The Playoff teams are all set, with the three, four, five, and six seeds in each conference knowing their matchups for around a week now.
Both conferences are wide open and anyone can get hot at any point. Here’s who to bet on to win their first-round series.
(4) Dallas Mavericks vs (5) Utah Jazz: Mavericks -105
Despite being the higher seed, Dallas is the slight underdog to get out of the first round. The Jazz perhaps has more playoff experience, and more combined star power, but Dallas has figured out how to win.
The Jazz has Mitchell and Gobert to go along with the experience of Bogdanovic and Conley. Whiteside comes off the bench with Rudy Gay and Jordan Clarkson, and Royce O’Neale is a great defender in the starting lineup.
The Jazz though seem to be following the arc of the Portland Trail Blazers. A consistent playoff team, though never able to get out of the Western Conference and into the NBA Finals.
Dallas has been playing some of their best basketball of the season as of late and they are also the home team, meaning they have the edge should the game go to seven games, which it’s slotted to do so.
Acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie was an extremely underrated move by the front office, and their role players have really improved this year around Luka, namely Jalen Brunson.
The former top player in college basketball at Villanova is the second leading scorer beside Doncic and provides them with more dangerous guard scoring options.
Dallas as the underdog is a fantastic value bet, the best of this round.
(4) Philadelphia 76ers vs (5) Raptors: 76ers -180
Another four-five matchup, the odds on this series are perhaps a bit skewed more than they should be.
Philadelphia has one of the MVP candidates in Joel Embiid, who’s been on a mission lately to secure his victory in the race for that award.
Though Toronto has played fantastic recently and has shot up the standings over the last couple of months, they don’t have the playoff experience to win this series. Siakam is their best player and though he did win a championship, he wasn’t the leader on that team like he needs to be now.
Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent are fantastic guards, and OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes have been surprises this year for the team up north. But these players won’t be enough in the playoffs to stop Embiid and the Sixers.
When playoff basketball starts, the best players really emerge. Harden will be beside Embiid to score when needed and take the eyes off the other shooters. Though Harden hasn’t been all that efficient with Philadelphia, he still takes up a lot of attention, and his passing and ability to find his teammates are inferior to none.
Tobias Harris is another very reliable, experienced scorer who can go get them a bucket when needed. In the end, the playoff experience will prevail, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Raptors took Philadelphia to six or even seven games.
(3) Golden State Warriors vs (6) Denver Nuggets: Warriors -250
Though Curry’s status for the start of the series is questionable, the Warriors will be back in the playoffs and nobody is more excited than head coach Steve Kerr.
Curry, Thompson, and Green being back in the playoffs are great for the NBA, and they’ve reloaded over the last couple of years, with Jordan Poole becoming the third Splash Bro.
Andrew Wiggins, though maybe not so deserving of his All-Star starting spot, has had a resurgent year.
The Warriors have four guys averaging 17 a game; it’s a team that can flat out score and has experience.
Denver also has guys though. Jokic could repeat as MVP and we all know what he brings to his team in passing ability and on the boards as well. He also scores 27 points a game to carry his load on that end.
Though Jokic is the only big-time scorer on the team, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, and Monte Morris can put up 20 on any given night. They also have better depth when the second unit comes on.
In the end, it’s going to be a close series with two very good teams that are both good enough to go deep into the playoffs. The Nuggets are a great value pick at +200 and it’s very tempting, but take the Warriors and their experience as Curry and Thompson are going to be on a mission in their return to the NBA postseason.