NBA Playoffs: Schedule, Odds, and Best Bets

The First Round of the NBA Playoffs tip off this weekend. While we await the results of the final play-in games and thus the 8th seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference, let’s look at the existing matchups and schedule for the weekend.

Listed are the betting lines for the opening games along with a prop or two from each series.

Saturday, 1:10P ET

5-Orlando Magic (+160) vs. 4-Cleveland Cavaliers (-192)

Spread: Cavaliers -4.5 | O/U: 207.5

The biggest party crashers of the postseason are the Orlando Magic (47-35). The winners of the Southeast Division will square off against the Cleveland Cavaliers (48-34). It is a matchup of two of the NBA’s top six defenses. Each team is stingy in the paint and so the perimeter shooting may well decide this series.

In their season series, each side won two games. Cleveland won each game in which they knocked down more than ten, three-pointers. They lost each game in which they made 10 or fewer. Is this a Max Strus series? A Georges Niang festival? Each was brought on board by Cleveland to knock down shots from deep at this time of the year. Take a look at their props from deep. Each is set at 1.5 three’s for Game 1.

Bet the Edge is your source for betting the NBA Playoffs. Get all of Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick’s insight weekdays at 6AM ET right here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Saturday, 3:40P ET

6-Phoenix Suns (-102) vs. 3-Minnesota Timberwolves (-118)

Spread: Timberwolves -1.5 | O/U: 214

No team in the NBA was more efficient defensively than Minnesota (56-26). Led on defense by Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves are tall and long. They allowed an NBA-best 108.9 points per 100 possessions this season BUT that number ballooned to 129.3 for their three games against Phoenix (49-33).

The Suns cannot match the size of Minnesota, but as we just revealed, they have not had to this season. They rely on spacing the floor, the extra pass, and hitting the open jumper. Bradley Beal’s 36 in the season finale against the Wolves bode well for the Suns who were built specifically for a deep playoff run this season.

With the Wolves having to focus on Durant and Booker, Beal will get his share of good looks from the perimeter. His performance against Minnesota this past weekend suggests looking at a play on the OVER for his three-pointers (2.5) and points (17.5).

Saturday, 6:10P ET

7-Philadelphia 76ers (+120) vs. 2-New York Knicks (-142)

Spread: Knicks -3 | O/U: 208.5

Joel Embiid looked somewhat out of shape and unwilling to bang against the smaller Heat earlier this week. Although he still managed to score 23 and pull down 15 rebounds, he will need to engage and win the battle against the Knicks’ pair of Hartenstein and Robinson if Philly (47-35) is to last more than five games.

For New York (50-32), no question their leader is Jalen Brunson. However, the player who seems to elevate the team to an even greater height is OG Anunoby. The Knicks are 20-3 when OG is in the lineup.

With the crowd at MSG behind them, a fair expectation is for the Knicks to take Game 1. Lay the points.

Saturday, 8:40P ET

7-LA Lakers (+225) vs. 2-Denver Nuggets (-278)

Spread: Nuggets -7 | O/U: 224

This is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. Denver (57-25) swept the Lakers (47-35) enroute to their first NBA Title. The starting five for the Nuggets are statistically the best in the NBA winning every 100 possessions by a league-best 13 points. The bench is not as deep as it was for their title run, but the quality of the starting unit led by the presumptive league MVP Nikola Jokic, is super.

The Lakers switched out 40% of their starting lineup around the All-Star Break and went 23-10 the rest of the regular season. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves were moved to the starting lineup and Cam Reddish and Taurean Prince went to the bench.

Sunday, 3:40P ET

5-Dallas Mavericks (-115) vs. 4-LA Clippers (-105)

Spread: Mavericks -1 | O/U: 223.5

Star power out West has people interested in this series between the LA Clippers (51-31) and the Dallas Mavericks (50-32). Luka Doncic is all too familiar with the Clippers having faced them and lost to them in the Opening Round in both 2020 and 2021. The public believes this year will be different as Dallas has moved from the underdog (+120) to the favorite (-135) in the past couple of days.

Many believe this series hinges on the health of the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (knee). He is without question one of the top playoff performers in the league’s recent history, but how engaged early in the series will he be? Will his minutes be monitored by Coach Tyronn Lue? If so, his point total of 24.5 may be a tad high. Consider the UNDER.

Sunday, 7:10P ET

6-Indiana Pacers (-115) vs. 3-Milwaukee Bucks (-105)

Spread: Pacers -1 | O/U: 233

The injury to Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks has caught the attention of the betting public. Milwaukee (49-33) vs. Indiana (47-35) is the most bet series of the First Round. There is no recent postseason history to draw on as they have not met since the days of Reggie Miller and Sam Cassell (Indiana won that series) 24 years ago.

Because the public favors the upset, let's look at a couple of player props to consider. Tyrese Haliburton’s points total is set at 20.5. Seems low but he has exceeded that mark just three times in seven games this month. His assists are set at 10.5. He has surpassed that number in four of the Pacers’ seven games in April. Frankly, Indiana will only go as far as their leader takes them and so if you believe the Pacers will upset the higher seed, betting on Haliburton’s numbers being big makes sense.

Please remember as you do your homework and ultimately wager on any of these games, that the NBA playoffs traditionally mean fewer possessions and tighter games. There will be some surprise performances, but a team's best players will get the bulk of the touches and opportunities in the offensive end.

Enjoy the games and enjoy a few sweats.