Sports Betting 101: Wagering On The First Round Of The NBA Playoffs

Written By Martin Derbyshire on April 12, 2019 - Last Updated on June 8, 2022

The 2018-19 NBA playoffs tip off on Saturday. Thanks to the spread of legal sports betting across the country, there are now eight states where you can bet on the action.

The NBA playoffs are a lot like the NCAA Tournament with a few significant differences.

Instead of a single-elimination tournament, the NBA playoffs is a best-of-seven elimination tournament. Plus, instead of playing for a National Championship, the NBA playoffs determine which team will be this season’s NBA champions.

Additionally, the NBA playoffs feature only 16 teams, not 64. Only the top eight teams from each of the Eastern and Western conferences battle it out for the title.

Each team’s regular season record determines seeded matchups and position in the final conference standings after the 82-game NBA regular season wraps up.

When it comes to betting on the NBA playoffs, it’s not much different than betting on the NBA during the regular season. Except that in the playoffs you can wager on the outcome of individual games, each seven-game series, and who will win it all.

Basic NBA playoffs betting

Basic NBA playoffs bets available at most legal sportsbooks across the US include:

  • Futures: A bet on one of the playoff teams still in contention to win a series, conference or the NBA Finals. Odds are adjusted as the playoffs continue.
  • Moneylines:  A bet on one team to win an NBA playoff game paying either negative (favorite) or positive (underdog) odds. Odds are set according to what oddsmakers feel are each team’s probability of winning. All you have do is pick the outright winner.
  • Spreads: A bet on one team to win an NBA playoff game with a spread set by oddsmakers factored into the final score.
  • Totals: A bet on whether the total score in an NBA playoff game will be over or under a line set by oddsmakers.
  • Parlays: Two or more basic bets put together into one wager. All legs of a parlay must win to get paid.
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Betting on the NBA playoffs first-round series

You can always pick a team to win it all and put a bet down it. Outside of that, the easiest way to wager on the NBA playoffs is to pick winners in each series.

The first round of seven-game series featuring all 16 NBA playoffs teams begins April 13. Most legal sportsbooks across the US will have odds set on who will win each series.

Here’s a look at the odds on the first-round series at two of the top sportsbooks in the country as of April 11:

NBA Playoffs 1st Round Series FanDuel Sportsbook (NJ)Parx Sportsbook (PA)
Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets Philadelphia -650
Brooklyn +410
Philadelphia -835
Brooklyn +550
Houston Rockets vs Utah JazzHouston -300
Utah +230
Houston -375
Utah +275
Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers Golden State -20000
Los Angeles +5500
Golden State N/A
Los Angeles +2000
Toronto Raptors vs Orlando MagicToronto -1200
Orlando +710
Toronto -1250
Orlando +725
Milwaukee Bucks vs Detroit PistonsMilwaukee -4000
Detroit +1650
Milwaukee -10000
Detroit +1700
Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio SpursDenver -240
San Antonio +190
Denver -286
San Antonio +220
Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City ThunderPortland +122
Oklahoma City -148
Portland +115
Oklahoma City -143
Boston Celtics vs Indiana PacersBoston -460
Indiana +330
Boston -560
Indiana +400

Even if you’re not in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you should find similar odds you can bet on at legal sportsbooks in:

If you can, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best price these and other bets. Then, lock it in when you find the most favorable.

Legal sportsbooks can also be a fun place to watch NBA playoff games. Most will offer live in-play betting options on NBA playoff games. This allows you to make wagers with odds that are adjusted throughout each game.

Enjoy the NBA playoffs and good luck, no matter how you choose to bet on it.

Martin Derbyshire Avatar
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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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