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NBA Playoff Odds For 2020-21 Season: Bucks & Lakers Near Locks

NBA Playoff Odds 2021 Season Giannis Antetokounmpo driving to the hoop

The race for the NBA title may not seem as wide open as it was last season but in order to compete for the NBA championship, you need to make the playoffs first and the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks are the likeliest teams to get to the postseason.

The best basketball betting sites have the Lakers and Bucks both listed at -5000 in NBA odds to make the playoffs, which has a 98 percent implied probability. If bettors think either of those teams will fail to make the playoffs, you can fade the prop at +1000.

The team thought least likely to make the NBA postseason scrum is the Oklahoma City Thunder, listed at -3300 odds to miss the playoffs. The Thunder are expected to be in a rebuild for the franchise after they traded away point guard Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns. The Thunder haven’t missed the playoffs since 2015.

Each team’s odds to make or miss the playoffs are listed below and are courtesy of Bovada. There are also some betting picks for a few teams that could be worth investing in to either exceed expectations and go to the postseason or tumble in the standings and out of contention.

What Are The Odds To Make The NBA Playoffs?

NOTE: The Houston Rockets are currently off the board due to the potential trade of James Harden. They will be added as soon as possible.

2020-21 NBA Odds To Make Playoffs
TeamMake PlayoffsMiss Playoffs2019-20 Record
Atlanta Hawks-150+11520-47
Boston Celtics-1900+75048-24
Brooklyn Nets-1600+70035-37
Charlotte Hornets+320-47523-42
Chicago Bulls+245-35022-43
Cleveland Cavaliers+725-180019-46
Dallas Mavericks-600+37543-32
Denver Nuggets-1200+60046-27
Detroit Pistons+525-95020-46
Golden State Warriors-170+13015-50
Houston RocketsN/AN/A44-28
Indiana Pacers-220+16545-28
Los Angeles Clippers-2000+80049-23
Los Angeles Lakers-5000+100052-19
Memphis Grizzlies+165-22034-39
Miami Heat-1000+55044-29
Milwaukee Bucks-5000+100056-17
Minnesota Timberwolves+300-45019-45
New Orleans Pelicans+135-18030-42
New York Knicks+800-200021-45
Oklahoma City Thunder+950-330044-28
Orlando Magic+175-24033-40
Philadelphia 76ers-750+44043-30
Phoenix Suns-150+11534-39
Portland Trail Blazers-190+14535-39
Sacramento Kings+375-60031-41
San Antonio Spurs+350-55032-39
Toronto Raptors-850+47553-19
Utah Jazz-340+24044-28
Washington Wizards-130EVEN25-47

All odds as of December 20 at Bovada

Don’t Forget About Conference Play-In Tournaments

One factor that bettors will need to consider when betting these props is the conference play-in tournaments for teams with the seventh-highest through 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference. Those teams are expected to do a play-in tourney similar to what happened in the Western Conference in the Orlando bubble between the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers.

This means a team that is 10th in the standings can still play its way into the No. 8 seed and cash your bet. On the flip side, that also means if you bet on a team that sits in eighth place in the conference and it goes on to lose in the play-in tournament, that team will miss the playoffs.

Team To Bet For NBA Playoff Odds

A lot of the same teams that made the NBA playoffs last season appear primed for return engagements, since it seems like the good teams got better and the bad teams got worse. Here is one team that has decent odds to make the NBA playoffs that is worth the wager:

New Orleans Pelicans To Make Playoffs (+135)

A team that is on the cusp with a roster full of talent, this is great value for the New Orleans Pelicans to make the playoffs. While the Pellies didn’t look great in the bubble, they showed that offensively, they could be the most explosive team in the league.

Zion Williamson is the true difference-maker for this prop. The second-year bull in a china shop has shown in his brief time in the NBA that he’s a matchup nightmare and I expect the training wheels to be taken off for him to start to show his dominance. The Pelicans have a nice mix of scoring talent and defensive stalwarts on the team to wreak havoc – I expect them to sneak in the playoffs even if they have to go through the play-in tournament to do it.

Teams To Fade For NBA Playoff Odds

Trying to pick a team to not make the NBA playoffs after making it in 2020 has “going to the dentist” vibes. It happens every year but it doesn’t make it any easier a choice. That’s why I’m sure there will be bettors thinking I’m crazy when they see who I’ve decided to fade this season:

Toronto Raptors To Miss Playoffs (+475)

As a Raptors fan, it pains me to say it but the championship window has closed. That’s not to say they won’t still be in the mix for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference but losing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will impact this team far more than people realize. That’s two of their best defensive players that walked out the door and will cripple the Raptors depth that they relied on so much in recent years.

Obviously, the starting lineup is still decent but that lack of depth is really going to be an issue if any of the starters miss time due to injury. This bet isn’t banking solely on an injury, but when you consider how top teams in the East improved while bottom-feeders are trying to claw their way into the playoffs, this could be the year the Raptors take a step back in the standings and miss the postseason for the first time since 2013.

Utah Jazz To Miss Playoffs (+240)

Much like the Raptors, the Jazz are in a tricky spot in the Western Conference because the teams around them all improved. Utah certainly still has a great defensive identity with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell but even last season, they only managed 44 wins after being projected to get to the 50-win mark.

Western teams like the Suns, Pelicans, Grizzlies and Warriors that missed the playoffs last season are all expected to be in contention for the postseason. The Jazz will end up being the odd team out and you could see some roster turnover in the 2021 offseason with Gobert likely to be traded.


Understanding NBA Odds to Make the Playoffs

When you visit any basketball betting site, you’ll see a team’s playoff odds laid out like this:

Charlotte Hornets

Yes +385

No -625

In this case, the Hornets have a 20.6 percent chance of making the playoffs and an 86.2 percent chance of not making an appearance. Keep in mind that the sportsbook takes a cut of every bet. This is called the vig or the juice and you can’t avoid it, unfortunately. However, you could still get value on your bets if you win – more on that below.

Making a bet on No at -625, you’d need to bet $625 just to win $100 in profit.  On the other hand, if you think they will go on a tear for the rest of the season and turn their sinking ship around, that same $100 on Yes at +385 would give you a payout of $485 – your $100 comes back along with your winnings of $385.

To find out what you’d win based on the odds and amount you bet, check out our Odds Calculator.

What is a Prop Bet on NBA Playoff Odds?

A prop is a bet on the occurrence or non-occurrence of specific team or player milestones that don’t always correlate to the result of a particular game. Here, the prop is on a team to make or not make the playoffs.

When oddsmakers create the lines, they are subject to change. As the season goes on, the odds will shift to reflect how a team is doing. We suggest taking odds you like as soon as you see them. As we mentioned above, in order to get great betting value should your bet win, you want to get a team at plus (+) money if you can before they move into minus (-) territory.