NBA playoffs odds and bracket

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How do the NBA playoffs work?

The NBA playoffs tip off once the regular season ends, and the best 16 teams compete to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Since 2020, the NBA Playoffs includes eight teams each from the Eastern and Western Conference – the top six teams in the regular season standings and the two teams who progress from the play-in tournament.

In the play-in tournament, the teams who finished seventh and eighth in their conference play against each other, with the winner progressing to the playoffs as the number seven seed. The teams who finished ninth and 10th then play each other, with the loser being eliminated and the winner facing off against the loser of the seventh vs. eighth game to determine who gets the eighth and final playoff seed.

In the NBA playoffs, matchups are decided on a best-of-seven series. To win the NBA Championship, a team must progress through (at least) four rounds: the first round, Conference Semi-finals, Conference Finals, and NBA Finals. All playoff series including the NBA Finals are played in a 2–2–1–1–1 format, which means that the team with home-court advantage hosts games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the opposing team hosts games 3, 4, and 6 (in the event that games 5, 6, and 7 are necessary).

The betting opportunities are almost limitless, with pre-game and in-play betting available on a minimum of 60 games to be played in the playoffs, including the Championship game (not including the play-in tournament). If every series went the distance, that would equal a massive 105 games.

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How to bet on NBA Conference Finals

The NBA Conference Finals involve the respective championship series for the Eastern and Western Conference of the NBA. This can be a fantastic time to get into a betting rhythm. Since the field of competition has shrunk and features the respective conferences’ strongest teams, there won't be as many surprise spreads and over/under oddities. Individual game betting is always the safest option, as it allows you to refocus and account for any injury issues or unexpected events that may have occurred in prior games.

Similarly to the regular season, sportsbooks use a point spread system to predict the winner of each game and margin of victory, and also set an over/under value for the total number of points scored by both teams. Moneyline markets are available for both individual games and quarters in the entire series.

Focusing on game lines rather than series odds is advisable if you want to bet game-by-game. Keep in mind that these series generally tend to go back and forth and if the teams haven't changed much, value can also be found in large differences in the total or points spread.

In-play and prop betting opportunities are also available for the NBA Conference Finals. Sportsbooks tend to offer prop bets such as how many games a series will be won in, the average number of points per game during them, or how many points, rebounds, blocks etc. a player will get.

Basketball_NBA_Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher and Philadelphia 76ers forward Danny Green
© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

What are the seeding tiebreakers for teams heading into the NBA playoffs?

A team's performance in the regular season determines its position and opponent in the NBA playoffs. Teams are ranked in the regular season by their win-loss record, and if two or more teams finish the season with identical win-loss records, head-to-head results between the teams and whether any of the other teams won their division championship are used to rank them.

A team’s seeding for the NBA playoffs can have a large role in determining their odds for markets such as the NBA Championship winner. Not only does it offer an indication of how they performed during the regular season, but it also dictates the supposed strength of the teams they will play. It is therefore common for a team with a high-ranking seed to have shorter odds to win either the NBA or Conference Finals or a playoff series than a team with a low-ranking seed.

This is important to remember for your betting. If you feel that a team is better than their seeding suggests, sportsbooks may offer favorable futures odds for them, with good value odds before the playoffs begin. This is another reason why the timing of your bets is crucial, as if your hunch is correct and they reach the latter stages of the NBA playoffs, their odds will likely shorten.

NBA playoffs FAQs

What team has never been to the NBA playoffs?
When do the NBA playoffs start?
What are the overtime rules for the NBA playoffs?

BET.CA's basketball betting guides are written by our seasoned betting experts, whose in-depth knowledge of the NBA and NCAA basketball will help you to bet smarter when searching for your next basketball wager.

BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff