The NBA regular season is over. Unfortunately, there was little excitement over the last few days as the Eastern Conference playoff picture was essentially set a week ago. Additionally, the race for the final spot in the play-in tournament in the Western Conference ended up as a walkover as the Dallas Mavericks decided to sit everyone rather than try to beat out the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 10 seed. Dallas is hoping to keep its top ten protected first-round pick, but that ended up depriving Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving of a chance to make some noise in the postseason.
There will be two NBA Play-In Tournament games on Tuesday, April 11. These games will pit the No. 7 seed against the No. 8 seed in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. The winner of each game will be the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, while the loser will face the winner of the 9/10 game for the right to be the No. 8 seed.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Miami Heat (-5) vs. Atlanta Hawks
The only team in the postseason with a negative point differential is the Miami Heat. They have been a head scratching team all season, as they have been very lucky, but they do have a very good coach and a lot of talent underneath that good fortune.
Miami ranks 25th in Offensive Rating and runs at a very slow pace. The Heat have three players averaging at least 20.0 PPG in Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro, but they haven’t been very efficient. Herro is the top three-point shooter at 37.8%, while no one else is hitting more than 35.6% of their treys. That has the Heat ranked 27th in team three-point shooting percentage at 34.4%, and that’s a big problem in the modern era.
However, Atlanta is an extremely flawed team. The Hawks are led by Trae Young who is averaging 26.2 PPG and 10.2 APG. Young has been a very inefficient shooter this season though, as he is making just 43% of his field goals and 33.5% of his threes. Additionally, he has been quite turnover prone with 4.1 TPG, and he will have trouble getting to the free throw line as the referees call things a little tighter in the playoffs.
In the regular season, Miami beat Atlanta in three of their four meetings. Although the Heat have their issues, I’m more than happy to roll with them given the problems that Atlanta has had all year. Erik Spoelstra is a very good coach too, and he will have a very good gameplan for the Heat to win per the NBA betting odds.
Los Angeles Lakers (-7) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Although they won three straight games to close out the regular season, the Minnesota Timberwolves collectively melted down on Sunday. Jaden McDaniels is out for the playoffs after punching a wall and fracturing his right hand late in the first quarter after picking up his second foul, and Rudy Gobert might be suspended after punching teammate Kyle Anderson during the second quarter.
It's hard to imagine this team will be fully focused on the task at hand considering those factors. McDaniels was a key part of the team that started more games than any other Minnesota player, while Gobert was the player that the T-Wolves traded four first-round picks to acquire this offseason. Center Naz Reid is out for a while too after undergoing surgery, so there are real concerns about Minnesota’s interior defense.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers are coming together at the right time. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are healthy once more, and they nearly made the Lakers the No. 6 seed. This is the 20th season in the league for James though, so there is a real concern over just how far he can take the Lakers by himself.
Davis needs to step up and carry the team for long stretches if the Lakers are going to make a deep run in the postseason. They should have little trouble against the Timberwolves though, as they will have the home crowd at their backs so back them to cover the NBA betting line.