The 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament got off to a roaring start on Tuesday night. The Nets held off the Cavaliers to advance to the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 7 seed. The Minnesota Timberwolves did the same out in the West after an exciting, come-from-behind win over the Clippers.
More play-in action is slated for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well. The playoffs themselves will officially tip off on Saturday with a solid four-game slate. There is no clear-cut favorite to win the title this summer, which should make the postseason quite compelling for a variety of reasons.
While the playoffs won’t begin for a few more days, it’s never too early to take a glance at the NBA series prices you’ll find at our top-ranked basketball betting sites. Some sites already have a host of prop bets posted and ready for your wager ahead of this weekend’s NBA playoff series schedule.
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers Series Winner
The 4-5 matchup in the Eastern Conference should be a doozy. The Raptors defeated the Sixers in dramatic fashion back in the 2019 playoffs on their way to their first-ever championship. Philadelphia will look to exact some revenge this time around with home-court advantage in their corner. Game 1 of this compelling series is slated for Saturday evening.
The 76ers boast an incredibly dynamic offense with Joel Embiid and James Harden on the floor together. Philly has outscored their opponents by an incredible margin of 15.9 points per 100 possessions with the two on the floor together. Both are ticketed for big-minute roles in the playoffs, of course, but Toronto is uniquely equipped to defend Philadelphia’s superstar tandem. The Raptors have a few capable wing defenders they can throw at Harden, and length has historically given the Beard some issues.
Keeping Embiid under wraps will be the more difficult task, especially for a Toronto team that prefers to start the 6’9″ Pascal Siakam at center. In spite of that, Toronto’s defense is quite pesky. Not only are the Raptors elite in maintaining possession for themselves, but they’re also outstanding in terms of forcing turnovers. Toronto’s turnover differential this season (plus-3.4 per game) was the best mark in the league.
Considering how closely matched these teams appear to be on paper, I think the Raptors are a good value at their +180 NBA series odds to beat the Sixers and advance to round two.
Joel Embiid Points Per Game
While I do think the Raptors can give the Sixers some matchup issues in certain areas, the biggest advantage the Sixers have is, of course, Embiid.
Nobody in the Toronto frontcourt comes to within three inches or 40 pounds of the 76ers’ star center. In three matchups against the Raps on the year, Embiid averaged exactly 29 points and north of 11 rebounds per game.
So, it’s probably not a huge surprise to see his scoring average NBA series prop listed right at over/under 29 points.
Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) says Joel Embiid should win MVP, but if he doesn’t, “pick your poison” come playoff time:
“If he doesn’t win it, he’s gonna show you why he should’ve won it.”
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) April 13, 2022
Embiid averaged about 36 minutes per game against the Raptors this season, which was up from his season average of just under 34 minutes a game. The seven-footer only averaged about 32 minutes per game in last year’s playoffs as he dealt with some injuries. He’s fully healthy this time around, however, and I really don’t think Doc Rivers can afford to try and manage his workload.
So, it’s certainly possible we see Embiid push for 40 minutes a game in this series, especially if the games are competitive, as we expect them to be. I think there’s serious upside in betting the over on Embiid’s scoring prop of 29 points per game. Let’s not forget he just won the scoring title this season, averaging well over 30 points on a nightly basis.
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets Series Winner
As mentioned, Celtics-Nets has the potential to be the most compelling first-round series of them all. This is another clash of styles. Boston’s defense has been the primary catalyst in the team’s dramatic midseason turnaround. Brooklyn, meanwhile, boasts arguably the most dynamic and dangerous offense in the entire league.
So, this series may well come down to which team’s strength proves to be stronger. You won’t find a more powerful underdog than this Nets team, who will be relevant in the title race as long as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both upright. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising to see the Celtics listed as odds-on -130 favorites to win this series considering the Nets (+600) have the better NBA championship odds. Boston is down at +850 to win it all.
The Celtics claimed three of the four regular-season meetings against the Nets, with each of those three wins coming in February or later. The Nets’ lone triumph over the Celtics came back in November when both teams looked vastly different than they do now.
If the Celtics’ defense is able to give either Durant or Irving trouble, Brooklyn doesn’t really have anybody else capable of picking up the slack. I’ll side with the odds and trust the Celtics’ -130 NBA series odds.
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets Leading Scorer
The Celtics-Nets series should be an epic battle. Brooklyn is the scary team nobody wants to face come playoff time. The Celtics, however, are uniquely equipped to deal with the Nets’ high-octane scorers because of their stingy defense. This has all the makings of a potential classic.
We’ve also got NBA series betting odds on which All-Star will lead the matchup in scoring average. Kevin Durant is an understandable -130 favorite, but he isn’t the only candidate. Jayson Tatum (+160) and Kyrie Irving (+350) are very much in the running, while Jaylen Brown checks in at a distant +1000.
The safe bet is KD, of course. The value bet is Tatum. Irving probably shouldn’t be overlooked, but Durant is the headliner for that team. I’ll side with Tatum at his potentially profitable +160 NBA series odds to lead this one in scoring.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls NBA Playoff Series Odds
The Bucks are going to beat the Bulls in their first-round series. Chicago was a nice story this season, but Billy Donovan’s squad has faded in a big way in recent weeks. The Bulls are just 7-13 since March 1st, and they limped into the playoffs. After spending much of the first few months at the top of the East, the Bulls finished with the No. 6 seed and barely avoided the play-in scenario.
The Bucks are healthy after battling some injuries this season, and we saw just last year how dangerous this team is come playoff time. The Bucks’ regular-season defensive rating slipped to 14th this season, but they’ll kick that into gear now that the games really count. Last year, Milwaukee finished ninth in D-rating before leading all teams in that department in the playoffs.
The Bulls aren’t into excuse-making and don’t look backwards unless asked.
But I asked how much they’ll miss Lonzo Ball at both ends vs. Bucks.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 13, 2022
The question isn’t whether the Bucks will beat the Bulls in this series, it’s how long it takes. Milwaukee swept the season series from their Central Division rivals, with each of the last two games decided by north of 20 points. This one could get very ugly very quickly for Chicago.
Milwaukee swept Miami out of the playoffs in last year’s first round. The Bucks are favored to win the East for the second consecutive postseason, and I don’t expect them to have to break a sweat to dispose of Chicago. I think there is a very real chance the Bucks escape the first round unscathed, which makes those +255 odds look outstanding.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets Series Winner
I do think Warriors-Nuggets has the best chance of any series to come down to a winner-take-all seventh game. Of course, the prospect of a Game 7 is a dangerous one for all involved, though Golden State would have home-court advantage if it came to such things.
My argument against Denver to win the series is similar to my argument against Brooklyn. Beyond Jokic, who is supposed to shoulder the offensive burden here for the Nuggets? Aaron Gordon and Will Barton have been incredibly streaky all year, while Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. won’t be back. If Jokic struggles, it’s hard to have too much faith in his teammates to pick up the slack.
Steph Curry’s uncertainty throws a wrench into things, but Jordan Poole is a more than competent alternative. There is at least a decent chance Curry returns at some point in this series, as well, which could certainly tip the scales in favor of the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets Total Games
The Warriors will take on the Nuggets in a compelling first-round series featuring a clash of styles. The Warriors want to get out and run, while the Nuggets prefer to slow things down with Nikola Jokic pulling the strings. Steph Curry’s status for Golden State is still up in the air, and there is still some serious doubt about whether the former MVP will be healthy enough to play at all in this series.
The NBA series odds favor the third-seeded Warriors to advance, but it won’t be easy. While the Dubs are stingy defensively, they don’t really have the size to contend with Jokic in the middle. In four regular-season meetings between the teams, all Jokic did was post absurd averages of 28 points, 15.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. Regardless of how the Warriors try and game plan for the big man, there probably isn’t much they can really do to stop him. With Curry uncertain, there’s a strong chance this series goes the distance.
Golden State isn’t nearly as dynamic offensively with Curry out of the lineup, and I’m skeptical that he’s that close to making his dramatic return. Denver is essentially a one-man band, but that one man is good enough to keep this series interesting. Bet on Denver-Golden State to reach a decisive seventh game at the +190 NBA series odds.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Series Spread
As mentioned, the Wolves punched their ticket to the playoffs with a home win over the Clippers on Tuesday night. Their reward? A first-round date with a Grizzlies team fresh off of a 56-win season.
Minnesota is a much-improved side, but I don’t think the T-Wolves have enough depth to give Memphis a serious sweat. Part of the reason I’m bullish on Memphis here is their defensive quality, especially in the frontcourt.
The Grizz can throw some serious size at Karl-Anthony Towns with Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. It worked well during the regular season, as KAT didn’t lead the Wolves in scoring in any of the four games these teams played against one another.
I didnt sit through two years of pandemic to watch players be all calm about winning. please go crazy.
— jason c. (@netw3rk) April 13, 2022
These two teams split their four regular-season meetings, with the home team holding court in each game. Memphis has the home-court advantage here, but they’re going to have to steal at least one game at the Target Center in order to cover the 1.5-game series spread. As you can see, the NBA playoff series odds heavily favor the Grizz to claim this series by a margin of at least two games at -135.
The Grizzlies led the NBA in points in the paint this season, while Minnesota may have to rely more heavily on their outside shooting. I think Memphis wins this series fairly easily, which is why I’ll pick the Grizzlies to cover that aforementioned spread.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz Series Winner
The Jazz-Mavs series was, unfortunately, turned on its head on the last day of the regular season. Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic left the Mavs’ season finale against San Antonio with a calf injury and never returned. A subsequent MRI revealed a calf strain, and Dallas has given no timetable on Luka’s potential return to the floor.
Now, the NBA series odds indicate Dallas is a significant underdog despite being the higher seed than Utah. Dallas is a 4.5-point home underdog in Game 1, and there’s a decent chance they won’t be favored in any game in the series as long as Doncic is sidelined.
Luka Dončić has MORE career 30-point Triple Doubles than:
• Larry Bird
• Magic Johnson
• Kobe Bryant
• Jason Kidd
• Michael Jordan
• Nikola Jokic
• Kevin Durant
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 11, 2022
Dallas is only 8-9 on the year without Doncic. Maybe, just maybe, hope isn’t all lost.
The value is limited at Utah’s -300 NBA series odds, but I still think it’s the only bet that makes sense. With Luka out, the Mavericks are likely doomed.