Just before the first round tipped-off, we went over the futures bets for title odds, plus the first-round matchup between the Nuggets and Blazers (we correctly predicted Nuggets in six). In the last article, we considered the futures bets for the Nets, Sixers, Lakers, and Clippers.
We labeled each as moderately risky bets, noting the Lakers were moderate due to the risk of re-injury. Sure enough, the injury to AD flipped the series to the Suns and that was the end of the line for them.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling, and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800 GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL) Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN only) or 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA only) or 1-800-522-4700 (CO Only) *21+. NJ/IN/WV/PA/IA/CO only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Offer not valid for users physically located in NH. Deposit bonus is in DK Dollars which have no cash value and must be used on DraftKings. Bonus requires 25x Play-Thru. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
As for the Nets, they were able to cruise with no Jaylen Brown on the other side to really test them. The Sixers, despite losing Embiid with a minor knee injury, closed-out the Wizards in five, while the Hawks easily outplayed the sluggish Knicks.
The playoffs have been shaken-up, following the exit of the Lakers. With that in mind, there is plenty of value to be had in the second round of the playoffs. That’s going to be our focus for this article, with cases made for both sides, as well as alternative betting options (exact series outcomes).
The odds listed here come from the DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
Brooklyn Nets -200 vs Milwaukee Bucks +160
The Nets were about how we expected they’d be in the opening round. With the exception of one game where the Celtics played hard and shot well, the Nets easily handled the shorthanded Celtics. It seemed like any time the Nets made a run, the Celtics seemed too demoralized to keep up.
For the Bucks, the opening series against the Heat was all about revenge. The Bucks swept and their team looked more complete than we’ve seen throughout this entire Giannis era. For the matchup itself, we have to look at the Bucks’ defense and how they may be able to slow the Nets offensively.
With Middleton, Giannis, and Jrue Holiday, the Bucks have the defensive potential to give the Nets problems. As far as the teams left in the playoffs, the Bucks are a dangerous opponent for the Nets, especially given the Nets’ own questionable defense. Looking forward, the Nets or Bucks would have a strong chance to win it all, following this series. Whoever comes out of this will face either the Hawks or 76ers.
If the Hawks win, both the Nets and Bucks would be fairly heavy favorites. If the Sixers win and Embiid is deemed healthy (from his knee injury), we’d be looking at much closer odds in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Whoever comes out of the West would likely be the underdog with either of these two teams representing the East. In the end, this comes down to how confident you are in perhaps the most dangerous offensive team of all time.
If you think the Nets are going to be just too much to handle, the -200 odds seem fairly obvious. If you think the Bucks are finally for real and their defense will stymie the Nets offensively, the +160 odds should seem like a good value for you. I’m leaning Nets to advance but feel the odds are very appropriate.
Verdict: If you feel strongly about one team, you may as well bet on them to win the title
Phoenix Suns -220 vs Denver Nuggets +175
The Suns slayed the dragon on Thursday. They did what no team had ever done before (knock Lebron out of a first-round playoff series). Following the impressive six game series, the Suns are getting the nod as the clear favorite for their conference semifinal matchup against the Nuggets.
It’s a little odd in some ways, because this is the Suns’ first playoff appearance in a decade, and even the more seasoned veterans on the team don’t have impressive playoff performances prior to this season (yes, we’re looking at Chris Paul). On the other side, the Nuggets made it to the Conference Finals last season. Even without Jamal Murray, this team has gotten a huge boost from Michael Porter Jr, as his breakout tour played a major role in the Nuggets advancing past the Blazers in the opening round.
Normally, a team with the reigning MVP and a breakout star would be closer to favorites heading into a second-round matchup against a similar seed. However, this matchup is all about the mismatches on the floor.
The Suns have a pair of solid three and D wings in Mikhael Bridges and Cam Johnson, a savvy point guard in Chris Paul, an athletic center in Ayton, and a dynamic star at shooting guard with Devin Booker. They are a prototypical model modern roster. Jokic may encounter some issues with a more athletic center guarding him, while Michael Porter Jr will certainly have a rough time dealing with the Suns wings.
Paul matches up very well against Campazzo (Paul is essentially a much better version of Campazzo) and the Nuggets have no answer for who will be able to contain Devin Booker.
This is really an ideal matchup for the Suns, which is why the odds may seem inflated on the bettor’s end. I think the odds reflect the matchup much more than the fact the Suns just ousted the Lakers in six.
Like any other seven-game series, this series will have its variance, but I like the depth and versatility of the Suns more than the Nuggets at this point. I like the Suns to win the series in five, mainly due to the questions I have about the Nuggets ability to stop Devin Booker.
I am not a fan of the Suns -220 here and think you could get much better value just betting the Suns to win in five (+300 odds) and in six (+400). If you take both those, you’ll be netting a profit of either +200 or +300 if the Suns win it in five or six games. That’s the sharp move in this one.
Verdict: Suns in five (+300) & Suns in six (+400) offer great net returns.
Atlanta Hawks +160 vs Philadelphia 76ers -200
The Hawks handled the Knicks, which was expected from the series odds (-121). However, the oddsmakers thought the Knicks would put up a better fight. The Sixers handled the Wizards, as we all expected.
The issue going forward is Joel Embiid. According to reports, Embiid suffered a small tear in his Meniscus, which is typically a three to four-week recovery time. Chemistry issues aside, this has been the biggest problem for the Sixers for the last few years now. With Embiid’s current status and timeline, it’s reasonable to expect he will be out for at least one or two games in the series.
If the Sixers take game one or two without him, he may even rest on the third game as well. My point here is that this series shouldn’t be a quick series. Even with Embiid out, the Sixers have excellent defenders at the guard positions, good perimeter scoring, and plenty of useful veteran depth. Dwight Howard can be relatively effective in Embiid’s absence and the Sixers have the versatility defensively to stymie the Hawks’ potent offense.
For the Hawks, their biggest issue will be Trae Young having to deal with Matisse Thybulle and Ben Simmons. Though the Hawks can certainly find scoring elsewhere, the offense won’t come easy against this Sixers defense. I think this series will be a grind and should go at least six games.
I plan on spreading four bets covering all four series outcomes from game six through game seven: Sixers in six (+450), Sixers in seven (+450), Hawks in six (+500) Hawks in seven (+600). By betting (for example) a hundred dollars on all four, you’d be netting at least $150 profit for any of those four outcomes, with the potential to net up to $300 if the Hawks win in seven.
It’s a risky bet, but the Sixers have been a very high-variance team with Embiid out, and I think they’ll rest him as much as they can in this series (even if it means sacrificing a game).
Verdict: Moderately Risky, but safe if you believe the Sixers will take it easy with Embiid
Kawhi Leonard to win Finals MVP +900
There are plenty of believers out there when it comes to the Clippers. I’m not saying I think the Clippers will win the West, but they’ll be coin-flip favorites to win the West, assuming they beat the Mavericks in Game 7 Sunday. From a matchup perspective, the Clippers’ wings can give any team fits.
The Mavericks have been a particularly tough matchup for them, due to Doncic’s ridiculous playmaking and space-creating ability. If the Clippers advance, they look to be a favorable matchup against all three of their possible opponents in the West. From there, it becomes, “Will Kawhi and Paul George be able to stop the Bucks, Nets, or Sixers.” I think they’ll be a coin-flip in that matchup as well.
If you run the numbers out, Kawhi should be anywhere from +400 to +800 to win Finals MVP. Therefore, if you believe the Clippers will take down the Mavericks in Game 7, you can get ahead of this bet and get much more favorable odds right now. Let’s be real, if the Clippers win it all, Kawhi will be a much bigger reason than “Playoff P.”
Verdict: Risky Bet in the immediate (ahead of Game 7). Great long-term upside for the odds.