The 2023 NBA Playoffs are off to a crazy start with high seeds dropping like flies.
If you’re a bettor who had futures on the NBA Finals favorites, the Milwaukee Bucks, or the new kids on the block, the Cleveland Cavaliers or Memphis Grizzlies, we suggest you look away. Soon enough, Sacramento Kings supporters may join that undesirable group too.
Did we mention the first round is just wrapping up?
This has led to some rather unpredictable conference semifinal matchups. The field will be down to eight teams once the Sacramento vs. Golden State series concludes, so it’s time to start looking ahead to the second round.
Here are the odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook as of Saturday afternoon:
No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers
The Boston Celtics were betting favorites to win the NBA Finals for much of the regular season. However, when they surrendered their No. 1 seed to the Bucks a few months back, the title of title favorites was passed on too. Milwaukee has been eliminated and Las Vegas isn’t going to think twice about new lines.
The Celtics are heavy favorites once again (+145) to be the last team standing.
Factor in the reality that the Philadelphia 76ers will be without superstar Joel Embiid for at least Game 1 and it’s not looking pretty for Doc Rivers and Co. Boston is receiving juiced odds of -350 to get past Philadelphia. This means there is some value in being risky and riding with the Sixers at +280.
Game 1: 76ers at Celtics (-9), 7:30 p.m. on Monday, TNT
No. 5 New York Knicks vs. No. 8 Miami Heat
Raise your hand if you saw this series coming. Now put your arms down, liars. This is viewed as one of the more evenly-matched matchups in the second round. It’s crazy to even think that either of these teams will be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals in a few weeks’ time, but here we are.
The New York Knicks have the overall talent edge over the Miami Heat in this series. Pair that with the Knicks’ home-court advantage and oddsmakers see the Game 1 hosts as slight favorites (-158) overall.
Nevertheless, the Heat have the experience and an x-factor player in Jimmy Butler. These advantages cannot be counted at this stage of the playoffs, which explains Miami’s +134 odds to survive and advance another round.
Game 1: Heat at Knicks (-4), 1 p.m. on Sunday, ABC
No. 1 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 4 Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have been one of the betting world’s most interesting case studies since they traded for Kevin Durant a few months ago. Although Durant hasn’t played many games with the Suns since his arrival, Phoenix has remained one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals behind its star-studded starting five.
The same remains true as the Suns have the second-best odds to win the title (+400) as of Saturday afternoon at FanDuel.
Phoenix is favored by oddsmakers to win this series — just barely. The Suns are -132 to get past two-time defending NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Despite receiving plus juice in the series (+112 to advance), the Nuggets are favorites in Game 1 at Ball Arena.
Buckle up as this is set to be the best series of the entire second round.
Game 1: Suns at Nuggets (-3.5), 8:30 p.m., TNT
No. 3 Sacramento Kings/No. 6 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
It’s an all-California affair in the Western Conference Semifinals, regardless of who wins Game 7 in Sacramento between the Kings and Golden State Warriors. The winner will advance to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Memphis Grizzlies by 40 to knock off the two-seed in the West.
One would believe that either team that comes out of the Golden 1 Center will be the favorites in a series against the Lakers. However, that may not be the case. Los Angeles currently has the sixth-best odds to win the NBA Finals at +1000. Is Las Vegas backing King James and the new-look Lakers to continue their run? Only time will tell.
Game 1: Lakers at Kings/Warriors, 10 p.m. on Tuesday, TNT