NBA Playoffs Betting Trends for Celtics, Knicks, Thunder, Lakers & Bucks

Gamblers are setting their own NBA playoff lineups.

Here’s a look at their NBA Playoffs betting trends, reflected via futures action at DraftKings.

Load up on the Boston Celtics, speculate on the New York Knicks, get value on the Oklahoma City Thunder, take the LeBron James Nostalgia Tour with the Los Angeles Lakers, and fade the Milwaukee Bucks.

That’s where bettors have placed their early money prior to Saturday’s full-fledged opening of the playoffs.

Choices reflect both pragmatism and an eye for the possible longshot.

Give the sportsbooks a good scour for the best betting odds, because everyone evaluates talent differently.

At BetMGM, the defending champion Denver Nuggets are +300 versus +280 at DraftKings and have gained substantial betting support. The Lakers have been on a rollercoaster between +4000 on Thursday afternoon and +2500 on Thursday night.

Shopping will give you an edge on this wager type.

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

NBA Playoffs Betting Trend No. 1: Celtics, Celtics, Celtics

There is still some money to make on the NBA’s top regular season team at 64-18. The Celtics are the top choice among bettors by wagers and handle to win the NBA Finals and the Eastern Conference.

Gamblers can pocket +160 for a Celtics title and use the -175 conference odds as a parlay key with other bets. Bettors flocking to these low-value bets indicate extraordinary optimism and faith in making a profit around this short-priced team.

It’s hard to doubt Boston. The Celtics averaged 120.6 points per game and led the league with 1,351 three-pointers. Keep that 16.475 average in mind when considering Over/Unders and three-point props on individual players. The Celtics have been money in the bank in this category.

Boston also averaged 6.6 blocks per game. Figure that’s a denial of at least half a dozen points per game.

Jayson Tatum (26.9), Jaylen Brown (23), Kristaps Porzingis (20.1), Derrick White (15.2), and Jrue Holiday (12.5) give gamblers plenty of prop betting pop.

NBA Playoffs Betting Trend No. 2: Crazy About the Knicks

Books and gamblers love the rarity of a high-quality team in the Big Apple. New York fans have been starving for it and they finally have a Knicks team that achieved the second seed. The Knicks (50-32) won 50 for the first time since 2012-13.

Hence the hype.

There’s an interesting development regarding the Knicks. New York’s championship odds are +4000 at DraftKings, while its conference title payoff is only +1200. The conference number is usually half of the championship betting odds.

Translation: few gamblers expect the Knicks to win it all, but many think they can be the type of defensive nuisance that thwarts a high-powered team like the Celtics and gives New York the Eastern Conference.

That’s why gamblers support the Knicks with the fourth-highest wagers and handle at DraftKings. New York is second behind Boston with bets and handle in the Eastern Conference.

Who are the Knicks? They had the league’s second-best defense, yielding 108 points per game. They scored 112.

New York has an offensive cannon in Jalen Brunson (28.7 points per game).

But they also have three more double-figure scorers in Donte DiVincenzo, (15.5), OG Anunoby (14.1), and Bojan Bogdanovic (10.4).

Say hello to one of the most balanced teams in the league. The question is playoff mettle. Gamblers seem to believe the Knicks have enough.

NBA Playoffs Betting Trend No. 3: Bettors Hedge on the Bucks

Milwaukee had a strong 49-33 record, good for second in the East. They also have attractive odds of +1500 to claim the championship and +700 for the Eastern Conference.

What gives? Concern about the big man.

Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a non-contact injury in a late-season victory over the Celtics. It could cost him a couple of weeks or a couple of months on the shelf.

Bettors can’t handicap that injury length and they are being safe not to put the Bucks in the top 5 of their wagers or handle. The thinking is that Milwaukee might edge past the first playoff round, but if the big man isn’t ready after that, there is trouble.

NBA Playoffs Betting Trend No. 4: Thunder Bring Good Value

This is a strong return of +700 for the Western Conference and +1600 to win it all for a team that is often knocking on the door. The Thunder had 57 wins, tied with the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets, and have homecourt all the way through the Conference Finals.

That’s what makes +700 salivating for bettors, who put the Thunder among their top 5 teams via wagers and handle.

Plenty of offense at 120.6 points per game. Gamblers will eye Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his 30.1 points and 6.2 assists average for the regular season.

Jalen Williams (19.1), Chet Holmgren (12.3) and Luguentz Dort (10.9) supply significant scoring punch.

Gamblers taking OKC can reason about the difficulty of repeating NBA championships. And although the Nuggets are formidable, OKC +700 to win the West may be the best value on the entire board.

NBA Playoffs Betting Trend No. 5: Lakers Take Bettors Down Memory Lane

The gamblers just can’t help it. The Lakers are an institution, a team where players bet just because.

And the just because bandwagon is out in earnest.

Some bets are simply made because it feels good to make them.

The Lakers, at +2500, obtain the third-highest futures wagering and handle in the entire NBA at DraftKings. There’s always the question of whether LeBron James can rally this team one more time.

Los Angeles gave its backers a major thrill last year, rising from the Play-In Tournament to the Conference Finals, where the Nuggets squashed them.

Betting faith on the Lakers began this year before they landed in the Play-In Round and then graduated by beating the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.

It’s the Lakers and Nuggets again in this playoff round. The Lakers are a deserved +230 in that series. Should they pull off this upset, the bettors with those +2500 and +1200 futures will think of a victory dance.


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.

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