Over 5.5 games (-129)
1 Los Angeles Lakers vs 8 Portland Trail Blazers
Don't get distracted by the shiny object. Damien Lillard just won seeding games MVP for his nine-game performance which was just enough to get the Blazers into the playoffs as the number eight seed. The nine games were full of clutch moments, with the exception of the Clippers, and because of it, Portland is becoming a popular upset pick over the Lakers in the first round.
Not gonna happen.
I've been seeing things about people thinking the Blazers are more like a four or five seed that just got unlucky with injuries early. Normally, I would agree with that. But if you actually watched the games, the Blazers never looked great especially in the last couple of games. The defense is absolutely terrible, and while the offense has been enough to get them through, they're about to take on a very good Lakers defense that should be fresh for the playoffs.
Yes, the Lakers looked bad in the seeding games, but they had nothing to play for. Nothing. The Blazers were playing for their lives every game. They lost to the Clippers backups, they very nearly lost to a Nets team with nothing to play for. LeBron shows up in the playoffs. I don't think this one is close.
SERIES WINNER: Lakers (-420)
SERIES PROP BET: Lakers 4-1 (+240)
2 Los Angeles Clippers vs 7 Dallas Mavericks
Remember when I said don't get distracted by the shiny object. The same goes for this series. Luka Doncic was phenomenal throughout the seeding games, but he's about to run into the team that I believe is the best in the entire league. If you're just looking at records, the Clippers look like a disappointment, but nothing could be further from the truth. These seeding games were all about motivation, and the Clippers had none.
What started off with Lou Williams missing time because of his strip club adventure, has ended with a favorable matchup for the deepest team in the NBA. Kristaps Porzingis and Luka may cause some problems, but ultimately they will not be enough to make this series into anything remotely interesting. We may be seeing the birth of a new star in this league, but better teams win in the playoffs. The Clippers are by far the better team.
SERIES WINNER: Clippers (-530)
SERIES PROP BET: Clippers -2.5 games (+120)
3 Denver Nuggets vs 6 Utah Jazz
Now is when the West starts to get fun. The next two series are going to be incredibly competitive. The Nuggets went through most of the seeding games at far less than full strength. Jamal Murray was battling a hamstring injury, while Gary Harris also missed every game. Harris' absence wasn't as devastating a loss as it first seemed, with Michael Porter Jr. playing incredibly well during the last eight games. But with the Nuggets definitely getting healthier, their depth will start to become noticeable as the games progress and tired legs start to show up. Remember, the Nuggets defeated the Jazz in Murray's first game back, and the man was absolutely exhausted for the last quarter.
Meanwhile, the Jazz have been difficult to predict since the seeding games began. Sometimes they show up, while other times their offense goes cold for long stretches forcing them to dig themselves out of big holes. Donovan Mitchell has bailed them out more than once, and while I expect him to do the same a few times in this series, I like the Nuggets to sneak away with the series victory, since they will be getting stronger as the games progress.
Also to note, this opened as Nuggets -177. That's a serious move for a series line before any games have been played.
EDIT: This movement is because Mike Conley has left the bubble.
SERIES WINNER: Nuggets (-278)
SERIES PROP BET: Nuggets 4-2 (+350) The over/under game total prices are ugly.
4 Houston Rockets vs 5 Oklahoma City Thunder
How much of an impact is the loss of Russell Westbrook going to be for the Rockets? And, will they still be within striking distance when he is able to come back? These are the two biggest questions coming into this series by far. On paper, the Rockets are far and away the better team. All of their players have been shooting lights out since the restart, but there is something about Westbrook being out in game 1 that worries me for the entirety of the series.
The Thunder can also shoot the ball, and are likely the better-rested team coming into this series, as it seemed to be a serious priority for head coach Billy Donovan. Steven Adams will have a huge advantage down low, and if the Thunder are able to capitalize on that and open up the three-point line and mid-range game, I think they're going to get out of this series with the W. The Rockets are terrifying. They can turn it on at any moment. They can turn a nine-point deficit into a three-point lead in a flash because of their shooting.
Westbrook is only supposed to be out for game 1, but I fear it may stretch to the first two games. If that is the case, I like the Thunder to win the first two and then they just have to win two more before Russ, Harden, and the rest of the lethal offense are able to win four. And if Russ does only miss game 1, I think like the Thunder to get three more wins before the Rockets get four.
SERIES WINNER: Thunder (+120)
SERIES PROP BET: Thunder 4-3 (+500)