The NBA Playoffs will finally get underway this Saturday with a quadruple header. There are games from 1 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET, but I will be focusing on the two middle games as they look to have the best value on the board. It would be a surprise if the Boston Celtics dropped more than one game in their series against the Atlanta Hawks, and I will ride Boston the whole way given how well the Celtics match up with the Hawks. Additionally, one of my favorite NBA futures bets is on the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the New York Knicks in their first-round series, and I will jump on the Cavaliers as a moderate favorite by the NBA betting odds on Saturday evening.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Boston Celtics (-9) vs. Atlanta Hawks
Boston went 3-0 against Atlanta in their three regular season meetings. The Celtics won on the road by 25 points and nine points, and they also beat the Hawks in their regular season finale at home even though both teams were sitting all their stars.
Jayson Tatum should be dominant throughout this series. Tatum averaged 30.1 PPG and 8.8 RPG in the regular season, and he shot 46.6% from the floor. He got to the line quite often too, and that should continue in the playoffs as the Hawks don’t have a big man that can really match up with him.
We could see a big series out of Jaylen Brown too considering Trae Young is one of the worst defensive guards in the NBA. Brown hasn’t been a great perimeter shooter this season, making just 33.5% of his threes, and he is dealing with a finger injury. However, he is making 57.6% of his two-pointers as he has a lot of success driving to the rim and getting good looks.
Center Robert Williams III will not be available in Game 1 as he continues to recover from a knee injury that has bothered him much of the season. However, everyone else should be available for the Celtics, and they have two great perimeter defenders they can throw at the Hawks in Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart.
This is not a good matchup for Atlanta. Trae Young is the leader of the team, averaging 26.2 PPG and 10.2 APG, but he isn’t an efficient shooter and doesn’t play defense. Young’s game will be hampered by the relative lack of whistles in the postseason too.
Atlanta doesn’t shoot the three well either. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey are both making 40% or more of their threes, but they are the only reliable perimeter shooters on the roster. Young is hitting 33.5% of his triples and Dejounte Murray and DeAndre Hunter are both shooting 35% or less from deep.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-5.5) vs. New York Knicks
The best defense in the regular season belonged to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Evan Mobley was the key to Cleveland’s success on this end with his ability to float and provide weakside help, while the guards were feisty and didn’t allow a lot of open looks. It looks like Isaac Okoro will be available for this series too, and that’s huge for Cleveland considering he has missed the last two weeks with a knee injury.
Darius Garland has some of the best crunch time numbers of any player in the NBA, and the addition of Donovan Mitchell has given this team a go-to scorer with plenty of playoff experience. Garland and Mitchell are both efficient scorers that can knock down the three, and Caris LeVert can come off the bench and provide some scoring when the starters are taking a breather.
The New York Knicks are back in the playoffs, but there isn’t much depth to this team. Jalen Brunson has been great in his first season in the Big Apple, and that has given the franchise a second star next to Julius Randle. It does sound like Randle will return at some point this series, but he might not be available in Game 1 as he works his way back from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for two weeks.