The 2021 NBA Playoffs will begin on May 22, 2021 and run until late July. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pro basketball postseason has been pushed back a little more than a month than its traditional start and end time. Prior to the start of the 2020-21 NBA season, the LA Lakers were the favorites to win the NBA Finals with odds of +270 at FanDuel Sportsbook to win the title. Looking at NBA playoffs odds to make the postseason, the Lakers are shoo-ins at -6000 odds. LA is +1600 to not make the playoffs at FanDuel.
NBA playoffs odds
Who is favored to win the 2021 NBA Finals?
The Lakers are the favorites to win the 2021 NBA Finals with odds of +270 at FanDuel. The Milwaukee Bucks were second, with futures odds of +550.
What are NBA futures?
In betting terms, “Futures,” usually refer to wagers with a season-long outcome such as the NBA champion, NBA division winner, or individual award winners. Prior to the season, it’s possible to bet Over or Under on Team Win totals, i.e. the number of games a team is expected to win during the regular season.
Due to the shortened season, bets on Win Totals and division winners have been rendered null and void with the investment going back to bettors.
How to bet the NBA Playoffs
Betting on a potential outcome such as the NBA champion is known as a futures bet. There are several other ways to bet on individual games in the NBA Playoffs including taking the winner on the moneyline. This is the simplest way to bet, but the favored team will always have negative odds to encourage action on both sides. For example, if the Lakers face the Heat in the first game of the NBA Finals, the Lakers might be listed with -250 odds for Game 1, indicating that a $25 bet on the Lakers to win would only profit $10.
If you want a better chance at even money, you’ll have to bet the point spread for a game. The spread is set based on a number that oddsmakers feel will encourage action on both sides of the line. Taking an example from the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers were expected to blow past the eighth-seeded Blazers in Game 4 of their series. They were listed as Lakers (-9.5), indicating the Lakers would have to win by double digits for their backers to cash. Conversely, the Blazers (+9.5) would pay out as long as they lost by 9 or fewer points. With no home court advantage in the 2020 NBA playoffs, most point spreads have been small, with plenty hovering around -1.5 or even a “PK” or Pick ‘Em line that functions just like a moneyline.
Since NBA games often finish in scattered fashion with late buckets and free throws, you may not feel as confident about choosing a winner or betting the spread. If so, you can get some action on the point total or over/under. The total refers to the combined score between two opponents and in today’s NBA, it usually ranges between 205 and 230 points. If a line for Game 6 of the ECF is set at 222.5 and the Celtics defeat the Heat, 112-110, the Under is successful. These lines are set depending on the typical pace and style of each opponent, while accounting for things like home court advantage and back-to-back scheduling. Those factors are almost completely irrelevant in this year’s playoffs, so betting the point total will be all about matchups.
It’s also possible to bet on the prospects of individual players in the form of proposition bets. This is an excellent way to strategize while betting on the NBA, since certain players thrive in certain matchups and it can be predictable which nights they will give their absolute best effort. If the Lakers are playing a Game 7 in the WCF, you can certainly target a proposition on LeBron James going Over 46.5 combined points, rebounds, and assists. If James posts a relatively typical line of 27 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds, the Over would cash. There are also novel prop bets about whether a player will record a double double, triple double, or hit a certain number of 3-pointers.
Bettors can wager on future outcomes without picking the NBA champion, since each playoff series will have a series line. For example, the No.1-seeded Lakers might be listed with -400 odds to defeat the surprise Nuggets, but if you feel Denver matches up well against LA, you could get plus odds on the Nuggets winning that series. These odds will change after each result with the team leading the series getting a significant bump as the favorite.