Betting odds for first-round playoff series when the NBA returns

LeBron James Giannis Antetokounmpo
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With the NBA currently on pause, the general speculation has been that when they do return, they’re going to go straight to the playoffs. That seems to make sense because we’ve already lost a couple of months of action. The league has to be conscious of the offseason and starting the 2020-21 season on time (or as close to it as possible).

With that in mind, we looked through Bovada’s betting lines and we noticed odds were up on the prospective series (assuming they go with the previous standings). If you are unfamiliar with this sportsbook, then go ahead and check out this Bovada review from a trusted source. Let us look at the prices and dive into what some of the matchups will look like.


East First Round

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Celtics Odds: -290

76ers Odds: +245

The Sixers have been haunted by the Celtics in the playoffs. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have not gotten enough help from their teammates when going up against Boston. This time, they would have Al Horford on their own roster. In the past, Horford flummoxed the Sixers as a member of the Celtics.

His positionally sound defense and passing instincts gave Boston an intelligent two-way player who was about to outmaneuver Philadelphia on offense and especially defense. The Sixers grabbed Horford in NBA free agency this past summer, partly to improve their own roster, but also to make sure Boston could no longer deploy him as the Sixer killer he had been in the recent past.

Horford being on the Philadelphia side of this series gives the 76ers a real chance at winning, but the problem is that Boston star Jayson Tatum is playing at an NBA level, and Brad Stevens would still have the upper hand over Brett Brown. The series would go at least six games if not seven, but Boston would probably have the final say.

Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

East First Round

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
Heat Odds: -280

Pacers Odds: +235

This series would be a battle of two stars, Victor Oladipo for Indiana and Jimmy Butler for Miami. Butler has played at a higher level, but Oladipo had been coming back from injury. Maybe after a few months off, Oladipo might be more explosive and potent in ways which would help the Pacers.

However, Butler is the better, more likely choice to play at a high level. Oladipo might need a full offseason to train and build back his strength. Miami’s supporting cast has also been better this past season. All things considered, the Heat have to be favored to win the series, probably in six.

West First Round

Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets

Nuggets Odds: +105

Rockets Odds: -125

The Denver Nuggets have not made the Western Conference Finals since 2009, when they had Carmelo Anthony. This new incarnation of the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic has not yet shown it can make a deep run in the playoffs.

Houston has a lot more playoff experience and now has Russell Westbrook in addition to James Harden. The Rockets are not a complete team, but they have been through more battles than the Nuggets in the postseason, and are more likely to find the responses and adjustments the playoffs require.

James Harden Russell Westbrook Houston Sacramento
Photo: ESPN

West First Round

Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jazz Odds: -165

Thunder Odds: +145

The Jazz were the team which alerted the world to the coronavirus within the NBA. How the Jazz respond to a return would be one of the more fascinating and unpredictable situations in the NBA Playoffs.

Utah could be united and elated to play, but the weird events involving Rudy Gobert’s contraction of the coronavirus, in which he exposed teammates to the virus, could also turn Utah into a mess. How the Jazz comport themselves would be the X-factor in this series, one way or the other, and it’s hard to say which way this will go.

Memphis Grizzlies Los Angeles Lakers

Grizzlies Odds: +750

Lakers Odds: -2000

This figures to be an interesting series, because of the Grizzlies youngsters, but realistically, this is probably a sweep. The Grizzlies have a nice, young cast but they’re not ready for this. The odds reflect that this will be quick and it would really be a win for Memphis if they somehow eke out one win.

Dallas Mavericks vs Los Angeles Clippers

Mavericks Odds: +230

Clippers Odds: -275

The odds here are pretty even because the Mavs have surprised this season. The pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis has worked very well. The Mavs were actually 40-27 when we went into the break, which puts them as a No. 7 seed but that’s also just four wins less than the No. 2 seeded Clippers.

At the end of the day, most people will expect the Clippers to advance here, but Dallas has a chance to surprise. They have a well-rounded roster with guys like Tim Hardaway Jr., Boban Marjanovic, Dorrell Wright, Willie Cauley-Stein and J.J. Barea contributing.

Kristaps Porzingis Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks
Photo: SkySports

Orlando Magic vs Milwaukee Bucks

Magic Odds: +1550

Bucks Odds: -5000

The Bucks are going to be expected to roll here and this is no surprise. If the Magic someone get one win, that would be a surprise. Orlando is currently 30-35, which is the worst record of any team that’s in playoff position right now.

These two teams have already squared off four times this season have won all four games by an average of 17.0 points per game.

Brooklyn Nets vs Toronto Raptors

Nets Odds: +825

Raptors Odds: -1400

The Raptors are the second-biggest favorite in the East but what’s interesting to monitor is the status of Kevin Durant. By all accounts, we’re not going to see him suit up no matter how long the coronavirus pandemic pushes back the season, but you never know. He was already looking good in three-on-three workouts before the NBA hiatus.

Even so, what’s more realistic is that he doesn’t suit up and a disjointed Nets team gets beaten like a drum by a Toronto Raptors team that’s shown to have incredible chemistry.