NBA playoff predictions - 3 Things we learned from bubble play

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up for a game.
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

The NBA playoffs are underway, after a thrilling period of seeding games. Each team had eight regular-season games after the restart in Orlando, and there’s a lot we learned during those games that we can use to inform our wagers moving forward. Here are three critical pieces of information that will help you with your postseason betting:

1) Centers are dominating against the Rockets

Houston is going with an extremely small lineup right now, with P.J. Tucker playing as their big. As such, opposing centers have been thriving against them. That’s been true even when they’ve played middling options, like Indiana’s Myles Turner or San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl in their last couple games. Turner had 18 and 12 while Poeltl had 14 and 12, with both playing just 28 minutes.

The Rockets have been having major issues with their rebounding, and I’ve been playing some player props on opposing centers as a result. The over on a lot of centers’ rebound props have value, and I think Steven Adams is in for a big first round playoff series against them. Oddsmakers haven’t caught up yet, so keep monitoring these props.

2) The 76ers aren’t necessarily worse without Ben Simmons

As soon as Simmons went down with his knee injury, the media started to write Philly’s obituary. Seemingly everyone has written them off, but I’m not so sure it’s the death blow many seem to think. They lost a couple games initially without him, but that’s because they were also playing without an injured Joel Embiid. When Embiid returned as a full-go in their final game before the playoffs against the Rockets, they won by 38.

With guys like Embiid, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Shake Milton, and Josh Richardson, they’ve still got plenty of offensive talent. Simmons has clashed with other members of the team, so I don’t think they’re going to miss him from a chemistry standpoint either. They’ve actually looked more fluid on offense without him the past handful of games, and the spacing is understandably a lot better. Everyone is sleeping on Philly at the moment, and there could be some value on them moving forward.

3) The Raptors could easily repeat

After Kawhi Leonard left in free agency, everyone just assumed Toronto would prove to be a one-year wonder. Instead they’ve been one of the best teams in the league yet again, and they arguably looked better than any other team during bubble play. They won seven of their eight games, with the only loss coming to Boston. They were seemingly the only team playing defense during the restart, only giving up more than 109 points twice.

They held the high-flying Lakers to just 92, and that kind of defense could easily carry them to another championship. Fred VanVleet is playing out of his mind, but oddsmakers continue to underrate them both in the futures market and game to game spreads. There’s going to be a lot of value on Toronto during these playoffs.

Want more picks and predictions for every NBA playoff game? Check out our NBA predictions tab!

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