The 2019-2020 NBA season resumed on July 31 with 22 teams invited to Orlando’s Disney World for a modified format. Teams will play eight regular season games to determine playoff berths and seedings before the Eastern and Western Conference each eight-team brackets to determine which teams will meet in the NBA Finals. NBA playoffs odds are now available at most sportsbooks.
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NBA Playoffs Odds: Who is favored to win the Finals?
The Bucks and Lakers were tied for the best odds to win the NBA title in early August with +250 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Clippers sat behind those teams with +340 odds and the Rockets and Raptors were next with +1300 odds.
The Bucks were slight favorites with +240 odds to win the title at FanDuel Sportsbook, followed by the Lakers (+260) and Clippers (+320). The rest of the field was far behind with the Rockets (+1200), Raptors (+1700), and Celtics (+2000) getting long odds. The Raptors have moved up from +2400 odds after an impressive start in the bubble.
You can find the current NBA playoffs odds for the Finals below.
NBA playoffs odds: New format
The league resumed play in a bubble in Orlando with 22 teams invited to play eight regular season games to determine the playoff bracket and seedings. In addition to the 16 teams that were in playoff position when the season was postponed on March 11, the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, and Washington Wizards were invited to fight for a chance at a playoff berth.
After the eight regular season games, the 9th seed and 8th seed in each conference could battle in a double elimination play-in format as long as the 9th seed is within four games of the 8th seed in the standings. The 8th seed would have to lose twice for the 9th seed to advance, or defeat the 9th seed once to make the playoffs.
The play-in games (if necessary) are scheduled for Aug. 15-16, with the first round of the playoffs scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 and the NBA Finals set to start Sept. 30 and conclude no later than Oct. 13.
NBA Playoffs odds: Conference winner
Most sportsbooks are also offering Futures bets on the winner of the Eastern and Western conferences. The Bucks (-165 at DK Sportsbook) are the prohibitive favorites to win the East, while the Lakers (+150) and Clippers (+180) are expected to compete for the West title.
For those who feel confident in predicting the winner of each conference, there is also a market for the exact NBA Finals Matchup.
Bucks vs Lakers (+300 at DK Sportsbook) is the most likely finals matchup per oddsmakers at DK Sportsbook.
At both DK and FanDuel Sportsbook, the top four outcomes include the Bucks, with Celtics/Lakers (+1900) and Raptors/Lakers (+1900) checking in as longshot matchups for the finals.
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 will be rendered null and void with the investment going back to bettors.
For the purposes of individual awards such as MVP betting, players will be listed in order of the favorites. Defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a lock to walk away with the award this season, so most sportsbooks have removed the MVP market from their board.
NBA playoffs odds to reach postseason
NBA playoffs odds: Western Conference
Memphis Grizzlies (-150 at DraftKings Sportsbook, -160 at FD)
The Grizzlies are currently in the 8 spot with a 3.5-game lead on Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento. Memphis was sputtering before the season was suspended while dealing with injuries to Brandon Clarke (quad) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee). Those bigs should be healthy now, but the Grizzlies record against winning teams (8-20) is somewhat concerning. Memphis went 4-7 with the seventh-worst offensive rating (108.5) after the ASB and is one of the younger teams in this format.
Portland Trail Blazers (+450 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +460 at FD)
They were the only team to vote against the resumption plan, but the format does align nicely for the Blazers to fight their way into the playoffs. They’ll get Jusuf Nurkic (leg) and Zach Collins (shoulder) back in the lineup and get Damian Lillard back refreshed. Lillard was carrying this team before the suspension and the Blazers owned the fourth-best offensive rating (114.7) following the ASB. As mentioned above, Portland has the inside track towards earning a play-in series since the Blazers have a slightly better winning percentage than the other WCF challengers.
New Orleans Pelicans (+400 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +420 at FD)
While the Pelicans have better odds than the Blazers to reach the playoffs, they lack the experience that might be necessary to post a good record against 8 playoff-caliber teams. The Pelicans were only 9-27 this year against teams with records over .500, however they played a brutally tough schedule and will be battle tested. New Orleans outscored Memphis by 38 points in 2 decisive head-to-head victories this season, so the Pels could do well in a play-in series. Note that younger teams tend to struggle at the end of tight contests, and the Pelicans were 2-5 in 3-point games, while the Blazers were 6-3 in those games.
Sacramento Kings (+1100 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +850 at FD)
The Kings and Pelicans were scheduled to play on March 11 when the season was suspended after Rudy Gobert’s positive diagnosis. They could face off again in the first of their 8 seeding games and the first meeting resulted in a narrow 117-115 Pelicans win. Sacramento lacks the star power of the above teams and flies under the radar, but the Kings had quietly won 13 of their last 20 and 7 of their last 10 when the season was suspended. They’re getting a massive odds boost at DK considering they’re tied with the Pels and have taken 3 straight meetings with the Grizzlies this year.
San Antonio Spurs (+1300 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +1700 at FD)
Playing every other day is not going to benefit the Spurs and their aging roster. Regardless of how they respond to empty arenas and odd scheduling, the Spurs are likely to miss the playoffs for the first time in 22 seasons. They’re one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and have struggled in “clutch time” all year with a -8.9 net rating in the final minutes of close games. We should see plenty of close finishes with all these teams battling for seeding in the West.
Phoenix Suns (+6000 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +5500 at FD)
What the Spurs lack in youth, the Suns lack in leadership and experience. They’re only 2.5 games behind the Blazers/Pelicans/Kings for a crack at the Grizzlies in a play-in series, but are unlikely to pass all 3 teams in the course of 8 games. Phoenix lost Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee) for the year and he will not be available. They have the worst record amongst WCF teams (7-21) against teams with winning records and can be safely left out of playoff projections.
NBA playoffs odds: Eastern Conference
Brooklyn Nets (-10000 at DraftKings Sportsbook, -3500 at FD)
The Nets were in a bit of disarray prior to the suspension with HC Kenny Atkinson replaced by interim coach Jacque Vaughn, and they reportedly won’t get Kyrie Irving (shoulder) or Kevin Durant (achilles) in uniform when the season resumes. They’re still a very solid team with Spencer Dinwiddie at the helm and have a 6-game lead on Washington that would be almost impossible to forfeit. Brooklyn’s main priority will be holding it’s 0.5-game edge on Orlando to avoid sliding to the 8 spot and facing Milwaukee in the first round.
Orlando Magic (-10000 at DraftKings Sportsbook, -1900 at FD)
Considering how high the odds are for Orlando to make the playoffs at DK, it makes sense to fire a bet at -1900 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The Magic owns a 5.5-game lead over Washington in the standings, but are not expected to activate either Jonathan Isaac (knee) or Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) when play resumes. They’ve won all 4 meetings with the Wizards this season, so even if an unlikely play-in series occurs, Orlando should have the edge.
Washington Wizards (+900 at DraftKings Sportsbook, +900 at FD)
The Wizards are the only ECF team getting stars back after the break with John Wall (foot) expected to suit up for the first time in over a year. Center Thomas Bryant (foot) should also be healthy after the long layoff and Bradley Beal will be rested after carrying a huge load all season. The Wizards won’t have to run the table to make the playoffs, they just have to make up 2 games on the Nets or Magic to force a play-in series. In that scenario, it would only take a pair of red-hot performances from Beal to oust one of those vulnerable teams from the playoffs. That makes it worthwhile to place a small wager on the Wizards with a $10 bet potentially yielding $90 if they can somehow play their way in.
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 Bucks face the Magic in the first round of the ECF playoffs, the Bucks might be listed with -350 odds for Game 1, indicating that a $35 bet on the Bucks to win would only profit $10.
If you want a better chance at even money, you’ll have to be 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. So if the Lakers are expected to blow past the eighth-seeded Grizzlies in Game 3 of their series, you may see a line that reads Lakers (-9.5), indicating the Lakers would have to win by double digits for their backers to cash. Conversely, the Grizzlies (+9.5) would pay out as long as they lose by 9 or fewer points. With no home court advantage in the 2020 NBA playoffs, most point spreads should be 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 3 of the ECF semifinals is set at 222.5 and the Celtics defeat the Raptors, 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 trailing the Clippers, 2-1, in the WCF finals, 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 third-seeded Nuggets might be listed with -140 odds to defeat the sixth-seeded Rockets in the first round, but if you feel Houston matches up well against Denver, you could get plus odds on the Rockets winning that series. These odds will change after each result with the team leading the series getting a significant bump as the favorite.