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NBA Playoffs Simulation 2022 | Simulating the NBA Playoffs

With the second round of the NBA Playoffs finished, we have two exciting Conference Finals matchups where any team could win.

In the Western Conference, the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks face the third-seeded Golden State Warriors. The Mavericks took down the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, while Golden State defeated the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Miami Heat face the second-seeded Boston Celtics. Miami beat the Philadelphia 76ers in six games, and Boston topped the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in seven.

Below, I explain how I simulated the remainder of the NBA playoffs and the result of my simulations.

All NBA gameday odds and lines come from Caesars Sportsbook and are current as of Monday, May 16, at 2:30 p.m. ET.

How The NBA Playoffs Simulation Works

Each team in the NBA Playoffs is assigned a power rating. I can then simulate a team’s chances of winning based on the ratings between the two teams in a given matchup.

How does this NBA Playoff simulator work?

  • By finding the difference between the two teams, you’ll get the number of points that one team should be favored by.
  • To account for home-court advantage, I add four points to the home team. This is worth significantly more than it is during the regular season, where homecourt advantage is worth only 2.5 points. I base this off the 2016-19 seasons where home-court advantage in the playoffs was worth 4.11 points according to Dr. Ed Feng from The Power Rank.
  • For example, if one team has a power rating of 22 and their opponent sits at 25, they should be a three-point underdog in a neutral matchup. At home, that team will be favored by one-point, but on the road, they will be seven-point underdogs.

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How do I make these NBA playoffs power ratings? 

Just like my NCAA projections, I chose not to reinvent the wheel. The dirty secret in sports betting is that most sports bettors copy the work of other sports bettors or non-betting analysts.

For my NBA Playoffs model, I looked on predictiontracker.com to see which public handicappers have had the best track record this season against the spread and have given their power ratings more weight in my model.

Most importantly, I have given the betting markets the most weight in my power ratings, as they have been more accurate than any of the public handicappers this season.

Once I compiled my power ratings, I then have my own power ratings that I can use to simulate the Playoffs.

After simulating the NBA Playoffs 25,000 times in Microsoft Excel, I tabulate how often each team won the NBA Finals, in addition to the number of simulations where each team won the Eastern and Western Conference championships.

I bet on a team to win the NBA Finals if their odds are greater than my breakeven odds.

  • Breakeven odds are how often a bet needs to hit for you to break even. To be a profitable long-term bettor, you should be making bets where the payoff is better than the breakeven odds.
  • For example, let’s say my model gives a team a 12.5% chance of winning the NBA Finals for a breakeven price of (+700). If a sportsbook offers (+800) on that bet, I take it. Otherwise, it’s not a good bet to take.

Essentially, this is all to help bettors figure out when to make a bet.

NBA Playoffs 2022 Simulation

Eastern Conference

In the Eastern Conference, the best two playoff teams remain. The Miami Heat comfortably beat the 76ers in the second-round despite the 76ers having Joel Embiid in the lineup for the end of the series.

TeamConference WinnerConference Winner Breakeven Odds
BOS64%-178
MIA36%+178

The Boston Celtics may have won their second-round series 4-3 against the Bucks, but they should have won the series 4-2 after they blew a large lead in Game 6. Despite being the second-seeded team in the East, the betting markets view Boston as a heavy favorite against Miami.

Unfortunately, I agree with the oddsmakers, and I do not see a value on either Eastern Conference team currently.

Western Conference

In the West, the Golden State Warriors are an even bigger favorite than the Celtics. They easily beat the Denver Nuggets and 2021-22 MVP Nikola Jokic in the first round and beat a third-seeded Grizzlies team 4-2 in the second round.

TeamConference WinnerConference Winner Breakeven Odds
GS64.8%-184
DAL35.2%+184

The Warriors are certainly a strong team, but the Dallas Mavericks deserve more respect from the betting markets.

My model gives a narrow edge to the Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, and they could be dangerous if Luka Doncic gets hot. If Doncic has a few good games like he did against the Suns, then Dallas could pull off the upset against Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.

NBA Finals

For the NBA Finals, Golden State easily has the best chance of winning of the remaining teams as they win the Finals in 41.3% of my simulations. My model gives a narrow edge the Warriors, but an even bigger edge to the Mavericks.

TeamChampionship WinnerChampionship Winner Breakeven Odds
GS41.3%142
BOS24.1%315
DAL18.8%433
MIA15.9%530

The Mavs won the title in 18.8% of my simulations, making them a bet worth making at (+650) odds. Dallas should be priced closer to (+450), which makes them a good pick. In an NBA Finals against Boston, Dallas would be a bigger underdog than they are against Golden State, but that doesn’t scare me away from the Mavericks.

Notably, if Dallas faces Miami, I would put the Heat as only a narrow favorite against the Mavericks.

Best NBA Playoffs Bets

Dallas Mavericks Win Western Conference (+200)

Dallas Mavericks Win NBA Finals (+650)

There are four teams left in the NBA Playoffs, but only one is worth betting on: the Dallas Mavericks.

To use an analogy, my sports modeling during playoffs is like trying to predict the weather. When you are trying to predict the future, it is easier to predict the next day than the next week. As a result, during the beginning of the playoffs, I am likely to have larger edges than closer to the end in predicting the NBA Finals.

Dallas could go on a run for their remaining two rounds against Golden State and the Eastern Conference winner because they have one of the most explosive players in the NBA in Luka Doncic.

Golden State is coming close to being a good futures bet, but the value isn’t there yet. Boston and Miami were good bets earlier in the playoffs, but the value isn’t there anymore.

If you are looking for value for the remainder of the NBA Playoffs, Dallas is your only option.

prop bet

+200

Dallas Mavericks: Win Western Conference

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prop bet

+650

Dallas Mavericks: Win NBA Finals

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NBA Betting News

  • Mavericks +800 to win West

    The Dallas Mavericks are +800 to win the Western Conference, per BettingPros consensus odds.

    Betting Impact:
    The Mavericks are +800 to win the West, a huge jump from the +360 they sat at prior to Game 3. Dallas was able to win Game 4 but is not expected to emerge from the West. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win a series in the NBA Playoffs.

  • Mavericks +3000 to win NBA Championship

    The Dallas Mavericks are +3000 to win the 2021-22 NBA Championship, per BettingPros consensus odds.

    Betting Impact:
    Dallas has found some life after a Game 4 victory but is still up against history in their bid to win four straight in order to even make the NBA Finals. Dallas sat at +1100 prior to their Game 3 loss.

  • Warriors -139 to win NBA Championship

    The Golden State Warriors are -139 to win the 2021-22 NBA Championship, per BettingPros consensus odds.

    Betting Impact:
    At -143 before their Game 4 loss, the Warriors actually climbed to -139. Golden State is still the heavy favorite to win it all but has not yet been assigned the odds due to a team that is certain to make the NBA Finals.

  • Warriors fall to -250 to win West

    The Golden State Warriors have fallen to -250 to win the Western Conference, per BettingPros consensus odds.

    Betting Impact:
    Golden State headed into Game 4 at -10000 to win the West but has come crashing back to reality after failing to sweep the Mavericks. It is worth noting that no team in NBA history has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit and that only two teams have even managed to tie it back up.

  • Heat +160 to win East

    The Miami Heat are +160 to win the 2021-22 NBA Championship, per BettingPros consensus odds.

    Betting Impact:
    Miami is tied 2-2 against Boston but is being viewed as the clear underdogs. Miami is dealing with injuries to Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and P.J. Tucker and is facing a relatively healthy Celtics squad. Miami was +137 heading into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead.