Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
The NBA regular season came to a close on Sunday and after this week’s play-in tournament the Playoffs begin in earnest next weekend.
Due to the quick turnaround between the end of the play-in event and the start of the first round the full line-up is yet to be confirmed, but that doesn’t change our outright winner pick and we’ve still been able to put together a few interesting options for the first round and beyond.
We’ve used bet365 and Sky bet for our prices for these selections and new customers can sign-up to accounts with these two bookmakers using the buttons below.
NBA Playoffs 23 Outright Predictions
Phoenix Suns at 5/1
Phoenix Suns finished in fourth place in the West but the mid-season capture of Kevin Durant means the bookies rate them as the team to beat in that conference and they looked well placed to go all the way.
If they can keep all their star men fit throughout the postseason a starting line-up including Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton should be capable of beating any rival over seven games. Their bench players have also impressed recently as well, including in a close defeat to Los Angeles Clippers in the final round of regular season games.
The Suns will have to navigate a first round series with the Clippers and there is plenty of quality in the West, but they have experience after reaching the Finals Series in 2021 and Durant tends to raise his levels even further in the Playoffs and he could well be the man to lead the Suns to a first ever championship this year.
NBA 2023 Finals Series MVP
Kevin Durant at 7/1 – boosted from 6/1
Following on from the above, if the Suns do win the championship then there is a good chance that Durant will be Finals Series MVP.
The Finals MVP has come from the winning team in each season since 1969 and on both occasions where Durant has won the championship he has also been named series MVP. The forward has played in four finals series in total, and averages 30.3 points-per-game on over 50% shooting, alongside 7.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists, so if Phoenix do reach the showpiece there is a good chance that Durant will be their star man.
Durant is 6/1 to win the Finals MVP award with Sky bet but they have boosted that price to 7/1.
NBA Finals Series 2023 Exact Forecast
Phoenix Suns to beat Philadelphia 76ers at 25/1
Bet365 have an intriguing Finals Exact Forecast market that involves picking out the two finalists and the overall winner.
The three clear options in the East are 2021 champions Milwaukee Bucks, who finished up with a league-best 58-24 record, last year’s runners-up Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, who have MVP-elect Joel Embiid and James Harden on their roster.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of those teams reach the Finals but the value here is with the Sixers and they could produce a minor upset by finishing ahead of Boston and the Bucks.
Milwaukee enjoyed an incredible second half of the season but Philadephia just about had the better of the regular season meetings, winning two of the final three games between the two sides. The Sixers also finished the season strongly with a 14-6 record over their final 20 games, better than any other team in the East, and their first round matchup against Brooklyn Nets looks fairly straightforward.
NBA Playoffs 2023 first round series handicap accumulator
There are four series that have been confirmed as in the East the Sixers play the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers take on New York Knicks, while the Suns and Clippers clash in the West with Sacramento Kings due to face Golden State. Milwaukee, Boston, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies will know their respective opponents when the play-in tournament has ended.
Using the four series we do have confirmed, I’ve put together this 12/1 series handicap accumulator bet ahead of the start of the Playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers -3.5 series handicap
Vs Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia have dominated the Nets this season, winning all four regular season meetings. The loss of Durant and Kyrie Irving during the campaign means that Brooklyn are possibly the weakest team involved in the postseason, and the Sixers can take advantage by finishing this series off in the minimum four games.
New York Knicks +2.5 series handicap
Vs Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are the favourites for this series and probably have the quality to come through over seven games, but it is likely to be competitive. The Knicks have won the last three meetings between these two teams and can win at least two games in this series.
Golden State Warriors -1.5 series handicap
Vs Sacramento Kings
The Kings have been the surprise package in the West this season as they claimed third seed, but a first round match-up with defending champions Golden State looks a big ask.
The Dubs hit their stride down the stretch with eight wins in their final 10 games, and they finally found a way to win on the road with four wins in their last five away games. The Kings have enjoyed an incredible season but it looks set to end after the first round, and Golden State can end this series in six games or less.
Phoenix Suns -1.5 series handicap
Vs Los Angeles Clippers
If the Clippers had a fully fit team they would be a match for anyone in the Playoffs but Paul George has been missing for a few weeks now and looks set to at least sit out some of this series.
Not having George is a big blow for the Clippers, especially for a match-up with this incredibly strong Suns team. Phoenix have been able to rest a few players in the final stages of the campaign and that should work in their favour, so back the Suns to finish this series in six games or less.
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