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NBA 2020 Playoffs Futures Bets: Play-In Games, Race for the 8th seeds


The NBA restart has created a massive buzz with basketball fans and sports bettors alike as not only do we have plenty of games to watch and wager on, but we also have some exciting prop bets to explore.

Perhaps, the most thrilling basketball prop bets are the ones focused on the chase to make the Playoffs in each conference. Not only is there a distinct possibility that each conference will have a play-in game, but there’s plenty of drama surrounding which teams will make the final postseason cut.

Let’s take a look at the latest odds for these future bets, courtesy of the best NBA betting sites, and see if we can make some money on these predictions.

What Is the Criteria for a Play-In Tournament Game?

The final playoff spot in each conference will be determined by whether or not the 8th seeded team has a lead of more than four games on the 9th seed. If they do not, then the 8th and 9th seeded teams will play two games to determine who gets into the Playoffs.

Basically, it will be a best of two game series where the 9th seeded team will have to beat the 8th seeded team twice to get into the Playoffs.

2 days until the NBA Restart!

THANK YOU to the best fans in the world 🏀❤️#24in24 #WholeNewGame

— NBA (@NBA) July 28, 2020

Will the Eastern Conference Have a Play-In Game?

  • No (-700)
  • Yes (+400)

In the Eastern Conference, there are three teams vying for the 8th spot: the Nets, Magic and Wizards. Let’s break down their current spots in the standings and available betting odds to land the 8th seed:

Brooklyn Nets (-250)

The Nets (30-34) are currently in the 7th spot, a half-game ahead of the Magic. However, they are fielding arguably the worst roster in the bubble.

Brooklyn will be without their top two stars in Durant and Irving, which comes as no surprise. However, it’s the losses of Jordan, Dinwiddie, Prince, Claxton and Chandler that basically guts the entire roster. In fact, the team’s top 10-man rotation has just four players participating in the bubble.

Just to field a team, they had to bring in Crawford and Beasley who weren’t even in the league this season. Most online betting sites have the Nets listed with an O/U of 2.5 wins. As you saw in my betting guide for NBA restart win totals, I don’t see this team winning more than two games.

The Nets play the following seeding games:

  • July 31: Orlando Magic
  • August 2: Washington Wizards
  • August 4: Milwaukee Bucks
  • August 5: Boston Celtics
  • August 7: Sacramento Kings
  • August 9: L.A. Clippers
  • August 11: Orlando Magic
  • August 13: Portland Trail Blazers

Of these eight games, I see the Nets winning just one of them and that’s against the Wizards. Basically, this team will go 2-6 at best, but most likely end up at 1-7 overall. Fortunately for New Jersey, they will still make the Playoffs due to Washington being a worse team.

Orlando Magic (+225)

As mentioned, the Magic (30-35) sit in the 8th seed, just a half game behind the Nets. However, they feature a more talented roster than both the Nets and the Wizards which should help them move up in the standings.

Orlando gets back Jonathan Isaac who’s one of the team’s best defenders. That’s saying a lot considering the Magic are a Top 10 defensive team getting back a key contributor for the restart. Yet, they will need Isaac’s complete presence as the Magic has a tough seeding schedule:

  • July 31: Brooklyn Nets
  • August 2: Sacramento Kings
  • August 4: Indiana Pacers
  • August 5: Toronto Raptors
  • August 7: Philadelphia 76ers
  • August 9: Boston Celtics
  • August 11: Brooklyn Nets
  • August 13: New Orleans Pelicans

For the Magic to lock in the 7th seed, they need to win one more game than the Nets or sweep them in the seeding round. Currently, Vegas has Orlando listed at an O/U of 3.5 wins. Looking at this schedule, the Magic could get three wins. However, I see them struggling to get four or more.

Can Jonathan Isaac’s return along with Markelle Fultz elevate the Orlando Magic to making noise in the playoffs?

— Off the Glass (@otgbasketball) July 28, 2020

I believe the Magic will sweep the Nets and could upset the Kings, Pacers or Pelicans. However, even if they just sweep Brooklyn, they will finish with the 7th seed due to the head to head tiebreaker.

Washington Wizards (+1400)

The Wizards (24-40) currently sit 9th in the standings and are 5.5 games back of Orlando. Washington has the worst record of all 22 teams in the bubble and shouldn’t have even been invited. However, the NBA wanted to provide some drama in the Eastern Conference and the Wizards benefited from it.

The Wizards will be without their best player Bradley Beal who has a shoulder injury. They will also be without Davis Bertans who opted out. That’s two of their most talented players on a team that was already well below .500 on the season.

Washington is listed with an O/U of 1.5 wins and it’s easy to see why after taking a look at their roster and upcoming games:

  • July 31: Phoenix Suns
  • August 2: Brooklyn Nets
  • August 3: Indiana Pacers
  • August 5: Philadelphia 76ers
  • August 7: New Orleans Pelicans
  • August 9: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • August 11: Milwaukee Bucks
  • August 13: Boston Celtics

Looking at that schedule, Washington has two games that they might not get blown out in: Phoenix and Brooklyn. With that said, I don’t see Washington winning either. This team could end up going 0-8 in the seeding round. They will be lucky to even go 1-7.

All Washington can do is give young players more time, while they look to see which pieces they can use to build for the 2020-21 season.

Who Gets the East’s 8th Seed and Will There Be a Play-In Tournament?

Despite the NBA wanting to see a Play-In Tournament, it’s not going to happen. Washington would have to win at least two games and Brooklyn or Orlando would have to go winless. It’s not going to happen.

In reality, the Magic will move up to the 7th seed and Brooklyn will fall down to the 8th seed.

Who Lands 8th Seed? –Brooklyn Nets (-250)

Will the Western Conference Have a Play-In Game?

  • Yes (-900)
  • No (+500)

The race for the 8th and final Playoff spot in the Western Conference is where all of the drama will unfold. Right now, there are six teams fighting for the final Playoff spot, which is currently held by Memphis.

Let’s take a closer look at the Grizzlies and see if any of the five trailing teams can overtake Memphis for the final Playoff spot. The following is a list of the six teams based on the current NBA standings:

Memphis Grizzlies (-143)

At 32-33, the Grizzlies have exceeded all expectations this season and feature one of the best rookies in the league – Ja Morant. He’s favored to win rookie of the year and should help Memphis fight for at least a Play-In game.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is now fully healthy due to the hiatus and the team expects big things from him. He will spread the floor which then allows Morant and others more spacing to make plays.

Memphis will need every player on the bubble roster to contribute as they try to fend off five other teams chasing them. It won’t be easy as Memphis does have a difficult schedule:

  • July 31: Portland Trail Blazers
  • August 2: San Antonio Spurs
  • August 3: New Orleans Pelicans
  • August 5: Utah Jazz
  • August 7: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • August 9: Toronto Raptors
  • August 11: Boston Celtics
  • August 13: Milwaukee Bucks

Currently, Memphis is listed with an O/U of 3.5 wins. For a team that’s shown promise and youthful skill, it’s a bit surprising how many pundits are dismissing the Grizzlies from making the Playoffs.

I believe Memphis will start off 2-0 by beating Portland and the Spurs. It’s 50-50 on whether or not they can beat the Jazz, Pelicans and Thunder. I see them losing to Toronto and Boston. However, there’s a good chance that Memphis can beat Milwaukee in the final game as the Bucks play their starters limited minutes.

I see at least three wins, but possibly four if they can go at least 1-2 in those 50-50 games mentioned above. The Grizzlies will need an epic collapse in order to not at least secure the 9th seed.

Portland Trail Blazers (+400)

Portland currently sits 9th with a 29-37 record. The team suffered through many injuries this year, which almost cost them a chance at the Playoffs. However, the hiatus gave some players a chance to heal. Nurkic will play after missing the entire season to date. He looked decent in the scrimmages.

Unfortunately, Portland will be without Ariza who opted out and Hood who has an Achilles injury. These two losses will definitely be felt on the perimeter and defensively.

Like Memphis, Portland will have a tough seeding schedule:

  • July 31: Memphis Grizzlies
  • August 2: Boston Celtics
  • August 4: Houston Rockets
  • August 6: Denver Nuggets
  • August 8: L.A. Clippers
  • August 9: Philadelphia 76ers
  • August 11: Dallas Mavericks
  • August 13: Brooklyn Nets

The Trail Blazers are listed with an O/U of 3.5 wins just like the Grizzlies. Yet, I’m not sure they can hit the Over. Look at that schedule. Can you tell me where the team will get four wins?

I’ve already picked Memphis to beat Portland in the first game. I then see the Trail Blazers losing to the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers and 76ers. In fact Portland will be lucky not to start 0-6. At best, they go 2-4.

From there, I see Dallas beating them and Portland walking all over Brooklyn. At best, they go 3-5 based on that schedule. Fortunately for the team, they have the tiebreaker over the Pelicans and Kings who are both tied with Portland at 3.5 games back of Memphis.

Portland played two extra games prior to the shutdown, which means they have an advantage in win percentage, which is a tiebreaker if two teams end up tied for 9th.

However, I think the Kings and Pelicans will win four games each which makes Portland’s win percentage advantage null and void.

New Orleans Pelicans (+300)

The Pelicans sit 10th in the standings at 28-36. They have the tie breaker over the Kings due to a win against them during the season. New Orleans had a brief scare when star player Zion Williamson left the bubble. Fortunately, he was able to return and will be ready for the seeding games.

This team is a trendy pick to seriously challenge the Grizzlies for the final Playoff spot. To do that, they would most likely have to force a Play-In tournament because I don’t see them winning four more games than Memphis in the seeding round.

With that said, New Orleans does have a favorable schedule:

  • July 30: Utah Jazz
  • August 1: Los Angeles Clippers
  • August 3: Memphis Grizzlies
  • August 6: Sacramento Kings
  • August 7: Washington Wizards
  • August 9: San Antonio Spurs
  • August 11: Sacramento Kings
  • August 13: Orlando Magic

New Orleans is listed with an O/U of 4.5 wins. Right off the bat, I see four wins for this team: split with the Kings, Wizards, Spurs and Magic.

New Orleans would have to win at least one of the games against Utah, LA and Memphis in order to go 5-3. I’m predicting that five wins locks in the 9th spot between all the teams chasing the Grizzlies. Right now, that’s most likely going to be done by New Orleans unless the Kings can pull off a big surprise.

Sacramento Kings (+1100)

The Kings are 11th in the standings due to losing out on the two tie breakers with Portland and New Orleans. Yet, they were playing better than both teams before the shutdown as they went 7-3 in the 10 games prior and 9-5 since the trade deadline, which was the 5th best in the league.

The Kings are led by a core group of players that includes Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic and Barnes. They also got key contributions from Bjelica and Holmes who is fully healthy now despite his boneheaded decision to leave the bubble for some chicken wings.

Like the Pelicans and Trail Blazers, the Kings also suffered many losses due to key injuries to players like Fox, Holmes and Bagley who will miss the rest of the season.

With that in mind, the Kings have a manageable schedule:

  • July 31: San Antonio Spurs
  • August 2: Orlando Magic
  • August 4: Dallas Mavericks
  • August 6: New Orleans Pelicans
  • August 7: Brooklyn Nets
  • August 9: Houston Rockets
  • August 11: New Orleans Pelicans
  • August 13: Los Angeles Lakers

Sacramento is listed at an O/U of 3.5 wins just like Portland and Memphis. I see the Kings coming out 2-0 before losing to Dallas. They should be able to split with New Orleans which puts them at 3-2.

A win over the Nets will put Sacramento at 4-2 with two tough games against Houston and the Lakers. The Rockets will pick up the win, but I can see LA possibly falling to the Kings.

At that end of the seeding round when these two teams would play, the Lakers will have a commanding lead over the Clippers for the top spot in the Western Conference and most likely play their starters in limited minutes versus the Kings.

Of the teams chasing Memphis, the Kings have fared the best against them during the season going 3-1 including two wins just prior to the shutdown. If Sacramento can sweep the Pelicans than they will end up as the 9th seed. However, that is a big “if”.

San Antonio Spurs (+1300)

The Spurs sit in 12th place with a record of 27-36. They’re a half game behind Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans. San Antonio is four games back of Memphis.

The bubble restart gave San Antonio a shot at making the Playoffs when they appeared to be free falling having gone 4-6 in their previous 10 games. Unfortunately, after the bubble news, things took a turn for the worse as LaMarcus Aldridge had shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season.

That means the Spurs will be without their best player as they embark on a tough eight game stretch:

  • July 31: Sacramento Kings
  • August 2: Memphis Grizzlies
  • August 3: Philadelphia 76ers
  • August 5: Denver Nuggets
  • August 7: Utah Jazz
  • August 9: New Orleans Pelicans
  • August 11: Houston Rockets
  • August 13: Utah Jazz

San Antonio has an O/U of 2.5 wins. Looking at their schedule, I don’t see how they will win more than two games. DeRozan and Gay aren’t enough firepower for the Spurs to beat out the Pelicans, Kings, and Trail Blazers.

Additionally, there’s a chance that San Antonio goes 1-7 or 0-8 inside the bubble. All eight games are against teams either in the Playoffs or battling to get in. Maybe they win two at the most, but that’s a tall task for a team that lacks talent compared to the others they’re chasing.

The Spurs won’t make the Playoffs and the Under 2.5 wins seems like a good bet as well.

Phoenix Suns (+6000)

Just like with Washington, the Suns greatly benefited from the NBA’s generosity. They’re currently 13th in the standings, six games back of Memphis in 8th. At 26-39, they’re even 2.5 games back of Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans.

The Suns have numerous young pieces on the roster, but they’re still developing into consistent contributors. With that said, a lack of experience and top shelf scorers have put this team in a hole that’s too big to climb out of.

Phoenix’s schedule didn’t do them any favors as well:

  • July 31: Washington Wizards.
  • August 2: Dallas Mavericks
  • August 4: L.A. Clippers
  • August 6: Indiana Pacers
  • August 8: Miami Heat
  • August 10: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • August 11: Philadelphia 76ers
  • August 13: Dallas Mavericks

The Suns, like the Spurs and Nets are listed at an O/U of 2.5 wins. Looking at their seeding schedule, I don’t see them even reaching the two win mark.

They should beat Washington, but then lose seven straight games. They will be lucky to win a second game, which may come at the end of the season if Dallas has locked in their 7th seed and can’t move up any further. That would mean the Mavericks could play their starters limited minutes.

Whether that happens or not will have no impact on the Suns’ chances of making the Playoffs. This team is at least a year away from fighting for the 8th seed. The restart will be a chance for Phoenix to gauge their roster heading into 2020-21.

Who Gets the West’s 8th Seed and Will There Be a Play-In Tournament?

Memphis is pretty much a lock for the 8th seed heading into a potential Play-In tournament. Even if they win just two games, the Pelicans, Kings or Trail Blazers would have to go 6-2 in the eight seeding games and I don’t see that happening at all. At best, Kings and Pelicans go 5-3.

I do see a Play-In game because I believe both the Pelicans and Kings will each win one more game than Memphis. In all likelihood, the 9th seed could come down the two head to head games between the Pelicans and the Kings.

If one of them can sweep the two game series then they pretty much are set to go 5-3 and snag the 9th spot. If they split, then it will come down to their respective additional six games which New Orleans appears to have the advantage in that area due to an easier slate of opponents.

Either way, the Kings or Pelicans will force a Play-In tournament. Additionally, I believe both teams can beat the Grizzlies twice and capture the 8th and final Playoff spot.

Because New Orleans has an easier schedule than the Kings and Grizzlies, plus they’re just as talented on the floor as those two teams, and we know the NBA wants Zion in the Playoffs, I am taking the Pelicans to capture the 8th seed and make the postseason.

Play-In Tournament –Yes (-900)

Who Lands 8th Seed? –Pelicans (+300)

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …

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