NBA playoffs outright preview and best bets: Don’t discount the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies
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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 1 month ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The 2021-22 NBA regular season has come and gone and the playoffs won’t waste too much time getting started. On Tuesday the play-in tournament will tip off and it runs through Friday. At that point the traditional 8-team brackets in each conference will take center stage.

Before it all begins, let’s take a look at some of the best futures bets to be made on the NBA playoffs.

Best outright bet: Phoenix Suns +275

It’s never particularly fun to bet on the favorite, but in this case it makes sense. The Suns are quite simply the best team in the association and it’s not particularly close. They are being priced at +250 at some sportsbooks, which is playable but not great. At +275, the value is quite good.

Phoenix heads into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, boasting the best record in the entire NBA (64-18) by a country mile. Nobody else is better than 56-26 (Memphis). The Suns are one of the deepest teams around, as six active players on the roster average in double-figures — including Devin Booker at 26.8 ppg and Deandre Ayton at 17.2 ppg. Chris Paul (14.7 ppg, 10.2 apg) came within 2 wins of winning a world championship for the first time in his illustrious career last summer and he looks poised to lead his team over the hump this time.

The Western Conference playoffs should set up well for Phoenix. Memphis and Golden State are on the other side of the draw along with Denver. Dallas and Utah are potential second-round opponents and neither one is too scary. The Mavericks still haven’t surrounded Luka Doncic with enough talent and the Jazz’s personnel is more depleted than it was last year, when they were the West’s No. 1 seed ahead of the Suns.

Check out all our NBA previews and picks

Longshot: Philadelphia 76ers +1400

Even though the East is no longer a joke compared to the West, it remains less than daunting – at least for the 76ers. As the No. 4 seed, Philadelphia will be on the opposite half of the bracket from Boston and Milwaukee in addition to Brooklyn if the Nets win their first play-in game on Tuesday night.

Check out our Cavaliers vs Nets full game preview

I appreciate that James Harden is overrated in general and often a disaster in the playoffs, but at least he isn’t Ben Simmons. If Harden can just get hot on occasion, the rest of Philadelphia’s roster is strong enough to get the job done. He doesn’t have to be consistent – and he won’t be. Joel Embiid is the best player in the East and is capable of willing his team to the NBA Finals. A matchup with the Suns would be tough, but I would happily watch a finale between one team on which I have +275 outright bet and another team I have at +1400.

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our NBA parlays and NBA prop bets tabs for more expert picks.

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