NBA odds, need-to-know notes and best bets for the Eastern Conference playoffs

Apr 12, 2019 |

The NBA Playoffs are here, with games tipping off this Saturday. If you’re betting on the NBA odds this postseason, we’ve got eight need-to-know notes for the eight Eastern Conference teams vying for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

NO.1 MILWAUKEE BUCKS 

Season Record: 60-22
ATS Record: 47-31-4
Over/Under Record: 42-40-0 
Odds to win NBA title: +750 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +150 at PointsBet

The best team in the East is also the best bet in the NBA and features the league’s best player. Yep, Milwaukee has a lot going for itself heading into the postseason. The Bucks boasted an average scoring margin of plus-8.9 points per game – first in the NBA – and while that metric does the job for pointspread bettors, only three of the previous nine NBA champs have finished tops in the league in average margin of victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo stepped up as the top dog in the East upon LeBron’s departure. He’s been the model of consistency in recent years, but the “Greek Freak” found another gear after the All-Star break and rode that to the top of the NBA MVP odds. He’s priced at +800 to win NBA Finals MVP at PointsBet. Milwaukee rolled over its toughest competition in the conference, with an 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS record versus Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and Indiana. 

The biggest knock against the Bucks – literally and figuratively – is the lack of beef in the middle. Veteran center Pau Gasol could be an X-factor IF he can come back healthy and fellow big man Nikola Mirotic is dealing with a fractured thumb entering the postseason. Brook Lopez is the anchor in the middle but should he get hurt or get into foul trouble, the Bucks get small quick.

NO. 2 TORONTO RAPTORS

Season Record: 58-24
ATS Record: 38-44-0
Over/Under Record: 44-35-3
Odds to win NBA title: +1,000 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +200 at PointsBet

OK, Kawhi. Do your thing! The postseason is the exact reason why the Raptors made the move to land the former Finals MVP after years of disappointing postseason performances. On top of Leonard’s playoff pedigree, Toronto has a couple more things going for it in the tournament: 1. LeBron James isn’t playing against the Raptors. 2. The Washington Wizards aren’t their first-round opponent. 3. Grizzled vet Marc Gasol gives Toronto some much-needed marbles in the middle at this time of year.

However, Toronto does have a rather large franchise-long trend working against it, specifically heading into Saturday’s series opener versus the Orlando Magic. The Raptors are just 2-13 SU and 3-12 ATS in Game 1 of a playoff series all-time. 

Now, the Raps did snap an 11-game SU and ATS losing streak in series openers with a Game 1 win over the Wizards in the first round last year, but then fell off the wagon in Round 2, losing Game 1 to LeBron and the Cavs. 

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NO. 3 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 

Season Record: 51-31
ATS Record: 38-44-0
Over/Under Record: 43-39-0
Odds to win NBA title: +1,800 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +400 at PointsBet

Sixers bettors have been trusting “The Process” for years now. It’s time for Philly to start making some progress. The 76ers, on paper, are perhaps the only team in the East that can match the Golden State Warriors in terms of star power, especially since adding Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to the mix midway through the schedule. On paper.

Philadelphia has numerous injury concerns, none bigger than center Joel Embiid, who could miss the start of the postseason with knee issues. If Embiid can’t hold up to the wear and tear of the playoffs, the Sixers could be in deep when facing the top seeds of the conference down the road – especially Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The Sixers struggled without their All-Star in the middle, with a 6-11 SU and 5-12 ATS mark in games without Embiid, going 9-8 Over/Under in those contests.

NO. 4 BOSTON CELTICS 

Season Record: 49-33
ATS Record: 39-42-1
Over/Under Record: 47-35-0
Odds to win NBA title: +1,800 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +400 at PointsBet

Much like the 76ers, the Celtics have plenty of studs and on their best day could give Golden State a run for its money, in terms of talent top to bottom. But Boston’s best days have been few and far between. The Celtics are a bit of a hot mess entering the playoffs, with chemistry issues on and off the court and the loss of guard Marcus Smart gutting the roster of one of its proven postseason X-factors. 

Boston was actually in worse shape this time last year, without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the floor, and received incredible performances from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the playoffs. Given that experience, healthy (ish) stars and bench depth, Boston is presenting great value at 4/1 to win the East.

First-half Unders may be the best way to wager on this Celtics squad. Boston allowed only 25.9 first-quarter points and 27.0 second-quarter points per game, while averaging just 55.3 first-half points on the season. The Celtics and Indiana Pacers – Boston’s first-round foes – ranked first and second in first-half defense in the East.

 

NO. 5 INDIANA PACERS 

Season Record: 48-34
ATS Record: 41-41-0 ATS
Over/Under Record: 36-46-0 
Odds to win NBA title: +15,000 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +3,300 at PointsBet

The fact that the Pacers were able to earn the No. 5 seed in the conference after losing star Victor Oladipo for the final two months of the season is either a testament to the fortitude of this Indiana squad or a perfect example of just how crappy the bottom two thirds of the East really is.

The Pacers are all about the defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 45 percent from the field and limiting foes to a league-low 104.7 points per game. They’re second in the East in turnovers forced and give up just 44.8 points in the paint per outing. Offensively, Indiana lacks that go-to star – which will hurt deeper in the postseason – but has a balanced attack with eight guys putting up double figures in points. 

The knee-jerk reaction is to think Under with the Pacers, especially at home where they went 15-26 Over/Under on the season (63.4% Unders). Indiana doesn’t want to get into a track meet and was just 8-18 SU and 6-20 ATS when allowing 110 points or more this season (NBA league average PPGA is 111.2). The Pacers went 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS versus Boston, allowing 114, 117, and 135 points in those three defeats.

NO. 6 BROOKLYN NETS

Season Record: 42-40
ATS Record: 45-37-0 
Over/Under Record: 41-41-0
Odds to win NBA title: +20,000 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +5,000 at PointsBet

The Nets are a surprise entry into the NBA Playoffs, especially coming in as the No. 6 seed. Brooklyn held its own in divisional games, going 8-8 SU and 10-6 ATS, which is important to note because Atlantic rival Philadelphia is its first-round foe and Toronto and Boston likely await if the Nets can stun the Sixers. Can they?

Well, Brooklyn was the only team in the NBA that finished the regular season with a winning record but recorded a negative tally in terms of points differential. So, there’s that. However, the Nets have some things going for them entering the playoffs – and not just Embiid’s wonky knee. 

First, Brooklyn is deep and gets 43 percent of its offensive production off the pine – the second-best bench in the NBA. And second, De’Angelo Russell is a bad, bad man. The Nets shooting guard has watched his numbers climb since the All-Star break and enters the postseason with a hot hand after averaging 24.2 points in April. And third, Brooklyn was among the best bets on the road, going 25-16 ATS as a visitor, covering in almost 61 percent of road games.

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NO. 7 ORLANDO MAGIC

Season Record: 42-40
ATS Record: 45-36-1 
Over/Under Record: 38-44-0
Odds to win NBA title: +20,000 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +4,000 at PointsBet

Oh boy, the Southeast Division is one step ahead of the G League but someone’s got to win this mess. And that someone was Orlando. The Magic aren’t going to win any shootouts, entering the postseason as the lowest-ranked offense in the tournament, picking up 107.3 points per contest. 

Defense is where Orlando butters its bread, giving up just under 107 points on average, thanks in part to its methodical pace with the basketball (fifth slowest) and a big lineup that contends shots, clears the glass, and allows the fewest second-chance buckets in the NBA (10.9 second-chance points per game).

The value betting the Magic lies early on into games. They're the best first-quarter defense, giving up 101.8 points per 100 possession in the opening frame. The Raptors, Orlando’s first-round opponents, score just 28.1 points in the first 12 minutes and also do well defensively to start games, budging for 26.4 points on average in the first quarter. Keep an eye on those first-quarter totals in this opening series. 

NO. 8 DETROIT PISTONS

Season Record: 41-41 
ATS Record: 41-38-3
Over/Under Record: 39-43
Odds to win NBA title: +20,000 at PointsBet
Odds to win East: +5,500 at PointsBet

Detroit wobbled to the finish line, losing seven of its last 11 games, yet still earned a spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, thanks in part to a closing schedule that featured two of the worst teams in the league (Memphis and New York).  

The Pistons made the cut with star forward Blake Griffin either on the sideline or playing on one good knee. Griffin’s health is a huge concern heading into the opening round, most importantly if Detroit has any chance of slowing down Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo. It went 0-4 SU and 0-3-1 ATS versus the Bucks this season, with Giannis averaging only 20.8 points in those games. 

Griffin (if mobile) and Andre Drummond will be a handful for the Bucks inside and, as we mention above, Milwaukee could be missing some muscle in the middle of the key. Detroit scores almost 42 percent of its points inside the paint but also relies on shots from distance, scoring 33.9 percent of points from beyond the arc. The 3-ball could be difference for the Pistons, who ranked first in total 3-pointers allowed and ninth in total 3-pointers made.

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