After a lengthy Regular Season has come to an end, now it is time for the real NBA season to begin according to lots of its fans. Come playoff time, game plans and coach rotations change, defences get stingier, teams and players sacrifice it all for the ultimate cause: a Champion’s ring and new banners to rise in their arena for ever.
We will examine how this season has played so far, where things currently stand and how they could possibly roll out in the next two months from a betting standpoint. If you haven’t already, make sure and check our top 5 strategies for betting on the NBA, and also our bitcoin NBA betting primer.
The playoffs format is quite simple and fair at the same time; the eight teams with the best record from each Conference (Eastern & Western) proceed into the postseason and are given seeds from #1 to #8 according to their Regular Season record. The highest seed plays against the lowest and three rounds later (every round played to a maximum of seven games), the two teams that have won every series form the Finals’ couple. Home-court advantage for the Finals goes to the team with the best record from the Regular Season. All games in every round are played into a 2–2–1–1–1 format.
NBA playoffs betting tips
Bettors can look to gain profit by making the most out of the early favourites in the First Round; this year both the Warriors and the Bucks are capable of losing at most one game against the Clippers and the Pistons, so going with a series score of 4-0/4-1 looks to be a safer bet. Another tie to aim and bet for are the #4 seeds facing the #5 ones. Margins are very slim in these scenarios and breaks do happen early on.
Attempting to predict more in the long-term, any team other than the Warriors to win the West is an ambitious but potentially very profitable option; the Rockets have had the most wins in the Oracle Arena over the past years, plus the chance to redeem themselves after losing to GSW in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Here is a look at this year’s bracket:
Regular Season recap
East Conference recap
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks gained the lead early on and never looked back since then. The team from Wisconsin played arguably the best basketball all season long, being the only one in the entire league to win that many games and enter Playoff time carrying home court advantage all the way.
The Raptors, Sixers and Celtics secured First Round advantage and certainly feel like having their shot in a LeBron-less East. The race for the 6-7-8 seeds went on until the last couple of days, with the Brooklyn Nets, the Orlando Magic (first post-season appearances since 2015 and 2012 respectively) and the Detroit Pistons checking their tickets.
The Heat and the Hornets drew the shortest straw and got eliminated in the last game day.
West Conference recap
This postseason will definitely have a different taste than the previous 14 and that is because no LeBron James’ team will play into it; the Lakers were struck with a mix of questionable coaching, bad injury luck and bad summer recruiting to miss the Playoffs practically right after the All-Star break. All 8-seeds were occupied early on, with the exact positions of the teams only remaining to be seen.
The Denver Nuggets had a certainly overachieving Regular Season, finishing second (only GSW had more wins in the West than them) and meet up against the perennial San Antonio Spurs in the First Round.
The Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets got the remaining home-court advantage seeds after tying for 53 wins and will play against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz respectively.
The Los Angeles Clippers were a pleasant surprise getting the 8-seed, with amazing bench play from both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell leading the way.
NBA odds for 2019 playoffs
NBA playoffs odds are already starting to show signs of favourites, but there is one notable black horse who can go on to lead an upset. We outline the best value odds* for betting on the NBA at this time.
Golden State Warriors
No Playoffs preview can start by not naming them the undisputed favourites; Having become synonymous with success in their Steve Kerr era, the Warriors are again the team to beat; the signing of DeMarcus Cousins in the summer added another dimension to an already almost unbeatable recipe. Odds for a three-peat were pretty low before the season started, but there were times in the season where things looked more inconsistent compared to last years. Regardless, the Warriors are again the only team capable of sweeping everyone on their way into another ring.
This is the first time the Bucks have won 60 games since 1981, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still a member of the team. Coach Mike Budenholzer has built a roster combining MVP-favourite personnel (Antetokounmpo), good outside shooting (Middleton, Mirotic, Lopez), championship-winning experience (Gasol, Hill) and great mentality overall. Should Malcolm Brogdon return in full strength after his injury for the later Rounds, the Bucks will be stacked, looking ready and hungry as ever.
Several years after the devastating trade with the Celtics that hindered the team’s future for the foreseeable future, the Nets can say again with certainty that they can stand on their feet again after a solid rebuild. A greatly balanced and spirited squad that can adapt vs. anyone, after achieving a winning Regular Season record, enter April into a matchup against Philadelphia, a team they beat 2 out of 4 games this season. This tie should fill them with hope for upset at least, especially with Joel Embiid potentially missing a couple of games early on.
Players to look out for
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
He has MVP season written all over him; Giannis became just the 4th player in NBA history to lead a 60-win team in points, rebounds, and assists per game. A juggernaut in transition, his game on both ends has become dominant to say the least, with the big challenges starting from now on for the “Greek Freak” in the season; he has yet to win a Playoff Series in his fifth year and this year looks to be the threshold for something pretty special. Best thing is he is still progressing every day; the sky’s the limit.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
How can scoring 36.1 points per game not get you the MVP for regular season? Well, it is (see Antetokounmpo, Giannis). Harden had another legendary season offensively (7.5 assists as well), with his 9 50-point games being a season-high among all players. The Rockets won the Southwest Division for a second time in a row and Harden was more than a focal point of their season. His arsenal of moves is never-ending, he has been incredibly durable and steady across his career, searching for a second Finals appearance after 2012 with the OKC Thunder.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Unguardable inside, the centre from Cameroon has only durability issues to stain an amazing combination of physique, offensive touch and defensive force at the same time. He enters this year’s Playoffs being questionable with a knee injury bothering him and the Sixers know they stand a chance at a ring only with him being their man in the middle. Their plan has been built around him and “JoJo”’s 27.5 points per game should stay in these levels for Philly to make a case.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
“The Joker” re-defined how a 7-footer in this position can contribute that much into a team’s playbook on offense; almost all plays Mike Malone drew were running through him, Jokic saw all his points, rebounds and assists averages reaching career-high numbers (20.8, 10.5, 7.3), with 12 triple-doubles along the way. His passing and vision is a joy to watch, but lacks no low-post game at all. The question now is how the inexperienced Nuggets can utilise him the most against oppositions that have the know-how to stop him; Gregg Popovich’s Spurs are the perfect example in the First Round.