NBA Playoff Series Prices And Bets For Opening Round

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on April 15, 2022 - Last Updated on April 16, 2022
NBA playoff series bets

The final play-in games wrap up on Friday, and the proper NBA playoffs begin Saturday. While many bettors will go game by game with their wagers, others may want to lock in a bet before the series starts and sweat things out from there. Here, we’ll run through NBA playoff series prices and which bets TheLines staffers Mo Nuwwarah and Eli Hershkovich have their eyes on, if any.

Be sure to go over the NBA playoffs injury report before locking anything in, and use the odds boards below to find the best series prices at a legal sportsbook in your area.

No. 4 Dallas Mavericks Vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Net ratings (all via Cleaning The Glass and excluding garbage time):

  • Jazz +7
  • Mavericks +3.8

Obviously, the Luka Doncic injury looms over everything. He’s the Mavs’ offensive engine, and given how poorly Utah played down the stretch (4-7 final 11 game including a couple of huge collapses), Dallas figured to be a popular betting choice here if healthy.

Look for how quickly Mavs Coach Jason Kidd goes to a five-out look with Maxi Kleber at center. The Clippers laid out the blueprint for exploiting the Jazz’s perimeter defense in last year’s playoffs. Have the Jazz figured out a way to counter such a strategy? The Rudy Gay signing was supposed to give them a small-ball option but it did not bear any fruit in the regular season.

Eli’s Take

While there isn’t a series bet that currently sticks out, I’ll be targeting the Mavericks with a single-game bet. As I broke down with Westgate SuperBook’s Jeff Sherman, we could see more of a market overreaction in Game 1 or 2 — with Doncic likely out for both of those matchups.

Jason Kidd boasts a pair of explosive guards in Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie, as well as a top-10 D. In particular, the Mavs defend the perimeter at an ultra-efficient rate — an area that the Jazz rely heavily on. Rudy Gobert & Co. generate their fair share of second-chance shots, but Dallas should still be able to hang within 2-3 possessions of an inflated spread.

No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies Vs. No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves

Net ratings:

  • Timberwolves +3.2
  • Grizzlies +6.2

Much ink has been spilled about whether Memphis’ style of play translates to a playoff environment. They thrive on winning the possession battle, ranking first in offensive rebound rate and top 10 in both offensive and defensive turnover rates. Traditionally, the playoffs shift to more of a half-court battle, although at least one high-profile outlet says these concerns are overblown.

Mo’s NBA Playoff Series Bet

I am certainly concerned about the Wolves on the glass. They allowed the second-highest rate of offensive rebounds in the league. But, I do buy into the idea that the Grizzlies’ half-court inefficiency on offense will be a problem. They rank just 23rd in effective field goal percentage. Karl-Anthony Towns can be a bit careless with the ball, so he’ll need to clean that up to give his team a chance, but I got +320 on the Wolves and think that’s much too high here. They arguably have the best player in the series in Towns.

No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers Vs. No. 5 Toronto Raptors

Net ratings:

  • 76ers +3.3
  • Raptors +2.2

The Raptors are another team much like the Grizzlies, in that they struggle in the half court (27th in eFG%) but thrive in transition and win the possession battle (first in defensive turnover%, second in offensive rebounding). Again, that could be problematic against an opponent in the Sixers whose best players eat in the half court.

Joel Embiid and James Harden have shown a lot of synergy on offense, and they have a monster +15.8 differential together.

The Raptors have often made up for their lack of heft against Embiid by swarming him with multiple bodies. Two things to watch on that front: can Harden and the other Sixers punish them off the ball, and can the Raptors avoid fouling? They rank near the bottom of the league in free-throw rate allowed, and the Sixers lead the NBA in free throws on offense.

Eli’s Take

Although I considered betting the Raptors series price, there isn’t as much value after they opened at +185. Hence, waiting to see if Toronto falls behind in the series may be the better approach.

No. 3 Golden State Vs. No. 6 Denver

Net ratings:

  • Warriors +5.1
  • Nuggets +2.1

While the Nuggets loomed as a potential sleeping giant in the playoffs, it seems they’ll march forward without Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. That leaves a massive onus on Nikola Jokic, particularly with Stephen Curry announced as probable for Game 1.

Curry’s return should right the ship for a Warriors team that wobbled down the stretch without him. Lineups including Curry and Draymond Green, obviously the backbone of what the Warriors will throw onto the court against Denver, were a massive +14.7 per 100 possessions. Jordan Poole looks more than ready to pick up the slack for the diminished version of Klay Thompson, as he scorched the nets for 120.7 points per 100 shot attempts, a nearly Curry-esque number that lands in the 91st percentile.

Mo’s NBA Playoff Series Bet

I took a shot on Denver at +3000 a couple of months ago when positive reports surfaced about Porter and Murray. Unfortunately, those have reversed course and I now see Denver as first-round cannon fodder for a Warriors team that looked elite when healthy early on. I have no idea how Denver can stop this team offensively, particularly when they hunt 3s off screens. Damian Lillard had target practice off the dribble last season off screens and that won’t go well for Denver. I took Golden State -250 and think the -225 available at PointsBet Sportsbook is a great buy.

No. 2 Boston Celtics Vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets

Net ratings:

  • Celtics +7.4
  • Nets +1

Probably the most anticipated first-round series. While the net ratings make this look like a mismatch, that’s obviously not the case since these bake in a plethora games where the Nets played without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant or both.

These teams matched up at full strength a month ago, and Jayson Tatum outshined Kevin Durant with a 54-point effort.

The Celtics’ perimeter defense excels at forcing opponents into mid-range jumpers. That shot profile has keyed their surge since early doldrums had them hovering around .500. On the bright side for the Nets, Durant and Irving thrive on exactly these sorts of shots.

Furthermore, rumblings have begun that defensive ace Ben Simmons could return during the series. That might help shore up the Nets’ 21st-ranked unit, although he obviously brings offensive issues to the table as well.

Mo’s NBA Playoff Series Bet

This series opened with Brooklyn favored and saw a huge swing in the odds as the sharps pounded the Celtics to decent-sized favorites. I was stunned by the move, given how awesome the Nets have been with Durant and Irving on the floor together (+13.2 per 100 with a 99th percentile offense). That, combined with the Robert Williams III injury (he’s likely to miss the series) and the fact the Nets thrive on the shots Boston forces, makes me agree with the initial line. I faded the big move and bought in on the Nets at +125.

No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks Vs. No. 6 Chicago Bulls

Net ratings:

  • Bucks +3.6
  • Bulls -0.2

There’s a decent chance the Bulls wind up as the only playoff team with a negative net rating, depending on whether the Pelicans advance in the final play-in game. Considering they sat in the top seed about halfway through the season, that tells you all you need to know about the depth of their late-season swoon.

Health has been a big factor in the Bulls’ downfall. Defensive stud Alex Caruso missed a big chunk of the season but has returned. On the other hand, Lonzo Ball will miss the rest of the season, and Zach LaVine hasn’t looked right in months while dealing with a knee injury.

Milwaukee does not really look like a great team on the surface. Their net rating has dropping considerably from the past three seasons. However, their big three has a +12.6 differential together, and there’s a widely held belief that they simply took their foot off the gas after their title run, knowing they can turn up when it counts.

Mo’s Take

Bucks -2.5 game has been a popular play among NBA bettors at large and in our Discord channel (join here for free). Many got it around -150 and the best price I can find now is -170 at DraftKings Sportsbook. I certainly understand the sentiment but I guess most of the value has been dragged out by now, and I’m staying away until the Bucks face a more competitive opponent that will bring out a better effort from them.

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Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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