2021 NBA Playoffs
Welcome to the Show! After six “play-in” games, the 16–team bracket for the 2021 NBA playoffs is set. The Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies made it through the play-in round and they are the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the Western Conference. The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards advanced as No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Starting with the quarterfinals, which tip off with four contests today, the next four playoff rounds are all best–of-seven elimination series.
Following stellar regular season runs, the Utah Jazz (50–22) and Phoenix Suns (51–21) are the top two seeds in the West. The Philadelphia 76ers (49-23) and Brooklyn Nets (48-24) earned the top seeds in the East. In a season full of surprises, the New York Knicks are back in the postseason for the first time since losing 4–2 to the Indiana Pacers during the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals.
NBA futures odds for each series, to win the championship and the conferences, are hot tickets prior to the start of the quarterfinals. Top sportsbooks, like FanDuel and DraftKings, offer legal sports betting through the playoffs. Conference Championship and NBA Finals odds will change throughout the postseason and they are just the tip of the iceberg. Pregame and LIVE betting is also available on every game during the playoffs.
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NBA First Round Series Futures Odds
Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, every first-round series is available to wager on. Brooklyn, the No. 2 seed in the East currently is the highest favorite to advantage with odds of -1430 over No. 7 Boston (+700).
In the West, the No. 1 seed Jazz are the heaviest favorite at odds of -1115 over No. 8 Memphis (+640).
After opening up as initial favorites, the line has shifted from the No. 4 Knicks to the No. 5 Hawks, taking over at -121 odds.
NBA Eastern Conference Championship Futures Odds
Despite being the No. 2 seed, Brooklyn enters the playoffs as top favorite to win the Eastern Conference. After the Nets opened the season slow, with a 14–12 record, they went 34-12 the rest of the way. Philadelphia is the No. 1 seed and second favorite to claim the East title. The 76ers opened with an 18–10 record before going 31-13 down the stretch. The Milwaukee Bucks (46–26)a and Knicks (41–31), plus the Atlanta Hawks (41–31) and Miami Heat (40–32), round out the Eastern Conference contenders.
NBA West Conference Championship Futures Odds
Despite needing to win a play-in game, a format LeBron James harshly criticized, the Lakers are top chalk to win the West. Utah, who are second favorites, opened with a 24–5 record and stayed hot throughout the season. Phoenix finished second and posted their best win percentage since they went 62–20 during the 2004-05 season. The Suns are fourth favorites. The Denver Nuggets (47–25), LA Clippers (47–25), plus the Dallas Mavericks (42–30) and Portland Trail Blazers, round out the contenders in the West.
NBA Finals Championship Futures Odds
Brooklyn enters the playoffs as the top favorite to win the 2021 NBA Finals. Led by James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets are aiming for their first title in franchise history. The Lakers are second overall chalk, as King James and Anthony Davis look for a second straight title in Tinsel Town. Los Angeles last won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, and they are 17–15 over 32 NBA Finals appearances. A Nets vs. Lakers final would not be a surprise and I would back Brooklyn in that battle.
Three of the top four favorites are from the West as Utah and the LA Clippers are tied as third chalk with +600 odds. Both teams aim to win a franchise first NBA title. The Jazz posted the best regular season record and are 0–2 during two trips to the finals The Clippers have never played in the NBA finals. Eastern Conference clubs round out the top six as Milwaukee and Philadelphia are tied with +800 odds. The numbers plunge after that as Phoenix (+2500) and Miami (+3000) round out the top six favorites.
Prediction: Utah Jazz (+600) and Milwaukee Bucks (+800)
Saturday, May 22: Quarterfinal Game 1 Matchups and Odds
No. 6 Miami Heat (40–32) at No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks (46–26)
Eastern Conference quarterfinal action begins early when Miami visits Milwaukee. The Heat vs. Bucks battle tips off at 2:00 p.m. ET at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis. Miami recovered from a 22–24 start with wins in 18 of the final 26 games. Milwaukee (46–26) opened with a 16–13 record before going on a 30–13 season ending run. The Bucks won 144–97 and lost 119–108, on the road in Miami, during back-to-back games in December. Milwaukee closed the season series with a 122–108 win at home.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-110)
No. 5 Dallas Mavericks (42–30) at No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (47–25)
Los Angeles and Dallas open Western Conference quarterfinal action. The Clippers vs. Mavericks contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET at STAPLES Center in California. Dallas opened with an 8–13 record that included a three and five-game losing streak. The Mavericks longest losing streak after that was two-games (three times) over the final 51 games. The Clippers had five winnings streaks of at least four games, but closed the season on a slight 4–6 slide. In between 124–73 and 105–89 wins by Dallas, Los Angeles won 109–99 during the regular season.
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks +5.5 (-110)
No. 7 Boston Celtics (36–36) at No. 2 Brooklyn Nets (48–24)
Atlantic Division rivals meet when Boston visits Brooklyn. Game time for Celtics vs. Nets matchup is at 8:10 p.m. ET at Barclays Center in New York. Boston struggled often this year. They had 8–14 and 4-8 losing streaks, before closing the season on a 5–10 slide.. Brooklyn opened with an 8–6 record prior to their blockbuster trade for James Harden. One of the best “Big 3” combinations in the NBA, Kyrie Irving, Harden and Kevin Durant beat up on Boston this year. The Nets outscored the Celtics 353– 308 during a 3–0 regular season series sweep.
Key Injury: Second leading scorer Jaylen Brown (24.7 PPG) is out for Boston.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets -8 (-110)
No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers (42–30) at No. 3 Denver Nuggets (47-25)
Northwest Division rivals close out a busy Saturday when Portland visits Denver. Tipoff for the Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets game is at 10:30 p.m. ET at Ball Arena in Colorado. Portland was up and down often as they were 32–28 on April 25. Hot down the stretch, the Trail Blazers closed the season with a 10–2 run. Denver opened with 34–20 record and won 13 of their final 18 games. After the Nuggets won twice, 111–106 in Denver and 106–105 in Portland, the Trails Blazers won 132–116 on May 16. Nuggets starters played limited minutes in the third game.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets -1 (-110)