NBA Playoffs Betting Preview: Brooklyn Nets, L.A. Lakers Are Finals Favorites

Written By Drew Ellis on May 21, 2021

It’s NBA Playoffs time! While the field has been ironing out the final seeds this week, the majority of the bracket is set.

The NBA postseason provides a lot of opportunities to make money for Michigan sports bettors, so keep your options open.

Brooklyn Nets shoot up to favorite status

Heading into the start of first-round series on Saturday, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves as the overall betting favorite.

According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Nets are the favorite as of Friday morning at +240 to win the NBA Finals this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers are next at +375, while the Los Angeles Clippers come in at +600. Both the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz are listed at +750.

The Nets opened at +900 to win it all and have seen a dramatic jump in odds. Brooklyn is currently getting 18.5% of the tickets and 30.1% of the handle, according to BetMGM. The Nets are their biggest liability right now.

Other top betting options from BetMGM are:

  • Lakers: 16.6% tickets; 22.3% handle
  • Nuggets: 12.5% tickets; 9.4% handle
  • 76ers: 11.4% tickets; 10.0% handle
  • Jazz: 6.8% tickets; 8.9% handle

Series odds largely tight in most matchups

With the Play-In Tournament wrapping up Friday to determine the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, this leaves seven playoff series matchups set.

Several of the matchups look to be quite competitive in the eyes of the oddsmakers.

Here’s the series prices in the Eastern Conference, according to PointsBet Sportsbook:

  • No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards (no line as of Friday midday)
  • No. 2 Brooklyn Nets (-1000) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics (+600)
  • No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks (-275) vs. No. 6 Miami Heat (+225)
  • No. 4 New York Knicks (+100) vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks (-120)

In the Western Conference, here’s what PointsBet lists:

  • No. 2 Phoenix Suns (+120) vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers (-139)
  • No. 3 Denver Nuggets (-120) vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers (+100)
  • No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (-400) vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks (+300)

In the East, the Hawks are a slight favorite against the Knicks despite being the lower seed. In the West, the Lakers are unsurprisingly favored against an otherwise unproven Phoenix team.

The Lakers dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season, but now bring their full roster to the table against Phoenix. The Suns are appearing in their first playoffs since 2010.

Kevin Durant, LeBron James among MVP favorites

Oddsmakers are looking to big names when it comes to winning the NBA Finals MVP.

Kevin Durant is the favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, as he has +420 odds. LeBron James is next at +550, while Kawhi Leonard is listed at +750. Both Donovan Mitchell and Giannis Antetokounmpo are listed at +850.

Durant is a two-time Finals MVP, winning in 2017 and 2018. Coming off missing the entire 2019-20 season because of an Achilles’ injury, Durant played in just 35 games during the regular season. Load management and injuries played roles. In his postseason career, Durant averages 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

James and the Lakers have an uphill climb as the No. 7 seed. James, however, is a four-time NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020). James averaged 25 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this season over 45 contests. In the postseason, James averages a near triple double for his career.

Can you cash in on a sweep?

BetMGM is offering up nearly any wager you can imagine on some of these series.

If you are feeling confident about a team, or a series outcome, that can be your best value option.

When it comes to the betting favorites in each series, opting for a sweep brings in longer odds.

Here’s how they break down:

  • Nets sweep Celtics: +275
  • Bucks sweep Heat: +450
  • Hawks or Knicks sweep one another: +1400
  • Clippers sweep Mavericks: +425
  • Nuggets sweep Blazers: +1200
  • Lakers sweep Suns: +1100

Certainly, the Nets bring the most talent to sweep, but one may have to be concerned about stars resting if they go up 3-0.

With Phoenix’ inexperience, opting for a Lakers sweep could be a good play. The Clippers also appear to have the stronger depth to cause a lot of problems for Dallas.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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