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2021 NBA Futures Postseason Betting Guide

SI Gambling editor Ben Heisler examines the latest futures odds for the 2021 NBA Playoffs and Play-in Tournament.

With the 2021 NBA regular season concluding on Sunday, May 16, sportsbooks released their most up-to-date odds for this year’s postseason.

The State Farm NBA Play-in Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 18 as the 7–10 seeds in the Eastern and Western conferences face off for the final two remaining playoff spots. The Nos. 9 and 10 seeds must win out in order to advance to the postseason. If the No. 7 or 8 seed loses its first-round matchup, that team plays the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game for the last remaining spot in the postseason.

The SI Crossover team makes their predictions for the 2021 NBA play-in tournament 

2021 NBA Play-in Tournament Matchups and Schedule

Follow every matchup, date, time and network across the NBA playoffs.

Tuesday, May 18: Eastern Conference

Game 1: No. 9 Indiana vs. No 10. Charlotte

Game 2: No. 7 Boston vs. No. 8 Washington

Wednesday, May 19: Western Conference

Game 3: No. 9 Memphis vs. No 10. San Antonio

Game 4: No. 7 Los Angeles (Lakers) vs. No. 8 Golden State

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2021 NBA Championship Futures Odds 

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

NBA Championship Odds 2021

Brooklyn Nets +250

LA Lakers +400

LA Clippers +500

Philadelphia 76ers +700

Utah Jazz +700

Milwaukee Bucks +800

Phoenix Suns +1800

Denver Nuggets +3000

Miami Heat +3000

Dallas Mavericks +5000

Portland Trail Blazers +5500

Atlanta Hawks +10000

Boston Celtics +10000

Golden State Warriors +10000

New York Knicks +10000

Memphis Grizzlies +25000

Washington Wizards +25000

Charlotte Hornets +50000

Indiana Pacers +50000

San Antonio Spurs +50000


Brooklyn Nets

When the Nets acquired James Harden, multiple sportsbooks moved their odds down to cofavorites with the Lakers. In October, Nets futures odds were as high as 9/1 at multiple sportsbooks but eventually closed at 6/1 at the start of the season. In mid-January, DraftKings Sportsbook moved Brooklyn from +500 down to +300.

It's daunting to match up against Brooklyn’s Big Three of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With all three finally playing together, the Nets have gone 7–2 overall this year. Following a four-game losing streak, Brooklyn has both won and covered the spread in their final five games of the year, with Harden, Durant and Irving all playing together in the last two.

Brooklyn has seen a steady rise in handle percentage at DraftKings Sportsbook throughout the course of the season. As of Friday, May 14, the Nets have the largest percentage of NBA championship futures money taken in at DK Sportsbook at 37%, with the Lakers (25%), 76ers (10%), Nuggets (6%) and Jazz (5%) all following suit.

The Play: PASSInflated value for a team that sportsbooks have a ton of exposure to. Between Harden, Durant, and Irving’s nine games played together all season and a first-year head coach, I’ll likely pass for now and maybe jump on if they find themselves down in the series.

Los Angeles Lakers

With a healthy LeBron James back in the mix, the Lakers remain the top contender in the Western Conference, despite being the No. 7 seed with a play-in matchup against Stephen Curry and the eighth-seeded Warriors.

Los Angeles has a lot of tread on the tires from the championship run in the bubble a season ago, and both James and Anthony Davis have missed substantial time this season. James has already been on the record for his loathing of the play-in game format, and even if they lose to Golden State, they’ll likely still make it in with a matchup of the winner between No. 9 Memphis and No. 10 San Antonio two days later. The Lakers, according to BetMGM would be slight favorites against the Nets if they were to make it to the NBA Finals,

The Play: FADE—I’ll be fading the Lakers as the public team all season long, even if this is by far and away the best value offered throughout the season. Instead, I’ll look to see what the odds for a Nets/Lakers NBA Finals matchup will be to potentially grab exposure to the series with higher odds.

Los Angeles Clippers

At first glance, the Clippers' two losses against Western Conference scrubs in the Rockets and Thunder don’t inspire much confidence heading into the postseason. However, it keeps them out of a potential first-round matchup with the Lakers (should they advance).

The Clippers faces the Mavericks in a 4 vs. 5 matchup in the first round and find themselves as heavy favorites at -360 to advance. From there, they’ll have to get past the top-seeded Jazz (barring a loss to the eventual eight-seed) to advance. Even as a lower seed, the Clippers would likely be favored against Utah in a second-round series; going 3–1 against them this year.

The addition of Serge Ibaka this year is a big deal. His numbers were way up a season ago in the postseason and he’s back after missing nearly 30 games in mid-March. His impact for a team that struggled to find an identity last postseason could play a meaningful role this year.

The Play: BETAfter an embarrassing fall from the playoffs last year, the Clippers are in much better shape to make a deep run this season. I like their balance with both Leonard and George finishing with true shooting percentages of more than 60%. They also lead the league in team three-point shooting percentage at 41.1%, so teams must respect their spacing on the floor, while also trying to slow down Marcus Morris and Ibaka in the paint.

Philadelphia 76ers

The top seed in the East after 20 years, the 76ers enter the postseason looking to make a statement after early exits the last three seasons, including a first-round ousting a season ago. Their defense is legit; ranking second in efficiency behind only the Lakers, but their team offense still remains a concern, ranking 14th in effective field goal percentage.

The real key to this number is the road through the playoffs. The Nets and Bucks have the more difficult draw, with both teams likely playing each other just to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals to face Philadelphia.

The Play: BET (to win Eastern Conference)I like the 76ers’ to advance through the Eastern Conference and will side with the likely more rested team after Brooklyn and Milwaukee cannibalize each other in the previous round. A fair value here is +300 as I don’t see them winning out in the NBA Finals.

Utah Jazz

I wrote about the historic start the Jazz were on midway through the season. They weren’t just a juggernaut winning straight-up but were on pace to hold the highest-ever cover percentage since 2003. Since covering 75.9% of the time through their first 29 games, Utah went on to cover the spread in 56.9% of their games for the full season. A solid number, but nowhere near the record-setting pace they had been on.