Albert Nguyen, the Analytics Capper, brings The Game Day’s 2021 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings: Rating All 16 Teams’ Chances To Win Finals.
2021 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings: Rating All 16 Teams’ Chances To Win Finals
16. Washington Wizards (2nd Southeast)
Two months ago, making the playoffs was definitely not in the cards for the Washington Wizards. A historic run by Russell Westbrook and an offensive explosion 20 game run later, the Wizards will be facing the Philadelphia Sixers. With Westbrook at the helm, they’ll be more than just happy to be there and he’ll have his team motivated and believing they can win.
Washington Wizards 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: The Wizards will not win the title this year, but they will be a tough opponent for the Sixers to play each night. The Wizards forces teams to play with 100 percent effort and that is all you can ask for as a fan.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (2nd Southwest)
What an impressive win by Memphis against the Golden State Warriors in the last Play-In Game the other night. They went into the Chase Center and beat the team they lost to a week earlier to earn the final spot in the playoffs when the entire basketball world expected the coronation of Golden State. Huge shots down the stretch for Ja Morant and excellent defense on Stephen Curry from Dillon Brooks and the rest of the Memphis team put them over the top. For their prize, in the first playoffs round, they get the best team in the league: the Utah Jazz.
Memphis Grizzlies 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: I’m surprised the Grizzlies actually have better odds than the Wizards here. Even at 120 to 1, I personally do not see a scenario where the Grizzlies beat the Warriors, the Jazz, possibly the Clippers, possibly the Lakers, and the eventual Eastern Conference to win the title this year. However, I do want to be proven wrong. Go through the gauntlet that is the West and you will be a legend, Ja Morant.
14. New York Knicks (3rd Atlantic)
What a great season by the Knicks. They are well-coached, play tough defense, and have the propensity to make clutch plays down the stretch. This has been their recipe for success all year long and they’ll try to keep it going into the playoffs. Props to Julius Randle for making the All-NBA leap this season. It’s been a joy to watch, and it’s great for the league when one of their marquee franchises are doing well.
New York Knicks 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: Although the Knicks have one of the best defenses in the league, I don’t think they have enough offense to make any real noise in the postseason. This first-round series could go seven, and it’s going to be extremely intriguing to watch two different styles of play clash.
The New York Knicks (+12500) own some of the longest odds to win the 2021 NBA Finals of any playoff team at BetMGM. Claim BetMGM’s offer for new players (Risk-Free Bet up to $600) and place a wager where legal.
13. Boston Celtics (4th Atlantic)
Boston has great individual players with some really good pieces. However, the Celtics are missing something this season. They don’t play great defense, are always beat up on the glass, and have been a very inconsistent team throughout the season.
Boston Celtics 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: I don’t see the first round against the Brooklyn Nets going more than 5 games, so there’s no way I can back the Celtics in any futures bets. I do expect a fun, high-scoring first round, though. Jayson Tatum could average over 40 for the series.
12. Atlanta Hawks (1st Southeast)
When they are hitting shots, Atlanta can score with anyone in the league. They have the flexibility to go big or small, and their best player Trae Young has the ability to drop 40 or dish out 15 assists on any night. Although it’s going to be extremely tough, I do see them potentially making noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: It seems like nobody is giving them a shot in even in the first round against the great story that is the New York Knicks, but I truly believe the Hawks are going to surprise some people and win that series. If this does happen, they’ll most likely face the 76ers in Round 2, and they do not match up well against Philadelphia’s elite defense. But that first round? Give me Atlanta.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (3rd Northwest)
The Portland Trail Blazers have been solid throughout the season, including ending the campaign on an 8-2 run. They have the superstardom power in Damian Lillard who can put his team on his back and win an entire series by himself. Additionally, with the additions of Robert Covington and Norman Powell, they have two guys that can play effective defense, something Portland has never had in the past.
Portland Trail Blazers 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: This is probably my favorite longshot bet out of the playoffs. Portland has all the elements of a team that can upset people and break through. Of course, it’s going to take a lot of luck and multiple breaks have to fall their way when it comes to matchups, but this is worthy of a bet.
10. Dallas Mavericks (1st Southwest)
We are in Year 3 of the Luka Doncic experience, and he currently has zero playoff series wins. If he wants to affirm his spot into the top-5 or top-3 discussion among elite NBA players, he will have to lead his team to postseason success. The Los Angeles Clippers team clearly chose this matchup in the first round. It will be on Dallas to be motivated, laser-focused, and to give them exactly what they’re looking for.
Dallas Mavericks 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: Anytime you can get better than 40 to 1 odds on a team with one of the best players in the league, it’s a good bet. At these odds, you don’t expect to win, but it’s definitely worthy of a small wager.
9. Denver Nuggets (2nd Northwest)
After Jamal Murray went down with his season-ending injury, pundits wrote off the Nuggets’ season and their championship hopes. They’ve not only kept up with their winning pace, but Jokic affirmed his rightful status as the MVP winner and Michael Porter Jr. has averaged close to 25 points per game since Murray’s injury. They still are a scary team to go up against, and that home-court advantage at a Mile High elevation is real.
Denver Nuggets 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: It will be tough for them to replicate their surprising run in the bubble getting to the Western Conference Finals without their second-best player dropping 40 and 50 a night. Although the number seems enticing here, the Nuggets are a layoff for me.
After you check out our full 2021 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings, read our latest 2021 NBA Playoffs betting picks.
8. Miami Heat (2nd Southeast)
The Miami Heat will be facing the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs this season. It is a rematch from Miami’s dominating series from just one season ago. Miami has been up and down the entire season but was playing much better toward the latter half of the season. The biggest difference this year compared to last is their step back when it comes to defense — a lot of that is due to injuries, COVID-19, and the long marathon of the regular season.
Miami Heat 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: The magic they had last year in the bubble seems to have vanished. But the team may have a light switch, where they can turn it on when it’s playoff time. Bam Abedayo could turn into the best switching defensive big in the game. Tyler Herro could turn into the best young clutch shooter in the league. Jimmy Butler could turn into the most feared two-way player in the league. I personally don’t see it happening, but they’ve done it before.
7. Phoenix Suns (1st Central)
Major disrespect by the oddsmakers here for a team that just finished a couple of games out of the #1 overall seed in the conference. I love this team for a variety of reasons. They defend well; have size down low; shoot the three; and have one of the best fourth-quarter-closing lineups in the entire league.
Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: At 25 to 1 to win the championship, this is amazing value for a team that ranked in the top 5 in a lot of the major statistical categories. The main reason why these odds are so high has to be the lack of postseason experience with the majority of their young roster.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (1st Central)
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo just completed another dominating regular season in which he averaged 28.1 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high 5.9 assists per game. The Bucks will go as far as the “Greek Freak" takes them. We all know the true measure of success for this team will ultimately be contingent on their playoff performances. In theory, the currently constructed version of the Bucks is better built for the playoffs than in previous years with the addition of two-way players Jrue Holiday and P.J. Tucker, but Milwaukee is missing an explosive scoring threat coming off the bench.
Milwaukee Bucks 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: It was shocking to see them play their starters and beat the Miami Heat at the end of the year to solidify the first-round matchup with their rivals from South Beach. This could be a “be careful what you wish for" scenario, but if they can advance past the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, they’ll face an even tougher test with Brooklyn most likely waiting for them in the second round. I’m sorry Bucks fans, but I don’t see a scenario where they beat Miami, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia in three consecutive series to earn a berth in the 2021 NBA Finals. I’d lay off that bet.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (1st Atlantic)
Before his injury, Joel Embiid was leading the race for the league’s Most Valuable Player award. He was playing great on both ends of the floor, hitting clutch baskets down the stretch and was the catalyst to the Sixers earning the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Doc Rivers has the team believing in his system and the guys have really reacted well to his coaching. Ben Simmons is an elite defender that can guard any position. Tobias Harris is one of the most underrated performers in the league. The Clippers have found a comfort level under Rivers, and the Sixers have a plethora of young and athletic role players that are very effective out on the wings in Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Tyrese Maxey. GM Daryl Morey also littered the roster with a great mix of solid veterans in Seth Curry, George Hill, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard.
Philadelphia 76ers 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: I love Philadelphia’s current roster. At 8 to 1, you’re getting great value for the best team in the Eastern Conference, record-wise. They are also in the easier half of the bracket where they’ll face the Washington Wizards in the No. 1 v. No. 8 matchup in the first round, followed by the winner of the Hawks vs Knicks series in round 2. Due to Philly’s high ranking in our 2021 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings, this futures bet is worthy of a small wager.
The Philadelphia 76ers (+750) remain a decent value pick to win the 2021 NBA Finals at BetMGM. Claim BetMGM’s offer for new players (Risk-Free Bet up to $600) and place a wager where legal.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (2nd Pacific)
The Clippers have the talent, the flexibility, and the superstar power to win it all. However, until the team makes it to the Western Conference Finals I can’t put money on them.
Los Angeles Clippers 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: They should take care of business against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. But they play the winner of the Grizzlies/Jazz series in the second round and if the Jazz are back at full strength by then I don’t see the Clippers getting over the hump again this season.
Now let’s get into the teams with the best chances to win the title this year.
3. Utah Jazz (1st Northwest)
The Utah Jazz started off the 2020/2021 campaign as world-beaters. They’ve recently cooled off to end the season, but the majority of that is due to injuries to stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, and the team integrating some of the younger players into the fold. This year’s Jazz are one of the best three-point shooting teams in league history and if their secondary guys are shooting the long ball at a good clip, not many teams in the NBA will be able to keep up with that type of firepower.
Team Name 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: Donovan Mitchell has missed an extended period of time, and I just can’t safely say he’ll be playing at the same levels as before his high-ankle sprain. Because of the unknown to Mitchell’s health and potential issue of rust and stamina after missing all those games, I do not like the Jazz at 6 to 1.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (3rd Pacific)
After defeating the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, the defending champs are officially back in the playoffs securing a first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and their ability to force turnovers and get into transition is how this older roster gets easy buckets. I look for the brilliance of LeBron James to be just enough against Phoenix. The Suns boast an end-of-the-game lineup that includes both Chris Paul and Devin Booker so it will be imperative for the Lakers to contain these two down the stretch.
Los Angeles Lakers NBA Playoffs Prediction: Anytime you can get a LeBron James-led team in the playoffs at close to 5 to 1, you have to take it. He’s carried much lesser teams to the NBA Finals before.
The Los Angeles Lakers (+450) remain one of the favorites to win the 2021 NBA Finals at BetMGM. Claim BetMGM’s offer for new players (Risk-Free Bet up to $600) and place a wager where legal.
1. Brooklyn Nets (2nd Atlantic)
Arguably the most talented big 3 in the league today, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden look to face some of their postseason demons as they represent the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. From an offensive standpoint, there is no team in the NBA that can guard the aforementioned trio of superstars. It’s an endless barrage of high screen and rolls and isolation plays where the guys are just too talented and will feast on opposing defenses. There has been a lot of talk about how Durant, Irving, and Harden have not played many games together this season, but I don’t personally think it matters. They are friends on and off the court, they are comfortable with each other, and they have a strong sense of familiarity and chemistry.
Brooklyn Nets 2021 NBA Playoffs Prediction: I believe oddsmakers have appropriately placed the Nets as the betting favorite to win the NBA title this year. The talent gap between Brooklyn and the rest of the teams in the league is quite large. But in sports, it doesn’t always come down to skill and talent, but more so with desire and determination. Teams are going to attack Brooklyn mentally and it’s going to be up to them to keep their composure and just play basketball. The race is still wide open this year and there’s not enough value at 2 to 1 for me to place a bet on the Nets at this time.
The Brooklyn Nets (+200) remain the favorite to win the 2021 NBA Finals at BetMGM. Claim BetMGM’s offer for new players (Risk-Free Bet up to $600) and place a wager where legal.