- With only a week until the play-in tournament, odds to make the playoffs are changing on a daily basis
- Toronto was eliminated from postseason contention on Monday, but it’s still a fierce race in both conferences
- Read below for the latest betting discussion ahead of the play-in tournament
There’s no question the NBA’s play-in tournament has revitalized this stretch of the regular season. It’s particularly spicy with so many big-name players involved. Neutrals are excited by the prospect of LeBron James versus Steph Curry in the play-in, while Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are surging in the Eastern Conference.
The invention of the play-in tournament has kept NBA playoff odds alive for much longer than previous years. Teams like the Wizards have been able to reassert themselves as a playoff threat, while those even in the five or six seed have been vulnerable to dropping into the play-in and missing out altogether.
Odds to Make 2021 NBA Playoffs
|Team||Odds to Make Playoffs||Odds to Miss Playoffs|
|San Antonio Spurs||+340||-500|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-2000||+850|
|Golden State Warriors||-113||-113|
Odds as of May 11 at DraftKings
Lakers Under Pressure
The reigning champions in the play-in tournament was not what anyone expected at the start of the season. Barring a miracle, the Lakers are facing the play-in at Staples Center next week. While only a game back in the loss column from sixth-placed Portland, the Lakers lost the tie breaker to the Blazers when they lost to them on May 7th.
Portland has Denver, Utah and Phoenix to come. Losing all three wouldn’t be a massive shock, of course, but the Lakers face the Knicks twice before the Pacers and Pelicans. LeBron James is yet to return. It would require a collapse from Portland and a perfect run from the Lakers for Frank Vogel’s team to avoid the play-in.
"I'm back” 🗣
AD made a statement in the Lakers W last night
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 10, 2021
The Lakers will be heavily favored in any play-in matchup if James and Anthony Davis are available. Facing Steph Curry in the first game seems the most likely outcome, though, and the healthy Lakers have already lost to Golden State once this season. On a 3-8 run, the Lakers having to beat the Grizzlies or Spurs to reach the playoffs is a terrifying prospect for broadcasters and Lakers fans alike.
Betting on LeBron to lose consecutive must-win games seems like a strange decision. It’s certainly tempting at that price, though, with James yet to properly return from the ankle issue which has kept him out for a prolonged period. The +850 price is going to tempt some bettors with just a week until the play-in.
Wizards Keep Going
Washington could yet move to nine or eight with games against Atlanta, Cleveland and Charlotte to come. Even if they’re stuck in 10th, though, the Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal partnership is a scary matchup for any potential play-in opponent.
Russell Westbrook's last five games:
14 Pts 21 Reb 24 Ast
29 Pts 12 Reb 17 Ast
13 Pts 17 Reb 17 Ast
33 Pts 19 Reb 15 Ast
28 Pts 13 Reb 21 Ast
The definition of sprinting through the finish 🏁 pic.twitter.com/PsqF1sIWmL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2021
Beal is resting a hamstring strain, which led to a disappointing loss to the Hawks on Monday. Westbrook continues his historic run, however, breaking Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record and leading the Wiz to perform at an elite level over the last couple of months.
They are an effective team at both ends of the floor. After being a disaster on the defensive end for much of the season, they are up to seventh in defensive rating over the last 15 games.
Having surged from 19-33 to 32-37, these Wizards are not an opponent anyone wants to face. Even in the 9 vs 10 matchup, Washington is going to get a lot of bettors’ backing in the play-in tournament.
Mr. Triple Double !!! Congratulations big bro. It’s a pleasure to witness history!! First Ballot HOF @russwest44
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) May 11, 2021
The most likely outcome is the banged up Pacers followed by the Hornets. With the way Westbrook has been playing and with Beal presumably healthy after this minor hamstring issue, the Wizards will be favored in both matchups. Their +120 price might seem short for a team needing to win consecutive games, but Washington has been far better of late than their seeding suggests.
The Wizards we’ve seen in April and May are a serious team on both ends of the floor. With the defense getting stops, they have the firepower to blow any team away. Even if they end up facing the Celtics, Washington will have a real chance following the news of Jaylen Brown’s injury.
Golden State Gets It Done
Star power and defense is the same tale for the Warriors. They have comfortably the best net rating in the Association over the last 15 games, and they are way ahead of the Utah Jazz for the best defense. In Steph Curry, they have the most unstoppable offensive force in basketball.
"I think he's been the best defender in the modern era of basketball."
Steve Kerr has high praise for Draymond's defense pic.twitter.com/ZFMi76UMDI
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 11, 2021
Just half a game ahead of ninth-placed Memphis, the Warriors have the Suns, Pelicans and Grizz to come. That final-day matchup with Memphis is likely to be the decider for the eight seed. While the eight seed probably means a matchup with the Lakers, it’s a crucial position to earn with the format of the play-in.
Memphis has Dallas and the Kings (twice) before they face the Warriors. Sacramento is playing surprisingly good basketball, and they could do their California neighbors a favor with a win or two over the Grizz. Holding the advantage and playing great basketball, the Warriors are clearly in the box seat in the race for eighth.
Steph Curry is the best entertainer in all of sports.
Brady, Mahomes, LeBron, Trout – none of them entertains and excites folks like Curry.
— Bonta Hill (@BontaHill) May 9, 2021
Then it comes down to if they can win one of two games. Even if that includes a game with the Lakers, this white-hot version of Curry and the elite defense should be enough for the Warriors to make the playoffs. It’s a surprise to see them at -113 – that’s a good price with how they have been playing of late.