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2020 NBA Playoffs First Round Series Odds and Picks

Luka Doncic dapping up
Will Luka Doncic lead the Mavericks past the Clippers? Photo by @bball_ref (Twitter)
  • Odds on each First Round NBA playoff series are now available
  • The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors should cruise into the second round, but there’s value to be found elsewhere
  • Find the latest playoff series odds, betting discussion and picks below

Seven of the eight NBA playoff series are confirmed. Awaiting the outcome of the play-in between the Blazers and Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Lakers are the only post-season team who don’t know their first-round opponent.

It’s not all straight forward for the teams atop the 2020 NBA Championship odds, however, with the Los Angeles Clippers facing a potentially challenging matchup in the shape of Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks.

The table below has the odds for all of the upcoming playoff series, courtesy of DraftKings.

2020 NBA Playoffs First Round Series Odds

Team Odds to Win Series at DraftKings
Utah Jazz +150
Denver Nuggets -195
Team Odds to Win Series
Toronto Raptors -3335
Brooklyn Nets +1100
Team Odds to Win Series
Boston Celtics -375
Philadelphia 76ers +270
Team Odds to Win Series
Miami Heat N/A
Indiana Pacers N/A
Team Odds to Win Series
Los Angeles Lakers N/A
Memphis Grizzlies/Portland Trail Blazers N/A
Team Odds to Win Series
Los Angeles Clippers -560
Dallas Mavericks +370
Team Odds to Win Series
Orlando Magic +1300
Milwaukee Bucks -10000
Team Odds to Win Series
Houston Rockets N/A
Oklahoma City Thunder N/A

Odds taken August 14. Table will be updated as more odds become available. 

Easy Draw for Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Bucks are overwhelming favorites against the Orlando Magic and rightly so. Mike Budenholzer’s team are title favorites with some books and expected to come out of the East. Anything other than a sweep of Orlando would be a bit of a surprise – Milwaukee will want to waste as little energy as possible ahead of what they hope will be a deep playoff run.

Jonathan Isaac’s absence makes things yet easier for the Bucks. Orlando will be happy to be back in the playoffs, but they had ambitions of progress in 2019-20 and it’s ultimately been an average season. They have a way to go yet.

Also benefiting from the lack of depth in the East, the reigning champion Toronto Raptors are massively favored to best the Brooklyn Nets. If anything, it’s a surprise Toronto isn’t a shorter price given the roster the Nets have at the moment.

The Other Series Should Be Competitive

There’s not much to split the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz in the betting market. It’s a three versus six series, but with the Nuggets’ having had less than ideal preparation, Utah is far from out of it.

The Jazz only went 3-5 in the seeding games, however, and will need to play at their very best to win this series – the injury to Bojan Bogdanovic lowers their ceiling drastically.

At the time of writing, two of the other tight series haven’t had their odds released. Houston versus Oklahoma City and Miami versus Indiana, the four and five matchups in their respective conferences, could go either way. Houston and Miami will be favored, but these series could both go to six or seven games.

They are laced with narrative, too. It’s the latest in the T.J. Warren and Jimmy Butler story, and sees Chris Paul and James Harden face each other after a dodgy end to their partnership in Texas.

The Embiid Factor

The Philly-Boston series is less interesting with Ben Simmons sidelined. The Sixers’ chances have plummeted as a result. A team already short on playmaking has lost one of the league’s best passers and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The pressure on Joel Embiid is obviously vast, but there will also be a lot of eyes on how Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson perform. Richardson was up and down in the seeding games. Harris was inconsistent in the playoffs last year.

In many ways, this is a good matchup for Embiid. Boston will throw a lot of double teams at him in the post, partly because they don’t have one guy who can deal with him. If the Sixers are to make this a competitive series, Embiid needs to be dominant at both ends. He’s certainly capable of it, and a lack of size and shortage of rim protection is the main criticism of this Celtics team.

Al Horford, facing his former team, is back in the starting five with Simmons out. He showed signs of improvement towards the end of the seeding games. Philly needs Horford to shoot frequently and hit them. Playing Horford and Embiid together can work better when paired with three shooters.

There are a lot of ifs and buts to back the Sixers at +270. It requires a sustained level of peak Embiid that we are yet to see, but perhaps being without Simmons will enable that.

Dallas’ Offensive Upside

The Clippers still look formidable on paper. They show flashes of that in reality – blowing out the Pelicans, beating Denver – but the concern about chemistry remains. For a variety of reasons, they were once again unable to put their best players floor together during the seeding games. Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell all missed time.

Dallas have had a mixed time in the bubble. Just as the Clips had little to play for, making it hard to evaluate them, Dallas’ fate as the seven seed quickly looked probable. Their performance against the Bucks was a reminder of what this team, and notably Luka Doncic, can achieve.

Their offense is historically good. They have shooting galore, and after some difficult games earlier in the season, Kristaps Porzingis is beginning to flourish alongside his fellow European.

At +370 there’s definitely some value in backing the Mavs. Their defense is still subpar, and the Clippers have the personnel to slow them down on the offensive end, but the Mavericks have repeatedly blown teams away. Doing it four out of seven times against these Clippers is unlikely, though Doc Rivers’ team are yet to consistently show themselves as the team everyone expects them to be.

It would be a huge upset, a shock that could force the Clippers into major changes. Could this be the first of Doncic’s heroic playoff performances?

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