DraftKings Director Talks NBA Play-In Tournament Betting

Play in means play win.

That’s how sportsbooks view the NBA Play-In Tournament, the bonus betting, first-round postseason eliminator. It brings the 7-10th ranked conference teams out to nail two playoff spots in each conference.

Two bonus betting games remain tonight and on Friday.

Tonight, it’s the Atlanta Hawks and the slightly favored Chicago Bulls fighting to stay alive via the 9 vs. 10 matchup.

The loser is out. The winner faces the loser of tonight’s high-profile matchup between the moderately favored Philadelphia Sixers and Miami Heat on Friday.

The Philly-Miami winner reaches the next round to play the New York Knicks, possibly as a favorite.

In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers, who topped the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 on Tuesday, advanced to a rematch of the Western Conference Finals against the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

On Friday, it’s the Pelicans and Sacramento Kings scrapping for one final berth to the NBA big dance. The Kings sent the Golden State Warriors packing 118-94 on Tuesday night.

Bing, bang, boom. Every game matters. It’s all urgency, all the time.

“We love the Play-In Tournament and so do the bettors,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “The gamblers know that these are quality matchups and that there is no messing around waiting for tomorrow at this point.

“There is no more resting players. Anybody who is healthy and can play is going to play. The way the league format has changed, you are seeing teams that can be down in the No. 7 spot and still go a long way in the playoffs. We are seeing teams that have gone deep into the playoffs, like the Sixers and the Heat, playing right now.”

Related Pages: Best NBA Betting Apps | Best NBA Betting Promotions & Bonus Offers

Sportsbook Reports Strong Volume on NBA Play-In Tournament

Avello said play-in betting action is robust and believes each game easily outpaces an average regular season contest. These games are staggered, which preservers early betting opportunities for the second game.

Bettors like to find interesting wrinkles on player props and the totals, he believes. Gamblers have leaned a little more heavily on the Over in general.

“One thing the gamblers like about the NBA, as do I, is that it’s not like college in which the coach has control of the game,” Avello noted. “Once the guys start playing, they know who the scorers are, they know how to put the ball in the right guy’s hands at the end of the game. They know what they need to do.”

Avello says bettors have lined up for Philadelphia tonight and in futures, believing Joel Embiid can spark that team.

Heat vs. Sixers Betting Trends

The Sixers have won 10 in a row against the spread and eight in a row on the moneyline.

11 of the last 12 Miami Heat games have gone Over the total. This game has a reasonable 208 number.

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia’s breakout star, has notched 26 points or more in six consecutive home games. His totals prop is 22.5 tonight.

Embiid is officially listed as questionable tonight, but books and bettors believe that’s a mere formality. He’s expected to play and has a points prop of 30.5.

A Deeper Look at the 76ers

They are grateful to have nursed Embiid back to health for two months and then become healthy themselves.

Philly was 29-17 when the reigning MVP went down with a knee injury. He missed two months and they went 10-17. But he returned, helping them amass an eight-game winning streak.

That’s the highest in the entire league.

Embiid survived a scare in the last regular season game, landing on the surgically repaired left knee and coming out of the game. But he dodged a bullet, for now.

Maxey has emerged as the star in waiting with a fine 25.9 points average to go with Embiid’s 34.7.

Tobias Harris was good for 17 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Kelly Oubre (15.5) and Buddy Held (12.2) add double-figure scoring.

If they get past the Play-In, they will face the New York Knicks, probably as favorites from the No. 7 Seed. That’s how dangerous this team could be.

A Deeper Look at the Heat

Two to get one, just like last year.

You remember. They were seeded No. 7 and needed two play-in games to reach the playoffs.

But then came the 4-1 series shocker against the Milwaukee Bucks and a 4-2 ouster of the New York Knicks. In both cases, they pilfered homecourt advantage by winning Game 1 on the road.

What happened? The Butler did it.

Against the Bucks, Jimmy Butler went off with totals of 35, 30, and 56 points against the Bucks and he hit the series-clinching layup in the final second.

Against the Knicks, he was in the mid-to-high 20s every game in what became more of a defensive battle. The Heat won in 6 before finally bowing out in the semifinals to the Boston Celtics.

The Heat reached the semifinals, from out of nowhere.

Dogs Roar: The 2023 Back Story That Baptized Play-In Teams

This playoff format began in the wake of Covid. To salvage the 2020 season, officials created a format just to complete the season. It was adjusted in 2021 and made a monumental statement last season.

No NBA team has won at least 60 regular season games since the 2000-01 season. Teams kept rested players late in the regular season, stockpiling for the playoffs.

It worked.

The Heat became the first team since the 2001 Indiana Pacers to drop from a No. 1 seed to a No. 8 the following year. And they still got to the conference championship.

The Lakers had a different hero every night, from LeBron James to Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura. They toppled the Memphis Grizzlies and the Warriors as underdogs before bowing to eventual champion Denver.

The Lakers trio was at it again versus New Orleans, with James getting 23 points, Davis 20, and Hachimura 13. D’Angelo Russell added 21.

Now the Heat and Lakers try to match their 2023 run.


About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

Get connected with us on Social Media