There is no word yet on when the NBA will be back but despite that, the oddsmakers have come up with betting odds for possible 2020 NBA Playoffs first-round matchups.
The bets are on the assumption that the league will use the team standings when the season was suspended as the basis for picking the 16 teams that will advance to the postseason. Of course, this is not final but with the delay pushing the season farther, this is the most likely scenario if the league were to continue with the 2019-20 season.
Let’s take a look at the matchups and pick out bets with the best prices:
*Odds from BetOnline as of 03/16/2020
Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic
- Moneyline Odds: Bucks -5000, Magic +1550
The Milwaukee Bucks led the NBA team standings from start to finish. Giannis was having another MVP season and was also making a case for DPOY. The Bucks were one of the top-scoring teams in the league but their defense was out of this world. The break hurts Milwaukee’s momentum as much as it hurts the Lakers’ run, but Coach Bud should have his boys ready here.
Orlando will sneak to the playoffs for the second straight season. Nikola Vucevic looked good and Evan Fournier was impressive. The Magic also added Markelle Fultz but unless Aaron Gordon can play to his potentials, this could be a long series for Orlando. We’ve seen stranger things happen but I don’t think we’ll see one here.
The Bucks were a dominant team during the regular season. And while they showed some flaws, I don’t think the Magic are going to be a team that topples them. A well-rested Bucks team should have their focus back and Giannis should be 100% healthy. I think this is an easy win for the Bucks although I think they’re too pricey.
Prediction: Bucks -5000
Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets
- Moneyline Odds: Raptors -1400, Nets +825
The Raptors emerged as a team even without Kawhi Leonard. Pascal Siakam has turned from Most Improved Player to the team’s MVP. Fred VanVleet continues to be a clutch shooter while Kyle Lowry has gotten his confidence back. Marc Gasol should be healthy and the Raptors have an experienced team.
We don’t know when the season will resume or when this series will be played so the longer this drags, the possibility of either or both of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant returning is real. Of course, we saw the Nets play better without Kyrie Irving this season but their ceiling is much higher with him.
The Nets’ problem will be having a new coach but if one of Durant and Kyrie can return here, this won’t be the one-sided series that the oddsmakers are seeing. It’s far from guaranteed that either superstar will be back for the Nets and even if they will be back, we don’t know at what form they will be. However, the possibilities with this team are very interesting. The betting value on the Nets is worth taking here.
Prediction: Nets +825
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
- Moneyline Odds: Celtics -290, Sixers +245
The Celtics were having the better season with Jayson Tatum emerging as an All-Star and Jaylen Brown having his best season ever in the NBA. Gordon Hayward is having a better season but has been inconsistent this year. Daniel Theis has proven to be a very serviceable big man but Kemba Walker’s health could be an issue.
Philly was among the preseason favorites to win the title. But they have struggled to win on the road this year with a worse road record than the Knicks. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons suffered injuries late in the season and this break will be beneficial to the Sixers. If they can put it together, this will be an interesting matchup.
The Sixers won three out of their four regular-season meetings but Boston won the last one and did so emphatically. The Celtics played better in 2019-20 but the break could affect the momentum. Philly should get healthy and Embiid could be the difference in a long series as Boston no longer has Horford. If the Sixers can win one in Boston, I like the Sixers’ value here.
Prediction: Sixers +245
Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
- Moneyline Odds: Heat -280, Pacers +235
The Heat thrived with Jimmy Butler and their young shooters. Kendrick Nunn has been an exciting scorer while Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have proved to be excellent shooters. With Bam Adebayo growing to an All-Star big, the Heat are having their best season in years.
The Pacers also had a breakout star in Domantas Sabonis. Malcolm Brogdon has proven to be a terrific acquisition. If Oladipo returns to form after the break, this team has one of the best backcourts in the East. Myles Turner has remained an enigma but if he shows up here, Adebayo’s job won’t be easy.
Herro should return for the Heat and Oladipo should be healthy for the Pacers. I think Miami will have their hands full with a healthy Oladipo. However, I think that the Heat has more offensive weapons here and their defense should be tough enough to shut down the Pacers.
Prediction: Heat -280
Los Angeles Lakers vs Memphis Grizzlies
- Moneyline Odds: Lakers -2000, Grizzlies +750
The Lakers were the #1 team in the West and LeBron James was coming off a weekend where he beat the Bucks and Clippers in back to back games. The long break will benefit the 35-year old James who is playing in his 17th season and it will also help the banged-up Anthony Davis.
Ja Morant has been the best rookie of the season regardless of what Zion says. Memphis has a terrific young core that should make them a playoff contender for years. The Grizzlies were one of the biggest surprises of the year but should be in for a tough task against a Lakers team that was playing terrific before the season was suspended.
This is the Los Angeles Lakers’ best chance to win an NBA title during the LeBron James era. We don’t know what exactly AD will do during the offseason and this team was peaking at the right time when the season was suspended. I think the break hurts their momentum but with LBJ playing at an MVP level and AD at DPOY level, the Lakers will beat the Grizzlies in five games.
Prediction: Lakers -2000
LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks
- Moneyline Odds: Clippers -275, Mavericks +230
The LA Clippers picked up their game late in the season and surged to the 2nd spot in the West. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George finally got healthy together and started playing in the same game. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are two of the best reserves in the league while Patrick Beverley has been a sparkplug for this team.
The Mavericks enjoyed a terrific season because of Luka Doncic. Kristaps Porzingis looked good after coming from a major injury and should be better hereafter getting more time to rest. Dwight Powell won’t be back though and the Mavericks don’t have a bench as deep as that of the Clippers.
I’m picking the Clippers to win this in five games. I think this team was built for the playoffs and with no more load management decisions here, I think they are the best team in the postseason. The break should give Leonard and George more time to recuperate and when this season resumes, they will be as good as advertised.
Prediction: Clippers -275
Denver Nuggets vs Houston Rockets
- Moneyline Odds: Nuggets +105, Rockets -125
The Nuggets seemed to fade late in the season after giving the Lakers a run at the top spot in the Western Conference. Denver has dealt with injuries all season long and this break should make them 100% healthy. Nikol Jokic is having another phenomenal season and Jamal Murray has been a stud.
Houston’s experiment of pairing James Harden and Russell Westbrook proved to be effective. Harden started very strong but struggled late in the season. Westbrook didn’t have the kind of start you’d expect but he finished strong. If they can play at a high level at the same time, the Rockets are a dangerous opponent.
These teams split their four games this season with the home team winning each game. The Nuggets have home-court advantage in this series and that could be a big factor. Mason Plumlee could be back and together with Jokic, they could cause plenty of problems for the small ball Rockets. I’ll take my chances with the team with more chemistry.
Prediction: Nuggets +105
Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder
- Moneyline Odds: Jazz -165, Thunder +145
This might be one of the most even match-ups in round one. The Jazz was only one game up on the Thunder and these teams split their first two meetings of the season. Utah was nothing but a fringe contender at the start of the year while the Thunder were supposed to be headed to a rebuild. Both have been surprises this year and this one should be a well-fought series.
These are two above-average teams but neither is spectacular on both ends of the floor. The Jazz had a dynamic duo in Mitchell and Gobert but I’m not sure how the entire COVID-19 issued has affected their relationship. The Thunder were led by Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who were an unlikely combination.
Homecourt advantage will be an advantage for the Jazz. Mike Conley should look better after a couple of months. However, the Thunder have exceeded expectations and they have nothing to lose here. Utah has been a streaky team this season. That could prove to be their undoing in a seven-game series. This will be close but I’ll take the Thunder here.
Prediction: Thunder +145