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We’re nine days removed from when the NBA postseason was supposed to start. It still stings to type that out.
The NBA hasn’t had meaningful action in more than a month as the world continues to trudge through the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Adam Silver has been deliberate in his attempt to find a contingency plan, though we’re still left in the dark as to what to expect in the near future.
We like keeping things optimistic, so today we’re going to think with the mindset that the NBA will return. Let’s dive into potential first-round playoff prices to see if we can find some edges.
1st-round series prices
|Bucks-Magic||Bucks -5000||Magic +1550|
|Lakers-Grizzlies||Lakers -2000||Grizzlies +750|
|Raptors-Nets||Raptors -1400||Nets +825|
|Celtics-76ers||Celtics -290||76ers +245|
|Heat-Pacers||Heat -280||Pacers +235|
|Clippers-Mavericks||Clippers -275||Mavericks +230|
|Jazz-Thunder||Jazz -165||Thunder +145|
|Nuggets-Rockets||Rockets -125||Nuggets +105|
These are the matchups we’d see had the regular season ended for good on March 11. The league could obviously make tweaks, but this is what we’re working with. Without further ado, here’s where our money would be.
Celtics (-290) over 76ers
This is almost an entirely new handicap for bettors. Teams have had a layoff, players with injuries could be fully healthy, and who knows how much rust each team would need to shake off. A point not to overlook here is the 76ers getting back to full strength after marching through the late winter without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. However, let’s not forget Boston was also plagued by the injury bug, too: the Celtics‘ 10.59 lost wins due to injury was second in the NBA to only the Raptors.
Boston, which was 43-21 at the time of the layoff, was playing like a projected 46-win team. I think this is a good buy at a bargain.
Clippers (-275) over Mavericks
This is a slam dunk, no pun intended.
I’d be remiss to not mention Dallas’ success first. Not only did the Mavericks have a 40-27 record at the time of the break, they were playing like a 47-win team, which would be the fourth-best winning percentage in the league. But Dallas is still No. 12 in the NBA in RPI, a metric formed around power ratings.
Meanwhile, L.A. is 24 games over .500 and has been considered unlucky. There’s just too much depth and star power on the Clippers‘ side for Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis to get around in this hypothetical series.
Thunder (+145) over Jazz
There was a clear lapse in judgement by the betting markets when evaluating the Thunder. They were the first team in the league to shatter their win total, and they didn’t stop there. So while this looks like a huge mismatch based off where these two teams were before the season, it’s actually closer than most would assume.
The Jazz were one of the healthiest teams during the regular season and there’s a good chance home-court advantage in the high altitude wouldn’t be as advantageous with how much rest the league has had. I’m taking the underdog in this matchup.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He’s a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from “Rounders” and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.