NBA Play-In Tournament Odds & Picks: Can the Warriors Fall, Pacers Rise in Postseason Picture?
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
The NBA regular season is closing fast and while this week is annually dedicated to college hoops, bettors should be looking for value in the futures markets as the postseason gets closer.
One area I’m looking to find value is on teams to land in the NBA Play-In Tournament. This entire NBA season has been defined by parity and with less than 20% of the season left, the current NBA standings are so in flux that anyone within range can reasonably move up or down.
Here are the two teams that have my attention (and value) down the stretch.
Odds to Make the Play-In: (+500) — DraftKings
The Pacers are one behind in the loss column (shoutout Matt Moore) and one game out of the Play-In, as of this writing, and as a result, they’re a +500 bet to reach the NBA’s version of the First Four.
The reason they could make a late run, though, has much to do with the pack not exactly doing their best to separate themselves. The Atlanta Hawks (-3500), Toronto Raptors (-2000) and Miami Heat (-425) are likely frog-splashing into the Play-In with an even level of authority and disappointment.
The Heat are the only team capable of making a late run to the top six, but need to make up three games on the New York Knicks and or Brooklyn Nets, which is difficult to go over your final 12 contests. Ultimately, this should leave the Pacers with one feasible shot.
The reason you give them a look over the Washington Wizards (-120) is because, while Bennedict Mathurin is out due to a right ankle sprain and has missed the last couple games, you’re expecting him back soon.
The Pacers have some challenging games coming up against the Milwaukee Bucks (twice), Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks (twice). Against those teams, they’re 2-10 this season with a road win in Boston and a home win against the Cavs.
Maybe they’ll surprisingly pick up two more wins down the stretch. Beyond that, you’re looking at games in Charlotte, Toronto and Atlanta — teams they’re 5-1 against overall this season — and home games against the Thunder, Pistons, and Mavericks, all of whom are bad road teams.
The Bulls are in the bottom half of Eastern Conference teams at home and are about to see the Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat visit Chicago. They then have a home and home with the 76ers, and play the L.A. teams (Lakers twice) three in a row. They do get the Hornets and Pistons late in the season, but they’ll also see Milwaukee and Dallas on the road, among others.
Washington is the best road team of the three — between both conferences, they have the best road record of anyone not in the Play-In. They have five remaining road games, including games at Cleveland, New York, Toronto — one of six east teams with 20 home wins — and Atlanta.
This means the Wizards are loaded with home games down the stretch, and their impressive road record indicates that they’re not good on their home floor. Currently, they’re fourth-worst in the East at home (16-17), only ahead of the Pistons, Hornets, and Magic — the worst three teams in the conference.
Their home games coming up include the Kings, Nuggets, Celtics, Bucks and Heat. Are the Pacers definitely going to break through? Well, this is +500 for a reason. I’m just saying it might be worth a shot.
Golden State Warriors
Odds to Make the Play-In: (+250) — DraftKings
If you haven’t already, I believe now is OK to suggest that this Warriors team just isn’t last year’s.
No, I’m not expecting a run to the finals, even as the Western Conference is trying everything it can to be collectively “meh.”
As it stands, the Warriors are tied for fifth in the Western Conference with the Clippers, but are just one game ahead of the Timberwolves, who would be the No. 7 team in the NBA Play-In Tournament if the season ended today. The Warriors also got Stephen Curry back from injury on March 5, and after an 0-3 start, they defeated the Bucks and Phoenix Suns at home in back-to-back games.
However, their well-documented road struggles are about to play out as they embark on five consecutive road games starting Wednesday. They’re 7-26 away from home and will see the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Mavericks, among others. Three of their last four games will be back on the road against Denver, Sacramento, and Portland, respectively.
They only have five remaining home games otherwise, where they’ll see teams like the 76ers, the Thunder, who beat them in Curry’s second game back, the Pelicans and Timberwolves; winnable, sure, especially if you’re 29-7 at home, but not gimmes.
Ultimately, the volume of road games could be daunting enough to push the Warriors to seven. That and, well, no one in the west could decide whether to be legitimately good consistently.
The Wolves (-250), Mavericks (-215), Lakers (-250) and Pelicans (-130) are the projected Play-In teams based on the odds. Of them, the Lakers have the easiest schedule left, according to Tankathon. Dallas has the third-easiest. Golden State is in the middle of the road.
Again, is it likely that Golden State slips? If it were, they’d be minus -200, but this is called gambling for a reason. They struggle so much on the road that it could be worth taking a shot.
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