The 8-game finale to the 2020 NBA regular season is finished.
So, what are the matchups and the outlook for the NBA playoffs? Let’s start with the No. 8s and how they made it in.
WE SEE YOU, WEN! pic.twitter.com/VlRaQNiKVl— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 19, 2020
Western Conference No. 8, Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers are looking great right now. They won six out of eight of their regular-season games in Florida including a game against the Memphis Grizzlies, who entered the restart ahead of Portland.
As per the rules, if the No. 9 and No. 8 team are within four games of each other, they would have to play a play-in series almost guaranteeing at least one extra wildcard-type play-in game. The Blazers, who started 3.5 games out, recovered and made their way to the No. 8 spot to force the Grizzlies into a position of having to win back-to-back play-in games over Rip City. But Portland won game one and are now locked in to face the Los Angeles Lakers in Round 1.
Eastern Conference No. 8, Orlando Magic
The Magic didn’t have to do much to make it in. The Wizards at No. 9 were enough games behind heading into the restart that they would have had to win most of their games while the Magic lost basically all of theirs. The Magic played pretty badly in the regular-season finale, losing to Indiana, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brooklyn back to back to back. But the Wizards were downright horrible, losing seven straight. They only got a singular win against the Celtics because Boston literally took the night off.
Round One NBA Playoffs Odds
The NBA betting odds for the games are at 5dimes. But looking at series prices, the Milwaukee Bucks are -10,000 favorites at many shops. The Magic are a mediocre team at best and the Bucks are a fantastic team. So, the only question about this series is, can the Magic win a game or not. And with that said, I don’t think so. My prediction for this series is a Bucks sweep 4-0.
It isn’t often that a No. 8 team beats the No.. 1 seed. We saw it in 1999 when the Knicks beat the Heat and again in 2007 when the Warriors beat the Mavericks. However, these occasions are few and far between. That said, if there is any team that can beat the Lakers other than the Clippers or Bucks, it’s the Portland Trail Blazers.
It’s already been talked about by top analysts; the Blazers are the worst team for the Lakers to face in the first round, Now, do I think the Trail Blazers will actually win the series? Probably not, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this one go all seven games, given they are all played on a neutral court.
Many analysts have said they expect the series price to be around -180 for the Lakers, but we are seeing it around -500, with the Blazers around +475. This is a price that is too good to pass up. You can also find the series to finish in 6 games at +220 or 7 games at +330 … which is a great bet, in my humble opinion.
Other Series Odds:
LA Clips +589
Most of these series are sure-fire blowouts, with the exception of the Thunder vs. Rockets and Jazz vs. Nuggets. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers could be a good series as well. I wouldn’t lay money on it because it could go either way. They split wins in the regular-season finale but neither team is playing particularly well, so it’s a crapshoot. If Indiana had better than +251 odds, I would take them. But there just isn’t enough value. Conversely, I’m not paying Almost -300 for a team that could very well lose, in the Heat.
We should expect the Lakers-Blazers series to be one of the most competitive series, despite the long odds. The Zers have a lot of depth. Other than Lillard, there is no one on Portland’s squad that comes close to comparing. Talent-wise, to James or Davis, but when you look across the entire roster, the Blazers might be able to wear the Lakers down. This means trouble for LA. Even if they beat the Blazers, they are going to have to play all out to do so which could put them at rest disadvantage down the road.