The NBA is entering the last stretch of the 2020/21 season. NBA betting fans across the country and North America anticipate the final standings and each teams’ playoff chances. In this article, we will give our predictions along with presenting NBA odds for each team’s chances of winning the Eastern and Western Conference. If you are an NBA fan and new to sports betting, you can have a look at our sports betting guide, where we offer insights on how to place bets and what to think about when betting in a Canadian bookmaker.
The regular season finishes on the 16th of May. Ahead of the playoffs, we wanted to take a look at the teams from both the Eastern and Western conference, along with predictions and NBA odds on what teams will clinch a playoff spot. We will present our playoff predictions in a two-part series. In the first part, we take a look at the fully loaded Eastern Conference.
As NBA fans probably know, the playoff structure is different from normal due to the Covid-19. Ten teams will qualify for the NBA playoffs. The teams that finish 7th to 10th in the regular season have to go through a play-in tournament which takes place between the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
The 7th and 8th seeded teams will have two opportunities in this tournament to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The 9th and 10th seeded teams will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.
Just a heads-up to all Raptors fans – Canada’s only hope, the Toronto Raptors are not in the best shape for a strong playoff run. But we do have them on our play-in list. At a minimum, we should get a playoff appearance this season.
Eastern Conference Playoffs Predictions And NBA Odds
The East’s powerhouses have already cemented a run in the playoffs. The most exciting match-up we anticipate is the one between the ultra-offensive Brooklyn Nets, and the well-balanced and defensive Philadelphia 76ers.
1. Brooklyn Nets
As we already mentioned, we expect that the Eastern Conference finals will feature the 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets don’t have as strong of an offense as the 76ers, but they have an absolutely insane scoring power with three dominant future Hall of Famers. What can prevent the Brooklyn Nets from having a successful playoff run and getting to the NBA Finals is their defense and injury-prone Kyrie Irvin and Kevin Durant. Both players are centrepieces of the Nets lineup.
Durant has been resting from an injury lately, and the Nets have been dominating even without him, thanks to MVP performances from both Irving and James Harden. Blake Griffin was acquired from Detroit Pistons back in March and has been important on both ends of the floor.
As everyone knows, a great offence won’t do it in a 7-game series against the top teams of the NBA. Defense needs to be balanced in, and it remains to be seen how the Nets manage this.
At the time of writing this NBA playoffs 2021 predictions, Brooklyn Nets are priced at 1.91 to win the Eastern Conference at LeoVegas.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers have led the Eastern Conference standings for the majority of the 2020/21 season. We expect them to get the home-court seeding going into the NBA playoffs. The key players in the 76ers line-up are Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. Under the coaching of Doc Rivers, Embiid is putting up MVP-calibre performance consistently. In the regular season, he has been averaging 29.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. The big question mark is the injury status of Embiid. He has been sitting out many games. Luckily for the 76ers, Tobias Harris has adequately filled his shoes by putting up 20+ points per game since the All-Star break.
Even without Embiid, the 76ers are a hard team to beat thanks to their superior defense, ranking second-best in the league. But without Embiid, they will not pick up an NBA championship title, nor beat the Brooklyn Nets for the Conference title.
Currently, the NBA odds for the Philadelphia 76ers to win the Eastern Conference are 5.75 on LeoVegas.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee is steam powering through all the games right now. If they carry their current momentum into the playoffs, they may be impossible to stop. What is worrying about the Milwaukee Bucks is the fact that they have consistently struggled against top teams in the season. Guaranteed in the playoffs, they will have to go through both the Nets and the 76ers if they are going to make it to the NBA Finals. A feat that will be extremely difficult to pull off.
Still, with Giannis Antetokounmpo in MVP-form, they could very well be unstoppable. The NBA odds for Milwaukee Bucks to find the Conference Finals are 4.0 on LeoVegas.
4. Miami Heat
Miami Heat coach Pat Riley improved the Miami Heat’s chances in the playoffs when he brought in Victor Oladipo. The newly arrived superstar is currently resting from an injury and is expected to sit out a couple of games in preparation for the playoffs. They are guaranteed a playoff spot but will have to pull off a hell of a performance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
A healthy Oladipo alongside Jimmy Butler and Adebayo is needed to make it there. Oladipo is a great defensive player that should bring the Heat’s defense to an even higher level. Hopefully, sharpshooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson can perform consistently through their playoff run.
The NBA odds for the Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference are 12.00 at LeoVegas.
5. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are severely hampered by poor defense, something that is sure to hurt them in the playoffs, given the lack of strong offense to make up for the shortcomings on the other end. Their defense used to be stronger with Daniel Theis, but with Theis no longer on the Celtics roster, they lost a big physical presence in the paint.
While they have two All-Stars in – Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics will struggle to get past their first playoff match-up.
The Celtics have to improve their defense if they want to have a chance in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The NBA odds for the Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference are currently 16.00 on LeoVegas.
6. Indiana Pacers
India Pacers were hyped up before the 2020/21 NBA season. Many experts had them as top contenders for the Eastern Conference. They started out OK but have struggled lately and fallen down the tables. We know that, on paper, the Indiana Pacers should be able to have a solid playoff run. But if the regular season is any kind of indication, they won’t make it past their first match-up.
There are some question marks in the line-up due to injuries, and the Indiana front office failed to make any significant trade plays prior to the trade deadline.
LeoVegas currently have the Indiana Pacers priced at 26.00 to win the Eastern Conference.
7. Toronto Raptors
We truly wish we could have listed Canada’s only hope in the NBA higher than seventh in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Toronto Raptors are light-years away from their 2019 NBA Finals calibre. Raptors opened the 2021/21 campaign on a strong note but have been struggling a lot since their initial 16-15 run.
We should have decent play-in chances to make the playoffs, but, as Raptors fans ourselves, we have started to accept the thought that we are likely facing an early exit this year. Chances are we will go up against either the Nets, or the 76ers or Bucks, and that will be extremely difficult.
Our beloved Toronto Raptors are currently priced at 26.00 to win the Eastern Conference Finals at LeoVegas.
8. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls managed to pull off some massive moves before the NBA trade deadline this year. They managed to bring in Nikola Vucevic from Orlando to pair their All-Star centre Zach LaVine. Off the bench, they managed to acquire Daniel Theis and Al-Farouq Aminu.
The Chicago Bulls could very well be the wild card of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2021. Their main goal with the trades is, of course, to instil confidence in Zach LaVine that things will get better and get him to stay in the organization.
Vucevic, one of the best rebounders in the league, will become an important player to help tighten up on the defensive end. The NBA odds for Chicago Bulls to win the Eastern Conference are 41.00 at LeoVegas.
9. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta has had an interesting NBA season. The Hawks camp was full of excitement following interesting off-season trades that hyped the fans up. However, poor defense and offensive differences between top players Trae Young and John Collins ended up in the dismissal of Lloyd Pierce, the Atlanta Hawks head coach.
New head coach Nate McMillan came in and improved the structure and play of the team a great deal – bringing the team from failure to at least contending for a playoff spot. They brought in Lou Williams, who has managed to lead the bench on the floor, allowing Trae Young to get more rest.
We think that the Atlanta Hawks will make the play-ins, but they will have a very difficult time getting past their first match-up. The NBA odds for the Hawks to win the Eastern Conference are currently 41.00 at LeoVegas.
10. New York Knicks
Last but not least, we have the New York Knicks. Under Tom Thibodeau’s oversight, the Knicks have transformed into a defensive powerhouse, consistently ranking as a top 5 defense throughout the regular season and effectively increasing the chances of a Knicks playoff appearance. It would be the first time since 2013 that the Knicks made it to the playoffs. It will be difficult, but we believe that the Knicks will manage the play-ins and earn a playoff spot.
If they do, it would be perfect for them if they get the Miami Heat in the first round. It would be a fascinating match-up given the Heat’s offense versus Knicks’ excellent defense. The Knicks are another wild card in the 2021 Eastern Conference playoffs.
The NBA odds for the Knicks to win the Eastern Conference are 46.00 at LeoVegas.