NBA Playoffs Explained
With the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Washington Wizards surviving the Play-In tournament, the playoffs are set to begin on May 22. Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs, there are a handful of title contenders, dark horse contenders, and teams that likely won’t make it far.
The first round of the playoffs will see the one seeds playing the eight seeds, the two seeds playing the seven seeds, the three seeds playing the six seeds, and the four seeds playing the five seeds in seven game series with the winners advancing to the second round. While historically the first-round match ups have been fairly predictable, star players have missed a large amount of games due to injuries and COVID protocols this season. This has led to some decent teams getting high playoff seeds and some really good teams getting low playoff seeds, resulting in some intriguing first round matchups.
The Eastern conference has a few title contenders, such as the one seeded Philadelphia Sixers who face off against the eight seeded Washington Wizards. The Wizards biggest problem is that they don’t have big men that can defend Sixers star center Joel Embiid. The Sixers are an overall more talented team and should easily take care of the Wizards in a four-game sweep. While Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal had great seasons with the Wizards, it’s hard to imagine them making it past the Sixers in the first round.
NBA Playoffs ScheduleDate Playoff Round:
May 18, 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament begins
May 22, 2021 NBA Playoffs Opening Round begins
July 8, 2021 NBA Finals Begin
2021 NBA Playoffs Bracket
The second seeded Brooklyn Nets face off against the Boston Celtics in the first round. After acquiring MVP level players James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving in the last two seasons, the Nets are seen by many to be the favorite to win the NBA finals this year. The Celtics are going to be missing their all-star player Jaylen Brown in the playoffs, so it should be an easy 5-1 win for the Nets. One thing to look out for in this series is how the Net’s three stars play together. Durant, Harden, and Kyrie only played eight games together all season due to injuries. It will be interesting to see how quickly the three adapt to playing with each other.
One of the more unpredictable first round series is the third seeded Milwaukee Bucks facing off against the sixth seeded Miami Heat. The Heat famously defeated the Bucks last season in one of the biggest upsets of those playoffs. The Heat managed to shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo’s offensive game by forcing him to shoot outside shots and building a wall to keep him out of the paint. The Heat also forced Bucks role players to hit big shots. That being said, the Bucks have made great roster moves since then, such as signing Jrue Holiday, who provides offense and defense at the point guard position. Recently acquired players like Bobby Portis and P.J. Tucker will also give the Bucks a much-needed punch off the bench. Ultimately, I believe that these additions will help push the Bucks past the Heat in a seven-game series. The Bucks and the Heat are teams to look for as dark horse contenders to make it to the finals.
The New York Knicks versus the Atlanta Hawks is another series that is hard to predict. Both teams exceeded expectations this season, but I see the Knicks number one rated defense helping them get past the Hawks in six games.
The Western conference also has many fascinating first round matchups. The number one seeded Utah Jazz will be facing the Memphis Grizzlies, who got the eight seed by defeating the Golden State Warriors in the Play-In tournament. One of the major things to look at in this series is the health of Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, who missed 16 games in the regular season with an ankle injury. The Jazz are a much stronger team than the Grizzlies but if Mitchell isn’t in full form due to his injury, the series can go on longer than expected. I see this series being won by the Jazz in six games.
One of the unluckiest teams in the playoffs has to be the Phoenix Suns. After fighting hard to get the second seed in the west in their first playoffs appearance since the 2009-2010 season, their reward is a first-round matchup with the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers. Despite the tremendous team basketball that the Suns have played all season, led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the Lakers are a physically bigger team with better star players in Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Suns are a younger and inexperienced team compared to the Lakers. One fascinating statistic that shows the disparity in playoff experience between the two teams is that Lebron James has played in more playoff games (260) than all of the Suns roster combined (198). If the Lakers are healthy, I see them winning this series in six games.
The Denver Nuggets were one of the favorites to make it out of the West until one of their star players, Jamal Murray, suffered a season ending injury. They play a Portland Trail Blazers team that despite not being as strong as they were in recent seasons, could prove to be a serious challenge for the Nuggets to overcome. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is the last player that many teams want to face in the playoffs, with his knack of hitting big time clutch shots. Despite the injury to Murray, I see the Nuggets winning in a hard fought seven game. This is one series that can honestly go either way.
The last matchup in the Western conference is the Los Angeles Clippers versus the Dallas Mavericks. On paper this should be an easy series for the Clippers. They have their two stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul Guard, a top five defensive rating amongst all teams, and a deep bench. Unfortunately, the Clippers have developed a reputation as a soft team that choke in the playoffs after their disastrous 2020 postseason run where they lost a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers should win the series, likely in six games, but they are no longer seen as a major threat by many teams in the West. This will be one of the series to look out for a potential upset.
While first round matchups haven’t always been the most interesting to watch, that isn’t the case this season. With many teams slowly starting to allow fans back into the arenas, big name stars coming back from injuries, and many unpredictable matchups, these first round series should be some of the most interesting we’ve seen in quite some time.
Once the NBA’s regular season ends, 16 of the league’s 30 teams qualify for the postseason. The top eight teams in each conference move on to the postseason, which begins this year on Saturday, April 13.
Will the Golden State Warriors win a third consecutive NBA title? Will upstart Milwaukee lay claim to the championship? Or is there a surprise contender out there like Oklahoma City or Boston that will come away with an NBA Finals victory?
All of those questions and more will be answered as the NBA battles through April, May, and ultimately the NBA Finals in June.
Where To Bet On NBA Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs are one of the more popular sporting events to garner interest among NBA bettors. The first round, conference semifinals, and conference finals receive plenty of action, but it’s the NBA Finals that receives the most.
You can bet on NBA championship odds at any bookmaker including those such as BetOnline.ag and Bovada.lv, which are the most popular online gambling sites these days.
Bettors interested in betting on the NBA playoffs odds for all of the postseason games can find plenty of options to do so.
NBA Playoffs Format
The NBA Playoffs qualification and format has changed numerous times throughout the history of the league. Currently, the top eight teams in each conference – ranked by record – qualify for the playoffs. Teams are seeded according to their final record. A total of 16 teams qualify and play in the first round of the postseason.
There are four rounds of play in the NBA’s postseason:
• Opening Round
• Conference Semi-Finals
• Conference Finals
• NBA Finals
Each round’s schedule consists of a best-of-seven series. The first team to reach four wins in a given series is the winner and advances to the next round. The loser is eliminated.