NBA

NBA Playoff Predictions: Which First Round Series Are Still Up for Grabs?

Some teams are dominating, some are struggling — an updated look at the NBA playoffs and what may be ahead.

April 29, 2024

We are several games into the first round of the NBA playoffs, with some teams ready to move onto the next round and other series too close to call. Tipico Sportsbook offers bets for both individual NBA games and futures, including series results. Below is a look at the updated series odds as of Monday morning, as well as first-round predictions moving forward.

Eastern Conference

Celtics (-100000 odds to win series) vs. Heat (+2000); Celtics lead series 3-1

This has been one of the league’s most competitive playoff rivalries in recent years, but the disparity in available talent between these teams is likely too great for Miami to overcome. Jimmy Butler (knee) and Terry Rozier (neck) remain sidelined for Miami, while Boston is getting strong production from Jayson Tatum (24.3 PPG) and Jaylen Brown (24 PPG).

The Heat shot 23-for-43 from 3-point range to steal Game 2 in Boston, but the Celtics won the other two games by 20 points apiece. Coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad is capable of winning another game in this series with a lights-out shooting performance, but that’s about it.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

Knicks (-900) vs. 76ers (+620); Knicks lead series 3-1

New York rode its role players and the Madison Square Garden crowd’s energy to a 2-0 series lead. The 76ers pushed back with a Game 3 win behind Joel Embiid’s 50 points, but Jalen Brunson’s franchise playoff record 47 points propelled the Knicks to a Game 4 road win and a commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to New York.

This has been the chippiest of the first-round series, which makes it an interesting one to watch despite the potentially lopsided outcome. Mitchell Robinson (ankle) and Bojan Bogdanovic (foot) have both gotten hurt in this series for the Knicks.

Even with that attrition, New York’s superior depth has been the difference, despite Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey (29.0 PPG) being the third-best scorer in this series behind Embiid (35 PPG) and Brunson (30.5 PPG).

Don’t expect the 76ers to go quietly into the night, but the Knicks have the clear upper hand.

Prediction: Knicks in 7

Bucks (+1000) vs. Pacers (-2000); Pacers lead series 3-1

The Pacers have capitalized on Milwaukee’s mounting number of injuries. Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf) has yet to appear, and Damian Lillard missed Game 4 after sustaining an Achilles injury in Game 3.

If the Greek Freak comes back, this 3-1 deficit certainly isn’t insurmountable, but this will be an uphill battle for the Bucks, even if the stars are able to return. Pascal Siakam (25.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG) and Myles Turner (24.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG) have been Indiana’s biggest scoring threats, making up for lackluster production from Tyrese Haliburton (15.8 PPG, 10 APG).

The Pacers pulled ahead 2-1 with an overtime home win in Game 3, then added a 126-113 Game 4 victory over the depleted Bucks to reach the brink of advancing.

Prediction: Pacers in 6

Cavaliers (-190) vs. Magic (+155); Series tied 2-2

The home teams have held serve so far, with the Cavaliers winning Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland by an average of 12 points and the Magic answering with a massive 30.5-point average margin of victory across Games 3 and 4 in Orlando.

Considering the Cavaliers went 26-15 at home in the regular season and the Magic posted a 29-12 home record, this has hardly been surprising. Look for the home dominance to continue, resulting in the fourth-seeded Cavaliers making the most of their home-court advantage, which they acquired by virtue of winning 48 regular-season games compared to Orlando’s 47.

The Cavaliers will need to keep playing grinding defense at home to get the job done, as Cleveland has yet to score 100 points in a game this series.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 7

Western Conference

Clippers (+140) vs. Mavericks (-175); series tied 2-2

The Clippers watched a 31-point lead evaporate in Game 4 but found a way to hang on for a 116-114 win in Dallas to tie the series at 2-2 heading back to LA. The 4-5 matchup in the Western Conference seems destined to go the distance, and while Game 7 would be in LA, it’s hard not to like Dallas’ chances with Luka Doncic (29 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 8.5 APG) and Kyrie Irving (28.8 PPG) leading the way against James Harden (26 PPG) and Paul George (21 PPG).

Prediction: Mavericks in 7

Other Futures to Consider

There may be no fanbase that has suffered more across multiple sports in the postseason than Minnesota, but the Timberwolves look ready to change that. They had an impressive sweep over the Suns in Round 1, but what makes them particularly intriguing is their likely Round 2 matchup against the Nuggets. If they survive, their odds are going to dip considerably so simply from a value perspective, the Timberwolves are a good bet right now.

Boston looks to be the class of the East, but things are also falling nicely for the Knicks. The Bucks are likely to go down in the first round unless they get healthy quickly, lining them up for a potential showdown with the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. New York will enter as the underdog, but not by enough for the current discrepancy in odds.

Bets to Consider: Timberwolves to win West (+450) and Timberwolves to win NBA Championship (+1100); Knicks to win East (+420) and Knicks to win NBA Championship (+1400)

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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