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SBD’s Experts Fill Out Their 2021 NBA Playoff Brackets

Mitch Robson

by Mitch Robson in NBA Basketball

May 21, 2021 · 10:17 AM PDT

Harden and Kyrie
James Harden and the Nets figure to be a popular title pick. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
  • The 16-team 2021 NBA Playoffs start on Saturday, May 22nd
  • Each member of SBD’s editorial team has completed their bracket
  • See which upsets each expert is picking, along with their best bet to win the 2021 NBA title

The 2021 NBA Playoffs officially begin the weekend of May 22nd-23rd. With the Play-In Tournament officially wrapped up, the Bucks and Heat get us going on Saturday afternoon with every series in action this weekend.

The favorite in the NBA Championship odds heading into the playoffs are the Brooklyn Nets, at average odds of +232. LeBron James and the Lakers are the next betting favorite, will they be meeting the Nets in the Finals – or is another matchup destined to happen?

>> Download Printable 2021 NBA Playoffs Bracket <<

2021 NBA Championship Picks

SBD Expert Pick Odds at DraftKings
Ryan Sura Brooklyn Nets +250
Ryan Metivier Utah Jazz +700
Sascha Paruk Brooklyn Nets +250
Mitch Robson Philadelphia 76ers +700
Matt McEwan Brooklyn Nets +250

Apart from their NBA Championship picks, you can get a full look at each staffer’s bracket below:

Ryan Sura Ryan Metivier | Sascha Paruk | Mitch Robson| Matt McEwan

Ryan Sura’s NBA Playoffs Bracket

Ryan Sura’s 2021 NBA Championship Winner

  • Brooklyn Nets (+250)

Having Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden all on the same team should be a federal offense. Since that’s not the case in the NBA, I will be rolling with the Brooklyn Nets to win the Larry O’Brien.


The trio has only played eight games together (5.8% of Nets regular season mins), but that doesn’t take away the fact that these three players are considered to be the deadliest scorers in the league. The Nets have a sneaky amount of depth as well, through seasoned veterans and eager young guns. +250 isn’t a glamorous number by any stretch. When the books are trying to get bettors to reach for longer odds, I’m going with the more obvious pick this year.

Ryan Metivier’s NBA Playoffs Bracket

Ryan Metiviers’s 2021 NBA Championship Pick

  • Utah Jazz (+700)

I feel kinda dirty picking a final four with all the top four seeds. But then again, not many are taking the Jazz to go the distance, so I still feel a little contrarian.

The Jazz are the league’s top team, have only lost five times at Vivint Arena and finished the season with wins in seven of nine games. They ended strong without the services of Donovan Mitchell who has had a career-year in points and assists. However, his ankle injury seems to be improving and their star guard is preparing to be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs.


Utah had the best record, ranked 5th ATS, 1st in rebounding, 4th in total offense and 3rd in defense.

The Clippers weren’t great down the stretch and LeBron has been dealing with injuries of his own, so the Jazz, at the slightly better price (compared to the top four) are my pick for the title.

Sascha Paruk’s NBA Playoffs Bracket

Sascha Paruk’s 2021 NBA Championship Pick

  • Brooklyn Nets (+250)

Does my bracket really need an explanation? I have LeBron losing in the Finals to the team with three of the ten best players in the NBA.

There’s a modicum of historical precedent, wouldn’t you say? Maybe this will be the year a balanced team like the Utah Jazz overcome the top-heavy Lakers and Nets. If so, I will revise my approach to betting on the NBA playoffs…next season.

1st Round Upset: Mavericks (+300)

My big first-round upset pick – Dallas over LAC – is more of a price play (meaning, I probably wouldn’t use it in a bracket contest). At +300, the Mavs are being undervalued. Luka Doncic and company took two of three from the Clippers in the regular season and Dallas was equally good home and away (21-15).

I would not be the least surprised if the Mavs take a 2-1 lead in the series, or are at least level through four games, giving you opportunities to reassess the matchup with the odds more in your favor.

Mitch Robson’s NBA Playoffs Bracket


Mitch Robson’s 2021 NBA Championship Pick

  • Philadelphia 76ers (+700)

The Sixers have seemingly been written off as losers to the Nets in the East, and I just don’t see it happening. While the three Nets superstars have put up an offensive rating of record levels when sharing the floor together – I’m not trusting that teeny, tiny sample size to hold up when it comes to the gruelling test of a Finals run.

Joel Embiid is playing at an MVP level, and if he’s as locked in as he’s been for the majority of this season I can’t see any team being able to fully contain him. While the offensive limitations of Ben Simmons are known, Daryl Morey has assembled a supporting cast that can score enough while they sport what could likely be the best – and most versatile defense in the postseason.

Matt McEwan’s NBA Playoffs Bracket

Matt McEwan’s 2021 NBA Championship Pick

  • Brooklyn Nets (+250)

With James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant having only played eight total games together this season, I do expect the Nets to suffer through some growing pains early in the playoffs. However, even a Nets team playing at 70-80% of their potential is good enough to walk through the Jaylen Brown-less Celtics and even get by the Bucks in the second round.

By the time they have to face the Sixers, they’ll have found their groove. With Harden settling into more of a facilitator role, Brooklyn is just too lethal on offense and surprisingly efficient (+7.2 net rating with the three on the floor together). The Lakers will provide some resistance in the NBA Finals, but I simply don’t foresee their league-best defense fazing the Nets.

First Round Upset – Blazers Over Nuggets

This technically isn’t an upset based on the odds, but it’s the closest thing I have to an upset in the first round.

Although it seems the Nuggets have learned to play without Jamal Murray – posted a 0.722 winning percentage since his season-ending knee injury – the Blazers come in even hotter, having won 10 of their last 12, and are fully healthy.

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