NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Predictions

    Published on Friday, April 15th

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    Final Season Standings with Futures Market (odds from Barstool Sportsbook)

    SeedTeamRecordPctTo Win EastTo Win NBA
    1Miami Heat53-29.646+300+700
    2Boston Celtics51-31.622+350+800
    3Milwaukee Bucks51-31.622+200+450
    4Philadelphia 76ers51-31.622+800+2000
    5Toronto Raptors48-34.585+2500+5000
    6Chicago Bulls46-36.561+6000+15000
    7Brooklyn Nets44-38.537+500+900
    8Atlanta Hawks44-38.537+5000+10000

    Series Previews & Predictions

    #1 Miami Heat vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks
    Series Spread & Odds: Heat -2.5 (+120), Hawks +2.5 (-159)
    Key Injuries: Clint Capela (ATL) injured his knee in the play-in game last night and his status is uncertain.
    John Collins (ATL) has been sidelined since March 11th with a foot injury and it is unclear when he’ll return.

    Series Outlook: While Miami is the top-seed in the East, the Bucks are actually heavier favorites all-around in the futures market. Despite the seeding I would argue that at least 3 teams in the East are superior, in the Bucks, Celtics and Nets. The Hawks have the shooting talent to give the Heat a run for their money and I think this one goes the full seven. The biggest question marks for Atlanta will be the health of their big men John Collins and Clint Capela, but I still think there is value on the Hawks in this series regardless.

    Series Value Picks
    Series WinnerATL (+400)
    Game 1 / Series DoubleATL / ATL (+600)
    Total Games Played in SeriesOver 5.5 (-120)
    Series Correct ScoreATL 4-3 (+1200)
    Series PredictionATL in 7

    #2 Boston Celtics vs. #7 Brooklyn Nets
    Series Spread & Odds: Celtics -1.5 (+148), Nets +1.5 (-200)
    Key Injuries: Robert Williams (BOS) has been out for almost a month with a torn meniscus but has a chance to return late in this series.
    Ben Simmons (BKN) hasn’t played all season and is allegedly targeting a Game 4 return, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    Series Outlook: What a difference 3 months makes. The Celtics were under .500 at the midway point of the season (20-21) and have gone 31-10 ever since, which is an NBA record turnaround for a sub-.500 team. The Nets have begun developing some cohesion finally getting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the floor together for an extended period of time to close the season, and have nearly identical futures odds to the Celtics. This series should be a heated slugfest with a handful of notable storylines, with the Irving-Boston reunion being front and center. Despite the unquestioned talent of Brooklyn’s Big 2, the Celtics are purely the better team here. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have elevated their games to another level this year and both possess the ability to dominate any given night like Irving and Durant.

    Series Value Picks
    Series WinnerBOS (-148)
    Spread – Series OutcomeBOS -1.5 (+148)
    Game 1 / Series DoubleBOS / BOS (+110)
    Series Correct ScoreBOS 4-2 (+525)
    Series PredictionBOS in 6

    #3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #6 Chicago Bulls
    Series Spread & Odds: Bucks -2.5 (-186), Bulls +2.5 (+140)
    Key Injuries: Lonzo Ball (CHI) has been ruled out for the postseason with a knee injury.

    Series Outlook: The Bucks are the heavy favorites in the East repeat as NBA Champions despite tanking in their final regular season game to get the 3rd seed and avoid the Nets. While Giannis Antetokounmpo is the unquestioned top talent in this series, I think the Bucks could have a tougher time advancing than expected. DeMar Derozan and Zach LaVine are 2 of the NBA’s elite scorers and each average over 24 PPG for the Bulls. There is certainly value on the Bulls in a variety of futures picks below, although I see the Bucks ultimately advancing in 6 games.

    Series Value Picks
    Series WinnerCHI (+650)
    Spread – Series OutcomeCHI 2.5 (+140)
    Game 1 / Series DoubleCHI / MIL (+500)
    Series Correct ScoreMIL 4-2 (+400)
    Series PredictionMIL in 6

    #4 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #5 Toronto Raptors
    Series Spread & Odds: 76ers -1.5 (+125), Raptors +1.5 (-162)

    Series Outlook: While it’s too soon to call the massive NBA deadline trade centered around James Harden and Ben Simmons a bust for the 76ers, it is certainly trending that way. The outcome of this series will have major ramifications for the future of basketball in Philadelphia and it feels like there is a ton of extra pressure on the 76ers to advance here. The Raptors are a veteran team with postseason experience and will be a difficult out for any team. I see this series going the distance with Toronto coming out on top to face the Bucks in Round 2.

    Series Value Picks
    Series WinnerTOR (+150)
    Game 1 / Series DoublePHI / TOR (+450)
    Series Correct ScoreTOR 4-3 (+600)
    Series PredictionTOR in 7

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