NBA Playoffs Taking Shape

Basketball Jun 03, 2021

The 2021 NBA playoffs are starting to fall into place.  So far, there have been few surprises.

First, Milwaukee destroyed Miami in a sweep, 4 games to none.  Then, over the last two nights, four more first-round series wrapped up.  In three of the matchups, big favourites handled underdogs with relative ease.  Brooklyn hammered Boston 4 games to 1. Philadelphia topped Washington 4 games to 1.  Utah pounded Memphis 4 games to 1.  

Only Atlanta beating the NY Knicks 4 games to 1 came across as a minor surprise, not so much because the Hawks advanced, but just because of how easily the 5 seed upset the 4 seed.

With five teams now locked in for the conference semi-finals – Bucks, Nets, 76ers, Jazz, and Hawks – that still leaves three more series to be determined.  In each case, the superior teams all have the edge.  Denver leads Portland 3-2.  Dallas is exposing the LA Clippers as a fraud and is up 3 games to 2.  And, Phoenix is about to eliminate the hobbled LA Lakers, up 3 games to 2.

Let's take a look at the updated odds of the three remaining round one playoff series.

Keep in mind that each of these underdogs – Portland, LA Lakers, and LA Clippers – must win the next two games to win the series and advance.  

The prices on the Blazers and Lakers look about right (slightly above 2-1 odds), but what are the oddsmakers and betting public thinking about the Clippers being only +135?  Have bettors been watching this series?  Dallas is certainly a credible match for the Clippers and should be favoured by a similar number like the other two series.

Indeed, the Dallas-Los Angeles series is a 4-5 seed, which really doesn't mean all the much.  In the Eastern Conference, the 5th-seeded Atlanta Hawks wiped out the 4th-seeded NY Knicks 4 games to 1.  So, why all the love for the Clippers?  I don't get it.  Give me the feisty Mavericks playing pretty good ball at the moment at the lay price of -165 to close out this series by winning one of the final two games.

Regarding the second round of the playoffs, the two Eastern Conference matchups are all set.  Here's the early numbers on winning the next series and advancing:

These prices look about right.  

The betting market anticipates a Brooklyn-Philadelphia Eastern Conference finals, but both dogs are certainly capable of pulling off upsets.  

In particular, the Hawks – now healthy for the first time all season – have been playing as well as any team in the NBA during the past three weeks.  Atlanta is worth a serious look whenever they are listed as a dog.  That goes for the series and for each game.  So, watch out, Sixers.