The NBA Playoffs begin today, with multiple thrilling first-round matchups.
The Toronto Raptors project to be the wild card in the conference in NBA betting, thanks to their youth, length and athleticism.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks to see if they live up to their pre-season billing as potential champions.
And then, you have the dark-horse teams, the ones that never can be counted out. Talking about the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in the East.
So, with so many high-level rosters getting after it, we’re bound to witness multiple twists and turns over the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look at each of the Eastern Conference series that are about to get under way for your New York sports betting interests.
Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Miami Heat are one of the most underappreciated teams in this year’s playoffs. A deep and talented roster, with Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo leading the way, Miami has a chance to progress into the later rounds of the playoffs and be a disrupting factor. However, Trae Young and the Hawks will be standing in its way, but already will be slightly beaten up after fighting through two play-in games to make it to the postseason.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook New York, Miami is favored to win the series with odds of -370, which is what you would expect given that the Heat finished first in the conference and have playoff experience up and down their roster.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
There is no other series in the opening round of the playoffs with question marks as big as this one. Can the Sixers’ stars find a way to gel? How much will Matisse Thybulle’s absence during games in Toronto matter? And who is going to check Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes? In fact, right now, this series is the biggest wild card in the entire NBA, never mind the Eastern Conference.
According to DraftKings, the Sixers are expected to come out of the series, with odds of -180 as opposed to the Raptors at +150, Still, if James Harden and Joel Embiid can’t find a way to co-exist with each other on the offensive end, this series could be over before it even gets a chance to begin.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls
When the Chicago Bulls were steam-rolling through opponents to start the season, everybody sat up and took notice. A lot was said about the Bulls’ starting five, but there were legitimate concerns about their depth beyond that. Injuries to Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball put Chicago under pressure and those concerns became well-founded as the Bulls began to stumble in the second half of the season. And now, a Bulls team that lacks confidence, depth and playoff experience is tasked with facing off against the reigning NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee is still a stellar team, and considering it has struggled with health and continuity all season, you have to tip your hat for a 51-win season. Furthermore, the Bucks have hit top form at just the right time and will be confident of disregarding the Bulls in swift fashion. DraftKings Sportsbook agrees, having listed the Bucks as odds-on favorites to win the series at -1000, with the Bulls at +650.
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
A series of X-factors! Will Robert Williams return before the end of the series? What about Ben Simmons? How would Simmons improve Brooklyn’s porous defense?
So many questions are waiting to be answered. Plus, there is a Jayson Tatum vs. Kevin Durant matchup simmering and the Kyrie Irving and Boston narrative is clawing for relevancy.
There is no clear favorite for this series right now — not when you look at the talent on display, the depth of both teams, and the Celtics’ league-leading defense vs. Brooklyn’s elite-level offense. We’re in for a real treat from an opening series that wouldn’t look out of place as a conference final.
In terms of odds, Boston (-130) is slightly favored over the Nets (+110), but there’s no doubt this series will be a battle, with multiple narratives surfacing throughout the duration.
Brooklyn’s Route to the Finals
To begin the season, the Nets were favored to come out of the East. A big three of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was just too potent to ignore. However, Harden is now with the Sixers and Irving has been a part-time player for most of the season. Still, after making the postseason via the play-in tournament, the Nets still have the potential to embark on a deep playoff run.
If the Nets defeat the Celtics, they will move on to face the winner of the Milwaukee vs. Chicago series, which in all likelihood will be the Bucks. If Brooklyn can navigate that clash of the titans, it will progress to the conference finals where it will face either Miami, Philadelphia, Toronto or Atlanta.
From there, a potential NBA Finals matchup against the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies or Golden State Warriors more than likely would await. As you can see, the Nets’ path to a championship ring will be long and arduous, with multiple elite rosters standing in their way. When you have Kevin Durant on your roster, though, you’re always guaranteed to boast the best player in a series, and that means you’re always in with a fighting chance.