The NBA Playoffs get underway on Sunday morning and we couldn’t be more excited! Catch our series predictions and best bets for every first round matchup right here!
Also, be sure to check out our NBA Tips page regularly to find our best bets for some of the big slates. We’ll be covering every game on Wednesday, Friday and Monday, as well as predictions for every round!
NBA Betting Tips: Playoffs First Round
Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz
The Mavericks will start as the underdogs against the Jazz despite finishing as the higher seed and earning home court advantage as a result. The main reason for this is because Luka Doncic is set to miss the first two games due to a lower leg injury. Even in his absence is still love the Mavericks to be able to at least send this series the distance and force the Jazz to win it in seven games. They defeated the Jazz convincingly in each of their last two meetings in the regular season and I expect them to still be competitive without the superstar that is Doncic.
Dallas Mavericks +1.5 Games
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Memphis Grizzlies
The Timberwolves copped plenty of criticism for their antics after their Play-In win against the Clippers, with niggly veteran Pat Beverley at the forefront of celebrations. The prize for winning that game isn’t a great one however, as they now come against the second-best team in the competition in the Grizzlies. With homecourt advantage on their side as well as an almost fully-fit roster, I simply cannot see how the Grizzles won’t win this in six games or less and am more than happy to take then at the line here.
Memphis Grizzlies -1.5 Games
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers
Probably the most evenly poised first round series in my eyes is that of the 76ers vs the Raptors. The 76ers, led by superstar Joel Embiid, had the slightly better season of the two and finished with the higher seed, earning homecourt advantage over seven games. However, the Raptors caused trouble for the 76ers in the regular season, winning their final two games against the 76ers to win the season series 3-1. I expect them to take plenty of confidence from that and to be able to at least force a Game 7 here.
Toronto Raptors +1.5 Games
Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors
Nikola Jokic did his best to will the Nuggets to the #6 seed in the West this season despite both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. featuring very little. Jokic is the favourite to earn back-to-back MVP honours as a result, but I can’t see him being able to beat the Warriors over seven games on his own. In fact, the Warriors are set to welcome back superstar guard Steph Curry to the starting line-up for Game 1, which is the news Nuggets fans certainly didn’t want. With him back and doing his thing, I expect the former champs to be able to negotiate a series win in six games or less.
Golden State Warriors -1.5 Games
Miami Heat vs Atlanta Hawks
The Heat had their fair share of ups and downs throughout the regular season, but they did enough to finish on top of the standings in the East with a 53-29 record. In contrast, the Hawks had to do it the hard way to secure a playoffs berth, winning both do-or-die games in the Play-In Tournament. While they’ll take a lot of confidence from those wins, the Heat are obviously a completely different beast and also have a lot more playoffs experience on their side. These reasons make it a tough series to predict, however I do expect the Hawks to make the Heat work for the series win and will be taking the Hawks to cover the generous +2.5 games spread.
Atlanta Hawks +2.5 Games
Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets
After finishing the regular season with four wins on the spin and following that up with a victory against the Cavaliers in the Play-In Tournament, the Nets will be eyeing off a big upset against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. The Nets faced plenty of adversity over the course of the regular season, but were able to do enough to keep themselves alive. On the other hand, their opponents in the Celtics had much a much smoother campaign and have been the best team in the East since the turn of the new year. They’ve beaten the Nets in each of their last three meetings, twice by 20+ points, and are the deserving favourites to advance to the second round in my opinion.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls
The defending champion Bucks had another strong regular season without really reaching the heights we’ve seen from them in previous campaigns. Like most teams, they were hit pretty badly with injuries over the course of the season, but still did enough to finish with the third best record in the East. Fortunately, the Bucks come up against the Bulls in the first round and they’re a team they’ve absolutely dominated in recent season, including a 4-0 sweep this campaign. I expect that dominance to continue in the playoffs, but for the Bucks to be able to jag one consolation win.
Milwaukee Bucks 4-1
Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans
The Suns backed up their impressive 2020-21 campaign with a stellar regular season, winning a franchise record 64 games. Devin Booker put up MVP caliber numbers on offence and Mikal Bridges was the star on defence and is a chance to be rewarded with DPOY honours. In contrast, the Pelicans had to make their way to the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament where they defeated both the Spurs and the Clippers. Unfortunately, the reward for their efforts will see them take on the best team in the competition who they lost two three times this season. It’s a tough ask for the Pelicans and one I don’t think they’re up to just yet. Suns in 4.