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NBA playoffs round 1 best bets & predictions with 289/1 acca
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
April 16, 2022
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Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

With the field finally set, the NBA playoffs are ready to begin. Last night the final play-in games settled the final two seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences. There’s an incredibly quick turnaround, with the opening game of the playoffs starting just 13 hours after the final spot was claimed.

That means you don’t have much time to take in the full first round lineup, but we’ve ran through all eight series to pick the best bet from each. In case you’re new to the NBA, each playoff round is a best-of-seven series and we’ve picked a handicap tip on the final series score in all eight clashes, producing a 289/1 accumulator!


NBA Playoffs Accumulator


Eastern Conference

Miami Heat (1st seeds) vs Atlanta Hawks (8th seeds)

After their thrilling run to the Eastern Conference finals last year, the Hawks are a tough first-round match-up. However, positioning them as the side to take out the Heat seems like a bit of a stretch. With John Collins a long-term injury doubt and given Clint Capella’s early exit on Friday night the Hawks are understrength as they prepare to meet arguably the league’s deepest team.

The Heat won 53 and lost 29 last term to finish first in the East, despite long periods without many of their biggest names. They took the season series against the Hawks 3-1, proving they can keep Trae Young quiet along the way. They have a strong enough defence to lock him down, so I’m backing the Heat to take this series within five games.

Tip: Heat -2.5 series handicap

Boston Celtics (2nd seeds) vs Brooklyn Nets (7th seeds)

Brooklyn Nets boast two of the best players in the NBA in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but aside from those two stars have a fairly average team.  Boston Celtics clicked into gear under Ime Udoka in the second half of the season and look genuine championship contenders – and they can win the series against the Nets with a -1.5 games handicap.

Boston won the regular season series 3-1, winning each of the last three meetings between these two teams.  Brooklyn did finish the season with four wins and then beat Cleveland Cavaliers in the 7-8 play-in game, but the Cavs were the only team they faced during that run who were in the playoff spots and the Celtics go into the postseason in fine form themselves.

Tip: Celtics -1.5 series handicap

Milwaukee Bucks (3rd seeds) vs Chicago Bulls (6th seeds)

Defending champions Milwaukee Bucks claimed the third seed in the East to set up a meeting with Chicago Bulls.  The Bucks won all four regular season games and should be able to come through this series fairly comfortably, but there is just no value in backing them to simply win the series.  

The handicap markets offer a bit more value and backing the Bulls to win at least two games has some appeal.  Chicago came close to beating Milwaukee the last time these two teams met at the United Center in early March despite the fact a few key men were missing.  The Bulls look in better shape going into the postseason, and can win at least two games against the champions even if a series win is beyond them.

Tip: Bulls +2.5 series handicap

Philadelphia 76ers (4th seeds) vs Toronto Raptors (5th seeds)

The Raptors look like the trickiest possible matchup for the Sixers, especially given the Canadians won three of the four meetings between them in the regular season. The Raptors were on a tear to finish the campaign, going 14-4 to secure a shock fifth seed finish.

The underdogs have been given a bit of a boost by the fact that the Sixers’ strongest defender Matisse Thybulle is ineligible for each of the games in Toronto because he isn’t fully vaccinated against COVID. The Raptors have a home edge, while only four teams in the league had a better away record than them this season.

Sixers’ star Joel Embiid has gone on record that the Raptors are his most difficult opponents given their array of quick, tall defenders. Given that, I am backing the Raptors +1.5, which basically equates to them winning at least three games in this series.

Tip: Raptors +1.5 series handicap


Western Conference

Phoenix Suns (1st seeds) vs New Orleans Pelicans (8th seeds)

The Pelicans were the last side to book their playoff place, having finished ninth in the Western Conference. They’ve earned the right to go up against the league’s best side in the Phoenix Suns, so the moment for celebrating has probably come and gone for New Orleans.

The Suns are basically a complete team, going 64-18 over the course of the regular season. That included three wins over the Pelicans, who finished with a 36-46 record. I don’t see the Pelicans keeping this series alive all that long, so back the Suns to deal with them within five games.

Tip: Suns -2.5 series handicap

Memphis Grizzlies (2nd seeds) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (7th seeds)

Memphis Grizzlies against Minnesota Timberwolves may be a closer match-up than the odds suggest after the two teams split the regular season series 2-2.  Both teams have been starved of postseason action in recent years – the Grizzlies lost 4-1 in the first round to Utah last year after a three-year absence and Minnesota have ended their own three-year playoff drought this year – so this series could well go the distance as both will be desperate to make the most of this opportunity.

These teams are fairly closely matched, home advantage gives Memphis the edge but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this series stretch to the full seven games so backing Minnesota with a +1.5 handicap looks a good option. 

Tip: Timberwolves +1.5 series handicap

Golden State Warriors (3rd seeds) vs Denver Nuggets (6th seeds)

With Stephen Curry set to make a quick return to action in time for this series, things are looking tough for the Denver Nuggets. They sealed the sixth seed after leaning on MVP Nikola Jokic, who shouldered every burden for a side who were missing two of their three best players.

However, Jokic will struggle to match a Warriors side who have plenty of excellent three-point shooters. The Warriors kick-off at home and they finished this season with the league’s second-best home record, so expect them to take control early on. Given that, I’m backing the Warriors to win this series by two-clear games.

Tip: Warriors -1.5 series handicap

Dallas Mavericks (4th seeds) vs Utah Jazz (5th seeds)

While Curry’s return boosts the Warriors’ hopes, things aren’t looking as good for Mavericks’ talisman Luka Doncic. He’s set to miss the first two games of this series, handing a massive advantage to the Jazz.

The Jazz have quickly been installed as the favourites to progress to the semis and it’s not hard to see why. Doncic is at the heart of everything that Dallas do, so they’re going to struggle to make the most of their home double header. With the Mavs facing at least two games without their superstar and then two games at the Jazz, expect this series to end fairly quickly.

Tip: Jazz -2.5 series handicap


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